Streaming sticks are a big business in the modern world of entertainment. You no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a month for entertainment with these little gadgets. While they are great to have around, the war for market share is on for the biggest brands. It is up to the user to choose which one works best for them. Here is a quick head to head round up of Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and Chromecast that will help you make the right pick.

Features Round Up

 Google Chrome CastRoku Streaming StickApple 4K TVAmazon Fire Stick
Appox. Price$35$50$179$40
Dedicated remoteNoYesYesYes
Controller AppAndroid iOS, Windows, Chrome OSAndroid, iOS, Windows Phone, BB10iOSAndroid iOS
Voice SearchYesYesYesYes, via app or remote upgrade
Cross-platform searchLimitedYesLimitedLimited

TV Compatibility

Each of the four main streaming devices requires a HDMI input. If you own a more recent TV set, it will most likely come with the port. If you have an older TV and don’t wish to have it replaced, your only option is the older Roku 1. Other than that, with the HDMI port, you are all set to go with any of the options.

Internal Storage/Memory

You can save your favorite music or movies on these devices. These devices are great if you want an additional backup of your entertainment files. That is why the amount of available storage is essential.

Google Chrome CastRoku Streaming StickApple 4K TVAmazon Fire Stick
Memory256MB16GB32 or 64Supports SD card

If you need a lot of memory storage, then the Apple or Amazon Fire Stick will serve you well. Just like most Apple products, you will have to choose either a 32GB or a 64GB stick. However, you will have to dig deeper into your pockets to land the 64GB option. The Amazon Stick is more user-friendly and packs an SD slot where you can expand your memory yourself. With all its greatness, the Google Chrome Cast is severely shorthanded to say the least in terms of memory.

The Amazon Fire Stick wins this category since it has the most flexible storage options at an affordable price.

+1 for the Amazon Stick

User Interface

Over the years, Roku devices have been developed to have a user friendly interface. This, most of the users have come to fondly refer to as ‘Bubbly’. It has a fun feeling to it that feels fresh. Their latest addition still retains the same approach. On the other hand, the Fire Stick from Amazon has more of a sterile technology feel to their interface.

The Chrome Cast features a lot of functionality on the Home app. However, they have also livened up their UI to escape the more traditional feel. If you are a lover of the Apple ecosystem, then you are likely to have been accustomed to the tidiness of their interfaces.

In terms of UI, let’s call it a draw. None of them feel confusing. It might take some time to get to know your way around them but it is relatively easy once you get used to it.

Casting, Sharing, Mirroring

Even though these terms sound awfully similar, they are quite different and each of the four streaming devices offers different capabilities with each of them.

Streaming is supported by all devices. Basically streaming is playing media on one device while it is saved on another. The streaming devices link you to the storage device where you view the content from.

Mirroring on the other hand refers to being able to cast the contents from one screen to another screen. In this case, you can cast the content on the TV with the streaming device plugged in to another screen. For this to work, both devices should have a mirroring feature and occasionally, you might need the help of a third party app.

Alternatively, you could also opt for screen sharing even though this is not commonly used in streaming. With sharing, multiple people can view your screen from different locations but, this also requires additional internet connection is some cases and the help of a third party app.

Even though streaming is a breeze on all four devices, Google Chromecast carries the day. If you have an Android device it’s especially simple to share content on the big screen. Sharing on Roku is also straight forward. For iOS users, a third party app is required to cast photos and videos to Chrome Cast while Roku users with iOS devices can share from within the app.

When it comes to mirroring, Chrome Cast is a tad easier. This is with the help of the Miracast app for Android and Amazon Fire device users. However, for iOS, you have to use a third party app. Chromecast easily wins when it comes to mirroring.

+1 for Chrome Cast

Video and Audio Output

All four devices pulled all the stops to offer a crystal clear viewing and audio experience. They all feature a 1080p video output and can handle up to 7.1 surround sound systems. What sets them apart is the quality of the connection. The Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick support dual band a/b/g/b/ac Wi-Fi. This gives the two an edge over the Fire TV Stick and the Roku. Nonetheless, the difference is not significant enough to affect your viewing experience that much.

With regards to the quality of audio and Video, it is a 4-way tie.

