You should never put your eggs all in one basket.

This applies to media streaming devices as well, some of which support 4K movies and shows. A few let you play indie games (or much more graphically intense games), and some are better than others at helping you search for content. To see which one worked best for my needs, I tested them all. Here are my findings.

My top pick right now due to the reasonable price and 65-inch size, this Vizio M65 television has it all. You can watch 4K movies using the UltraFlix app, Netflix, and Vudu with surround-sound. In my tests, the 4K streams looked clear without any pauses or slowdowns over a 200 Mbps connection in my home. Streaming directly to the TV means less device and cable clutter in your entertainment room.

Here's your golden ticket for 4K streaming on a budget. The Roku 4 is priced well below the NVIDIA Shield Android TV but supports multiple 4K sources, including the Vudu app, YouTube, and Netflix. There's a handy 4K spotlight channel for finding 4K movies. I did prefer the Shield remote, since the Roku 4 remote is a bit bulky and the voice search button is hard to find. Also, the latest Amazon Fire TV is still $30 cheaper, even if it doesn't make 4K searches as easy.

One of the surprises with the Android TV is that the quality is amazing, even in HD. An HD stream from the Android store of The Revenant looked colorful and crisp. You can watch Netflix and YouTube videos in 4K, but the Vudu app is not available. The games can't compete with the X1 for graphics, but indie releases like Never Alone are definitely worth playing.

For those who live in the Amazon "world" and purchase on-demand movies, watch Amazon Prime shows and movies, or use the Alexa voice assistant for controlling the lights in your home or ordering a pizza, Fire TV is an excellent choice. I liked the smaller size because it fit better in a smaller living room space next to an HDTV. A new version now supports 4K streaming, making this the lowest cost option in my round-up.

I'm a major fan of the DISH Hopper 3 and it's brand new interface. Channels and information are darker, which makes the video and any color logos pop. DISH has done a great job of integrating media streaming from Netflix with video on demand in one search field. For 4K video, there are a few on-demand movies but DISH will likely ramp up 4K content soon.

Choose the Bolt if you are always searching for content. I found it easy to search for any show (like The Shannara Chronicles on MTV) and see which streaming services supported it or whether it was only on Mid-Continent Cable (note that the Bolt does not support satellite television yet). You can easily enable or disable streaming services in your search. Update: The Bolt does support 4K movies in Netflix and on YouTube not not on the Vudu app or video-on-demand.

Nothing beats the price of this colorful, portable dongle, although it does not support 4K streams. It plugs into a free HDMI port on your TV or receiver and draws power from an available USB port. This is the device you want for convenience if you already use an Android phone or tablet. I used one to stream from a Google Chromebook Pixel 2015 and noticed the video quality stayed crystal clear. 

My true fallback device (go Forza series), the Xbox One is a convenient streamer for Netflix, Hulu, and rentals from the Xbox store. Because you can quickly switch between a video stream or an X1 game, even if the total cost is a bit more than most streaming gadgets. For the price, the X1 is ideal for gamers but not for anyone who wants to jump on the 4K bandwagon.

Like the X1, the PS4 also supports the most common streaming services including Hulu, Vudu, Netflix, and Amazon video. You can also rent and stream from the PlayStation store, but none of the content is in 4K. (At least, not yet.) A rumor about the PS4.5 suggests it will support 4K.

This receiver ties everything together. I was able to test all of the media streaming devices using the HDMI inputs, stream music from the MusicCast app, and connect my Xbox One all at the same time, switching easily between them to search for the best movie streams.

Published on: Apr 19, 2016
The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of