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Comparing the Four Popular Set Top Boxes: Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick

Last updated: October 2, 2018.

Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick

The Amazon Fire TV is an impressive piece of streaming box that will really make you fall in love with it. Meanwhile, competing companies such as Roku and Google are more focused on gaining money than providing you great television experience. The four most popular set top boxes currently in the market – Google’s Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick, Roku 3, and Amazon Fire TV – are compared and evaluated.

The thing is, each of those four devices have their own advantages and standout features. It would be easier for you to pick which one to buy if you have something specific in mind, such as a large catalogue, great gaming compatibility, or price affordability.

 

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Price

Chromecast is the cheapest at $35, followed by Roku Streaming Stick at $50, and Amazon Fire TV ad Roku 3 are a tie at $99, through Roku 3 is currently on sale for $89.

Apps

App selection is an important consideration when buying a streaming box. Here’s a quick look at the apps offered by Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick:

 

  • AllCast – all four (Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick) has it
  • Amazon Instant Video – Only Chromecast does not have it
  • HBO GO – Chromecast, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick has it, while Fire TV announced that it will be released in their platform soon
  • Hulu – all four (Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick) has it
  • Music – Chromecast has Play Music, Pandora, Rdio, and Songza. Fire TV has Pandora and iHeartRadio. Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick both have Pandora, Spotify, Amazon Cloud Player, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Slacker Radio, Sirius XM, and Rdio, among many others.
  • Netflix – all four (Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick) has it
  • Play Movies – Only Chromecast has it.
  • Plex – all four (Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick) has it
  • Showtime – Only Chromecast does not have it.
  • Sports – Chromecast has WatchESPN, MLB.tv, MLS Matchday, and Red Bull TV. Fire TV has NBA Game Time and WatchESPN. Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick both have WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, MLB.tv, WWE, NHL, and UFC among many others.
  • YouTube – all four (Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick) has it

Roku is obviously on top of the competition when it comes to content. This is most obvious in Music and Sports selection, where it has a considerably larger offering than Chromecast and Fire TV. Roku’s Channel Store is a great platform to explore and discover new apps.

Streaming Quality

Chromecast provides the best picture quality among the four devices. It is more consistent and also gives great colors which are bright and vivid. In comparison, Fire TV, Roku 3, and Roku Streaming Stick practically look the same. They also look good.

Performance

The performance of Chromecast depends on the device where you are streaming from because it does not have an interface where you can interact with. This allows it to provide a consistent performance. It’s also fast, depending on the quality of your internet connection.
The Fire TV is amazingly fast everywhere.
Roku 3 is also uber-fast.
Roku Streaming Stick is the worst among the four in this category. There are frequent lags in the Streaming Stick’s interface.

Unique Features

  • Chromecast is the only one among the four devices that supports Google Play Music and Play Movies. Tab casting is also its unique feature.
    The gaming support of the Fire TV is truly remarkable. Its first official game called SevZero is amazing, plus Fire TV has a built-in microphone in its controller to allow you quick voice searching.
    Roku 3 also provides a good gaming support, though it performs less admirably than the one found in Fire TV. The remote, meanwhile, is excellent – it has a built-in headphone jack that you can use to avoid disturbing the people around you. It also has a Roku app that transforms your phone to a remote control and also gives you access to the keyboard and voice search.
    The Roku Streaming Stick also supports the Roku app, but it does not have the remote control audio-out and gaming support.
 

Shortcomings

  • The non-interface of Chromecast makes it difficult to use because its control largely depends on your mobile device. The app developers are left with the task of providing the user with a great streaming experience. Aside from this, Chromecast also has a limited app selection compared to the other three.
  • Amazon Fire TV has three shortcomings: (1) its voice search capabilities works only for Amazon content; (2) it can be a pain to look for apps or games on the Fire TV because you need to sort through different lists to see new content; and (3) it only has 8gb storage. This could have been increased to 16gb.
  • The Roku 3 is awesome: it has no shortcomings.
  • The only problem with the Roku Streaming Stick is its performance. It lacks speed and it lags frequently.

The verdict

The market for set top boxes is an increasing one: it could even be the future of television. The streaming platform will be increasingly popular, and content providers would most probably use it and charge a small cost per month, per channel.

 

Streaming boxes are all affordable, so a lot of people can have access to it. Chromecast is the easy choice for those looking for an affordable streaming box; Roku Streaming Stick is the best choice if you’re after a large selection of channels while still being affordable; the Amazon Fire TV is great for those who prefer to use the streaming box for gaming; while the Roku 3 is best for people for prioritize a fast experience. Your choice of set top box would largely depend on your preferences.

 

Which one would you buy?

 

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