Companies offering streaming devices are giving cable giants a hard time. Consumers find streaming devices more economical, and they also come loaded with content. However, the streaming device market is becoming crowded, with almost every big name entering the lucrative segment. With the wide range of streaming devices available, it might be difficult to choose the best option for you. Thus, to help you make your choice, we have detailed the best four streaming devices that are currently available: the Roku Streaming Stick+, Apple TV, Chromecast and Amazon Fire Stick.
Roku Streaming Stick+
Roku is a major player in the streaming device market. The Roku Streaming Stick+ can be connected to any compatible TV to access content online. A perfect device for frequent travelers, the Roku stick is fast on the processing front. The stick allows viewers to watch desired content more efficiently than other streaming devices.
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Roku offers access to over 1,000 apps, which is more than any other player out there. It supports Netflix, CinemaNow, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, HBO NOW and other providers. The stick is compatible with both iOS and Android.
The Roku Streaming Stick+ is a tiny device that resembles a USB thumb drive and supports 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos Audio. The powerful 802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless support allows the streaming device to be plugged in anywhere within the home’s Wi-Fi range without the need for an ethernet cable. The simple user interface is one of the best features of the Roku Streaming Stick+, which allows it to rank easily over other streaming devices. The device is priced around $70.
A recent study by Parks Associate claims that Roku is still ruling the market with about a 37% share. The study also reveals that consumers prefer Roku devices over those from competitors, and the only features which need improvement are gaming and the ability to purchase content.
Apple TV 4K
Apple’s streaming box supports 4K HDR and enables easy streaming of content from iTunes and third-party apps like Netflix, Hulu and ESPN. The Apple TV also offers the option to search via voice commands. Siri support makes the device ideal for iPhone owners looking for a high-quality streaming experience. Further, the Apple TV is compatible with HomeKit and can be used as a hub for smart devices, meaning that users can control lights, their thermostat and more with it. Compared to Roku, the Apple TV features fairly easy installation and set-up.
Call it a shortcoming or just exclusivity, the Apple TV is compatible only with iOS, making it less desirable for Android users. The Apple TV supports HD and UHD TVs with HDMI and is available for $180.
Amazon Fire TV
The Amazon Fire TV also comes loaded with voice command support, which makes it a great option for those who like switching content from one channel to another quickly. Further, users get the option to choose from tens of thousands of channels and apps and an easy toggle option to switch between watching content and playing games, all through a quick voice command. The Amazon Fire TV supports Netflix, Hulu, HBO NOW, YouTube, and Amazon Video, among other providers. The device is compatible with all major platforms.
However, compared to the other streaming devices on the market, the Amazon Fire TV is slower and more Amazon-centric. The lack of volume and TV power off buttons on the remote could be another letdown. The device is perfect for those who rely heavily on Amazon’s ecosystem. The device costs $70.
Available in different colors, the Chromecast can be connected via a flexible HDMI wire by default. Even though the device is circular and colorful, it mostly remains behind the Apple TV and Fire TV. Users also have the option of letting the device dangle or sticking it to the TV magnetically, making it suitable for a range of different setups.
The Chromecast beats some competitors, as it is compatible with the widest range of HDMI. The Chromecast also offers a decent experience on the interface front, as users just need to load up the apps and press a single button to cast content. The Chromecast supports Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, HBO NOW, and more. Further, the device is compatible with Android and iOS. The Chromecast doesn’t support Amazon Video, but at $35, it is among the cheapest options available.