If you are looking for a new Android TV Stick to enable 4K streaming on your 4K TV, you are probably weighing up a number of different brands for the best option. If you are looking for an affordable option, you may well be choosing between the Roku Streaming Stick+ and the Amazon Fire Stick 4K. But which is better?
Well, the short answer depends on what you are looking for. If the absolute best picture quality is what you are after, then the Fire Stick 4K is the best choice. If an easy-to-use interface and great search functionality is what you want, you might prefer the Roku Streaming Stick+.
But let’s dig into the details to help you decide which of these excellent and affordable 4K TV sticks is right for you.
Roku Or Fire Stick Comparison Review
We are comparing the Fire TV Stick 4K and the Roku Streaming Stick+ as the sticks from these brands are capable of delivering 4K content. But both make a number of other TV sticks that are also good, but these don’t deliver 4K. Make sure you are looking at the right products when considering making a purchase.
The Fire Stick 4K has a 1.7GHz quad-core processor and 8 GB of storage, while the Roku has an ARM Cortex A53 core, but only 1 GB of storage, which is a big difference if you also want to store content from your own library.
Both have 802.11ac wireless, which is powerful enough to work no matter how far away you are from your router. But in the case of the Fire Stick 4K, you can buy an ethernet adapter to plug your stick directly into your router for the best internet speeds.
What’s the result? With the Fire Stick 4K you get 4K picture quality at 60 fps with Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos.
With the Roku, you get just a little bit less, as you miss out on Dolby Vision and HDR10+. This only makes a difference if your TV is good enough to support these premium 4K options.
When it comes to features, the Fire Stick is again just a little bit ahead of the Roku.
Both options come with a remote control, which is better than many other stick options. The Fire Stick remote is slightly better as it has recently been updated to include volume up and down buttons and a power button. This is much more convenient than needing to switch to your TV remote to adjust the volume.
The Fire Stick also has the edge when it comes to voice control, as it has the full Alexa assistant built-in. The Roku also works with Alexa if you have a speaker, but if you don’t, you need to rely on the Roku voice command, which is limited to controlling content search and playback.
Both the Fire TV and the Roku are easy to set up and have a highly intuitive interface, but this is where the Roku has the edge, mostly because the Fire Stick prefers Amazon products.
With the Roku, you can get any application available for Android working by simply downloading it from the Google Play Store. But, while the Amazon Fire interface is based on Android, it has been modified and you need to download your apps from the Amazon Store where some content is limited.
For example, you can’t download the full TikTok app to your Fire Stick and only a more limited “view only” version that has been designed specifically for Amazon. But if you are desperate to download any of these apps onto the stick, you can work around this by sideloading, but it is not as clean as a direct download.
The same bias holds true when it comes to search. The search on the Fire Stick is good. You can search by actor, filter by 4K, and much more. But whatever you are searching for, options made available by Amazon will be made top of your list. This may be welcome if you are an Amazon Prime member, but if not, it’s just annoying.
But the Roku search is platform-agnostic, and it ranks results based on which you already subscribe to and cost, which will definitely be preferable for most users.
For both devices, you need to download the apps you need to get the content that you want. This is simple as there are native apps available for all the best content, including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, HBO, and Sling TV.
With the Roku you do get some extra channels with Roku TV, which is a collection of free streaming channels and movies. While this content is available on the Fire Stick as well, it is convenient to have it all in one place rather than being required to ferret it out.
One of the things that most people complain about that is missing with streaming devices is DVR: the ability to record live TV and watch it back later. Again, here Fire TV has a tech edge, but this will only be important to a small selection of viewers.
With the Roku, you need to depend on the DVR offered by whatever service you are using to watch live TV.
For example, if you are using Sling TV, you can get 50 hours of DVR for just $5 per month. If you are getting your live channels via Hulu, you get 50 hours of storage free with your standard subscription and can purchase another 200 hours of space for $9.99 per month. These offers are all great if you are using these services, but not if you want to watch live TV direct via an antenna.
Rather than relying on the cloud, Amazon Fire offers a solution in terms of hardware, which must be purchased separately from the Fire Stick. The little black box will offer you either 75 or 150 hours of DVR storage depending on which model you choose, and you can record up to four channels at the same time.
This bit of Amazon hardware, known as the Amazon Fire TV Recast, isn’t cheap. The more basic model costs $229.99 at normal prices as well as the cost of an antenna, though discounts are often available, plus the cost of an antenna, which is usually about $30. But if you add up the amount you might be paying for live channel subscriptions and DVR additions, you can quickly find yourself saving money.
Learn more about the Amazon Fire TV Recast here.
Both the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and the Roku Streaming Stick+ are available to order on Amazon and will set you back $49.99 at standard rates, though discounts are often available on both products.
To provide some context, this is quite a bit cheaper than many of the other 4K TV stick options on the market. The Chromecast Ultra, Google’s comparable product, currently costs $69. For the Android X96 4K stick, expect to pay $59.99. If you want to go premium and invest in the NVIDIA Shield, you are looking at $149.99.
You can read full reviews of all the best Android TV sticks here.
Is There A Monthly Fee For Streaming Devices?
No, there are no monthly fees for streaming devices, as these are pieces of hardware you buy, much like your TV itself. But most streaming devices don’t come with content ready loaded, and, instead, you need to get content by subscribing to streaming services. While some of these are free, the best services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Sling TV, require a monthly subscription fee.
Is Roku Cheaper Than Fire Stick?
Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices tend to be on par when it comes to cost. For example, a TV stick, which enables 4K streaming, will cost around $50 whether you choose Roku or Fire. More basic sticks that only offer 1080p are about $10 cheaper.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Smart TV?
The main drawback with a smart TV is that it requires a very good internet connection, which can set you back a bit, and also privacy. When you sign up for a streaming service subscription package, you tend to give away quite a bit of your personal data. They also don’t tend to be as easy to use as Cable services where everything is in one place. You need to hunt down the content that interests you through individual apps.
If you are looking for a TV stick with the power to deliver 4K streaming and that can do it for less than $50, the Amazon Fire Stick 4K and the Roku Streaming Stick+ are both excellent choices. Both have the hardware to deliver top-quality 4K and great user interfaces, which means they are intuitive to use.
So, how do you choose between the two? Well, that depends on what you want.
If the absolute best picture quality is your priority, go with the Amazon Fire Stick, as it offers HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, while the Roku doesn’t.
If you want usability and flexibility, the Roku has the edge. You can download whatever you want from the Google Play Store without being limited by what is also in the Amazon store. The Roku is also technology agnostic when it comes to searching for content, so you are more likely to find the content you want for cheaper using their search functionality.
If good voice controls matters to you, then the Fire Stick is better as it has the Alexa assistant fully built-in, and the remote is also better.
If you prefer to watch live TV via a subscription application, you will probably prefer the Roku, but if you want to plug in your own antenna, the Fire TV Stick will serve you better.
So, it all depends on how you like to watch and what is most important to you. But once you figure that out, this comparative review should give you all the information you need to make that decision.
Do you have either the Fire TV Stick 4K or the Roku Streaming Stick+ at home? What do you think of them? Share your thoughts and experiences with the community in the comments section below.