Streaming TV Comparison: Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku

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Reviewing TV Streaming Devices

I should preface this by saying I own all 4 and use them for a variety of tasks so I think my experience is pretty complete. I love my streaming TV solutions to watch NetFlix, HBO-To-Go, Amazon Prime Movies and TV, listen to Pandora and Internet Radio (listen to NPR and Music Radio Stations on my TV is nice).

Questions?

If you have questions, https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TVStreamingAppleTVRokuEtc/info is the place to ask them.

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Roku HD

Here is what distinguishes Roku from the others:

  • The best remote (at least the HD version). Best feel. Includes headset support.
  • Excellent Remote apps for Android and iDevices.
  • More apps (which they call Channels) and better apps than all others.
  • Better on screen keyboard for password entry (although app can be used too)
  • Worse sound quality than Apple TV, close to same picture quality.
  • Best search in terms of being able to search for contents across multiple apps.
  • Amazon Prime app (the main thing Apple is missing among others)
  • Dedicated Ethernet port (can reduce traffic on your WiFi to use it, plus unless you have gigabit Wifi, out performs WiFi)

If one can only buy one, Roku is a GREAT choice. Many more Apps/Channels than anyone else has. Dedicated Ted Talks, College Classes, CrunchyRoll, Silent Movies, Crackle, etc. You name a content item and Roku has a channel for it. It even has private channels see http://www.dailydot.com/entertainment/best-of-roku-private-channels-guide/.

 

Apple TV

Here is what makes Apple stand out:

  • Best sound quality
  • Decent remote. The lack of key labels and back button makes it a bit clumsy if you are spoiled by Roku remote.
  • Less Apps than Roku most importantly missing Amazon Prime*
  • Purchase support via iTunes is multi-device and Apple’s cloud more likely to be here in a decade or 2 compared to Roku cloud apps.
  • Airplay (playing screen from Mac, iPad, Phone) and playing screen from Windows or Android is most mature here. It has to be with the shortage of apps.

Fire TV

Fire TV is about same price as Roku and Apple TV. the stick version is way cheaper but also crippled so I feel not worth it.

  • Remote is better than Apple (more and better buttons, right “feel”) and worse than Roku.
  • Have not tried the remote apps no opinion yet.
  • The UI is a bit clunky and treats content and apps as equal which is a blessing or curse. In other words if you play 3 albums and 6 movies and access 5 apps you will have 14 choices on screen as if the content is an app. Neither Roku or Apple TV does that.
  • Less Apps than Roku, less apps than Apple TV. The Amazon Cloud player is much much much better than the Roku one. The Amazon Prime player has a clunkier UI and information overload compared to the Roku app/channel.
  • Better on screen keyboard for password entry than Apple (although app can be used too)
  • Picture and sound quality are very good.
  • Voice search rocks! Needs to be copied by Roku and Apple.
  • Dedicated Ethernet port (can reduce traffic on your WiFi to use it, plus unless you have gigabit Wifi, out performs WiFi)

Chromecast by Google – a dissapointment by comparison

  • No Remote 🙁
  • Ties up your Android device or PC when playing content (Roku and Apple TV do not)
  • Disconnects a lot.
  • Way less Apps than Roku, less apps than Apple TV. The Amazon Cloud player is much much much better than the Roku one.
  • Only works with Chrome browser extensions. NO Airplay (playing screen from Mac, iPad, Phone) and playing screen from Windows, unless its a Chrome browser tab. Android airplay yes.
  • Picture and sound quality are decent, not as good as Apple TV.
  • No content search!
  • No dedicated Ethernet port (can reduce traffic on your WiFi to use it, plus unless you have gigabit Wifi, out performs WiFi)

Stick TVs in General

Crippled version of above but cheaper. Not recommended unless you are really broke and cant afford Roku HD or Apple TV. The stick Roku and Fire are still both better than Chromecast.

Conclusions

Roku TV is the winner. Apple TV and Fire TV are very good. Chromecast is far from it’s potential and the wrong kind of device – remotes DO matter.

streamingTV

 

What Do Other Reviewers say:

They come to similar conclusions and offer some more depth if you need even more data:

Buiid your own Streaming Box

There are a few mays for the patient, frugal, super skilled types:

Hopefully you have all the data you need to make an informed decision.

Help-Wiley-Coyote

Need any Questions answered or help using the device?

If you have questions,
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/TVStreamingAppleTVRokuEtc/info
is the place to ask them.

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