Streaming Media Stick Round-up: Fire TV Stick, Roku Stick, Chromecast

All stick-style streaming devices are highly portable (even more so than set-top streaming boxes), easy to setup and use, and cost less than fifty bucks.

 

But which one is for you?

 

For cord cutters who want to supplement the over air broadcast shows their Mohu HDTV antennas are picking up with streaming media, this simple guide can help you decide which streaming media stick is best for you: the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Roku Stick or the Google Chromecast.

 

 

Amazon Fire TV Stick

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is super-fast, and jam-packed with apps to please the whole family.

 

For only $39 you can fully immerse yourself in the Amazon ecosystem while still remaining connected to services outside of it. Ideal for Amazon Prime members, the Fire TV Stick launches apps very quickly – especially Amazon content.

 

The Fire Stick also gives users access to games (free and paid) which work with the included remote control. There’s an optional game controller available from Amazon.

 

 

Why It’s Great:

1. The Fire TV Stick is automatically registered to your Amazon account when you purchase it.

2. Apps on the device include The Big 3 Streaming Media Services for Cordcutters: Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, including lots of other solid performers for both video and music content.

3. Parental Controls available in the Settings menu on the device.

4. ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) – Instant streaming of content without buffering. In other words, it’s very fast!

5. FREE dedicated Amazon Fire Stick remote control apps with voice search enabled are available for Android and iOS devices. The Fire TV Stick is also compatible with optional Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote (sold separately).

6. Streams video content up to 1080P HD, and has Dolby Digital Plus certified surround sound capabilities (up to 7.1).

7. Syncs with your Amazon Cloud Drive to allow you to view your uploaded photos and videos.

 

What May Hold You Back:

1. No HBO Go (due on the device in the spring of this year) or Vudu apps.

2. Much of the content is focused on Amazon Prime content.

3. The small, monochromatic remote can be tough to navigate and is easy to misplace.

4. Does not have as many apps as the Roku Stick.

5. The setup is easy, but the user interface on the device is awkward at times.

 

The Fire TV Stick is ideal for any cord cutter with an Amazon Prime account as it gives them easy access to both Prime music and video libraries.

 

It’s a great option for college students who get Amazon Student Prime membership at the reduced rate of only $39 per year, giving them a great year-long value in streaming entertainment based upon Amazon content alone.

 

Also the perfect streaming media stick for parents who want Parental Controls and access to over 300 games.

 

 

Roku Stick

The most expensive of the stick streaming media devices at $50, the Roku Streaming Media Stick is still worth considering. It has over 2000 app channels, supports up to 1080P HD video and 7.1 surround sound audio.

 

The included remote is a comfortable size and has easy launch buttons for Amazon, Netflix, Blockbuster and MGo services. The on-screen interface is easy to understand and navigate.

 

Why It’s Great:

1. Has all the most popular apps for streaming media services including: Amazon, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and HBO Go, in addition to many other free and paid apps.

2. Can pair with your Slingbox to show live TV to your HDTV or monitor.

3. FREE Roku apps for smartphones and tablets allow you to use your devices as remote controls for the Roku Stick.

4. FREE Roku app also allows you to beam content from your tablet or smartphone view on your HDTV.

5. Easy setup and a user-friendly on-screen interface.

 

What May Hold You Back:

1. Only 256MB of flash storage compared to the Amazon Fire Stick’s 8GB and the Chromecast’s 2GB.

2. Boot time for apps can be very slow.

3. Has one-third the available games of the Fire TV Stick.

4. Highest retail price of all the streaming media sticks.

5. No headphone jack on the included remote, as with the Roku 3.

 

The Roku Stick is for those who want the most app choices they can get, including HBO Go. It’s got all the major players and lots of minor ones, making it a smorgasbord of streaming media for on-the-go users.

 

 

 

Chromecast

The Chromecast streaming media stick allows users to take what they are watching on their Android smartphones and tablets, iPhone, iPad, Macbook, Windows laptop or Chromebook, and send it to their HDTV or monitor to share with friends and family.

 

This streaming media stick is specifically designed for those who want to share online content from their devices on bigger screens. It’s retail price is $35, but lately it’s been available for as little as $25.

 

Why It’s Great:

1. Works with lots of devices to share content.

2. Content quickly and easily launches using the Chromecast app.

3. Ease of use with content from the Google play store.

4. Has both HBO Go and Showtime Anytime apps.

5. Cheapest of the streaming media sticks, and an easy way to cast YouTube videos to the family TV.

 

What May Hold You Back:

1. No Amazon or Bloomberg TV apps.

2. No remote. You must use an app on a tablet, smartphone or laptop.

3. Single band 2.4 GHz WiFi – no dual band.

4. Few available games.

5. Setup is easy, but can be fussy on some devices.

 

The Chromecast is perfect for cord cutters who always have their smartphones or tablets in hand and want to share. A great choice for travelers who use the Google Play store to get their music and games.

 

Andrea Polk hails from Oregon and is a wife, mother, writer, Amazon Top 50 Reviewer, and more. She’s also the author of the Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV as well as the avid deal-seeker behind SavvySleuth.com, where she scours the web for the best online deals.

Andrea Polk

More Posts by Andrea

Andrea Polk is a freelance writer and author of Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV and the Simple Guide to Sling TV. Andrea is also a native Oregonian, wife, mother, Top 50 Amazon Reviewer, avid deal seeker and self-proclaimed tech geek. Her blog SavvySleuth.com is where she shares product reviews, online deals and her love of cord cutting. She is currently working on her third book in the Non-Technical Guide to Cord Cutting book series to be published soon on Amazon.

Andrea Polk is a freelance writer and author of Simple Guide to Over-the-Air Free TV and the Simple Guide to Sling TV. Andrea is also a native Oregonian, wife, mother, Top 50 Amazon Reviewer, avid deal seeker and self-proclaimed tech geek. Her blog SavvySleuth.com is where she shares product reviews, online deals and her love of cord cutting. She is currently working on her third book in the Non-Technical Guide to Cord Cutting book series to be published soon on Amazon.

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