Nowadays, we are spoiled for choice. If we want to watch a movie, there are dozens of apps we can use. If we’re going to watch a TV show, we can easily find it in a few seconds. However, watching media on smartphones and computers is not always a convenient choice. That’s why we made this Roku vs Firestick comparison guide!
Sometimes we want a smart, inexpensive streaming solution to get media straight to our televisions. That’s where hardware like Roku and the Amazon Fire Stick comes into play. The differences between Roku and Firestick are small but important. The following features show the key differences between Roku and Fire Stick:
- 1 Streaming Options For Roku And Firestick
- 2 Movie Streams
- 3 Other Streaming Channels
- 4 Video Streaming Winner
- 5 Firestick vs Roku – VPN Selection
- 6 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Size Comparison
- 7 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Cost
- 8 Hacking And Sideloading
- 9 Running Kodi on Roku and Fire Stick
- 10 Features
- 10.1 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Specifications
- 10.2 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Controls
- 10.3 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Using Smartphone Apps
- 10.4 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Interface
- 10.5 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Web Browsing
- 10.6 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Speed
- 10.7 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Gaming
- 10.8 Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Screen Mirroring
- 11 Firestick vs Roku – How To Decide
- 12 Conclusion
Streaming Options For Roku And Firestick
The Fire Stick and Roku were both made for streaming. Each offers a wide selection of channels and apps you can install, allowing access to a variety of content from across the web. They stream live sports, movies, TV shows, and a lot more.
Streaming TV Shows
Need to binge-watch a classic movie or series? How about catching up on new shows or checking out a new pilot? Roku and Fire Stick both offer easy access to many of the most popular TV streaming services around. You can get access to live content too!
The TV-oriented subscription service offers a wider variety of TV series than most of its competitors. It’s all because of active licensing deals with content distributors. Hulu has a decent selection of movies, brand new shows released the day after they air, and optional add-on content like live TV and Showtime. Hulu works flawlessly on both Fire TV and Roku, so no matter which device you choose, you’ll be set for TV.
The “a la carte” TV streaming service lets you watch only the channels you’re interested in. No crazy upgrade schemes or weird packages are needed. You just need to pick your favorite content and pay for it. It’s plain and simple. Sling TV is a staple on both Roku and Firestick. It’s easy to use on both devices and works smoothly even with HD content.
HBO GO And HBO Now
If you’re interested in shows like Game of Thrones, then HBO‘s streaming apps are all you need. Both the subscription companion app and the standalone service are available on Roku’s channel browser and Fire TV’s app store. Prices are the same on both devices, meaning there is practically no difference between these two platforms.
Both Roku and Fire Stick provide access to some of the best platforms around for movie streaming.
Netflix is the most popular video streaming service present on both Fire Stick and Roku devices. There is very little difference in how the app operates on either device. However, it’s worth pointing out that the feel and look of the Fire Stick’s version is more comfortable to use than Roku’s Netflix app. If Netflix is your primary source for movies, then either Fire Stick or Roku is a perfect choice.
Amazon Prime subscribers can get access to tons of free content on Amazon’s Instant Video service. TV shows, movies, foreign content, and a lot more are available there. New freebies are added regularly, meaning that there is always something new and fresh to watch. Even if you do not use Amazon Prime, you can use Amazon Instant Video to purchase or rent TV shows and movies at a reasonable price. The app runs great on both Fire Stick and Roku, though a lot of people swear it runs a little faster on the former.
The Crackle app offers tons of free movies that will excite film lovers, featuring both classic and new releases. You will need to sit through a few commercials before the movie is over, but all content is free. Crackle is available in almost identical formats for both Fire Stick and Roku.
Other Streaming Channels
Neither Fire Stick nor Roku stops with the most important streaming services. Aside from streaming giants like Netflix and HBO, people can find apps for live streams, user-made videos, and a lot more.
