A Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick+, or a Fireplace TV Stick 4K are all nice methods to entry standard streaming companies in your TV, however selecting between these decisions may also be a problem.
The excellent news is that we’ve reviewed all the choices for you, and categorized them by how user-friendly these merchandise are, their processing energy, video games, video high quality, and different essential elements that may affect which product you find yourself buying.
Ease of use
Though they allow you to entry the identical content material, the Chromecast and Chromecast Extremely operate fairly in another way than the opposite units on this checklist. Since Chromecasts use your cell machine or pc to “solid” content material to your TV, they’re devoid of a conventional menu-based person interface, a distant management, and onboard storage. The truth is, in a world of good units, the Chromecast is probably the dumbest of all of them.
However in relation to simplicity and ease of use, that’s an excellent factor. Chromecast units depart all of the smarts to your cell machine, merely appearing as a conduit by means of which your TV can entry content material. Discover what you need to watch or take heed to in your private machine, “solid” it on the Chromecast with the faucet of a button and, voilà, it’s in your TV. That features any content material you’ll be able to placed on a Chrome browser window, i.e., something on the net. It’s not that the opposite choices listed below are complicated — in truth, they’re all fairly manageable, and a few of you might get alongside higher with the standard remote-powered person interfaces you’re possible already used to — however the Chromecast takes the highest spot right here for total intuitiveness.
Effectively, expertise strikes quick, so the winner on this class is mostly probably the most just lately launched product. As of our most up-to-date replace, that might be the Roku Premiere+ and the Fire TV Stick 4K, however because the Fireplace TV Stick 4K packs a bit extra punch, that’s our decide. Transferring on!
Winner: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
Positive, the Roku units will allow you to play Offended Birds and a handful of different cute video games, however the Fireplace TV Stick 4K has entry to an enormous library of extra superior titles (like Machinarium and Minecraft). These video games are extremely interesting to informal players and signify greater than only a novelty. Chromecast’s video games are tremendous, however you received’t discover a lot to please the console crowd. Most are multiplayer social gathering titles equivalent to Threat, Scrabble, and Monopoly. Amazon just lately dropped support for its own game controller in newer fashions, however you’ll discover third-party options in case you actually need to get your recreation on along with your Fireplace TV Stick 4K.
Winner: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
In terms of the sheer variety of out there apps (not counting video games), the Roku units, with entry to thousands of apps (or channels, as Roku calls them), win by a landslide. You can even use the official Roku app to pick out content material in your smartphone.
Chromecast apps (“Forged Enabled” apps) additionally quantity within the hundreds now, however help for the casting platform between PC, Android, and iOS units varies, which may be irritating. The excellent news is that, in contrast to Roku and Amazon Fireplace TV, any Android or iOS app may be Forged-enabled if the developer chooses, making for an ever-growing choice.
Talking of constructing that selection, Amazon and Google just lately ended their feud over video companies, and the newest replace to the Amazon Prime Video app now supports Chromecast natively. Conversely and maybe extra importantly, now you can obtain the YouTube app on Amazon Fireplace TV. This announcement however, Roku continues to be king of the app mountain.
We’ve owned one Roku machine or one other for the final a number of years but in addition have put some severe time into testing Fireplace TV set-top bins and streaming sticks. As we’ve now come to make use of each the Roku and Fireplace TV interfaces frequently, this has grow to be a tricky name to make. The Roku interface is extraordinarily user-friendly — some may even name it “bubbly” or “boring” — whereas the Amazon Fireplace TV interface has a little bit extra techno-flash, but continues to be very capable of maintain enterprise. Whereas we usually favor the service-agnostic Roku interface, Amazon makes use of Alexa for all types of voice-control features that Roku can’t compete with, although Roku does help rudimentary voice-activated requests by means of any separate Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant units you’ll have.
For its half, Chromecast does have respectable performance by way of the House app, nevertheless it doesn’t actually have a conventional person interface, per se. As a substitute, you can be navigating apps and content material libraries by means of your telephone, pill, or PC. Whereas that does technically put it behind the opposite units, so long as you’re comfy along with your casting machine of selection, Chromecast is extremely easy.
In terms of discovering what to watch, the place to look at it, and the way a lot (if something) it’s going to value you, the Roku units win. They’ll search by means of textual content or voice, whether you use the remote or the mobile app, throughout an enormous channel library.
Constant updates have made Fireplace TV a severe contender right here, with Amazon bragging that it has the “broadest cross-provider search of any streaming media participant.” It’ll present you the place the video you’re on the lookout for may be discovered amidst your streaming service choices. Nonetheless, Roku is extra clear in its search about value, and Amazon’s broader searches depart one thing to be desired.
