Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast

Streaming media is becoming mainstream. Already a feature included in smart and connected TVs, you can start watching video on demand, with or without a subscription, rent movies and TV show or listen to music from one of your favourite streaming service.

If you don’t have a smart or connected TV, don’worry. You need not be left out of the streaming sensation. Entry level video streaming option in the shape of a stick or dongle that connect straight into the HDMI port of your HDTV is also becoming increasingly common. We take a look at three of the best and newest streaming stick in the market.

The Three Corner Fight

Subsidized devices such as the NOW TV box aside, the cheapest way to get on the streaming video bandwagon is to get one of these sticks.

For a quick comparison, the good people at Amazon has prepared a comparison chart, see below.

ComparisonChart1

Amazon Fire TV Stick

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is priced cheaper than the Roku based on its retail price tag. Although with the appearance of the Fire TV Stick, the Roku Streaming Stick has seen its price slashed to compete.

Amazon Fire TV Stick has twice the memory (1GB) and four times the storage (8GB) compared to Chromecast and 32 times more storage compared to Roku Streaming Stick.

The Fire TV Stick has a dedicated VideoCore4 GPU with a dual-core processor, making it the fastest and most powerful streaming media stick in the market.

But the best features that it brings to the table is not the 1080p HD video streaming and 7.1 point Dolby Digital Plus surround sound but the instant start function for videos.

With the Amazon Fire TV Stick, you get ASAP, Advanced Streaming and Prediction for Amazon Instant Video that cuts down on video buffering time and lets you play your movie straight away from the press of the button.

The software learns your movie and show watching habits and buffers this ready for when you want to watch them, so the more you use it the better it gets.

FireTVStick2_

FireTVStick_What You Need to Know

  • HD video quality streaming up to 1080p HD via HDMI Audio/Video output
  • Dolby Digital Plus pass through up to 7.1
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Supports popular streaming services: netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, YouTube, Pandora, PBS Kids, WatchESPN, Bloomberg TV, Crackle, Twitch with over 200,000 TV episodes and movies
  • Supports popular music streaming services: PrimeMusic, Vevo, Pandora, iHeart Radio, Amazon Music, TuneIn, QelloConverts and Spotify for access to millions of songs.
  • Powerful Broadcom Capri 28155, dual-core 2xARM A9 processor and dedicated VideoCore4 GPU and 1GB of memory.
  • Has over 200 games with optional dedicated game controller for purchase seperately.
  • A simple Amazon Fire TV Remote controller is included with 5-way directional button. Amazon voice search via Fire TV Remote App or using Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote sold separately
  • Fling your favourite apps to your TV to free up your small screen or mirror your smartphone or tablet to the TV. The ability to fling is supported on apps like YouTube and Spotify on iOS or Android. You can then use your device to control the playback of the music or video. You can also share movies, TV shows, music and photos from compatible tablet or phone using display mirroring. Currently only Fire OS or Android devices are supported.
  • 8GB of on board storage is included for apps and media files, plus 5GB of free Amazon Cloud Drive storage for your photos, videos and files.
  • weight 25.1 grams, dimensions: 84.9 x 25.0 x 11.5mm

The following information is plugged from our previous review Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast – the low cost video streaming players

Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick is more expensive than the Chromecast but you do get a remote controller thrown in and a dedicated UI.

Apart from streaming services and catch-up TV programs, the Roku Streaming Stick also lets you stream your own video and music files.

Roku Streaming Stick

What You Need to Know

  • HD video quality streaming up to 1080p HD via HDMI Audio/Video output
  • Dolby Digital pass through up to 7.1
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Over 750 entertainment channels from movies, TV shows, sports, news, music and kids programs.
  • Roku’s User Interface (UI) has a selection of channels for streaming, more can be added from the Roku Channel Store.
  • The Roku Search function finds movies or shows from top channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU and well as compare prices.
  • Use the Roku app (Android and iOS) or supplied RF remote controller to navigate to what you want to watch. Also available, programmable shortcut button to go to your favourite channels.
  • Streaming services supported: Netflix, NOW TV, Sky Sports Sky Now, Sky Go and Catch up TV; BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, Demand 5, 4oD, BBC Sports and more, including Spotify and YouTube .
  • Cast to TV: certain mobile apps such as Netflix and YouTube let you cast your videos to the TV via Roku. So, you could be watching a show on your mobile device, tablet or smartphone and decide to continue this on the big screen.
  • With the Roku app, you can also view your photos, watch your videos and listen to your music stored on your smartphone or tablet.
  • weighs 18 grams

