When it comes to streaming devices, the two leaders in the industry are Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV. Each has their own versions of built-in TV software, sticks and 4K devices. So which one is better for you? It comes to down to the following factors.
Both Roku and Amazon Fire TV sticks are super affordable, especially during sales events and Holiday seasons. The 720p version can be bought for less than $20. Amazon Fire TV 4K stick is the cheapest 4K version, which is on sale for $25 during sales events. But when you’re choosing the platform, price should not be a factor.
Vudu (and Other Apps)
Do you watch Vudu or YouTube TV? Because Amazon is locked into battles with other content providers like Vudu and YouTube TV, it doesn’t provide a native app for you access their content. For awhile, even YouTube was not available. Yes, you can sideload these apps on your Firestick which takes a bit of time to dig through online tutorials, but it’s not something an average customer would want to take the time to figure out. Roku wins here again.
Do you use Kodi? It’s a free and open-source media player that you can use to streaming content from your own media library or internet sources. It has a robust interface and a lot of fantastic built-in functionalities like the ability to pull in cover art and titles for your own media files. Kodi is not available on Roku. Because Fire TV OS is based off of Android system, you can sideload Kodi on any Fire TV device. Fire TV wins here with the flexibility to install available Android app, whether it’s sanctioned or not by Amazon, like the beforementioned Vudu app. Perfect for power users.
Alexa voice control
The biggest benefit of using Fire TV is integration with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. If you’re already invested into the Alexa ecosystem or want to have voice control, then Fire TV is the clear winner here. Amazon is making it super easy to create your own home entertainment center around Fire TV and Echo systems. The Fire TV Cube is an Echo and Fire TV combined system, allowing you to control your Fire TV, AV receiver and BluRay players with one device. It has an IR blaster to make your older entertainment equipment compatible. Amazon is even coming out with Fire TV Blaster, combining the older remote capabilities with your independent Echo and Fire TV stick devices. With Alexa voice control, you can tell you TV and receiver or soundbar to turn on and off, switch apps and devices, and even listen to Amazon or Apple Music.
Now to answer which one is better, it comes down to what features you’d like to have.
Do you want voice control? Go with Fire TV.
If you don’t want voice control, do you need to run Kodi? If yes, go with Fire TV.
If you don’t want voice control, and don’t need Kodi, do you watch on Vudu? If yes, then go with Roku.
If you don’t want voice control, don’t need Kodi and Vudu, then go with Roku.