If you are finding choosing between Roku and Fire Stick difficult, our comparison may just help you choose the best one for your needs and wants.
The truth is many people have smart TVs nowadays. But that doesn’t mean you should bow into pressure and get a smart TV when you feel it’s not really necessary.
If your TV is far from the latest models on the market, don’t fret because there are hundreds of streaming devices on the market. Streaming devices such as Roku and Fire TV Stick allow you to access streaming services of your choice.
The real question is, which is the best among the two? The truth is this is a tough decision because both are good choices for cord-cutters and they seem more or less similar. They are also among the most popular video streaming devices available in the market today.
That said, there are a few things that set them apart. Roku is a popular brand thanks to the affordable price of the device and the fact that it streams in 4K resolution. On the other hand, the Amazon Fire Stick is a big name and has been steadily gaining ground. This basically means both devices are excellent and will generally work great.
To make the decision-making a little bit easier, we will compare the Fire Stick and Roku in terms of the range of features, design, price, capabilities, voice controls, apps available and so much more.
We will also briefly cover the devices on offer from Roku and Amazon to give you an idea of whether it’s worth the extra buck.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Similarities
For starters, we have to check out the similarities. Since they are both video streaming devices, they definitely have a couple of things in common. In fact, you might find that they have more similarities than differences.
Both come at quite an affordable price and most people can comfortably fit either device in their budget. You will also be happy to hear that both allow access to about a million TV apps and these include the major ones. Furthermore, apps are quite similar on both devices.
There are new models of Roku and Fire TV Stick that are more responsive, reliable, and faster. You only need to have a solid internet connection and everything will run smoothly.
For both devices, you get remotes that have TV volume and power buttons to control almost all TVs. This means you might not need the remote that originally came with your TV.
Lastly, both brands come with multiple models ranging from the most basic video streamers all the way up to 4K versions.
We still haven’t answered the question of which streaming device is better but that’s where we are headed.
Amazon Fire TV Stick overview
The Fire Stick range is currently made up of four devices. We all appreciate when brands go out of their way to upgrade and produce better devices for the users.
This way, users can get the media streamers that suit their particular needs best. That said, let’s take a quick look at the four Fire Stick devices.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite
This Fire Stick model was initially released in 2020. It’s actually the cheapest device you’ll get from Amazon. The remote doesn’t have any volume or power buttons but it comes with the voice search function as well as HD streaming.
Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Fire Stick is what most people are familiar with because they have been using it for some time. It was recently updated and now consists of some new features.
For instance, its Alexa remote now consists of power and volume buttons. The Fire Stick is basically plugged into the back of the television. This is great because it’s properly hidden.
That said, the upgrades made this streaming device way more powerful than the previous model. It will be your best companion in streaming movies and shows from streaming services such as Disney Plus and Amazon Prime.
Amazon Fire Stick 4K
Some people are tech-savvy and want a streaming device that has all those fancy features. If you need a Fire Stick that comes with the bells and whistles, this is for you.
The Amazon Fire Stick 4K supports HD and 4K streaming. As long as you have a 4K TV, you are good to go. Some of the features on this device include the voice search function and an Alexa remote that is similar to the one for the original Fire Stick.
This device also supports other great functionalities like it can dim the lights, provide live camera feeds, check the weather, and even stream music. If you are feeling fancy and willing to spend that extra buck, the Amazon Fire Stick 4K is perfect for you.
Amazon Fire TV Cube
The Amazon Fire TV Cube is actually the most powerful device from Amazon. It’s also the most expensive but that’s for a good reason. It’s the fastest Fire TV model and has the capability to control your smart plugs, soundbar, lights, and all the other speakers in your home.
The most impressive feature of this device is the fact that it can support Dolby Vision and Atmos. In that case, it’s worth the price if you put into account all the impeccable features.
Roku has a range of smart TV sticks which are meant to cater to different groups of people. Let’s check out the three main smart TV devices from Roku.
This is the cheapest streaming device you will get from Roku. However, the low price doesn’t compromise its quality and features.
For instance, the media player offers features such as HD streaming, voice search, casting photos and it has the private listening mode. For the price, you get more than you could ever ask for.
The Roku Premiere is a mid-range streaming device from Roku and offers both HD and 4K streaming. It appears a bit thinner than the Roku Express but still has the same features.
