Chromecast vs Firestick vs Roku

With the many streaming platforms and services available, you’ll hardly run out of entertainment options. If you have a smart TV, you can easily connect to WiFi and stream movies and songs from your favorite streaming platforms.

What happens if you don’t have a smart TV? Well, not having a smart TV shouldn’t stop you from streaming with your TV. There are streaming devices available to use. If you want to enjoy the experience, you’ll need a good streaming device.

You’ll find several streaming devices in the market and Chromecast, Firestick, and Roku are among the top options. These three are very good streaming devices but you can’t buy them all; you have to settle for one – the best one.

This article will help you figure out which of the three is the one to buy. Read on as I compare Chromecast vs Firestick vs Roku.

What Is Chromecast?

Chromecast is a streaming device from Google. It works with all the top streaming platforms including NetFlix, Disney, YouTube, Prime Video, Spotify, Apple Music, and more.

It’ll work with Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows devices. With Chromecast, you can either stream content using mobile and web apps via Google Cast technology or mirror content from your Google Chrome web browser.

The latter allows you to do more than just streaming as you can cast your web pages and browse by looking at your TV screen.

Using Chromecast is easy. You just need to connect the device to your TV using HDMI, connect to a Wi-Fi network, and launch any Google-cast-enabled app. With that, you can cast content from your mobile phone or laptop.

Over the years, Google has released different models and variants of the Chromecast device including the first generation, second generation, Chrome Audio, Chromecast Ultra 3rd generation, and Chromecast with Google TV.

Nevertheless, the main trending variants now are the 3rd generation and Chromecast Ultra.

What Is Firestick?

Photo via Kindpng

Firestick is a streaming device from Amazon. It’s mainly popular due to its high portability. It works with major streaming platforms and you need just a TV with HDMI and internet connection.

Amazon Firestick has a USB-drive-like design which you just plug into your TV’s HDMI port. It’ll make any TV a smart TV. If you have other Amazon products like Alexa or Echo, using Firestick becomes an advantage as they all work seamlessly.

You’ll find different versions of the Amazon Firestick in the market. This includes The Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire TV Stick 4K Max. They are collectively called Amazon Fire TV.

You can use the Amazon Fire TV or Firestick Remote app to control the streaming device. The device also comes with an actual remote control in the packaging.

What Is Roku?

Roku is a market-leading streaming device for streaming all the top services. One reason why this device is the most popular is because of its affordable price and portability.

Roku has two main versions, the Roku streaming player and the Roku TV. The Streaming Player is a streaming device that you connect to your TV to make it a smart TV. The Roku TV, on the other hand, is an actual smart TV.

Variants of the streaming device include Roku Express, Roku Express 4K+, Roku Ultra, Roku Streaming Stick+, Roku Streambar, and Roku Streambar Pro. Roku TVs also have different models too.

You can also enjoy Roku from your mobile phone with the Roku app. You can either watch Roku programs from your phone or use the app as a remote. In addition, you can use the Roku app to mirror your phone screen to your TV screen.

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Features Comparison

1. Setup

Chromecast

If you have a Chromecast or Chromecast Ultra device, you can set it up by first installing the Google Home app. From the app, you’ll find the setup steps to follow.

Nevertheless, you have to connect your Chromecast to your TV using HDMI and connect to WiFi. Then you can follow the installation prompts on the TV screen. Once you’ve connected your phone to the device, you can complete the configuration using the Google Home app.

Finally, you’ll link your Google account and you can start streaming with your device. You just need to install and use apps that support casting like Netflix and YouTube.

Firestick

Photo via Kindpng

Amazon Firestick will work with any TV that has an HDMI port and supports HD or UHD. Simply connect the device to your TV and connect to a wireless network.

To access the streaming services on Firestick, you must log in to your Amazon account. You can easily create one if you don’t have one. This shouldn’t be an Amazon Prime Video account, just a normal Amazon account.

With this, you’re ready to start streaming. The last thing, however, is to insert batteries in the remote control if you’re not using the Firestick Remote App. The remote control uses 2 AAA batteries.

Roku

Roku has similar setup procedures for the streaming stick and streaming player. However, if you’re using a 4K Ultra HD or HDR model, you must have a compatible TV or it won’t work.

The first step is to connect the Roku device to your TV via HDMI. Next, you connect to a wired or wireless network; both are supported. Then, put batteries into your Roku remote or download the app.

Once you launch it on your TV, you can follow the simple on-screen instructions to configure it. Finally, you have to create a Roku account or log in if you have one already.

Verdict

Firestick, Roku, and Chromecast all have the same installation procedures. It’s easy so long as you have a compatible TV.

2. Available Apps

Chromecast

Chromecast comes with thousands of built-in apps. This includes TV & movies, music & audio, games, sports, photos & video, and more streaming apps.

For TV & Movies, you have options like Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, Prime Video, Hulu, Google Play Movies, MTV, ShowTime. Music & Audio streaming apps include Spotify, Tidal, Pandora, YouTube Music, SoundCloud, and Deezer.

