Streaming Devices Compared: Roku vs Fire TV vs Chromecast

You don’t need a smart TV to watch content on streaming services. But you do need a device that connects to the internet so you can watch content on streaming services. That’s where a smart device comes in. You may have heard of Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, and a few others, and here we will compare the popular ones to hopefully ease the confusion.

Roku

Roku is the most popular streaming device on the market, and it’s the one I generally recommend to the most people. Roku wasn’t the first to market a smart TV device, but they were associated with Netflix in the early days of their “watch instantly” streaming service back in 2008, back when few were looking for a streaming device. Now the device supports much more than just Netflix, and even has their own Roku Channel full of free and premium content.

Fire TV

Amazon gave Roku some good competition with its line of Fire TV devices in 2014. Much like the Amazon Fire tablets’ main selling point being its low price, the same can be said for the Fire TV line. That low price does mean Amazon will push its own services and content first, but it isn’t too obnoxious. Fire TV is at its best when you live in an Amazon ecosystem, as it can be controlled with Alexa, show who’s at your Ring door bell, present your Amazon Photos, and play your Amazon Music and Prime Video. Even if you aren’t a Prime subscriber, it still supports the major streaming services.

Chromecast

Back in the day, the Chromecast was the cheapest smart TV device. At $35, the cheapest Roku or Fire TV device was $50, so it was clear the Chromecast was the value leader. Unfortunately for Google, the competitors caught up with the price, and now the Chromecast is kind of an odd device.

Chromecast with Google TV

Google has been attempting to crack the TV streaming world since before the Chromecast’s release in 2013. They tried it with a device in 2012 called the Nexus Q, which had Chromecast-like capabilities but almost zero third-party support, and was quickly discontinued. Then there was Google TV in 2010, which aimed to put Android on your TV, but suffered from an unrefined interface and near zero third-party support. Google has since tried to use Android as a streaming device operating system with limited success. Although the Fire TV uses Android, it contains very little Google software, and the only other devices to use Android for TV were no-name devices. The TiVo Stream 4K and NVidia Shield are the two biggest names in Android TV, and that isn’t saying very much.

Apple TV

Apple was one of the first large companies to get into a streaming device, way back in 2007. It didn’t support HD, yet it required component cables which was something high end TVs only had at the time. Plus, it only worked with iTunes, so you had to be in the Apple ecosystem. Frankly, it didn’t sell well, and that still remains the case today.

I’m a communications major passionate about technology, video production, and how the world works. http://anthony.guidetti.me