When it comes to streaming devices, Amazon Fire, Chromecast and Roku often dominate. Why? Because they all offer relatively affordable options that won’t take up much space in your home. But there is a difference between the three device brands. For example, Roku offers a huge variety, whether it’s teeny tiny streaming sticks or ultra-powerful boxes. Amazon Fire devices, meanwhile, have unrivaled smart home capabilities. And Chromecast? Well, it works in an entirely different way. Instead of housing thousands of streaming apps, it casts content directly from your phone to your TV screen.
So which one wins in the Chromecast vs. Fire Stick vs. Roku challenge? Read on to find out.
Compare Google Chromecast vs. Roku vs. Amazon Fire Stick plans
|Amazon Fire||Google Chromecast||Roku|
|Device style||Streaming stick and box||Streaming stick||Streaming stick and box|
|Size||Fire Stick: 3.4 x 1.1 x 0.5 inchesFire Stick 4K: 3.9 x 1.2 x 0.6 inchesFire Cube: 3.0 x 3.4 x 3.4 inches||2.1 x 0.4 inches||Express: 0.7 x 2.8 x 1.5 inchesPremiere and Premiere+: 0.7 x 3.4 x 1.4 inchesStreaming Stick+: 3.4 x 0.8 x 0.5 inchesUltra: 4.9 x 0.8 inches|
|Compatibility||TV with HDMI port||Android phone or tablet with OS 6.0 or lateriOS phone or tablet with iOS 12.0 or laterTV with HDCP 1.3 or higher||TV with HDMI port|
|TV episodes + movies available||500,000+||200,000+||500,000+|
|Voice search capability||Yes||Yes||Yes (select models)|
Which streaming device is right for you?
Roku vs. Chromecast vs. Fire Stick — which one’s for you? Well, if you like variety, affordability and simplicity, Roku is the answer. You can choose between compact streaming sticks and streaming boxes that come with powerful capabilities and extra storage. There are even smart TVs with Roku software built-in. Each and every one features Roku’s easy-to-use interface. Read our in-depth Roku review for more information.
But if you’re an Alexa fan or someone who wants to turn their house into a smart home, opt for Amazon Fire Stick. A small and easy device that plugs straight into your TV, it comes with full Alexa integration, so you can look up the news and weather and create a shopping list with your voice. Take a look at our full Amazon streaming device review.
Finally, there’s Chromecast. As it works in a different way to all the rest, it’s ideal for those who can’t bear to be separated from their phones. Plus, it doesn’t require a separate remote, keeping your space neat and tidy. Head here for our full Chromecast review.
The Chromecast user experience is very different. As the device works by casting content from a mobile device or computer to a TV, there isn’t a traditional interface or even a remote. However, this makes it incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is find a piece of content on your phone, tablet or computer web browser and tap the casting button to see it appear on the big screen. Connect to a Google Assistance device for voice control.
Roku’s straightforward interface is often considered to be the most intuitive. Apps are well-organized on the home screen, and the search function is easy to use with both the remote or with your voice on certain models. Download a mobile app to use as the remote if you prefer and connect Roku devices to an existing Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for improved voice control.
Amazon Fire Stick
Amazon’s interface often combines Amazon advertisements with streaming service apps and features. (Here are the best Amazon Fire apps.) It may not be as clean as the likes of Roku, but it’s still simple to navigate and, more importantly, fast. But arguably, the most important part of the Fire Stick’s user experience is the ability to pair with Alexa. Press the button on the included remote, and the smart home assistant will search for content and give you information about your local area.
Chromecast is more of a casting device than a full-blown streaming device, so it only comes with a single-core processor. Although this is the weakest out of the three, you shouldn’t need a huge amount of processing power to cast to your TV anyway.
The processor on most new Roku devices is a quad-core design, which works well for the majority of streaming needs. But the storage of each device varies from 256MB to 512MB, so choose your model carefully. If you need extra storage, certain models like the Premiere+ come with a handy micro SD slot.
Amazon Fire Stick
Amazon tends to win in this category. Its Fire Stick may be small, but it comes with a dual-core processor for ultra-fast and powerful streaming. Plus, it comes with an impressive 8GB of storage — a lot more than both Chromecast and Roku counterparts.
