Good news for anyone looking for a new 4K streaming media player with high dynamic range (HDR) capability: You now have more choices, and prices start as low as $70.

HDR is one of this year's biggest TV buzzwords. When done right, HDR boosts a TV’s brightness, contrast, and color, making the pictures on the screen look more like real life

The latest streaming media players from Amazon and Roku join the newest player from Apple, the Apple TV 4K, which is priced considerably higher at $180 and $200, depending on storage. Roku's entry-level Roku Express HD model costs just $30, and the revamped lineup tops out at $100 with the 4K-enabled Roku Ultra.

Amazon's new 4K-enabled Fire TV player costs $70, while the Amazon Fire TV Stick, an HD model, remains in the lineup priced at $40.

You can find more details about both players, as well as the Apple TV 4K, below. We'll be testing and rating all these new 4K-enabled streaming players later this year.

Photo of the new Roku Ultra 4K HDR player.
The new $100 Roku Ultra supports 4K HDR and extended WiFi.

New Rokus: Better, Faster, Cheaper

In the past, we've recommended the Roku players as the top choice for most people, thanks to Roku's vast assortment of channels—5,000 now and counting—and its agnostic approach to search. (Roku doesn't offer its own streaming service, so it doesn't favor one over another. It does now have a new Roku Channel that offers free popular movies and TV shows from several free services.) When you search for a movie or TV show, you'll see where it's available, listed by ascending price.

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The latest models promise better performance, improved wireless reception, and new convenience features. For example, even the cheapest entry-level model, the $30 Roku Express, has been updated with a more powerful processor that's five times faster than the previous model, the company claims.

For those who need to connect to older TVs without HDMI inputs, the Roku Express +, priced at $40, has the same performance but includes composite RCA-style (red, white, and yellow) connections.

The updated Roku Streaming Stick, priced at $50, is an HD model with a quad-core processor and 802.11 AC dual-band MIMO WiFi. A new convenience feature is a voice remote control with TV power and volume buttons that work with compatible TVs. 

Totally new this year is the $70 Roku Streaming Stick+, which brings 4K HDR capability to a stick-style design. It also has a unique wireless receiver built into the power cord that the company claims will improve its wireless range and minimize buffering. The Stick+ supports the HDR10 HDR format and up to 60 frames per second (fps) streaming. 

Gone this year are the Roku Premiere and the 4K Premiere+ set-top box models, which sat between the Streaming Stick and the top-of-the-line Ultra models in the Roku lineup.

Instead, this year you jump from the Streaming Stick+ right to the flagship 4K HDR Roku Ultra model, priced at $100. Roku says this 4K HDR model promises the best performance of any Roku model, and it offers some proprietary features, such as an Ethernet port for a wired connection to your network.

It also has a microSD memory card slot for storing additional channels. The point-anywhere remote has the same voice and TV control features found on the other remotes, but it adds a headphone jack for private listening and a remote-finder feature that causes the remote to beep when you press a button on the player. 

All the new Roku streamers, except the Express+, will be in stores on Oct. 8, but you can preorder them starting today from Roku, Walmart, Best Buy, Amazon, and other retailers. The Roku Express+ is a Walmart exclusive.

The new $70 Amazon Fire TV supports 4K HDR video and includes an Alexa-powered remote.

Amazon Fire TV Gets New Design

Amazon's newest entry is the updated Fire TV, a $70 4K HDR player with an Alexa voice remote. Amazon claims the revamped player, which has a new rectangular dongle-style design, is 40 percent more powerful than its predecessor, and it's one of the few players that support Dolby Atmos sound.

One differentiator for Amazon is its use of the advanced Alexa voice assistant, which is built into the remote. Using voice commands, you can ask Alexa to find, launch, and control content from a number of services, including Amazon Video, Hulu, Netflix, and Showtime, that support it. Fire TV can also be paired to, and control, other Echo devices in your home.

The new Fire TV supports the HDR10 format, but not Dolby Vision. That's a bit surprising given that Amazon's video services offer Dolby Vision content. There's no word if it will support for the new HDR10+ format, which makes HDR10 more like Dolby Vision. (With HDR10, brightness levels are set for the whole movie or show; with Dolby Vision, brightness adjustments can be made on a scene-by-scene basis.) Amazon earlier this year said its streaming services would support HDR10+ at some point in 2017. 

While the original Fire TV was a set-top box, as you can see from the photo above the new version is now a dongle that fits behind the TV, similar to the Google Chromecast Ultra, but rectangular rather than circular. The new model has a faster quad-core processor, and dual-band 802.11ac WiFi. (An optional Ethernet adapter is available if you want a wired connection to your network). The player also has 2GB of memory and 8GB of storage, so the system can cache—or locally store—more video, which should help prevent buffering or pixellation of streaming video.

Thanks to Alexa, Amazon Fire TV can also control smart-home-enabled devices, such as lights, cameras, and thermostats. 

You can preorder an Amazon Fire TV now, but it won't start shipping until Oct. 25. Amazon is offering a few limited-time promotional bundles, including a Fire TV and Echo Dot combo for $80, or a Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot together for $60. Both provide about a 30 percent discount off what you'd pay if you bought them separately.

Photo of new Apple TV 4K and Siri remote.
The new Apple TV 4K supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.

Apple TV 4K Has HDR10 and Dolby Vision

We previously wrote about Apple's new Apple TV 4K player in a fair amount of detail when it was announced, and we recently bought one and are just starting to test it. Here are some of the basics of the new model.

From a design standpoint, the new Apple TV 4K looks similar to the earlier model, though the Siri remote has undergone a subtle redesign; for instance, the menu button is outlined with a white circle to make it more visible.

But the company claims that the Apple TV 4K will be significantly more powerful than its predecessor thanks to a new three-core processor, which should help improve the streaming experience with 4K videos, and make operations such as fast-forwarding and rewinding feel a lot snappier. The amount of onboard memory has also been increased.

Perhaps most notably, the Apple TV 4K—and movies and TV shows in iTunes— will support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, making it the first streaming player to do that. To take advantage of its new capabilities, the Apple TV 4K interface and the various screensavers have been redone in 4K.

One nice Apple iTunes perk: If you've already purchased an eligible film in regular HD in iTunes, Apple will automatically upgrade it to the 4K HDR version at no extra cost.

With these latest entries, it's clear that the market for 4K streaming media players with HDR capability is heating up, and given their respective price points, the Amazon Fire TV and Roku Streaming Stick+ are positioned squarely against each other. Apple TV's higher price and unique features will likely limit its appeal to those already living within the iTunes ecosystem and looking for an easy way to get that content on their TVs.

We're looking forward to seeing how all these players perform in our streaming media lab later this year.