Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Chromecast 2 vs Roku Streaming Stick

Media streamers are all the rage and we can see why, they are a great way to easily and cheaply get access to a wealth of online content including movies and TV shows. The problem is the amount of choice so we've compared three of the best streaming sticks you can buy - The Amazon Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast 2 and Roku Streaming Stick. See: Best media streamers.

Bear in mind that we're looking at streaming sticks here - which are a bit like HDMI media versions of USB sticks - so there are also set-top box style options out there. These HDMI-dongles, if you like, offer great value for money and often don't come with too many sacrifices compared to boxes.

Please also not that we're looking at the second-generation Chromecast from 2015 (aka the Chromecast 2), not the newer models such as the 4K-enabled Chromecast Ultra.

Prices

Streaming sticks are more affordable than a more traditional media set-top box like the Apple TVGoogle Nexus Player and the Roku 3

Amazon's Fire TV Stick is £34 in the UK which isn't bad at all and the second generation of the Chromecast remains at a reasonable £30. The Roku Streaming Stick is the most expensive but is hardly out of reach at £39.

See below for a price comparison chart and remember that we're talking about RRP in general but all of these are on offer sometimes so we've included those prices, but they might not always be available.

  Amazon Fire TV Stick Google Chromecast Roku Streaming Stick
Price (RRP) £34 £30 £39
Offer price £24 £20 £29

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Specs and features

On the whole, these streaming sticks are very similar. They all plug straight into your TV via a spare HDMI port (requiring Micro-USB power) and connect to your internet over Wi-Fi in order to stream the content. While, their specs are closely matched, there are some differences to point out including which services are supported and what you get in the box. See Apple TV vs Chromecast review.

Remotes and apps

It's natural to use a physical controller with your TV or whatever is plugged into it, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick both come with one. Amazon also sells an optional voice control remote and gaming controller, too.

On the other hand, the Chromecast is controlled via a smartphone or tablet app. You search for the content you want to view, then 'cast' it to the Chromecast to be displayed on the big screen.

This isn't exclusive to the Chromecast though, as you can still send content to the Streaming Stick with the same method for providers like Netflix and YouTube. Amazon has a Fire TV Remote app with which you can voice search for content.

Google Chromecast

Gaming

As we just mentioned, there's an optional game pad for the Fire TV Stick and it supports games like Minecraft Pocket Edition, Asphalt 8, Riptide and more. Amazon says there are more than 400 available making it the best for gaming.

The Roku Streaming Stick has around 100 games available but the controller doesn't support motion control like the Roku 3. The Chromecast only has a handful of pretty basic games which you can play.

Specs

As we've mentioned, the specs of these three streaming sticks is similar. However, the newer Fire TV Stick is superior with a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage. It also has dual-band Wi-Fi with dual-antenna (MIMO) which is also found on the Roku Streaming Stick.

The Chromecast 2 also has a dual-core processor and 11.ac dual-band Wi-Fi which is the main upgrade from the original. It's the Roku which has single-band Wi-Fi although we've not had any issues in this area.

Roku Streaming Stick

These devices are mostly for streaming content from the internet so we wouldn't worry about storage and we've not seen any performance issues with the Chromecast or Roku Streaming Stick. What is more important is which services you can access on them (see below).

It's worth noting that depending the design of your TV, you might not be able to insert a streaming stick and will require an HDMI extension cable. Amazon and Google include one in the box but Roku doesn't.

Services

All the above specs and features are great but mean nothing if you can't watch some great content on your TV. With the right device, you can mirror your smartphone or tablet's screen on the TV via the streaming stick – but the big name services are more important. See also: Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video.

If you're a big Amazon Prime Instant Video user then the Fire TV Stick is the device for you as it's not available on rivals. It also supports Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, All 4, ITV Player, Vimeo, Sky News, Curzon, Muzu.TV, BBC News, Amazon Music, DailyMotion, Plex, Red Bull TV, BBC Sport, Viewster, STV Player, Ministry of Sound Radio and YouTube. Note the lack of Sky Now TV and Sky Store. See the entire list.

The Roku Streaming Stick also supports many of the above with key names including BBC iPlayer, all 4, Demand 5, ITV Player, YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sky Now TV, Sky Store, Plex, Sky News, Vevo, Spotify, Flixster and Rdio. See all the Roku apps.

One of the Chromecast's big selling points was access to the Google Play store (movies and music) but Roku added this as a channel. It is the only one with Blinkbox (now TalkTalk TV) and Wuaki.tv, though. The device also supports, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, BT Sport, YouTube, Sky Now TV, Vevo, Rdio, and Deezer.

It now has All 4 but lacks the Sky Store and Demand 5. It's worth noting that it can mirror content from the Chrome web browser from a PC or laptop on the same network. Browse Chromecast supported apps.

See below for a table of the big name players.

 

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Google Chromecast

Roku Streaming Stick

Netflix

Yes

Yes

Yes

Amazon Instant Video

Yes

 

Yes

Google Play Movies & TV

 

Yes

 Yes

BBC iPlayer

Yes

Yes

Yes

ITV Hub

Yes

Yes

Yes

All 4

Yes

Yes

Yes

My 5

Yes

Yes

Yes

YouTube

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sky Now TV

   

Yes

Sky Store

   

Yes

Plex

Yes

Yes

Yes

Wuaki.tv

 

Yes

 

TalkTalk TV

 

Yes

 

Flixster

Yes

 

Yes

Amazon Music

Yes

   

Google Play Music

 

Yes

 

Spotify

Yes

Yes

Yes

Rdio

 

Yes

Yes

Total

11

13

14

Amazon Fire TV Stick (2017): Specs

  • Media streamer
  • Quadl-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO
  • Voice Remote included
  • HDMI extender included
  • Support for Dolby Digital Plus, 5.1 surround sound and passthrough for 7.1
  • Output: 720p or 1080p up to 60fps
  • 85.9 mm x 30.0 mm x 12.6 mm
  • One-year warranty
  • Media streamer
  • Quadl-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO
  • Voice Remote included
  • HDMI extender included
  • Support for Dolby Digital Plus, 5.1 surround sound and passthrough for 7.1
  • Output: 720p or 1080p up to 60fps
  • 85.9 mm x 30.0 mm x 12.6 mm
  • One-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

All three of these media streaming sticks makes for a good purchase so it really depends what you want. However, objectively, the Roku Streaming Stick stands out slightly with its remote control and superior list of available content services.