Google Chromecast units embrace each textual content and voice search, however they’re nonetheless fairly far behind. Just like the Fireplace TV, nonetheless, Chromecast search favors content material from sure apps and companies, particularly proprietary ones. So, until you’re actually into the Google Play retailer, discovering the most effective place to look at what you’re on the lookout for could be a bit extra of a trouble right here.
It’s fairly shut any manner you slice it, however we nonetheless really feel Roku comes out on prime right here.
In terms of the included remotes, each of the Roku units and the Fireplace TV provide a ton of performance, together with energy and quantity keys to your TV. Nevertheless, Roku’s is a bit simpler to make use of, together with shortcut buttons to a few of the hottest apps for Netflix, Hulu, and others. Each platforms provide free distant apps for iOS and Android, however right here once more, Roku has the higher hand due to barely higher usability, in addition to the power to take heed to headphones instantly out of your telephone or pill for personal listening. As talked about, Chromecast units don’t use a devoted distant, so that they’re not within the image. Fireplace TV will get an honorable point out right here, if solely due to its cool voice options like, “rewind 20 seconds,” for these instances if you miss a chunk of important dialog.
Casting, mirroring, sharing
In terms of taking part in content material that doesn’t come from a streaming service, the Google Chromecast and Chromecast Extremely win the day. Whereas it’s simply as straightforward to stream Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu to a Roku machine, sharing private movies or pictures on the Android platform is a tad simpler with Chromecast. For iOS customers, the method of casting private pictures or movies to a Chromecast requires using a third-party app, whereas Roku customers with iOS units need to share from inside the Roku distant app.
In terms of mirroring, it’s fairly shut between all 4 streamers, however Chromecast is best — for Android, anyway. Due to Miracast, display screen mirroring for Android and Fireplace machine customers isn’t a lot of a chore (although iOS customers might want to use a third-party app). Chromecast customers can simply and shortly mirror their desktop to place something and every little thing you will discover on-line (legally, in fact!) up in your TV display screen from a PC or an Android machine. Although mirroring isn’t out there by way of iOS units, Chromecast streamers nonetheless edge out a win right here.
Video and audio high quality
The one machine on this checklist that doesn’t help 4K UHD or HDR video is the third-generation Chromecast, so for probably the most half, it might seem we’re beginning on a degree taking part in area. In terms of the standard of streaming content material, the most important issue is commonly the standard of the connection, not the machine’s claimed specs. Until your house community is sporting the newest and biggest requirements, although, this may possible make little distinction.
Just like the Chromecast Extremely, the Roku Streaming Stick+ and the Amazon Fireplace TV Stick 4K additionally help dual-band a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, which makes them well-equipped to deal with 4K streaming offered your home network is up to the task. This leaves out the Roku Premiere+, which is restricted to b/g/n connections. Nevertheless, the truth that Chromecast helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient (along with HDR10), and the Fireplace Stick 4K helps each HDR format (HDR10, HDRO10+, HLG, and Dolby Imaginative and prescient) provides them a (very) slight edge (for Dolby Imaginative and prescient-supported TV house owners, that’s).
The Roku Premiere+ ties the Fireplace TV Stick 4K in relation to value, and though the Fireplace TV Stick 4K affords the wiles of Alexa voice search and loads of different Alexa features, the Roku Premiere+ was merely a smoother journey in our testing, with fewer hiccups and extra intuitive controls. Alternatively, the Roku Streaming Stick+ provides probably quicker, dual-band Wi-Fi which can possible carry out higher in homes with a number of heavy customers, and it prices simply $10 extra. When all is claimed and carried out, each Rokus provide a low value, higher app choice, and a extra intuitive interface, for the win on this class.
And the winner is …
So far as we’re involved, the Roku Premiere+ and Roku Streaming Stick+ are merely the most effective streamers you should purchase proper now. At $50 and $60 apiece, they each provide easy streaming with every little thing you want, and nothing you don’t. Whereas Alexa makes it straightforward to make use of voice for management over a number of units, the Rokus will do nearly every little thing you want whereas providing higher search, extra apps, and, for our cash, a greater total interface. That mentioned, when you’ve got a TV with Dolby Vision support, we recommend going with the Fire TV Stick 4K as a substitute, which is an excellent streamer in its personal proper and loaded with options.
Furthermore, you actually can’t go fallacious with any of the picks on our checklist. For those who frequently use your telephone, pill, or pc for streaming, you may as properly seize a Chromecast and streamline your viewing expertise (and, once more, in order for you a 4K-capable model and don’t thoughts paying further, there’s additionally the Chromecast Ultra). When all is claimed and carried out, the choice is yours and yours alone. Select correctly.