It hasn’t been that long since video-streaming devices started to make their way into the market. For a long time, large set-top boxes were the go-to devices for cord cutters, until the Google Chromecast dongle came along. Now, every company is rushing to release their own low-profile streaming stick, and two of the most popular on the market today are the Roku Streaming stick and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. They are definitely two of the best streaming stick options available today. As you look at the benefits of the Roku vs Fire Stick, remember that really what you are paying for in the functionality that the sticks offer.
Let’s compare compare streaming sticks and see which one might be the best fit for your setup today.
Roku vs Fire Stick – Setup
Both the Roku and Fire Stick are fairly easy to set up. By following the very simple directions that come with the stick, even those that are technologically inclined will be up and running in just a few minutes. It does get a bit more tricky as you try to load apps onto the devices. Bundled TV subscribers may find the setup process a bit difficult, because you are required to load each app individually, confirming your TV subscription through the app’s website. Then, you must enter your cable info and wait for the app to go through the update process. Amazon has released a single sign-on feature, but Fire Stick users are still waiting for a software update to bring it to the device.
Roku vs Fire Stick – Interface
The Roku really shines with its minimalist design. The home page consists of a menu to the left, and the apps and service buttons to the right. The simple layout makes it easy to launch the app of your choice, add new apps to your streaming device, or find TV shows, movies, or other content that the apps have to offer. You can also move the apps around so that you can put your most-used apps at the top.
The Roku Streaming Stick also recently introduced a new feature titled “My Feed.” This section works in conjunction with the search feature to keep you updated on titles, actors, and directors that you have searched for in the past. You can also add new subscriptions that will show up in the feed. Roku has a deep selection of apps that generally outshines the Amazon Fire, especially when it comes to network and cable TV apps, making it the perfect choice for anyone that still has a cable TV subscription.
The Amazon Fire Stick differs a bit from the Roku in terms of interface design. While the Roku has a static design that will be the same every time you launch the device, the Fire Stick places emphasis on new content, particularly those that are provided by Amazon. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but may not be in line with all user’s tastes. One huge upside to the Fire Stick is that it pulls a bunch of data from IMDB, which Amazon owns, to provide more insight into the content available on the device. Additionally, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick also offers access to the a la carte TV subscription service, Amazon Channels, which is a viable replacement for cable TV. When it comes to the interface, the Roku vs Fire TV are about equal, but each has its own qualities that you may find to your liking.
Roku vs Fire Stick – Remotes
Both the Roku and Amazon Fire Stick come with remotes, and both are solid. The Roku remote has dedicated buttons for 4 apps — Netflix, Amazon, Sling TV, and Google Play. One feature that makes the Amazon remote stand out is the inclusion of voice search directly on the remote. The voice search uses the same Alexa technology that is in the Amazon Echo devices. While the more expensive Roku set top foxes do offer remote voice search, that feature isn’t available on the streaming stick. Other than that, there isn’t a big reason to prefer one remote over another.
Both devices also allow you to use smart phones as remotes as well, and offer iOS and Android devices. When comparing the apps, the Amazon smart phone remote app tends to be a bit more user friendly, offering a better design and trackpad navigation. However, the Roku remote app allows you to play audio from the content that you are watching directly through your smart phone, allowing you to listen to your favorite shows through headphones. When comparing the Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku remotes, it really boils down to what is important to you as the user.
So, which one should you buy? When it comes to the Roku vs Fire Stick, there really isn’t a bad choice. Both devices are pretty similar to one another, and new cord cutters are unlikely to be disappointed with either choice. It also helps that they both cost just $40, which is very affordable. For those that are still cable TV subscribers, the Roku might be a better choice due to the selection of cable and network TV apps available on the device. However, having access to Amazon’s recommendations and IMDB data are both very useful features. Bottom line — you can’t really go wrong with either the Roku or the Amazon Fire Stick, as both are excellent streaming sticks that are well worth the money.