If you like streaming videos in 4K resolution, the Roku Premiere is a great addition to your home entertainment. Furthermore, it’s not an expensive device.
Roku Streaming Stick+
Similar to Amazon, Roku has its most expensive streaming device. In this case, the Roku streaming stick+ is the most expensive medial player from the brand but it supports 4K Ultra HD, HD, and HDR streaming.
Unlike its predecessors, this particular device is stick-style to ensure it hides well behind the television. The private listening mode and voice search are some of the features you will get with the media player.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Price
There isn’t much difference in the prices of these media players. In fact, these streaming devices tend to have the same price tags. The Roku Express and the Amazon Fire Stick both cost only $29.
When making a decision on which streaming device to get for your television, you will have to look at other factors aside from pricing. Both brands offer cheaper alternatives but with the same capabilities as most of the other models. The cheaper counterparts enable you to save some money on your first purchase.
The Roku Premiere and the Fire Stick both cost $40. That being said, the Fire Stick will offer full HD streaming as well as the voice search function through your new Alexa remote.
The Premiere Media Player is just as good as the Fire Stick because it provides 4K video streaming. If you need 4K streaming from Amazon devices, your best bet would be the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
It’s a bit more expensive but will offer the one feature you are looking for and throw in some others that are extremely useful. Most of the time, the Roku devices are cheaper. The cheapest Roku Media Player (Roku Express) costs just about $30.
On the other hand, the Fire Stick costs about $40. The price might go down when there is a sale. Keep in mind it has more features than its counterpart and might be worth the price you pay. But if you are looking to save a little money, Roku is a notable choice.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Content
There is no way of saying for sure the streaming device with more content. That’s unless we decide to count the many videos on every streaming device that is available on each of these medial players.
In other words, it’s impossible to pinpoint the amount of content on these two platforms and ultimately announce the one with more to watch.
Though, knowing the particular streaming services accessible on each of the platforms can help us have an idea of how much content.
The problem is both Roku and Fire Stick have access to the mainstreaming services. We are talking about the likes of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Sling TV, YouTube, and HBO NOW/Go.
This means the two devices have more or less a similar amount of content. That being said, Roku has exclusive access to the Roku Channel. This is actually a free streaming service that’s ad-supported.
Roku also has some content that you won’t find on the Fire Stick. For instance, if you are into old western films, they are only available on Roku.
When it comes to searching for content, it’s fairly easy to do that on Roku than the Amazon Fire Stick. The Roku search feature provides a huge list of streaming services accessible on the platform and sorts them out according to price. The cheapest options are displayed upfront. Such a smart system can help many people save money.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Design
The good thing about these two devices is that there are always updates on their designs and they turn out better than before. The Fire Stick was updated recently in 2020 and now the remote includes the power and volume buttons.
Similarly, the media player was designed to be 50% more powerful than its predecessor. The addition of power and volume buttons eliminated the need for two remotes to use on the streaming device and TV.
In that case, there is no longer a need to switch between remotes just to turn the volume up or down. It’s really a matter of convenience and we appreciate it.
Unfortunately for Roku users, the Premiere model lacks the volume buttons. However, it provides shortcuts to some of the apps and services including Google Play, Netflix, and Spotify.
We like that Roku also has a free mobile app. The Roku mobile app consists of a remote that you can use to adjust the volume according to your needs. You still get the same functionality as the Fire Stick new remote only that this one works on an app.
The Fire Stick interface is good enough and intuitive. But as you would expect, Amazon gives first priority to the brand’s own content which is evidently prominent on the platform. This wouldn’t be a problem to the Amazon Prime subscribers but if not, it becomes an annoyance.
Meanwhile, the Roku interface is simple, laid back, and user-friendly. Since Roku doesn’t own a streaming service, it makes for the best platform to access apps, subscriptions, and channels from various service providers. There will be no annoying content showing up without you asking for it. Amazon, we are looking at you.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Usability and ease of use
Ease of use might not be the same for all of us. This is because it’s more of a subjective matter. Nevertheless, in our opinion, Roku offers more ease of use.
It is really the easiest platform to use among the two. Once the Roku device is turned on it greets you with a home menu and you can easily see all downloaded apps. The interface is simple and natural but remains completely functional and usable.
All this doesn’t mean the Fire Stick interface is totally useless and extremely difficult to use. Quite the opposite because it still has an easy-to-use interface. The problem comes in with the great emphasis on Amazon Prime content.