App Library

One of the features that will easily sway you to buy one streaming stick over another is the amount of content available. Without counting games, Roku packs over 1,000 apps (Roku likes calling them ‘Channels’). It is the most that any streaming stick has to offer. You can get additional content from your smartphone using the Roku app.

Chromecast also has a decent number of apps. However, the ability to cast over different operating systems can be frustrating. On the other hand, the Apple version is relegated to only playing content that is iOS compatible. There is no question that Roku remains king as it has the most offerings for its viewers.

+1 for Roku

Games

This is one of the few areas where the Roku loses the battle. You are only able to play Angry Birds and a few other others.

The Fire Stick on the other hand has a better offer with games like Shovel Knight and Minecraft headlining the plethora of options you can choose from. These are great games for the causal gamer and definitely better than what Roku has to offer.

Chrome Cast has a broader offering especially for users using android devices thanks to the Play Store. Fire Team, Tower Construction, Monopoly Here & Now, and Deer Hunter are some of the games available on Chrome Cast just to name just a few. The Apple 4K TV stick also has a decent offer. Although it does not come close to what Amazon and Chrome Cast are offering, it has a wider variety than the Roku.

+1 for the Amazon Fire Stick

+1 for the Chrome Cast

Search

Finding a great streaming stick is just one part of the puzzle. Being able to easily find suitable content of your liking is the other part. The Roku stick does a great job at this. It allows you to search through text or voice. For voice searches, you can use the remote or the mobile app to quickly search through the vast library.

With the Amazon option, voice searching is highly enhanced and text searching is also available. . You can either use your smartphone for the search or purchase a voice enabled remote at an extra cost to make better use of it. You can also use voice prompts to execute other commands like rewind.

+1 for Roku

+1 for Amazon Fire stick

On the Google Chrome, you have both voice and text search functions. However, compared to Roku, the Chrome cast still has quite some distance to cover. While Amazon fans are free to object, the Roku is still quite flexible and reliable.

To help you put everything in perspective, here is a table with a comprehensive round up of the features.

 FeaturesProsCons
Apple TV

($179.99)

-Advanced apps, (social media tools, photo sharing option, shopping apps among others.

– Supports 4K Ultra HD

-Siri voice option

-Channels include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vimeo, HBO Go, and Spotify

32GB and 64GB storage

-Supports 4K Ultra HD and HDR videos

– You can customize your home screen however you like by shuffling apps.

-Private listening

-Large storage space for apps and games

-Most expensive

– You will need to set up different accounts for each streaming services that will provide you with content. This can be quite cumbersome.

Roku TV

($49.99+)

-Voice Remote

– Channels include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vimeo, HBO Go, and Spotify

-512MB RAM and storage of 256 MB

– Unbiased channels (Over 5,000)

-Portable

-Durable Remote

-Log-in details are keyed in once, during set-up

-Android and iOS smart phone compatibility

-Customize home screen for easy navigation

-Private listening

-Faster than Fire Stick

– Inadequate screen ‘mirroring’ functionality.

-Less memory

– Set-up and installation takes time.

Amazon Fire Stick

($39.99)

-Voice remote

-Microphone command

-Channels include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vimeo, HBO Go, and Spotify

-1GB memory and 8GB storage

-TV watching while playing games is possible

-Customized apps for easy navigation

-Private listening

– Intrusive Amazon contents and banners.

– Less contents

Chromecast

($35.00)

-Comes in different colors

-Fast Play feature

-Channels include Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, YouTube, Vimeo, HBO Go, and Spotify

-Costs less

-Easy to set up

– Faster streaming

– No physical storage for apps

– No remote control

Make your pick

Each of the four options is special in its own way. If you are more budget-minded, any of the three options can be a good pick but, the Chrome Cast is the most affordable of the four. If price is not much of a concern or you are accustomed to the Apple way of life and own multiple Apple products, the Apple 4K might be a better fit. Roku has had quite some traction in the industry and is quite rich in content with a better connection offering you the best value for money.

For an extra $10 you can do more with the Amazon Fire Stick’s remote other than search content and flip channels. It is highly convenient and perfect for techno-geeks who want to view content in style and use the latest technology.

There are a variety of factors that should influence your pick. Price, content, current devices, and sheer preference will all affect your decision but, each of these is a worthy candidate.