One man’s search for the perfect streaming media player

I am neither an audiophile nor a videophile, but I like to have a functional home theater that takes advantage of the state of the art without investing a ton of time and money into it. About eight years ago I assembled some mid-range gear—including a 46″ Samsung LCD panel, Denon AVR, Sony Blu-ray player, and Polk Audio speakers—that enabled me to watch movies in judder-free 1080p24 with lossless, 5.1-channel surround sound. It doesn’t hold a candle to e.g. a modern 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos setup, but it’s still a fine setup for our viewing distance and family room needs (if anything, it’s probably overkill).

We also have an Apple TV (3rd gen) and a 2010 TiVo Premiere that are getting a little long in the tooth. (Incredibly, the TiVo plays Prime Video at 1080p24 with Dolby Digital Plus, but it’s slow as molasses and you have to pay for the TiVo service to use their OnePass feature.) A few weeks ago I decided that I wanted to cancel cable TV and the TiVo subscription and replace the Apple TV and the TiVo with a new, future-proof streaming media player that supports Plex, streaming TV services, 4K HDR, and Dolby Digital Plus. I tried out the latest offerings from Amazon, Roku, and Apple.

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