Chromecast presents itself as “the easiest way to enjoy online video and music on your TV”, while Roku describes its streaming stick as “a tiny Roku player that gives customers the easiest way to enjoy the best selection of streaming entertainment on TV.” Without taking a further look at both sticks, we might be inclined to think they offer pretty much the same thing, but Chromecast tends to be more credible since it’s powered by Google.
Many other customers think just the same, which makes the fight between Roku and Chromecast more interesting. To give you a bit of background into their arguments, Roku was actually the first one to come with a stick that allowed access to low-priced streaming media on our TV screens. Not long before, when the $49 Roku stick started gaining clients, Google came up with a similar invention – to be exact, in July 2013.
Chromecast may not be the same thing, may not come with a remote control and was not the first one on the market, but it comes from Google, and was also cheaper. The $35 stick was an instant hit, the moment it launched and is currently known as one of the most popular electronic devices sold on Amazon. This explains why the developers’ team from Roku wasn’t so happy with Google’s new invention that seems to have copied theirs. However, let’s dig a bit deeper into the issue.
The Roku Stick
The streaming stick from Roku is available online here and can be purchased for $49.99. One important aspect about the device is the fact that it comes with a physical remote control, as well as an app that suits both iOS and Android. This explains why it costs a little more, but it’s not the only reason why this is a more expensive stick.
The number of channels that Roku gives access to are currently over 1,200 and developers are continuing to add two or three more every day. Apart from this, the device enables users to search universal content across ten sources that include Netflix, HBO Go and Hulu Plus.
Thanks to its remote control, there is no need to use a mobile device or computer for playback. This means once you connected the stick to the HDMI connector of the TV, you can easily put the phone aside and browse through the available options directly on your TV.
Coming with a 5V – 1A power adapter, the device features 802.11 dual-band networking with WEP, WPA and also WPA2 support. Equipped with 2 AA batteries for the remote control, once you order the stick it comes with a Get Started guide that shows you exactly how to use it, as well as a USB power cable and wall adapter.
Some of the many headline apps supported are PBS, Pandora, Netflix, Disney, Disney Junior, Hulu, HBO GO, Youtube, Spotify and others. Its performance put aside, the appearance of the Roku stick tends to be the only similarity it has with Chromecast. When it comes to its size, Roku roughly has 3.1 x 1.1 x 0.5 inches, weighs 18 grams and looks just like a memory stick. As opposed to the Chromecast stick, though, this one is more rectangular in shape.
If you happen not to own an Android phone or an iPhone, the app also works on Mac OS X and Windows. To learn more about the device offering access to over 31.000 movies, simply check its official website page, as well as the available customer reviews.
The Chromecast stick
If you know Google, you’ve probably also known of Chromecast. Thanks to its increased popularity, most electronic devices launched or announced by Google have rapidly gained importance. Since its official launch in July 2013, the stick from the same company also became very popular.
What tends to be said about Chromecast, though, is that it somehow stole Roku’s idea as well as its market share, while it also created a bigger market. Just taking a look at what the device does, we can see a few obvious similarities: it plugs into the HMDI port of your TV, it comes with a mobile app that can easily be set up and allows you to send music, movies and shows from the phone to the TV.
This app doesn’t just work on mobile phones either – just like Roku, it’s suited for both Android and iOS devices and it’s also adapted for Windows and Mac. This way, you can use the same stick to send media content from your tablet or laptop.
The $35 stick is available online here and supports 1080p x 720p video quality. In terms of design, it looks fairly similar to Roku – it measures 2.8 x 1.4 x 0.5 inches – and weighs a bit more, 34 grams. Its shape is only a little different, as it widens towards the end to have a rather circular shape.
Although not so different at a first look, what really sets them apart is their software. When it comes to its performance, Chromecast only offers access to 200 channels and most of these are for Android. There is no features allowing users to search universal content, and there is no future channels announced to be added.
It terms of third party app support, Chromecast only works with a few – Netflix, Hulu Plus, Youtube, HBO GO, Pandora and Google Play. Apart from the limited capability from the browser window, the device doesn’t come with a remote control. Given this situation, there is a constant need to operate the app via the mobile device or laptop.
Coming with 512 MB RAM and 2 GB flash storage, the Chromecast stick also needs constant access to a Wi-Fi hotspot in order to send videos and other types of media content to your TV. As opposed to the Roku stick, this one is more difficult to control, as it requires you to perform a setup from a very small app from the phone or laptop.
As you can see, it’s still fairly hard to choose which one is best and for what features. We can clearly advise that Roku, being a seasoned player in this game, has the capability of offering way more channels and an advanced search engine that allows you to browse content easier. Also, thanks to its integrated remote control, you do not need a smartphone to control it. On the other hand,given the reputation of the Chromecast stick among customers, that tends to recommend it as the best one to choose, and it seems logic to say that Google’s stick is still young and it will certainly mature nicely, in time.