With many streaming media devices to choose from, it isn't easy to find the right one. There are dozens of streaming media devices, but two of the best are Chromecast and Roku.
A streaming media device is one of the most convenient ways to watch your favorite shows without cable. If you already own an HDTV, choosing which streaming media device is right for you can be tricky. There are dozens of products vying for your attention, and to help you pick the right one, we're pitching Chromecast vs. Roku.
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Roku and Chromecast, both streaming devices, come with remote control, built-in Wi-Fi, and access to apps that let you stream content from multiple sources. Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast with Google TV, and Roku 4 reviews are here to help you choose which one is correct for you.
Chromecasts are probably the easiest way to bring online entertainment to an analog display, whether it's a television or high-def monitor that you'd like to have Internet access on. The Chromecast comes with an HDMI port to connect to your TV.
The Chromecast then draws power either from a USB port or can draw power from the HDMI port itself. Chromecast has an on/off switch button on the side. Chromecast is a standalone device that can turn any television with an HDMI port into your personal entertainment center. It's powered by Google and functions as part of the Chromecast family of streaming devices, including Google Chromecast Audio and Chromecast built-in speakers.
The device can be plugged into the HDMI port on whatever device you want to stream from—let's face it, most of us have at least one smart TV by now—and then (using your phone or tablet) play the content on the devices you want to be streamed.
All you have to do is press the Chromecast button in your video or music app on your phone, tablet, or computer and choose the TV you want to play on. Chromecast is free to use.
Roku Streaming Stick is a small device that plugs into your TV's HDMI docks and plays hundreds of streaming channels on your Television. The Roku Streaming Stick features smooth HD streaming, an included voice remote with buttons to control your TV power and volume, plus a search button that accesses the Roku Channel Store directly from the remote.
The Roku Streaming Stick has the same streaming channels as leading TV sticks but smaller, more portable devices. You can simply plug the Roku Streaming Stick directly into the HDMI port on your TV to stream smooth HD content like YouTube, Netflix, or games on your big screen.
Roku takes little space, and its portable solution allows you to take your favorite entertainment from one room to another. Plus, a voice remote provides a convenient way to search and control your TV power and volume, so you don't have to remove your mobile device from your pocket or purse constantly.
If you're looking for a way to watch many TV shows and movies without spending too much money, you'll want to buy a Roku. Six different devices are currently available in the US, with the cheapest model costing just $29. On the other hand, the Chromecast also has different models with the basic available for only around $35.
Both the Roku Express and Chromecast are cheap, modern streaming sticks. It looks like Roku has a better deal for you. For a few dollars more, the Roku Express+ gives you a few more bells and whistles, including a voice-activated remote control, a microSD card slot, and an Ethernet port. If you want a 4K video, you can get that too with the Ultra for just $10 more.
When deciding between Chromecast or Roku, the biggest difference comes down to the interface. Chromecasts mirror your device's screen on the TV, while Roku devices run their own proprietary software with channels, a store, and search functionality.
Chromecast has a simple (maybe too simple) user interface: it mirrors whatever is on your smartphone or tablet on the TV. It does this by using your Wi-Fi connection to connect to your Chromecast. It's like a Roku Streaming Stick, but without an on-screen interface and streamed through your phone.
The user interface of the Roku streaming stick is very simple, with just three buttons for connectivity, volume, and power. The main screen displays all your content in full HD and can access the menu button by pressing the center button on the remote.
Here you can view a list of services and apps, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and more. Click any one of them to stream your video or music content. You can even use search to find shows or movies quickly.
Roku lets you access all the popular streaming apps in one easy-to-use UI. Choose from over 2,500 channels in the Roku Channel Store, including more than 450,000 movies and TV episodes.
To sum up, the Roku streaming device is the clear winner here as it comes with a dedicated OS Roku OS. It has apps store, a settings menu, and explore functionality. Whereas the Chromecast just mirrors the screen of your smartphone or tablet on a big TV or monitor screen.
Chromecast is better when you want to play videos from your mobile gallery and show photos on a bigger screen. The screen mirroring will be smooth, and there will be no jitters. However, the Roku device is not meant for that purpose. It lets you access content on the internet, but it doesn't work that well when it comes to mirrors to be tied here.
Roku and Chromecast both devices join to the internet with either a wireless or wired link. Roku is smart enough to recognize that you're sacrificing speed and performance for convenience, and it'll switch to a wired connection so you can stream to your heart's content. Chromecast has no such smarts.
Roku always checks for a wireless connection to enhance speed and performance when streaming content from an app. If a wireless signal isn't strong enough, the player automatically switches to a wired connection. Chromecast automatically switches to a wired connection when it can't find a good wireless signal.
Roku is designed to work perfectly with your home's wireless network. Certain obstructions, such as thick walls and other wireless devices, can cause weak wireless signal strength. To get the highest quality streaming experience, you can connect Roku directly to your modem or router via Ethernet cable.
