All this technology can be a double-edged sword. First, there’s internet connectivity issues that can make your streaming sessions slow. Then, it might be hard to find something good to watch — there are only so many rom-coms a person can take. On top of all that, digital content isn’t always affordable, and you might find yourself forking over a lot of cash to watch what you want.
What’s the secret sauce for fixing these problems? Considering tech issues are sometimes beyond our control, we can’t do much. In the meantime though, there might be a solution to help upgrade your entertainment game: .
These devices can take an average binge-watching session and transform it into a theater-like experience. Some streaming media players offer high-quality audio and pictures, hands-free control, and access to thousands of movies, TV episodes, and programs. They take the stress out of binge-watching, so you can have a fully immersive entertainment experience without effort.
If you’re new to streaming media players, there are many models available for high-tech home entertainment. Two popular leaders in the space are and . Both companies offer streaming media players, and each are recognizable for different reasons.
Amazon’s Fire TV family, which includes the Fire TV Recast and the Fire TV Stick, has become popular over the past few years. This year, Amazon introduced a new-generation Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Light. The new Fire TV Stick is faster and more powerful than its predecessor, but it’s still a streaming media player that provides advanced audio and picture quality, access to over 500,000 films and TV episodes, and the option to use Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, to control content.
Roku is also making moves in the streaming industry. In 2016, Roku launched a new line of affordable streaming media players and upgraded binge-watching experiences. Many streaming media players, including the Roku Express+ and Roku Premiere+, were part of this power lineup. The has HD (high definition), 4K HDR (high dynamic range), and 4K Ultra HD picture quality and a remote with channel shortcut buttons.
Even though both companies are similar in their core mission — making binge-watching an easy process — their streaming media players provide different perks for watching digital content, but at similar price points.
Ready to elevate your home entertainment setup? Here’s all you need to know if you’re trying to decide between the Fire TV Stick and the Roku Premiere.
Fire TV Stick
As a streaming media player of the Fire TV Family, the Stick takes entertainment to the next level. There are currently three options: The Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K and the Fire TV Stick Light. It’s a device that has many streaming benefits and the ability to create a theatre-like environment right in your living room. Key features of the Fire TV are 4K Ultra HD (if you have the 4K version) and HDR true-to-life picture quality, Dolby Atmos audio support, access to over 500,000 films and TV episodes, and the Alexa Voice Remote for easy content control.
The Fire TV Stick weighs 1.1 ounces and its dimensions are 3.4 x 1.2 x 0.5 inches. What makes this streaming media player a great pick for many HDTVs is that it has a slim shape, a standard HDMI Male, and a micro USB port for power or an additional Amazon Ethernet Adapter. No more tripping over cords or wires when you want to watch your favorite shows.
Operating the Fire TV requires minimal effort. First, plug the Fire TV into your HDTV’s HDMI port, insert its USB cable and power adapter into a wall outlet, and then connect to the internet via Wi-Fi or an optional Amazon Ethernet Adapter to view movies, TV episodes, series, and more.
Unlike other streaming media players, the Fire TV Stick elevates smart home living with the Alexa Voice Remote. This device can help you search, launch, and play digital content with easy speech commands. You can pair the Fire TV Stick with other Amazon Echo models too, so you can use Alexa for hands-free control while you watch movies, TV episodes, and exclusive shows from Hulu or Netflix. Additionally, you can use the Alexa on your Fire TV through the Alexa Voice Remote to listen to the news, play beats, check the weather, dim the lights, or order takeout.
When you buy the Fire TV Stick, you’ll receive the following: a Fire TV Stick streaming media player, an Alexa Voice Remote (Second Generation), a USB cable and power adapter, two AAA batteries, a quick start guide, and a product guide.
Roku is providing high-tech home entertainment at an affordable price with the . At $40, you’ll get streaming features that are similar to the Fire TV, including HD, 4K HDR, and 4K Ultra HD clear picture quality, Dolby and DTS Digital Surround audio support, a premium high-speed HDMI cable, access to over 500,000 films, TV episodes, and digital content, and a remote with channel shortcut buttons.
The Roku Premiere weighs 1.3 ounces and its dimensions are 1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches, so it’s smaller than the Fire TV. It has a shape that’s similar to a USB stick, making it a great pick if your HDTV is super close to the wall.
The Roku Premiere is easy to set up and use. Connect it to the HDMI port on the back of your HDTV, plug it into a wall outlet, place it near your HDTV, use your TV remote to turn on the HDTV and select the input, and insert batteries inside the Roku remote. Once that’s done, you can create a Roku account and start streaming your favorite films, TV episodes, and programs.
