Which is better, Roku or Fire Stick? It’s become a burning question as of late among those in the market for a new streaming device. For more than 203 million Americans who now own a streaming device, the internet has replaced traditional cable as more affordable streaming apps continue to surge in popularity.
As of 2019, Statista reported that Roku took “the lion’s share” of the market, accounting for over 30% of devices pushed in the US. Conversely, Amazon Fire TV devices are growing with each quarter, sectioning more than 12% of the market. Although, by some projections, Amazon is set to narrow its margin with Roku over the course of the next few years.
Are you already enticed by Amazon? Skip ahead with our take on Amazon’s apps, channels and devices. Or, maybe you’d prefer to find out more about Roku’s devices and price tags. Otherwise, keep reading to find out whether Amazon Fire TV or Roku is best for you and your needs.
Compare Amazon Fire TV vs. Roku plans
So, who wins in the Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku showdown? While Roku offers more of a selection of models, Fire TV ensures access to a remote with voice controls. Here’s how things stack up with Fire TV vs. Roku devices in some other areas. Read on to learn which is better, Roku or Fire Stick.
|Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite||Amazon Fire TV||Amazon Fire TV 4K||Amazon Fire TV Cube||Roku Express||Roku Express+||Roku Premiere||Roku Streaming Stick+||Roku Streaming Stick+ HE||Roku Ultra||Roku Soundbar|
|Device style||Stick||Stick||Stick||Wireless box||Set-top box||Set-top box||Set-top box||Stick||Stick||Wireless box||Soundbar|
|Size||3.4 x 1.2 x 0.5 inches||3.4 x 1.2 x 0.5 inches||3.4 x 1.2 x 0.5 inches||86.1 x 86.1 x 76.9 mm||1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches||1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches||1.4 x 3.3 x 0.7 inches||3.7 x 0.8 x 0.47 inches||3.7 x 0.8 x 0.47 inches||4.9 x 4.9 x 0.8 inches||2.4 x 14 x 4.2 inches|
|Compatibility||1080p HD||1080p HD||1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR, Dolby Vision||1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR, Dolby Vision||1080p HD||1080p HD (A/V composite)||1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR||1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR||1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR||1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR||1080p HD, 4K Ultra HD and HDR|
|TV episodes + movies available||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+||500,000+|
|Voice search capability||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Which streaming device is right for you?
Both Amazon Fire TV and Roku streaming devices offer stick and wireless box models. But what’re the main takeaways of the Roku TV vs. Fire TV debate?
Amazon Fire TV Stick includes 8 GB of storage, whereas Roku Streaming Stick+ doesn’t have internal storage capacity. Something you’ll want to keep in mind if you download lots of apps.
Fire TV is a solid decision for anyone who has a Prime membership, owns Amazon products, like an Echo or uses the Alexa virtual assistant. But for many others, Roku’s interface design, compatibility and a wide selection of devices appeal to a growing segment of American streamers.
Amazon Fire TV
When you complete Amazon’s setup process, you’ll be able to download your favorite apps. Navigation is pretty simple. Half of your screen is made up of your apps with a grid-style presentation. Your recently visited apps are positioned first in the grid. The top of your screen is made up of your menu bar that consists of a search tool, your videos, free content, movies, TV shows, apps and settings.
Are you having trouble setting up your Fire TV? Here’s a walkthrough that’ll take you through the entire process.
The interface itself is one of Roku’s most identifiable features. Its purple gradient background brings focus to your menubar and apps. The menubar is accessible to the left side of your screen and navigates between your home screen, your feed, movies, shows, news, Roku Store and settings. Your apps are featured to the right in a grid formation that’s become popular across most streaming interfaces, including Amazon Fire TV.
Are you struggling with the setup process? Zoom on over to our step-by-step breakdown for how to set up your Roku.
Amazon Fire TV
All of Amazon’s Fire Stick devices operate at the same processing power — Quad-core 1.7 GHz. The Fire TV Cube, however, packs in much more power, utilizing a Hexa-core processor. How does the Hexa-core processor match up to the Fire Stick’s Quad-core 1.7 GHz? To be specific, it adds up to Quad-core 2.2 GHz plus Dual-core 1.9 GHz.
Roku’s products across the board use a Quad-core processor. And in 2020, Roku released a new version of Roku Ultra that still uses a Quad-core CPU. Even though its faster than Roku’s other models, it still falls short of the Fire TV Cube.