For Games, you have options like Deer Hunter, FitLap, Stadia, Alien Invaders. MS Live, Fox Sports Go, NHL, CBS Sports, WNBA, and NBA are some of the sports streaming apps.

Other streaming apps available include Google Photos, Mirror For Chromecast, Momocast, DS Video, and Playon.

Firestick

There are more than 10,000 apps available for all Amazon Fire TV products.

Roku

Roku has thousands of streaming apps in different categories. Some of these categories include Movies & TV, Comedy, Education, Sports, News, Music & Podcasts.

You can sort apps based on other categories such as newly added, top apps, featured, and recommended. Some of the Movies and TV apps include Netflix, Disney +, HBO Max, and Hulu.

Music apps on Roku include Pandora, iHeart, Spotify, VEVO, Amazon Music, and TuneIn to name a few. For sports, you can access apps like FuboTV, ESPN, Fox Sports, NBC Sports, NFL, and more.

Notably, Roku has exclusive content like the Roku Channel, Roku Tips and Tricks,

Verdict

You can access all top streaming services with Roku, Chromecast, and FireStick. They all feature thousands of apps.

3. Streaming Quality

Chromecast

With a Chromecast device, you can enjoy at least 1080p resolution irrespective of the model. From settings, you can easily adjust the device’s streaming quality.

Among the options include Standard (480p), High (720p), Extreme (720p high bitrate), and Auto (1080, 5 Mbps). However, with models like the Chrome Ultra 4K, you enjoy 4K HD and UHD resolutions.

In terms of streaming quality, the most performing Chromecast device is the Chromecast with Google TV. Nevertheless, most of the time, the quality of the video or audio you’re streaming depends on the quality of your wireless network; if it’s fast or slow.

Firestick

Amazon Firestick has three main video quality settings. This includes Good, Better, and Best. This variety however is mainly to save data. The streaming quality you enjoy depends on the version of Firestick you have.

Of all Amazon Firestick versions, the best for streaming quality is the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. With this device, you can enjoy ultra HD streaming quality. There’s also the ordinary 4K Firestick version with impressive quality.

You can check the streaming quality of your Amazon Firestick from the Advanced Options in the app settings.

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Roku

As already mentioned, there are different versions of the Roku streaming device. However, the streaming quality depends more on your TV.

If, for example, you use the Roku streaming player, the device can detect the best streaming resolution and frame rate based on your TV. It then automatically adjusts.

Nevertheless, you can always manually set the resolution. The options you see will still depend on your TV. You can stream Roku in 4K and 4K HDR at the highest level with both the Roku streaming player and Roku streaming stick.

Verdict

It’s hard to differentiate between Roku, Firestick, and Chromecast in terms of streaming quality. This is because there are different versions and it also depends on your TV.

4. Mobile App

Chromecast

The default app for Chromecast is the Google Home app. Google Home is a general app for many Google services including Google Nest, Google WiFi, and Google Home devices.

With the Google Home app, you can adjust your Chromecast settings and use it as a remote to pause, play, skip, forward, or backward video or audio as you stream. You can use it to control the display’s volume and stop casting at any time.

The Google Home app is an easy to use app with a minimalist interface. It’s very user-friendly and you’ll find it seamless to control your Chromecast device.

Firestick

Photo via Kindpng

The official app for Amazon Firestick is the Amazon Fire TV app. Basically, it works as a remote – a simple remote or a touchpad remote. With simple navigation, the app makes accessing what you want very easy.

The app has features like voice search and playback controls. It’s compatible with multicast-enabled routers. You can install this app on Android, iOS, and FireOS devices.

The iOS app only lets you use the app as a remote. However, with Android, you can use the app to watch Live TV.

If you search app stores on iPhones and Androids, you’ll find other Amazon Fire TV remote apps. Although these aren’t created or endorsed by Amazon, they still work with Firestick.

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Roku

If you own an Android or iOS mobile device, you can download the Roku official app from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store respectively. This app has a lot of interesting features.

You can use it as a simple remote, to live stream TV channels, private listen, and voice search. Notably, you can watch the Roku channel if you’re in the United States. Also, you can seamlessly switch devices if you own more than one Roku device.

To access all features of the Roku official app, your phone must be connected to the same wireless network as your Roku streaming device.

Verdict

The odd one here is Chromecast that doesn’t have an exclusive app. Also, unlike Chromecast, you can stream Live TV with Firestick and Roku mobile apps.

5. Supported Countries

Chromecast

Chromecast isn’t officially available in all countries. If you reside in a country where the device isn’t available, you can still use it but you can’t access all features.

Chromecast with Google TV is only officially available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

In essence, Chromecast 3rd Generation is only available in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Chromecast Ultra is only available in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Firestick

Most contents and apps on Amazon Firestick are region-locked. You can only officially use Amazon Firestick stream devices in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Japan, India, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, Australia, Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden.

