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Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:Which is better?

The popularity of cord cutting continues to accelerate. Collectively, the cable companies are losing millions of subscribers every year, with no sign of it stopping.

If you've recently dropped your TV subscription, chances are you're trying to decide between an Amazon Fire TV Stick and one of the many Roku devices.

In this article, we pit the Amazon Fire Stick against Roku devices, determining which is better to help you decide.

A complicated comparison

Unfortunately, it is impossible to make an identical comparison between all Amazon Fire TV devices and Roku devices.

Instead, we have to focus on two Amazon products:the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick 4K. On the Roku side, three devices can be considered as Fire TV Stick competitors:the Roku Express, Roku Premiere, and Roku Streaming Stick+.

NB: The Roku Ultra costs $100 and is more of an alternative to the Amazon Fire TV Cube, so we won't include it in this Fire Stick vs. Roku analysis.

Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:cost

Before we get into the features and technical specifications, let's talk about the elephant in the room – the cost of the devices.

Amazon's entry-level Fire TV Stick costs $40. The 4K model will cost you an additional $10, down to $50.

The cheapest Roku model is the Roku Express. At $30, it's more affordable than the Fire TV Stick. At the other end of the scale, Roku's top model (Ultra excluded) is the Roku Streaming Stick+, which costs $50.

So, for the sake of simplicity, we'll pit the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K against the Roku Express ($30), Roku Premiere ($40), and Roku Streaming Stick+ ($50)

Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:Specifications

This is where things get confusing. Let's try to make sense of all the different models offered by the two companies.

First, Amazon devices. The base Fire TV Stick has a 1.3GHz Quad-core ARM processor, 8GB of internal memory, and Bluetooth 4.1 support. It plays videos in 720p or 1080p resolution at up to 60 frames per second (FPS).

The 4K model is a noticeable improvement. You'll find a 1.7 GHz Quad-Core processor, Bluetooth 5.0 support, and 2160p video resolution. Internal storage remains at 8 GB and there is 1.5 GB of RAM.

The Roku Express only supports 1080p resolution. Other Roku options support 4K.

Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:Controls

All Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices come with a dedicated remote.

Both Amazon controllers support Alexa. If you want to control your Roku with your voice, you'll need to purchase a Streaming Stick+.

Both Roku and Amazon have developed a smartphone remote control app.

And don't forget, if you have an Amazon Echo speaker, you can sync it to your Fire TV Stick and use it to control your content.

Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:Interface

Visually, the Amazon platform is more modern and looks more polished. However, critics have argued that it pushes Amazon's own content too aggressively.

This is a valid point of view. You will only see one row of your own apps at the top of the screen.

The rest of the home screen is taken up with content from Amazon Prime Video. Even if you don't subscribe to the service, you'll still see it.

Roku's interface is more customizable. All your channels are displayed in a drop-down list and you can create shortcuts for your most used channels. If you install third-party add-ons, you can even put your channels into groups for easier browsing.

Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:TV-Series and Movies

If you're looking for a vendor-neutral device, Roku has the best streaming sticks on the market. They're not just better than Amazon Fire TV Sticks; they are also better than Android TV, Apple TV and Chromecast.

You'll find apps for just about every on-demand video and music streaming app, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio. Roku also offers its own ad-supported streaming channel that provides access to a large number of free movies and TV shows.

Roku also offers an extensive library of private channels. You need to enter a code in the Roku web portal to install them on your device. Be warned – many private channels reside in a gray area of ​​legality.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick runs a highly modified version of Android. Which means you can download any app as long as you have its APK file. There are several safe and secure APK download sites that you can use. Keep in mind that most Google Play Store apps aren't designed for Fire Sticks, which means you'll also need to install a mouse app.

Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:Web Browsing

Only Amazon products allow you to easily surf the web. Two Fire TV browsers are available:Amazon's Silk browser and Firefox. You can control them both easily using the Fire TV remote. We compared Silk and Firefox to find the best browser for Amazon Fire TV Stick if you want to know more.

There are web browsers that work on Roku devices, but they are not suitable for regular browsing.

Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku:Games

Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV Sticks both offer games on their platform.

However, hardcore gamers might find Fire TV devices more suitable for their needs. Generally speaking, Roku games are a bit "cute". Sure, they'll keep you entertained for half an hour, but they don't offer longevity.

Games on Amazon devices are beefier. You will find titles such as Minecraft, Badland and Star Wars.

Of course, if being able to play games on your streaming device is high on your priority list, neither a Roku nor a Fire TV Stick can hold a candle to the Nvidia Shield. You can stream titles from your PC using Nvidia GameStream, download a host of local games from Nvidia and Google Play, and install emulators for classic consoles.

We've written about the best games on Amazon Fire TV and the best games on Roku if you want more information before making a purchase.

Amazon Fire Stick against Roku:Screen Mirroring

Roku devices have built-in Miracast technology. If you're not aware, Miracast is like a wireless version of an HDMI cable. Most Android and Windows devices are Miracast compatible. Apple devices are not.

Some older Amazon Fire TV models also support screen mirroring. Curiously, it is not available on Amazon Fire Stick or Fire Stick 4K.

Roku vs Fire TV Stick:which is better?

It's really hard to pick a clear winner between the Roku and the Fire Stick. It all depends on how you plan to use your device, what gadgets you already own, and what streaming service you subscribe to.

All things being equal, we recommend the Amazon Fire Stick 4K or the Roku Streaming Stick+. And don't forget you can even buy a Chromecast or Android TV.

We pitted Chromecast vs Roku and Android TV vs Amazon Fire TV if you want to know more.