Casting, mirroring, sharing
Amazon Fire TV
To find out if your Fire TV device has stream sharing capabilities, navigate to the shortcut menu. Hold down the button with the house icon for a second or two. Now if you’re an iOS user, bad news. Fire TV devices don’t currently support screen mirroring for iOS or MacOS.
You’ll need to use one of Roku’s supported devices with the latest updates to get started. Although, bad news if you’re an iOS user. As you probably know, Apple products don’t play well with other brands. If you’re an iOS user, you won’t get screen sharing features without a third-party app workaround. Although, you can download the Roku app and use the Play on Roku feature to share your personal music, photos and videos.
Audio and video quality
Amazon Fire TV
Fire TV takes the edge with audio and video qualities. All Fire TV devices support 2ch stereo, 7.1 surround sound, Dolby Atmos Audio and HDMI audio pass-through for up to 5.1. Video quality is a different story. The Fire Stick and Fire Stick Lite are compatible with video qualities up to 1080p. This means 720p and under are also covered. The more premium Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube support 4K Ultra High-Definition (UHD).
Amazon’s products also benefit from upscaling features. Each device is compatible with HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+ and HLG video upscaling. Although, when it comes to Dolby Vision, it’s only supported by the Fire Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube.
Pretty much all of Roku’s media players support Dolby Audio and DTS pass-through with an HDMI cable. The Roku Ultra turns it up a notch by also supporting Dolby Atmos. When it comes to video, your quality simply depends on your price point. Roku Express and Express+ are the only two devices that don’t support 4K UHD. But they do stream in 1080p HD and under. Roku’s Soundbar, Streaming Sticks and Ultra not only are compatible with 4K UHD, but support HDR upscaling — just not to the extent of Fire TV devices.
Here’s our list of the best channels, or apps, offered in the Roku Channel Store.
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon’s Fire TV devices wield a more powerful remote collectively. From the Fire TV Stick Lite, which includes an Alexa Voice Remote Lite, to the Fire TV Cube’s Alexa Voice Remote, you’ll get voice command features for quick navigation. This is particularly useful if you use an Amazon or Google virtual assistant. Overall, the Fire TV remotes have a more basic, yet sleeker appearance in comparison to a Roku remote.
There are quite a few Roku remotes out there, from simple IR remotes to voice-activated smart remotes. Much of what separated models like Roku Express from Roku Express+ was a high-quality remote with voice controls. But since Roku has released a Roku mobile app that allows you to use all of its upgraded features like voice commands and earbuds for private listening for no extra cost, it’s led to the company discontinuing most of its “+” models.
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon may offer half of the streaming devices Roku does, but even its most affordable Lite option includes internal storage and a remote with voice controls. Fire TV devices start at $29.99 with Fire TV Stick Lite, and continue to Fire TV Stick ($39.99), Fire TV Stick 4K ($49.99) and Fire TV Cube ($119.99).
There are eight Roku streaming devices with varying price tiers. The higher the value, the more features you’ll get to enjoy. Roku’s models are priced as follows: Roku Express ($29.99), Roku Express+ ($39.99), Roku Premiere ($39.99), Roku Streaming+ ($49.99), Roku Streaming Stick+ HE ($59.99), Roku Ultra LT ($79.99), Roku Ultra ($99.99) and Roku Streambar ($129.99).
For more ways to save, look at our analysis of all the best Roku deals.
Amazon Fire TV
Some have negated Fire TV for a clunky interface, self-serving promotional ads and difficult searching. And with your voice commands, you may have trouble opening a specific episode. But half the battle is getting to your app and show, right? Also, Amazon Fire TV doesn’t support HBO Max, which is a popular premium app that’s giving Hulu and Netflix a run for their money.
Even though there’s more of a selection with Roku, there are a few hang-ups. For one, unlike Amazon Fire TV, Roku’s products don’t provide support for DolbyVision HDR. And where Apple TV lists all of your favorite shows and movies in one simple location without needing to launch individual apps like Disney+, Roku doesn’t.
Our hot take
In the Roku vs. Firestick debate, there’s no clear winner — only preferences. Roku media players are beloved for their vast selection and popular interface, but with the design and functionality of Fire TV, that gap continues to dwindle. Fire TV devices will entice those with a Prime membership. But even if you don’t have Prime, Fire TV’s a reliable choice with voice controls for the most affordable rate. But, what if you need a composite adapter for an older TV? Or perhaps you want to free up space and fancy your media player and soundbar mixed into one? Roku still has got you covered.