The content you can access differs for each country. Notably, the Amazon Firestick Basic Edition supports more countries. This includes Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech, Ghana, Hong Kong, Portugal, South Africa, Switzerland, and Uruguay among others.

If you’re visiting a different country, you have to change the country settings in your Amazon account to use Firestick.

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Roku

You can make use of Roku if you live in North America, South America, and Europe. In North America, you can use Roku in the United States and Canada.

In Europe, you can use Roku in France, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. If you’re in South America, supported countries include Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, and Peru.

Like other streaming devices, you can use Roku outside of these countries but you’ll have very limited streaming options. Also, the streaming options you get are different for each country.

Verdict

All three streaming services have international limitations. However, Chromecast supports most countries, followed by Firestick, and then Roku.

6. Integrations

Chromecast

As a Google Product, Chromecast seamlessly integrates with other Google products and services. With Google, the list is almost endless.

Your Chromecast device will work with Google Nest, Google Home, and Google WiFi, all of which are integrated into the Google Home app. It’ll also work with Google Assistant.

Furthermore, Chromecast is more of a casting device than a streaming device. Many non-streaming services like browsers, for example, support casting.

Hence, you can Chromecast with your Chrome browser to browse on larger screens. Other Google products you can work with include PixelBuds and Home Max.

Firestick

Amazon is a top technology company. Aside from Firestick, Amazon has other products and Firestick will work seamlessly with any of them.

Some examples of these other products include Amazon Echo, Amazon Alexa, Amazon Smart Home, and Fire Tablets among others.

Take Amazon Alexa, for example, you can link your Firestick via the Alexa app. This allows you to control the streaming device using your Alexa device.

In other words, you can play movies and shows using voice commands. This is a lot more convenient than using a remote or app to navigate movies. You can link your Firestick to more than one Alexa device.

Roku

The Roku company doesn’t produce other products aside from streaming devices. For example, there’s the Roku Express and Roku Streambar but they’re both still streaming devices.

Hence, there are not many other products you can integrate with. You’ll have more integration options with a Roku TV.

Nevertheless, you can still use your Roku streaming player with products like the Home Assistant.

The Roku and Home Assistant Integration is a useful integration if you don’t find the voice search in the app a lot useful.

If you have Home Assistant installed, it can easily identify the device once you plug it in. Otherwise, you have to do it manually.

Verdict

Chromecast and Firestick are from Google and Amazon respectively and have other sister products and services. Roku is the odd one here as the company only produces streaming devices and TVs.

Pricing

Chromecast

The price depends on the version of Chromecast you opt to buy. If you have a 4K TV or plan to purchase one, the Chromecast with Google TV is the best option to opt for and it’s not very expensive. Generally, you can get it for around $49.99.

The Chromecast Ultra, which also supports 4K streaming, sells for around $69. For 3rd Generation Chromecast devices that don’t support 4k, you can get them for around the same price as the 2nd generation. They sell for around $29.

Firestick

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Firestick has a lot more different versions than Chromecast and Roku. The Amazon Fire TV 4K Max sells for around $55 while the Fire TV Stick 4K sells for around $45k.

If you opt for the Fire TV Stick Lite, you can get it for around $30 while the standard Amazon Firestick costs around $40.

Roku

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K sells for around $50 while the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ sells for around $70. Both prices are relatively affordable for a streaming device that supports 4K Ultra HD.

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Pros & Cons

Chromecast Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Thousands of apps
  • High streaming quality
  • Google Home app
  • Integrates with other Google products

Chromecast Cons

  • No exclusive app
  • No app for Apple TV
  • No remote without the app

Firestick Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Thousands of apps
  • High streaming quality
  • Portable
  • Fire TV app
  • Integrates with other Amazon products

Firestick Cons

  • Not many free apps
  • Portable

Roku Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Thousands of apps
  • Portable
  • Remote and Live TV app
  • High-quality streaming

Roku Cons

  • Very limited support outside the Americas
  • Apps may be too much
  • Few integrations

Similarities

  • They are all streaming devices
  • They all have different versions with different video qualities
  • They are only officially available in select countries
  • Roku and Firestick are very similar in design as they’re easily USB drives
  • All three have similar pricing

Differences

  • Roku supports mainly North and South America while Chromecast and Firestick supports more of Europe
  • Roku and Firestick come with remote while Chromecast only depends on the app
  • Roku and Firestick have exclusive apps while Chromecast works with the Google Home app
  • Chromecast and Firestick works with other Google and Amazon devices unlike Roku

Bottom Line

Generally, from this Chromecast vs Firestick vs Roku comparison review, the three streaming devices are about the same. They work the same way, support all the top streaming platforms, and have different versions.

However, comparing their devices individually, Chromecast is the best device when looking at features and support. Combining price and functionality, Roku is the best while Firestick wins in terms of quality content.

About Author

Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. I started my first e-commerce company in college, designing and selling t-shirts for my campus bar crawl using print-on-demand. Having successfully established multiple 6 & 7-figure e-commerce businesses (in women’s fashion and hiking gear), I think I can share a tip or 2 to help you succeed.