As I said, if you are already an Amazon Prime member, this is not a bother at all. On the other hand, subscribers from the other streaming services tend to have a hard time finding anything else on the platform.
It takes the know-how to find what you need. But if you know exactly where to find the apps such as Netflix, SlingTV, and the rest, things will go faster and you can start watching your favorite shows.
All in all, both Roku and Fire Stick are easy to use. The only difference is Roku doesn’t have its own streaming service and as such will not put emphasis on particular content.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: The best home screen navigation
Moving on to home screen navigation; there are people who actually care about how well the home screen of a streaming platform is organized.
The particular media player that you choose will be a part of your life for a long time until you decide otherwise. That’s why even the most little things matter and make a difference.
On that note, if being organized is a concern to you, Roku is the most suitable choice. We are not unceremoniously giving Roku the honors.
There is a good reason this streaming platform is the easiest to navigate and the most organized. For starters, it allows the users to arrange all their apps on the home screen, in a similar way as your smartphone.
The good thing about this is you get to choose the apps used the most. If you use the Netflix app frequently, then it makes sense to put it in the front row. This way, next time you want to access the app, you don’t have to search for it because it’s visibly available.
In addition, the home screen has tabs located on the left side of it. One of the tabs is for Featured free content and here you’ll find all the free movies and TV shows to watch.
There is another tab for Search that helps you find some great movies and shows. You don’t have to search by title if you don’t remember. Even when you input an actor name or director, it will still get you the prospective content and after that, you can pick what you’re looking for.
The Amazon Fire Stick, on the other hand, has its own different way of doing things but still manages to accomplish its purpose. The Fire Stick provides you with a list of your most recent and frequent apps on the home screen.
With that, you still get convenience from the platform. You can also opt to hold down the home button and a list of apps will appear. Under the list of your favorite apps, you will find recommendations that are derived from your already viewed movies and shows.
Aside from that, it also updates you on the new films from the channels or services you are subscribed to like Hulu, Netflix, SlingTV, Amazon Prime, etc. Fire Stick is a great option if you never want to miss a new movie or TV show.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: The best remote control
Roku and Fire Stick offer remotes with buttons to control your television. This way, you don’t have to switch between remote controls for the TV and media player.
The only remote you need is the one that comes with the streamer. You don’t even have to anything to get the remote working. In both cases, your streaming device automatically recognizes your TV. It then programs the remote control wirelessly and you can start using it.
That being said, Fire TV Stick has a cheaper and more capable remote control. The Roku Express Plus and the Roku streaming stick are the only streamers from the brand that come with remotes and they cost $40 and $50 respectively. Meanwhile, the upgraded Fire Stick model costs only $40 and it comes with a TV control remote.
The Roku remote does have a microphone button. With this, you can use voice commands to carry out tasks such as search for your favorite movies and play them as well as any other content on the platform.
It also features shortcut buttons designated for the most popular channels or services including Netflix and Disney. Unfortunately, it doesn’t let you program them for the other channels as well. This means those buttons are only useful if you actually use the channels on your remote. Otherwise, they become pretty much useless.
While the Fire Stick remote lacks the infamous shortcut buttons on Roku, it has a mute button. In addition, the Roku remotes are designed to only control your television.
The Fire Stick remote can control your television, soundbars, and AV receivers. If you have an HDMI-supported soundbar, then you can count on the Roku remote to control it but that where it all ends. On the other hand, the Fire Stick’s remote is capable of controlling just about any soundbar.
The Fire Stick remote has such a sleek design to it. Many of the users say it feels great in the hand. Who wants a remote that feels like a heavy rock in their hands anyway?
Meanwhile, the Roku remote is big and clunky with old-fashioned buttons that require tons of energy to push. It’s evident Fire Stick has a better remote that not only has a gorgeous design but is more capable and functional.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Voice control
Everyone has that day they feel lazy and don’t really want to reach for the remote. Besides, it’s such a hassle for some of us. Thankfully, both streamers support voice commands.
If you prefer using voice commands to find your favorite shows and movies, Fire TV wins hands down. The Fire Stick is ideal for people who already own the Alexa smart home speaker.
Once the Alexa is connected to your Fire Stick, you will never have to struggle with reaching for the remote every time you want to stream a show or movie on TV.