Each Roku Premiere set comes with a Roku Premiere streaming media player, a premium high-speed HDMI cable, a USB power cable, a power adapter, a remote with pre-set channel shortcut buttons, a removable adhesive strip, two AAA batteries, and an owner’s manual.
Fire TV Stick
The Stick is a streaming media player with bonafide benefits, including vibrant picture quality, access to more than 500,000 movies, TV episodes, and digital content from Hulu, Netflix, and Starz, and the ability to view programs without cable. You’ll never want to leave your couch again, because this device packs in all the fixings for the ultimate entertainment experience.
Immersive atmosphere: Wouldn’t it be great to have the theater experience without going to your local IMAX hub? Well, the Fire TV Stick 4K version is making that a reality with its 4K Ultra HD streaming. High-quality pictures and dynamic audio support (Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Digital Plus) will make you feel like you’re right in your favorite scenes. The device is compatible with most 4K ultra high-definition TVs from LG, Sharp, Toshiba, and other brands. No more blurry pictures or muffled sound when you’re binge-watching the latest flicks.
Customizable streaming: It’s not fun when you can’t decide what to watch, but the Fire TV Stick provides easy access to over 500,000 films, TV episodes, and series from HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, and more. If you want to turn your TV into a stereo system, the Fire TV streams music from iHeartRadio, Prime Music, and Spotify. Plus, you can view videos from many websites, including Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube, when you’re using the Fire TV in your living room. You might have to spend a little extra on some streaming services above, but it’s worth it if you want top notch entertainment options.
No cable necessary: Done with your expensive cable bill? The Fire TV can help you watch your favorite programs sans cable. You can watch live TV with an indoor HD antenna connected directly to your HDTV or with subscriptions to Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV.
Streaming media players aren’t always cheap, but you can still get a great entertainment experience with the . It’s one of the most affordable streaming media players on the market that provides HD, 4K HDR, and 4K Ultra HD picture quality, audio support for Dolby and DTS Digital Surround, the option to watch free (yes, free!) digital content, and you can use the Roku mobile app for easy content control.
Captivating entertainment: A blurry or pixelated screen can kill anyone’s binge-watching fest, but the Roku Premiere provides immersive picture quality and sound. Whether you’re watching in HD, HDR, or 4K, your movies, TV episodes, and content will be clear and colorful. Audio wise, it supports Digital stereo over HDMI, DTS Digital Surround pass-through over HDMI, and Dolby pass through over HDMI, so you’ll be able to hear your HDTV well.
Affordable digital access: The Roku Premiere offers access to free movies and TV shows on its home page. With the Roku Channel, you can watch digital content without paying extra fees. Combined with Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and other streaming services, you’ll have access to over 500,000 films and TV episodes. Some streaming services might cost extra, but the option to watch flicks for free is a major benefit.
App for easy control: Some streaming media players only cover the basics, but the Roku Premiere has a cool feature for seamless viewing. You can use your Android or iOS smartphone to control the Roku Player with the Roku mobile app. That’s not all though. The app allows you to use voice search to find flicks by actor, director, or title across more than 1,000 channels, see music, photos, and videos on your HDTV screen, and set to private listening mode if you would like to hear content with headphones.
The Stick comes with a major high-tech perk: the Alexa Voice Remote. This savvy device can search, launch, and play content with a few voice commands. Ask, “Alexa, next episode,” or “Alexa, find comedies,” and you’ll get to watch movies, TV episodes, and programs in a pinch. You can pair the Fire TV with Amazon Echo devices for hands-free control, and Alexa will respond to your requests with far-field voice recognition. Plus, Alexa does more than home entertainment assistance. You can use Alexa on your Fire TV to play music, dim the lights, listen to the news, and order pizza.
Unlike other streaming media players, the packs in multiple convenience benefits, including its simply-designed remote. It has rewind, fast-forward, pause, and play buttons for no-fuss streaming. Another cool feature of the remote is that it comes with channel shortcut buttons to Hulu, Netflix, and Sling TV. No more wasting time trying to find your favorite program or series to watch.
Fire TV Stick
The Stick has three different price tags, depending on which version you get. The Fire TV Stick Lite is $29.99, the Fire TV Stick is $39.99 and the Fire TV Stick 4K is $49.99.
