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It was not long ago that cable companies dominated the market, providing hundreds of channels for millions of consumers. However, with the price of cable and satellite services like Dish and Direct TV skyrocketing, more people are turning to streaming media services. A streaming media player generally costs far less compared to cable or satellite services, but which one works best for you?
Today, three of the major streaming services, Roku, Amazon Firestick, and Apple TV all offer substantial programming, although there may be some limitations when compared to traditional cable and satellite services. So, it is important to choose the right one for your needs in getting the best value for what you spend.
Roku was one of the first and is arguably the most recognizable name in streaming services. First released in 2008, Roku offers a small stick that can be plugged into any compatible TV so that you can access online programming which currently consists of the following services;
- Amazon Prime Video, CinemaNow, and Google Play
- HBO Now, Hulu, Netflix, and more
The device works on any HDTV that offers an HDMI interface and is compatible with Apple iOS and Android systems. You can access over 500,000 movies and TV episodes. Plus, it uses a voice remote with easy navigation to find what you want quickly.
- Offers HD, HDR, and 4K
- Send content from mobile device to TV, including photos
- Provides a wide range of content, including popular online video and music services
About the only reported disadvantage is that Roku has a higher than the usual number of defective sticks or streaming media players compared to the competition. However, the number is still relatively small, and Roku offers free replacement for defective devices.
The classic Amazon Firestick offers an exceptional amount of programming which can be accessed by the Alexa assistant for voice control. The stick was designed to access channels, apps, and even play games all using the voice commands that Alexa provides. Some of the services the firestick offers include the following;
- Amazon Video, HBO Now, and Hulu
- Netflix, YouTube, and more
The app that comes with the Amazon Firestick can turn an Android, iOS, or Fire device into a remote using Alexa. If your TV has an HDMI interface, then you can plug in the Firestick.
- Alexa voice control is easy to use
- Firestick provides a wide range of content
About the only real disadvantage, especially considering the low price, is that the device only goes up to 1080p resolution at 60 fps. This means for ultra-high-quality signals, this device will not provide full resolution.
Note: There is the advanced version, Fire TV with 4K resolution that offers the Alexa Voice Remote. Plus, it is designed to deliver 4K with built-in Dolby Atmos. Its cost is $69.99.
As for Me?
I prefer the Roku, hands down. I have been using the Roku since the original one came out. I now have several Roku boxes and a Roku TV in my office. I can load all of my streaming services easily and the kids are able to use it without issue.