All you have to do is issue a voice command and the Fire Stick will automatically play the requested content. There is even a feature to rewind a movie or show when you say ‘’Rewind 10 seconds.”
Additionally, you can command Alexa to carry out other tasks via the Fire Stick. For instance, you can ask Alexa to provide information about the weather, launch apps, control your smart light hubs and other smart home devices.
In case you ask Alexa questions, say, about the weather, it will show results on your TV. It also responds to inquiries through the TV speakers.
The Roku media players work with both Google Home speakers and Alexa. But there are complaints that it doesn’t work as well as expected. It’s disappointing enough that Netflix doesn’t work with the voice controls.
Furthermore, you must remember to say the words ‘Roku’ every time you ask the Google Home speakers to play a movie or launch an app on your Roku streamer.
You have to say ‘Roku’ at the end of each and every voice command. For instance, you may say, ‘Google launch the Hulu app on Roku.’
There is a microphone button on the Roku remote that you can use to launch apps and search for content in case you don’t have the Amazon Alexa or Google smart home speakers.
Remember, Google doesn’t work with the Fire Stick. As such, if you have Google smart home speakers, Roku is your best choice. But still, the Fire Stick voice system is the best you can get.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: Private Listening
Are you the type of person who doesn’t want to disturb everyone else in the house with sound from a show or movie you’re watching? Worry no more because Roku has something great for you.
The Roku remote has a built-in headphone jack, which is a really cool feature by the way. All you need to do is plug your headphones into the remote and the sound automatically mutes on the TV or soundbar and starts to come through the headphones.
How cool is that? If you want to control the volume, you can do so using the buttons on the remote. With this, you can’t disturb the people around you while watching a late-night show or playing a noisy game. Though, it’s the high-end Roku media players that have this impressive feature.
In case you no longer want to use your Roku remote, the mobile app comes in handy for adjusting the volume. The app also offers private listening and works the same way as the remote. You just have to plug your headphones into a smartphone. The soundbar will be automatically muted and the audio will then come out of the headphones.
The Fire Stick, on the other hand, also offers private listening but with only Bluetooth headphones. You have to pair Bluetooth headphones with the streamer because its remote lacks an in-built headphone jack.
Unfortunately, this option is not very effective or even reliable. Bluetooth pairing introduces a lag (audio delays) and you will notice that there is a lip-sync error.
Also, you can’t use the remote to adjust volume while wearing the headphones. As such, Roku reigns supreme as the best for private listening.
Roku vs. Fire Stick: The best apps
Roku and Fire Stick don’t just stream movies and TV shows, the streamers allow to play games too. With Roku, you can play the games with your family member and friends or alone.
The streamer has hundreds of nice games for the viewers. If you are not in the mood for games, simply switch to the Apps tab on-site, and there you will find many different apps. You will also find guides for the movies and TV show channels and some virtual sceneries that you can play on your television.
That being said, Fire Stick has more apps and games. It even has a website for the apps and games which you can download on your TV.
Not only can you play more games with the Fire Stick but also some of them are more popular than those on Roku. Therefore, if you are into playing games, the Fire Stick is the most suitable media player.
Fire Stick lets you watch cable channels like HBO and Cinemax. You also have access to the Amazon originals movies. But there is a catch for this. You must be an Amazon Prime member to enjoy such privileges.
Final Verdict: Which one should you buy?
The best streaming device to buy between Roku and Fire Stick comes down to your personal preferences. If you are already entrenched in the Amazon ecosystem with an Alexa smart home speaker and an Amazon Prime membership, you are definitely better off with the Fire Stick. Everything will be so much easier that way.
The Roku streamer is best for people who are new to streaming. It also has a wider range of movies and TV shows, most of which are free. It might not be a good idea to get the Fire Stick and then have to deal with the annoyance of Prime Video shows and movies dominating the homepage when you have absolutely no interest in any of it.
All in all, both devices have pretty much almost the same features. We have given you all the information you need to make a good decision on the best streaming device for you. The ball is in your court now.
Which is better Roku or Fire Stick?
It all depends on your preferences and the specific features you want. The review comparison we have provided above should help you settle for a suitable streamer.
Does Roku have a monthly fee?
It doesn’t have a monthly fee but you will have to pay for the subscription services such as Netflix. You can also opt to watch the available free channels.