The Fire TV Stick’s 4K Ultra HD and HDR features provide the ultimate viewing experience with high-quality pictures and sound, access to countless forms of digital content, cable-free programs, and a smart Alexa Voice Remote. For $49.99, you’ll receive a Fire TV Stick streaming media player, an Alexa Voice Remote (Second Generation), a USB cable and power adapter, two AAA batteries, a quick start guide, and a product guide. You can buy the Fire TV Stick at Amazon, Best Buy and Target.
When you buy the Fire TV Stick, it comes with a 90-day limited warranty. The warranty covers defects in materials and workmanship that might pop up within 90 days of the purchasing date. If you would like additional protection for the Fire TV Stick, you can buy a two-year or a three-year warranty separately from Amazon.
It provides advanced picture quality and sound, gives you the option to stream free digital content, and allows you to use the Roku mobile app for easy content control. The remote does not have the same capabilities as the Alexa Voice Remote, but you’ll have streaming service buttons at your fingertips. You can buy the Roku Premiere at Amazon or Best Buy.
When you buy the Roku Premiere bundle, it comes with a Roku Premiere streaming media player, a premium high-speed HDMI cable, a USB power cable, a power adapter, a remote with pre-set channel shortcut buttons, a removable adhesive strip, two AAA batteries, and an owner’s manual.
Roku offers a one-year limited warranty for the Roku Premiere that includes defects in materials and workmanship 12 months after the purchasing date. If you’re not happy with the Roku Premiere for any reason, you can return it within 30 days for a refund.
Fire TV Stick
ay, an Amazon reviewer, writes of the Fire TV Stick 4K:
” I love the new FireTvStick 4K, the picture quality looks great, I love the new remote. It was easy to set up the new remote to my Samsung Smart TV & My Samsung Sound bar. I use it to watch DirectvNow and it works flawlessly. I honestly recommend this device. ”
“I received the Fire TV Stick 4K on launch day. I own the previous model and this is a much better experience. First off the remote is a huge improvement. The power button on the remote can turn on my tv, my receiver, fire stick, and switch the inputs automatically so the fire stick is on screen and ready to go with just one click of the power button. It’s really nice. This is how it should have been all along. It gets even better though… lets say my TV is already on, and my receiver is set to a different input such as my FIOS tv box? All you do is click the home button on the remote and the remote switches the receiver to the correct hdmi input on the receiver for the fire stick! One remote to rule them all, and yes it controls volume on the receiver too! This is excellent. It’s highly configurable. The setup is quite nice. You can define which inputs get picked when hitting the power and home button. You can define which device the volume buttons control. Amazon has done a great job with the Fire Stick 4K.”
“I upgraded this from the ROKU stick since I have a 4K TV and it was totally worth the $40. The picture is amazingly sharp, the sound is excellent, and the setup is as simple as it gets. Even if you do not have the latest 4K device, the ROKU will automatically detect your system and downgrade accordingly during setup. Highly recommend this one.”
“I have used Roku for years, including several different models.The best new thing of note is Roku has recently released The Roku Channel,which has hundreds of free movies. Roku has just about every app you can imagine (YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and HBO Now), plus tons of more apps in many different categories. Roku Premiere 2018 works fine, but you need to point the remote at the device, unlike other Roku models.”
Which one is the better deal?
Arguably, both the Roku Premiere and Fire TV Stick are bargains at their full price points.
However, when it comes to getting discounts on streaming devices, you’ll find the most frequent discounts on Fire TV Stick products. Amazon (and other retailers that carry these products) frequently knock a few bucks off the full price. Things get even better during Prime Day and Black Friday sales, when you’ll find these devices for $10 to $15 off. Exact discounts will vary, but it’s not hard to find a discount on the Fire TV Stick.
So which one should you choose?
For the ultimate home entertainment system that’s advanced and makes #smarthomegoals come true, the Fire TV Stick is a top streaming choice. With 4K Ultra HD and HDR picture quality (with the 4K version) and sound, access to over 500,000 types of digital content, cable-free streaming, and the Alexa Voice Remote, it’s a good deal that you can’t pass up on. With price points ranging between $30 and $50, this streaming media player is one of the best out there for a theater-like experience and you can often catch a sale on the device to shave off a few bucks.
For budget-conscious tech enthusiasts, the is a good streaming choice. At $40, you still get good streaming perks, including high-quality pictures and sound, access to many free movies and TV episodes, plus a remote with streaming service buttons. You might not have the same high-tech features like the Fire TV, but you won’t regret adding this device to your HDTV lineup.