A Chromecast needs some juice to keep it running, just like many other devices you might use with your TV. It sounds weird, but some perks to this make the extra plug worthwhile. Plugging your Chromecast into an electrical outlet makes sure that it has access to all of the electricity it needs to work properly.
Similar to Roku, Chromecast also has another option for internet connections if you don't have Wi-Fi. You can use an Ethernet cable instead. Again, there is no winner here regarding connectivity options, as both of them require the same connectivity to work with the Internet.
When it comes to casting content to your TV, Chromecast is the clear winner in picture quality. Both devices stream from popular apps like Netflix and YouTube, but Chromecast has the upper hand in personal videos and images.
When sharing content from an Android device, Chromecast is more intuitive with Google's huge feature set at your fingertips. If you use an iOS device, you'll need third-party apps if you're using Chromecast. Although both devices can offer a great experience for basic casting, Chromecast is the clear winner of streaming content.
The Roku and Chromecast both support high-quality content. You can easily stream 1080p content on both of these devices. However, if you are willing to stream 4K movies and TV shows, you would require a higher variant for Chromecast and Roku.
For instance, Roku has three variants: Express, Express+, and Roku Express 4K+, and only the Roku Express 4K+ can stream 4K videos. Similarly, Chromecast has Chromecast Ultra to stream 4K content. Moreover, you would need higher plans in OTT platforms to stream 4K. For example, Netflix offers 4K content at $13.99, whereas the basic plan costs only around $7.99, much cheaper.
Roku and Chromecast both offer a variety of ways to connect to a TV, but HDMI is the only option with Chromecast Ultra. A set that offers an HDMI port - such as Roku Streaming Stick+ or all of the Fire TV devices - makes it easy for someone who's already invested in HDMI cables and other necessary components.
We like how Chromecast's clean, minimal interface looks when paired with other products in the Google ecosystem. The remote is neat and compact and has handy shortcut buttons for Home and Back. We wish the remote were a little more accurate and responsive, though. We also like how easy it is to stream YouTube videos and photos from your computer to the TV.
Even though there are many similarities between Chromecast and Roku's line of streaming media players, some key differences could impact which product you buy. For example, Chromecast comes with voice control capabilities that allow you to search for content and apps using only your voice (using apps like Netflix and Hulu, for example).
The buttons are the same for anyone familiar with a Roku TV remote except for one major addition-- there is now a Fast Forward button. It is most useful when you move quickly through commercials to get back to the show you were watching.
In addition, these remotes have been upgraded with Bluetooth for faster pairing. This remote pairs with the Roku device from up to 25 feet away. An enhanced battery life of 6 months would be an added beneficial for the long term.
The Roku remote control is a clear winner here, as it comes with the voice command feature that lets you find movies, actors, and specific things, on a next-level comfort. Whereas, google remote lacks these features, which declares Roku the winner.
Perhaps the biggest selling point that Roku has over Chromecast are its slightly better selection of apps. While you can always rely on Chromecast's ability to stream photos and videos from your Google account, the device doesn't offer a lot beyond that. Instead, if you want more entertainment options to choose from, you'll benefit from having a Roku device around.
Roku and Chromecast are both top picks, and there isn't a clear winner between the two. They do, however, make it easy for anyone to get connected and start streaming content. Both of them offer effective benefits for the watchers and access to some of the prominent apps that would add more fun to your life.
But if you don't need special services like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, or MLB.TV Premium, the Google Chromecast, works with more apps than the Roku. It also offers more ways to view content on your TV or mobile device, including apps for Android, iOS, and Chrome browsers for both PCs and Macs.
It's all about apps — or, rather, the lack of them. With Roku and Chromecast, you get all of your streaming content from third-party apps. When selecting an OTT (over-the-top media service), both Chromecast and Roku can deliver similar content "app menus" that cater to popular subscription-based services.
Chromecast is the new kid on the block in the realm of streaming media, but it certainly deserves to be taken seriously. It mean you should hurry out and buy it without further ado?
Completely no! Chromecast does many things well, but it lacks some features that Roku has in spades. That said, Chromecast fans will find a lot to like in this device, and if you've been looking for something inexpensive with which you can stream local content to your TV, Chromecast offers a nice alternative to Apple TV or Roku.
The Roku is different because it comes with dedicated OS support, which allows you to have a smooth user interface.
Both devices offer neck-to-neck competition, and the choices can vary depending upon the use. Both are good at streaming online OTT content.
There are no monthly charges when using these streaming sticks. However, you will have to pay for the OTT plans you will choose.
The two popular media streaming devices come in at around the same price and can both offer a dazzling array of entertainment options to your TV. For those looking for a reliable and affordable smart TV accessory, we can't pick a clear winner between Chromecast and Roku. However, it is your decision which one you should choose to gear up your watching trails.