The ultimate, 10,000-word review of streaming media players: Apple TV vs. Roku 4 vs. Fire TV vs. Chromecast
J Thoendell stashed this in Tech
It really isn't one size fits all. You have to pick what's best for you.
The good news is that you really can’t go wrong. Each of these streaming media players is excellent, sporting fast processors and new search features that make them a joy to use compared to previous versions—and certainly compared to your clumsy old cable box. There is frankly more that unites these devices than divides them: They all offer the most popular services, like Netflix, HBO, and Hulu, and work without much of a hassle.
But if I had to recommend just one, it would be the new Apple TV. It’s the first of the streaming media players that not only makes television easier but seems to expand the possibilities of what television can be. Buying the device is a bet that, like with the company’s other gadgets, Apple TV will only get better as developers build more apps for it. But the experience is better if you also own an iPhone or iPad, so Android users might prefer something else.
Coming in a very close second is the Amazon Fire TV, which has the best interface and streaming quality of all these devices. It’s also the ideal way to take advantage of Amazon Prime’s increasingly great video selection, which you can’t get from Apple. If all you care about is watching TV shows and movies, the Fire TV is your best bet.
The Roku 4, meanwhile, is worth considering if you’re already accustomed to its software, want to support a smaller company, or subscribe to television service from Time Warner Cable, which has a superb Roku app that will let you enjoy live TV without a cable box. (Amazon and Apple may offer something like this in the future.)
And the Chromecast is a good option if you want to bring your shows on the road or need to save money. It’s not as full-featured as its larger competitors, but works very well and fits in your pocket. I only wish it had a workaround for connecting to hotel Wi-Fi systems, like the similarly sized Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick.
Truth is, recommending a streaming media player is difficult without taking into account your specific needs and circumstances. All the details in this piece are intended to help you make an informed decision about which one to buy, and I’m happy to do my best at a personal recommendation if you ask me questions on Twitter or Facebook.
This is the best article I have read about streaming devices. We are getting ready to switch from cable, and this has been very helpful, probably leaning toward Apple, with Amazon Fire being a 2nd choice, the other 2 I've pretty much ruled out.