The popularity of the lace-cut continues to pick up pace. Taken together, cable TV companies are losing millions of subscribers each year.
If you've dropped your TV subscription, chances are you're trying to decide between an Amazon Fire TV stick and one of the many Roku devices as your new entertainment platform.
Read on to find out which gadget you should buy.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to make a similar comparison between Amazon Fire TV sticks and Roku streaming sticks.
There are two Amazon products to consider:the Fire TV Stick and the Fire 4K TV Stick. On the Roku side, there are six devices that can be considered Fire TV competitors:Roku Express, Roku Express +, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere +, Roku Streaming Stick, and Roku Streaming Stick +.
We will cover all of these devices in this article.
Before we get into the features and technical specifications, let's deal with the elephant in the room, the cost of the devices.
Amazon's entry-level Fire TV Stick is $39.99. The 4K model will cost you $10 more, coming in at $49.99.
The cheapest Roku model is the Roku Express. At $29.99, it's more affordable than the Fire TV. At the other end of the scale, the best Roku model (Ultra excluded) is the Roku Streaming Stick +, which costs $59.99.
From a cost standpoint, the closest Roku devices to the two Amazon products are the Roku Premiere ($39.99), Premiere+ ($49.99), and Streaming Stick ($49.99).
This is where things get confusing. Let's try to make sense of all the different models on offer from the two companies.
First, the Amazon devices. The basic Fire TV Stick has a 1.3GHz processor, 8GB of internal memory, and support for Bluetooth 4.1. Play videos in 720p or 1080p resolution at up to 60 frames per second (FPS).
The 4K model is a marked improvement. You'll find a 1.7GHz processor, support for Bluetooth 5.0, and 2160p video resolution. Internal storage remains at 8GB..
Three Roku products - Express, Express + and Streaming Stick - only offer 1080p resolution, offerings offer 4K.
All Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices ship with a dedicated remote.
Both Amazon remotes support Alexa. If you want to control your Roku with your voice, you'll need to purchase a Roku Premiere+, a Roku Streaming Stick, or a Roku Streaming Stick. +.
Both devices also have an accompanying remote control smartphone app.
Lastly, if you have an Amazon Echo speaker, you can sync it to your Fire TV Stick and use it to control your content.
Visually, Amazon's platform is more modern and feels more polished. However, critics have argued that it promotes Amazon's own content too aggressively.
It is a valid point of view. You will only see a row of your own apps at the top of the screen. And if you have too many installed, you'll need to scroll to the right and click View All to see them.
The rest of the home screen real estate is taken up by Amazon Prime Video content. Even if you don't subscribe to the service, you'll still see it.
Roku's interface is more customizable. All your channels are displayed in a scrollable list. If you install third-party plugins, you can even put your channels into groups for easy navigation.
On the downside, Roku's menus and visuals are dated. They urgently need an update.
If you're looking for a carrier-agnostic device, Roku is the best streaming device on the market. Not only is it better than Amazon Fire TV sticks; It's also better than Android TV, Apple TV and Chromecast devices.
You'll find apps for almost every on-demand video and music streaming app, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio.
Roku also offers a vast library of private channels. 20 Private Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now. 20 Private Roku Channels You Should Install Now. Here's how to add private channels to your Roku, along with some of the best Roku private channels you can install right now. . Read more . You must enter a code on the Roku web portal to install them on your device. Be careful:many of the private channels are in a legal gray area.
The biggest problem with the Amazon Fire Stick is the lack of a native YouTube app. Ongoing bickering between the two tech giants forced Google to pull its apps from Amazon's platform nearly a year ago, and there's no sign they'll be back anytime soon.
YouTube is still available through a web browser on the device, but it's a clunky solution.
Speaking of browsers, it's worth noting that only Amazon products allow you to browse the web. There are two browsers available:the Silk browser and Amazon's own Firefox. You can easily control them using the Fire TV remote.
You Can Also Download Apps on Fire TV Sticks How to Sideload Apps on Your Amazon Fire TV Stick How to Add Apps on Your Amazon Fire TV Stick Your Fire TV Stick can run almost any Android app and installing it couldn't be more easy. Read more . The process allows you to install any browser from the Google Play Store. However, most other browsers don't support the remote, which means you'll also need to install a mouse app on your Fire TV.
In contrast, Roku devices don't offer any facility for browsing websites.
Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV sticks offer games on their platform.
However, hardcore gamers may find Fire TV devices more suitable for their needs. In general, Roku games are a bit cutesy. Sure, they'll keep you entertained for half an hour, but they don't offer longevity.
Games on Amazon devices are more robust. You will find titles like Minecraft, Badland and Star Wars..
Of course, if the ability to play games on your streaming device is high on your priority list, neither a Roku nor a Fire TV Stick can hold a candle to the Nvidia Shield. You can stream titles from your PC using Nvidia GameStream, download a host of local Nvidia and Google Play games, and install emulators for classic consoles.
We have written about the best games on Amazon Fire TV The best free Amazon Fire TV games The best free Amazon Fire TV games There are a surprising number of free Amazon Fire TV games available for download. Here are the best we've found. Read more and the best games on Roku. 10 Incredible Roku Games You Should Be Playing. 10 Incredible Roku Games You Should Be Playing. Did you know that the Roku has a surprisingly extensive catalog of games? Here are the best games you can play on your Roku right now! Read More
Roku devices have built-in Miracast technology. If you don't know, Miracast is like a wireless version of an HDMI cable. Most Android and Windows devices support Miracast. Apple devices are not.
Some older Amazon Fire TV models also support screen mirroring. Interestingly, it's not available on the 3rd generation Amazon Fire Stick or the 4K model.
It's really hard to pick a clear winner. It very much depends on how you plan to use your device, what gadgets you already own, and what streaming service you subscribe to.
All else being equal, we'd recommend the Amazon Fire TV 4K or the Roku Streaming Stick+. And remember, you can even buy a Chromecast. We have written a comparison of Roku and Chromecast Chromecast vs. Roku:Which is the best for you? Chromecast vs. Roku:Which is the best for you? There are many streaming media devices to choose from. In this article, we compare the heaviest hitters:Chromecast vs Roku. Read more if you want to learn more..