Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast – the low cost video streaming players

We take a look at two entry level video streaming place in the shape of a stick or dongle that connect straight into the HDMI port of your HDTV to let you streaming videos on demand.

The Cheapest Way to Start Streaming

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.

Roku Streaming Stick

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

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 of the two, 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

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.

However, 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.