Even people with smart TVs often use streaming devices like Amazon Fire Stick or Roku. Those two are just two examples of the most popular ones available right now. Roku is maybe also the most famous brand that you will associate with streaming devices, but Amazon Fire Stick has the power of the Amazon brand to back it up, so it doesn’t fall far behind. Both devices offer unique functionalities, and they have a lot of similarities, but which one is better?
You can easily access the leading platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and much more on both streaming devices. They can also offer you additional functionalities and access to various applications. Both devices have different versions depending on your needs and what you would like to do with them. If you are currently deciding between the two, let’s look into which one will be a better choice for you based on some basic criteria.
1. Ease of use
Both devices are extremely easy to use. After all, they want to make streaming even easier. But let’s check the detail:
- Installation: The initial setup of Fire Stick is so easy. You will need less than 5 minutes to do it. The same applies to the Roku one. You will need only a stable internet connection because there will be some data to be downloaded initially and connect your device to the TV. Then you will have to set up an account, but nothing even close to rocket science
- Navigation: When it comes to the interface, this is where there are some significant differences. The menu on Roku devices is on the left, and on the right, you can see all the apps and streaming platforms you have installed already. Also, it offers a bit more advanced search that can be based on a genre, director, or of course, the name of a movie or TV series. To make it even easier, Roku gives you the possibility to organize channels in the way you want. Fire Stick’s main menu is on top, and the apps you have are on the bottom of the screen. You can’t organize your apps as you wish, but Fire Stick does it for you based on the frequent use. However, it is still very straightforward to operate it
- Mobile apps interface and usage: Both streaming devices allow you just to turn your phone into a remote control using their app. However, the interface is very different, and here definitely the Roku one wins since it is much more user-friendly
- Remote controls: The remote controls of Roku and Fire Stick are very basic, and they can be used to control the devices and some basic TV remote control commands as well, like the volume of the sound or mute options. Roku remote controls also include some quick access buttons to the leading streaming platforms
- Voice control: This option is available with all the Fire Stick remote controls but only some types of Roku ones. As you can guess, the Fire Stick devices use Alexa as a voice assistant and can be easily synced with all your other devices connected to Alexa. Roku is supposed to work with Alexa as well but is definitely working better with Google Assistant
2. Services and platforms
Both Roku and Fire Stick allow access to many streaming services and platforms. Of course, both support the main ones like Amazon Prime, HBO, Netflix, YouTube, and Roku have some exclusive channels. But except those, both devices will allow you to access many other apps and channels that might be specific for your location as well.
Maybe we can say that Roku leads on this aspect because they have many more specific channels. You can play many games as well on both devices. FireStick offers a greater variety of games when it comes to the genre. The same applies to the number of applications available on Fire Stick. After all, we shouldn’t forget that it is an Amazon product, and Amazon has its own app store as well.
3. Quality of the video
There can’t be a clear winner here because the quality of the video you get will mainly depend on the type of device you have. The variety of Roku and Fire Stick devices is very wide, and this is why we won’t compare all of them. But the basic ones offer basic audio quality and the lowest resolution – 1080p. Of course, the best ones like Roku Ultra, Fire Stick 4K, and Fire TV Cube support 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos.
Most of the time, the quality of the video will depend on your internet connection, and it might be worse than the best one that the device supports if the connection isn’t stable. In terms of audio – don’t expect some magic here. Indeed some of them support Dolby Atmos, and even two of the Roku devices are soundbars, it is always better if you have a better sound system in your TV configuration.
The price of the devices highly depends on the type of course. The basic types like Roku Express and Fire Stick with Alexa Voice Remote Lite are very close in terms of pricing, around $19-20 depending on where and when you get them. But the price can be really high when it comes to the higher class. For example, on Roku’s side, Roku Streambar is almost $100, and Roku Smart Soundbar is even $180. Fire TV Cube is a bit cheaper, and it is around $80, but it is a bit harder to get since it is rarely available on Amazon because of the high demand.
If you want a basic device that you want to use to access some streaming platforms easier, then both Roku and Fire Stick are a perfect choice. You can get the basic versions, and you will be more than happy. However, if you want a lot of additional functionalities or better video quality and audio, then choose a higher-class device. If you have many Amazon devices or prefer Alexa as a voice assistant, you should go with Fire Stick. On the other hand, if you prefer Google Assistance go with Roku. But whatever you choose, you will have some fantastic functionalities and apps available.