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Roku Streaming Stick vs. Amazon Fire TV Stick

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Looking for a cheap, easy way to get streaming video from Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, HBO, ESPN and everything else on to your TV? You have two excellent choices: fire tv stick vs Roku. Roku has long been the most popular name in media streamers, but recently Amazon’s Fire TV system has been gaining ground. In my in-depth reviews, both work great, and most of the Roku and Fire TV streamers I’ve reviewed have received an 8.0 (excellent) rating or higher.

Roku has the experience coming into the fight; the company has been in the streaming business since 2008, starting with set-top boxes and introducing the first Roku Stick in 2012. Google followed suit with the Chromecast in 2013. Amazon, the internet bookseller turned one-stop shop for pretty much everything, is also making moves in the streaming media space with its Fire TV Stick. Their hardware initiatives have been uneven, but with a push for streaming video, it only made sense for them to try and carve out a chunk of the TV market.

They have more similarities than differences.

  • Both are super-affordable, starting at $30 for Roku and $40 for Fire TV.
  • Both have access to approximately umpteen zillion TV apps, including all of the major ones (with some exceptions; see below), and most apps look and behave basically the same on both — even YouTube on Fire TV.
  • The latest models are pretty much equally quick, responsive and reliable as long as you have a solid internet connection.
  • Both (except for the cheapest Rokus) offer remotes with TV volume and power buttons to control most TVs, so you can ditch the remote that came with your TV.
  • Both have numerous models, starting with basic streamers up to 4K-compatible versions with voice, device control and headphone jacks built into the remote.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Specifications:

This is where things get confusing. Let’s try and make sense of all the different models on offer from the two companies. First, the Amazon devices. The basic Fire TV Stick has a 1.3GHz processor, 8GB of internal memory, and support for Bluetooth 4.1. It plays videos in 720p or 1080p resolution at up to 60 frames-per-second (FPS).

The 4K model is a notable improvement. You’ll find a 1.7GHz processor, support for Bluetooth 5.0, and 2160p video resolution. The internal storage stays at 8GB. Three Roku products—the Express, Express +, and Streaming Stick—only offer 1080p resolution, the offers offer 4K. Grab CBS all access trial for 30 days and spend quality time with your family.

Controls:

All Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices ship with dedicated remote control. Both Amazon controls support Alexa. If you want to control your Roku with your voice, you will need to buy a Roku Premiere +, Roku Streaming Stick, or Roku Streaming Stick +. Both devices also have an accompanying remote control smartphone app. Lastly, if you have an Amazon Echo speaker, you can sync it with your Fire TV Stick and use it to control your content.

Size and Weight

The Firestick’s housing fits in the palm of your hand and weighs only 53.6 grams. The remote control, on the other hand, weighs 43.4 grams and can fit in any pocket. The Roku stick is almost the same size as the Firestick but it’s a bit slimmer. It only weighs about 26 grams.

TV Compatibility

Firestick is compatible with any high-definition television with available high-speed HDMI input, high-speed internet connection via Wi-Fi. Roku is compatible with HD TVs of up to 1080p, 4K UHD TVs of up to 2160p, 4K UHD HDR TVs that support HRD10.

Wi-Fi Connectivity

Firestick has dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi for more stability in streaming and reduced buffering and supports Wi-Fi networks, which include 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. The Roku stick, on the other hand, supports 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless network.

Storage

Firestick allows you to store data with its 8 GB capacity. Cloud storage also comes free for all content purchased from Amazon. The Roku stick, however, has limited storage at only 256 MB and only 512 MB memory although this can be increased with a micro SD card. You may connect external devices to the Fire TV Stick such as additional storage via an OTG Cable.

Setup

Firestick and Roku both have a simple setup process. Just plug it into the HDTV and start connecting to the network to start streaming. Take note that if you’re a new user, you need to first create an account to get started.

Parental Controls Feature

Firestick allows parental controls to be activated to prevent unwanted content or those that are inappropriate for children to be accessed. A 5-digit PIN is needed to safeguard access to the device as well.

The Roku stick doesn’t have parental controls but users can create a 4-digit PIN before they can add new channels to the player. Remember, however, that the PIN cannot be used to prohibit which content can be played on the Roku stick by children.

Streaming and Picture Quality

The Firestick’s 4K Ultra HD streaming quality that can accommodate 720p, 1080p, 2160p and reach up to 60 frames per second (fps), provides outstanding picture clarity, splendid and vibrant colors, and excellent HDR10, HDR10+ and HLG quality for richer pixels. This feature will work with a compatible Ultra HD television only.

The Roku stick’s 4K Ultra HD quality streaming claims to produce brilliant and crisp details and smooth videos. To achieve such high-quality viewing, you need a 4K Ultra HD TV, stable and high-speed internet connection, and the correct HDMI port on the TV.

Audio Quality

The Firestick and Firestick 4K support Dolby Audio for crystal clear sound. The Roku stick also has superb audio features, which support digital stereo over HDMI, DTS Digital Surround and Dolby Audio.

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