With Amazon Fire TV launching yesterday, we have a tough contender for Chromecast and to compare them with other options in the west, we also have Roku Streaming Stick.
The TV watching industry has been slowly evolving through phases. Today’s generation has swiftly transitioned from the traditional cable TV watching to online streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Hotstar etc. While Google has been there in this industry with its Chromecast series, Amazon yesterday launched its Fire TV stick in India for a price of Rs 3,999. With that we possibly have a couple of options running in India right now i.e. the newly launched Amazon Fire TV Stick and Google’s Chromecast 2 and to compare them with other options in the west, we also have Roku Streaming Stick. In order to dig out the best option for you, let’s compare these three streaming sticks.
Perhaps the first question in your mind before buying any of these streaming sticks is 'what can you watch?' Starting with the Amazon Fire Stick, the newly launched streaming stick can throw up content from Hotstar, Eros Now, Voot, Airtel Movies and, of course, Amazon Prime Video. Interestingly, the Fire Stick will also allow you to watch your favourite content from Netflix which is possibly the biggest competitor to Amazon Prime Video in India. Further, you can stream from YouTube, Gaana and from a lot more other services.
Coming to Chromecast, which is a little different in this aspect, would let you stream content from YouTube (Ofcourse!), Netflix, Hotstar, Eros Now etc., but, it loses out on Amazon Prime Video. Starting at just Rs 499, Amazon Prime Video has quickly attracted a wide variety of user base in India, but, it is yet to get the Chromecast support. However, with Chromecast, you can actually stream from any app that supports chromecast directly from your smartphone or laptop to the big screen. In other words, you can actually mirror your smartphone’s (or laptop) screen to your TV instantly with the app.
Roku, meanwhile, hasn't entered the Indian market but is a worthy of mention here. The company has the maximum experience in the streaming industry going back to 2008 with set-top-boxes and 2012 when the company launched its first streaming stick. Also, Roku is probably the option where you will get the maximum amount of content ranging from live sports, news, music to streaming service like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, Google Play Movies & TV, HBO Now etc. totalling up to 450,000 movies and TV episodes.
To control and navigate through the interface, Chromecast 2 requires your smartphone to act as a remote. You can download the app from Google Play Store and easily convert your smartphone into a remote. The convenience comes in when you have to search for a content and you can simply type in with your device’s on-screen keyboard.
Amazon Fire TV comes with a voice remote which comes with some quick shortcuts for play pause, forward and rewind along with voice commands capabilities. In other words, you can simply say the name of the content you want to watch, in Hindi or English, and Amazon Fire TV will do the honour for you.
On the other hand, Roku comes with a small remote with quick content shortcuts along with basic arrow keys, however, if you want some advanced controls, you can download the Roku mobile app from PlayStore or App Store through which you can use your smartphone as a remote.
Apart from content, the next thing you are worried about the technical specifications of the device. The Amazon Fire TV stick is powered by a MediaTek Quad-core ARM 1.3GHz processor coupled with Mali 450 MP4 GPU and 1GB of RAM. We get 8GB of internal storage along with Bluetooth 4.1 and Dual-Band Dual-Antenna Wi-Fi for faster connectivity. Not only this, it can stream in both 720p and 1080p resolutions up to 60fps.
On the other hand, Roku Streaming Stick packs in a Quad-Core processor, supports 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Digital stereo over HDMI, DTS Digital Surround, pass through over HDMI and can stream in both 720p and 1080p resolutions.
While Chromecast 2 comes with a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A7 SoC paired with 512MB of RAM, 256MB of internal storage and 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a video output of 1080p, Dolby Audio and 5.1 surround sound. Even though Chromecast 2 lags behind in this segment but we have to consider the primary usage of the device. While both Amazon Fire TV and Roku Streaming Stick require apps to be downloaded along with a heavy user interface, Chromecast 2 is more of a screen mirroring device which doesn’t require much app installs and comes with a relatively simple UI.
Amazon Fire TV is priced at Rs 3,999, however, if you are an Amazon Prime member, Amazon will give you Rs 499 cashback in your Amazon Pay account. While Google’s Chromecast 2 is priced at Rs 3,399 and is available via Flipkart. As mentioned before, Roku isn’t available in India but can be purchased for $49 (approx Rs 3,200) in the United States.
While Amazon Fire TV Stick and Roku sits under the same umbrella in terms of the concept, Google Chromecast 2 adds much more flexibility to content streaming. However, the process of pairing up Chromecast with your TV and streaming through it thereafter can be a little tedious for the non-tech audience. While the ability to simply mirror your device’s content to TV is probably the simplest way of enjoying your content on the big screen. As of now, Amazon Fire TV looks to be more promising if you are satisfied with the content it offers, or else, grab a Chromecast 2 and stream whatever you want on your TV.
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