Before anything else, let’s make this clear: Roku and Chromecast aren’t the only players in the field. There’s the Apple TV, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, the Nvidia Shield, and many other options. But, if you want to stream the latest shows and movies on your TV without paying too much, you’ll want to stick to Roku and Chromecast.
Roku offers a range of TV streaming products. Some models are a bit expensive (though they do offer exciting features), but there are also others that provide you with the basics for a reasonable price. The latter includes the Roku Express (which costs $30), the Roku Express+ (which costs $40), and the Roku Streaming Stick (which costs $50).
Chromecast’s products also don’t go beyond $100, which is great for those who are on a tight budget. The most basic model costs $35, while the more advanced unit is priced at $69.
With these prices, you might wonder if you’ll get your money’s worth when you buy the compact streaming sticks mentioned above. The answer, surprisingly, is yes: as long as you’re not after ultra high-tech features, you’ll be satisfied with what the products above can offer.
So the question now is this: should you go for Roku or Chromecast?
The answer depends on your specific needs and expectations. If you don’t want to tackle a learning curve, for example, your best bet is Chromecast. There’s no new interface for you to learn since the device simply acts as a conduit between your TV and your computer or mobile device. Just plug it into your smart TV then use your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer to choose the content you want to watch. Your Chromecast stick will then allow your TV to “mirror” what’s being played in your device.
This applies to both the basic Chromecast and the Chromecast Ultra. The main difference is that the former works only with 1080p HD TVs, while the latter can support 4K UHD and even HDR TVs.
What about Roku products? The Roku Express, Express+, and Streaming Stick are ideal if you want to have access to thousands of apps — right in your TV. There’s no need to use your computer or mobile device to search for content since you can easily do that from your TV’s screen. The Roku sticks do have a slight learning curve, but it’s not that difficult since their interface has an intuitive design and is highly user-friendly. Once you master the Roku interface, you can easily look for the movies and shows you want to watch and enjoy hours of entertainment.
This deserves a section of its own since it’s one of the biggest differences between Roku and Chromecast. The latter doesn’t have a dedicated remote since it depends on your smartphone, tablet, or computer to act as one. This can be a great thing if you’re always misplacing remotes and forgetting where you put them.
Roku, on the other hand, come with a dedicated remote. This doesn’t only let you navigate through menus; it also provides you with shortcut buttons to popular apps and allows you to easily pull them up. It’s great if you love the look and feel of real-life remotes, although you do have the option to download the Roku app and use your smartphone as an alternative remote control.
Both Roku and Chromecast products have excellent things to offer. Chromecast is great if you’re after simplicity and cost-effectiveness, while Roku is the ideal option if you want to access numerous apps and content and have a dedicated remote for your streaming device.