Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick

Amazon has brought its Fire TV Stick to the UK, a rival to the Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick. Here we take a look at how the three HDMI-dongle streaming sticks compare in price, specs and features. See: Best media streamers UK: What's the best media steamer 2015?

The Fire TV Stick is part of Amazon's Prime Day today only, for a bargain £19. Prime Members can buy it for £19 from Amazon here. Find out how to become a Prime Member for free and more about today's deals in our Amazon Prime Day deals live blog.

Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Chromecast vs Roku Streaming Stick: Price and availability

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

Amazon's Fire TV Stick is £35 in the UK, and for a short time (until 26/03/15 8am) new Prime members can get one for a tiny £7. The device will officially go on sale in the UK on 15 April.

Google's Chromecast is a little cheaper at £30, and the Roku Streaming Stick is the most expensive of the trio at £49. 

See below for a price comparison chart.

 

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Google Chromecast

Roku Streaming Stick

US price

$39

$35

$49

UK price

£35

£30

£49

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Amazon Fire TV Stick vs Chromecast vs Roku Streaming 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 microUSB power) and connect to your internet over Wi-Fi in order to stream content. And 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.

On the other hand, the Chromecast is controlled via a smartphones 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 Netflix and YouTube. Amazon has a Fire TV Remote app with which you can voice search for content.
Gaming

Google Chromecast streaming

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's does. 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, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. It also has dual-band Wi-Fi with dual-antenna (MIMO) which is also found on the Roku Streaming Stick.

Both the Chromecast and Roku Streaming Stick have a single-core processor and 512 MB of RAM. The former does have more storage at 2 GB, though, which is double that of the Roku.

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. 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.

Since the Fire TV Stick has only been announced for the US, we can't comment on what it will offer in the UK but it should match up with the Fire TV box so that's what we're going with for now but keep in mind that it's not official from Amazon. Also note that services do get added so the below is correct as of 4/11/14.

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, 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 4OD, ITV Player, Sky Now TV and Sky Store.

Update: Roku has now added Amazon Prime Video support.

Amazon Fire TV Stick services US

See also: Netflix vs Amazon Prime Instant Video.

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

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

It lacks 4OD, Sky Store and Demand 5 but it's worth noting that it can mirror content from the Chrome web browser from a PC or laptop on the same network.

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

   

Google Play Movies & TV

 

Yes

 Yes

BBC iPlayer

Yes

Yes

Yes

ITV Player

 

Yes

Yes

4OD

   

Yes

Demand 5

Yes

 

Yes

YouTube

Yes

Yes

Yes

Sky Now TV

Yes

 

Yes

Sky Store

   

Yes

Plex

Yes

Yes

Yes

Wuaki.tv

 

Yes

 

Blinkbox

 

 Yes

 

Flixster

Yes

 

Yes

Amazon Music

Yes

   

Google Play Music

 

Yes

 

Blinkbox Music

 

Yes

 

Spotify

Yes

 

Yes

Rdio

 

Yes

Yes

Total

11

10

12

Amazon Fire TV Stick: Specs

  • Media streamer
  • Dual-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • dual-band Wi-Fi with MIMO
  • 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
  • 84.9 x 25.0 x 11.5 mm
  • 25g
  • Media streamer
  • Dual-core processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • dual-band Wi-Fi with MIMO
  • 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
  • 84.9 x 25.0 x 11.5 mm
  • 25g

OUR VERDICT

We're awaiting our review sample of the Amazon Fire TV Stick to make a proper judgement on it. It's a close match between the other two, but we think the Roku Streaming Stick is worth the extra for the remote control and additional services. That doesn't mean the Chromecast isn't a great buy at £30, though.

Best prices today

Retailer Price Delivery  

Price comparision from , and manufacturers