Friday, August 12, 2016

Some Pros/Cons of Various Streaming Devices

Over the past couple of years, I have used several different devices to stream content to the televisions in my house. The whole purpose of this exercise was to determine which device would be the "standard" platform I would eventually use on all of my different displays. What I found is that each of these devices presents a list of pros and cons that make them unique in the experience they deliver to the consumer. Below are the results of my years of testing along with my conclusion.

  • Roku Streaming Stick / Roku 3

    + Easy to understand interface
    + More app options than other platforms
    + Good mobile app integration
    + Buttons on remote control to go to popular apps

    - Missing some apps (TiVo, Fox Sports Go, etc.)
    - Sharing options from mobile devices are limited

    Click here to purchase the Roku Streaming Stick on

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick

    + Apps available for AirPlay Support (see AirReceiver) (iOS users)
    + TiVo and Fox Sports Go apps available (not on Roku)
       Note: TiVo app has limited functionality and support
    + Ability to sideload apps (Facebook, Web Browsers, etc.) (see this post for more info)

    - Prioritizes Amazon content over everything else
    - Apps are not as easily accessible as on other devices
    - Nags you if you power it from the USB port on your TV

    Click here to purchase the Amazon Fire TV Stick on

  • Apple TV (4th Gen)

    + Clean interface
    + AirPlay support (iOS devices)
    + Cool remote control (touch, voice, etc.)
    + Access to iTunes and other Apple content

    - Expensive compared to the other devices
    - Limited app options currently available
    - No access to Amazon content

    Click here to purchase the Apple TV (4th Gen) from Best Buy

  • Chromecast (Version 1)

    + Allows you to send content from pretty much any device
       Note: Android has more options than other devices
    + Makes it extremely easy to share content to TV

    - No traditional user interface (or remote control)
    - No built-in apps (must have additional device to use)

    Click here to purchase the Chromecast (Version 2) from Best Buy

Instead of moving everything to a single streaming platform, I have just decided to keep each of these devices hooked up to different televisions so I can continue to see their individual benefits. For most people, the Roku ecosystem is probably the best option due to it's easy to understand interface, multitude of apps, and relatively low cost. If you want to call Roku the "winner" from this little exercise then so be it; however, it really comes down to what you personally want out of a streaming device.

UPDATE: I thought I would include which devices are in which rooms of my house (and the reason for them being there) for those of you who are curious.

  • Master Bedroom: I like having the Roku 3 in this room just because it's easy to use for my wife and it has a better WiFi antenna than the streaming sticks do. We did have a Roku Streaming Stick back there at one point but it kept dropping signal because of the distance from the access point; however, the Roku 3 has been rock solid since I installed it.

  • Living Room: After a lot of debating, I decided to go with the Amazon Fire TV Stick. I was going to go with the Roku until I found out that Roku currently doesn't have the Fox Sports Go app which is a must for me. It's also nice to use the AirReceiver app which allows our iOS devices to stream directly to the TV for content sharing purposes. I did have the Chromecast installed in this room and while AirReceiver isn't quite the same thing, it's good enough to do some occasional content sharing.

  • Guest Room: In order to keep things simple for people who come over to visit our house, I installed the Apple TV in this room. Even though not everyone has an Apple phone, most people are familiar with iOS devices and how they work. Since the Apple TV interface is pretty much iOS, our guests should be able to figure out the user interface fairly quickly.

  • Gameroom: When we have guests over to the house, they will eventually find their way to the gameroom. Sometimes I will have a YouTube video or some other content I will want to share with people while we are playing games. The Chromecast makes this simple, especially with my Android phone.


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