Casting, mirroring, sharing
Casting is what Google Chromecast devices were made for. Any app or website that is cast-enabled can pop up on your TV screen by mirroring what’s on your phone, tablet or computer. And according to Google, you can enjoy hundreds of thousands of movies and shows, millions of songs and countless multiplayer games. (Find out more about Chromecast’s apps and channels.) You can even cast personal photos and videos straight from an Android device to a TV. iOS users will require the help of a third-party app.
Casting and mirroring are different features on Roku devices. You can use an Android or Windows device or an iPhone or iPad to cast content from compatible apps like Netflix to your Roku device — and, therefore, your TV screen. But you can’t mirror the screen of any iOS device without using the Roku mobile app. If screen mirroring, you’ll be able to see the entire screen of your mobile device and will only be able to control it with that device. But casting can be controlled with the Roku remote. Find out the best Roku channels here.
Amazon Fire Stick
Fire Stick users can now mirror mobile and tablet screens onto their Amazon device. The catch is that screen mirroring only works with certain Android devices. (iOS users will, again, need a third-party app to enjoy this feature.) Once both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network, you can see all your photos and videos on TV.
Audio and video quality
Older Chromecast devices may not support super sharp 4K resolutions, but recent models can play content in Ultra High Definition (UHD). And if you opt for the pricier Chromecast Ultra, you’ll get an ethernet port for a wired connection that provides even smoother streaming. Of course, the real video quality depends on the reliability of your Wi-Fi network. And the audio quality you’ll get from Chromecast is entirely reliant on your TV’s sound capabilities.
While all Roku devices can stream in high definition (HD), select models, such as the Premiere+ and Ultra, have the ability to play content in 4K. Of course, the video and audio quality you’ll receive depends on your TV specifications and the power of your internet. However, Roku does come with an added feature for 4K fans. A separate 4K menu appears on the home screen, so you can easily find content to watch in the highest resolution available.
Amazon Fire Stick
To stream in an ultra-high 4K resolution, you’ll need to invest in the slightly more expensive Fire Stick 4K. It also supports every high dynamic range (HDR) format to give the picture more color depth and contrast. But you’ll need an internet speed of around 25 Mbps for the best quality. Again, audio quality will depend on your TV device.
No Chromecast device comes with a remote, making life a whole lot easier. Just grab your phone, tablet or computer to control the casting and mirroring.
There are two kinds of Roku remote. The IR remote needs to be in direct line of sight to the device in order to work, whereas the enhanced version can control the device even from behind an obstacle. As well as controlling Roku device playback, the remotes allow you to control various TV functions like power and volume. Plus, your remote will come with a few service-specific buttons, so you can head straight to the likes of Netflix or Hulu with one click. Some Roku remotes also come with built-in microphones for voice control.
Amazon Fire Stick
The best part about Fire Stick remotes is the enhanced voice control. All new devices come with an improved Alexa remote, which allows you to control volume and power with your voice as well as use handy commands like “rewind 20 seconds.” Of course, the remote has plenty of standard buttons, too, including the ability to power your TV on and off and head straight to the home screen.
Chromecast may require you to cast from a mobile device or computer, but it is a highly affordable option that gives you the chance to watch almost all of the same content on the big screen. The cheapest model costs around $30, while the Ultra is just under $70. Here’s how to set up Chromecast devices.
There are a range of Roku prices to choose from. The cheapest streamer will set you back less than $30, while the more powerful boxes are around $100. With an intuitive interface and smooth streaming, each offers great value for money. Set up your Roku device with our handy guide.
Amazon Fire Stick
The standard Fire Stick is also an economical option, costing just $39. But even the 4K model is relatively cheap at $49. Don’t forget you’ll get great smart home abilities, too. Head here for more on setting up and using your Amazon device.
Chromecast may be the simplest device around, but it does require you to use a mobile or computer and has fewer streaming apps than both Amazon and Roku models.
Although Roku’s interface is often seen as the easiest to use, it doesn’t come with as good a voice control as the Fire Stick.
Amazon Fire Stick
With ads and almost too many search results, Amazon Fire devices can be a little more difficult to navigate than other streaming models.
Our hot take
Due to its sheer number of streaming devices, Roku is ideal for anyone starting out. You’ll get everything you could ever possibly want and the option to pay for enhanced features like 4K streaming. But Chromecast is the most basic of them all, making it perfect for those who don’t want too many features. Amazon Fire devices, meanwhile, were made for smart home-lovers and, of course, current Prime subscribers. Ultimately, all offer great value in their own unique way.