Two of the most popular ways to watch movies, shows and TV without a cable subscription are Roku and Fire TV. At a glance, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick look nearly identical, but they have some important differences to consider.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the ongoing Roku vs. Fire Stick battle for streaming supremacy.
Which Is Better, Roku or Fire Stick?
Both Amazon and Roku offer several versions of their streaming devices, including non-stick boxes and smart TVs with their native technology built in. This comparison will focus on the popular Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick 4K.
Keep in mind that you must have compatible hardware to enjoy full functionality.
|Key Features||Fire TV Stick 4K||Roku Streaming Stick 4K|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 5||Long-range Wi-Fi|
|Output resolution||2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps||2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps|
|Audio features||Dolby Atmos||-Digital stereo over HDMI
-DTS Digital Surround pass-through over HDMI
-Supports pass-through of Dolby-encoded audio over HDMI
|Picture quality||4K Ultra HD, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision||HDR10+ and Dolby Vision|
|Processor||Quad-core 1.7GHz, GPU 650MHz||ARM Cortex A55|
|Ports||HDMI ARC output, micro USB for power only, HDMI extender cable||HDMI 2.0b, USB for power and long-range Wi-Fi receiver|
Which One Is Better for the Price?
While both sticks have the same retail list price, Amazon frequently runs sales on its devices — and not just around the holidays. For example, at the time of publication, Amazon slashed the price of the Fire TV Stick 4K by 36% from $49.99 to $31.99. Previous model owners can also take another 20% off with a trade-in.
This kind of deep discount is the rule for Amazon devices, not the exception.
Also, if you don’t have the hardware to enjoy the full functionality of Wi-Fi 5 and 4K Ultra, Amazon offers a wider selection of more affordable sticks built for older formats. Fire TV Stick Lite, for example, is on sale for $19.99, down from $29.99, and the standard Fire TV Stick is $39.99, currently marked down to $24.99.
Conversely, the only lower-cost offerings from Roku are two models in the Roku Express lineup. These are actually not sticks, but small streaming boxes. They cost $29.99 and $39.99.
Is There a Monthly Fee for Roku?
Neither Roku nor Fire TV Stick charges a monthly fee. Once you purchase one, your device will be free to use. Keep in mind that they both offer many fee-based add-on services and subscription options.
Is One Easier To Set Up Than the Other?
Both have easy and nearly identical set-up procedures:
- Plug your device into your TV’s HDMI port and a power source.
- Connect your device to your home Wi-Fi.
- Add batteries to your remote.
- Create an account and activate your device.
- Switch your TV to the correct HDMI input.
- Follow all on-screen instructions and start streaming.
Is Fire TV Stick Only for Prime Members?
You do not need an Amazon Prime membership to use a Fire TV Stick but you must sign up for a basic Amazon account. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can access the Prime Video app through Roku.
That said, the Fire TV Stick uses a Prime Video-forward format and Prime members might have a more seamless experience with it. The remote is Alexa-enabled and can be integrated with Alexa devices. This offers a convenient means of control.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Which Remote Is Better?
The Fire TV Stick remote is slimmer than Roku’s, but both are similarly minimalist with voice control and four shortcut buttons. Roku’s shortcuts are Netflix, Disney+, Paramount+ and AppleTV+. Fire TV Stick’s shortcuts are Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and Hulu.
Roku also offers a souped-up version, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+, with a rechargeable remote and a lost-remote finder.
Which Has More Channels and Program Offerings?
Roku and Fire Stick both offer all the top streaming movie and TV apps. These include Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney+, Peacock and many more. Several, like Tubi and Pluto TV, are free. Others are subscription-based and others offer both free and premium versions.
Just as Prime members can access Amazon Prime Video on Roku, the Roku Channel is available on Fire TV.
Overall, Roku has a wider selection of content and free channels, some of which are exclusive to Roku.
User Experience and Interface
Both Roku and Fire Stick make browsing and searching for content easy. Many users applaud Roku for its cleaner and more user-friendly design, which clearly shows which apps you have installed. Its universal search feature, which the Fire TV Stick lacks, lets you search for a title and see all the apps where you can watch it.
On the other hand, the Fire TV interface can feel cluttered and make it difficult to see at a glance which titles are free and which ones you have to pay for. Fire TV is also notorious for its many ads. The platform does not let users organize their apps, as Roku does.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Final Take
Roku and Fire TV both offer inexpensive and simple platforms that open the door to endless streaming — but they’re not the only options. Before you decide, compare these two heavyweights against Google Chromecast, Apple TV and the other competitors, which might be a better fit for you.
Information is accurate as of April 26, 2023.
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