Chromecast

The cheapest compared to the two above, Chromecast is a quick solution to cast your screen from your smartphone, tablet or laptop to the big screen. There is no User Interface or remote, once connected, you will only get a home screen.

It relies on a laptop or mobile device with Chrome Browser for mirroring or Google Cast Ready App to push the video stream to Chromecast dongle.

chromecast

What You Need to Know

  • HD video quality streaming up to 1080p HD via HDMI Audio/Video output
  • Dolby Digital pass through up to 7.1
  • Single-core processor, 512MB memory, 2GB storage, single-band Wi-Fi
  • Streaming services supported: Netflix, NOW TV, BT Sports, YouTube, blinkbox movies, Google Play Movies & TV and catch up TV; BBC iPlayer
  • No User Interface, just a simple home screen waiting for your device to connect and start casting. Use the Chrome browser on a MAC or PC or Chromecast enabled apps (see list below) on your mobile devices to stream video
  • Google Cast Ready Apps: [Featured List] BBC iPlayer, Netflix, YouTube, BT Sport, NOW TV,blinkbox Movies, blinkbox Music, Google Play Movies, Google+, Google Play Music, Vevo, RedBull TV, Plex, RealPlayer Cloud, Rdio, Wuaki.tv, Deezer, DailyBurn, Chrome, NPR One. More Google Cast Ready Apps.
  • Mirroring: Chrome browser mirror for big screen web browsing. Send videos, photos and music stored locally on mobile devices to TV via Chrome Cast Ready App
  • No physical remote, simply cast your content or mirror your browser window.
  • weighs 34 grams

For both devices, a USB cable, power adapter and get started guide is included. The streaming stick needs to be powered by either a USB port on your TV or from a mains socket with the adapter.

Final Thoughts

With the launch of Amazon Fire TV Stick, streaming media HDMI sticks are taken to the next level. With faster processor, more memory and bigger storage, these sticks are not capable or performing more tasks and applications. The inclusion of a dedicated remote controller (except for Chromecast) it also makes the streaming stick more user friendly.

Amazon Fire TV Stick is great if you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon’s own Amazon Instant Video. Being the latest device in the market also meant they have an advantage in that they were able to incorporate the latest and best of what customers are looking at a low price tag.

While some would argue that Amazon is able to achieve this because the device is subsidized and that they would rather you buy or rent more movies, TV shows and music content from them in the long run, customers will benefit immediately from the faster hardware and the list of supported streaming services.

Google Chromecast is an easy way to cast your Chrome browser window (on your smartphone, tablet or laptop) and stream movies and shows onto your TV and for some, this is enough.

If you live and breath the Google eco-system, uses the Chrome browser and its apps and own several Android devices, tablets and smartphones, then you would be savvy enough to work out which are the Google Cast Ready Apps you would use on the big screen.

Also, if you already subscribe to a video streaming service, search the the app you need and check if it supports casting to Chromecast. You can then use these apps be it on Android or iOS to cast to the big screen.

It is also worth noting that when you cast to from a Google Cast Ready App, the app passes the task of streaming to the Chromecast dongle so it streams directly there freeing up your device to carry on with something else.

Roku Streaming Stick, if you prefer a standalone system that doesn’t require a smartphone, tablet or laptop to operate then the Roku Streaming Stick is the one for you.

With over 750 channels you won’t be short of content to stream. Casting to TV depends on the app’s support for Roku and the are only a few that do.

The biggest difference here is you won’t be able to mirror your web browser to the big screen. But you can, with Roku App, stream contents stored locally on your mobile, such as photos and videos to Roku.