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The YouTube app is great service for all types of videos. It is crammed with hundreds of millions of videos; enough to content to cover you for the rest of your life. Roku has a distinct advantage here, as YouTube is no longer available on the Firestick platform. People can side load YouTube on Firestick, but it can take some time. On the other hand, Roku runs YouTube straight out of the box without any additional installation required.
Streaming esports and live video games is becoming more and more popular every day. Amazon-owned Twitch is the primary platform for this, and the app is available on both Fire Stick and Roku. Roku’s version seems like it’s a little more updated than its Fire Stick competitor. But Twitch runs just fine on both devices.
Video Streaming Winner
Firestick and Roku both offer a fantastic variety of TV channels and movies, both free and subscription-based. All the big shows are there, and many secondary services are simple to install, too. Roku slightly edges out Firestick in this department, mostly because of its bigger selection of third-party channels. Browsing Roku’s services can turn up some real gems.
A COMPLICATED COMPARISON
Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a like-for-like comparison between Roku Streaming Sticks and Amazon Fire TV. Amazon has two products: the Fire TV Stick 4k and the Fire TV Stick. On the other hand, Roku has six devices which can be taken as Fire TV competitors: Roku Express, Roku Express +, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere +, Roku Streaming Stick, and Roku Streaming Stick +.
Firestick vs Roku – VPN Selection
Irrespective of your choice in streaming device, keeping your data secure and private is a top priority. But the question is which top tier VPN works with which device, and which one offers the most options? Using a virtual private network is a different experience with Roku and Firestick. These devices are not developed to run many apps, so people often have to use secondary options to get a VPN working as expected.
Things are somewhat better with a Fire Stick. The device runs an operating system based on Android, which means people can sideload VPN onto Fire TV without too much trouble. On the other hand, Roku does not support VPN installs, and there is no way to add them externally.
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You will need to set your VPN up with a router to completely protect your internet connection for this device. It’s not difficult, but the extra step can be frustrating.
VPN Selection Winner: Firestick
Firestick is a clear leader in terms of overall internet security. The Android-based device can work with several high-quality VPN services without any difficulty. You can even install them directly from Amazon’s App Store.
To use VPN with Roku, you have to resort the secondary setup procedures like router installs and MediaStreamer DNS rerouting, which is not the easiest solution. Firestick is the best option if security your first priority.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Size Comparison
Although both Roku and Fire Stick are small, pocket-sized devices, Roku is narrower and shorter than the Fire Stick. It can make a big difference depending on your travel plans and entertainment setup. The Roku remote is also shorter than Fire TV’s standard remote, although it is considerably chunkier.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Cost
Before going deep into technical specifications and features, let’s deal with the elephant in the room – the cost of these devices. Amazon’s entry-level Fire TV stick costs $39.99. The 4K version will cost $10 more, coming in at $49.99. The cheapest Roku model is the Roku Express. Which costs $29.99, making it more affordable than Fire TV.
On the other hand, the top Roku model (ultra excluded) is the Roku Streaming Stick + which costs $59.99. From a price standpoint, the most Roku devices to Amazon’s two products are the Roku Premiere, which costs $39.99, and Premiere +, which costs $49.99, and the Streaming Stick, which costs $49.99. It is easy to find similar models at the same price, so there is no real functional difference between these two hardware devices. If HD streaming is not your top priority, you can get cheaper Roku devices at around $29.
- 4K Firestick: $49.99 and plays videos up to 4K
- 2nd Gen Firestick: $39.99 and plays videos up to 1080P
- 1st Gen Firestick: $29.99 and plays videos up to 720P
- Roku Express: $26 Refurbished on Amazon and pays up to 1080P content
- Roku Streaming Stick +: $49.99 on Amazon and plays 4K Roku content
- Roku Streaming Stick: $38.22 on Amazon (used) and plays videos up to 1080P
- Roku Premiere: $37 on Amazon and plays HD/4K/HDR
- Roku Ultra: $99.99 on Amazon and play HD/4K/HDR (plus get free JBL Premium headphones!)
The addition of new third-party content to your streaming device is the icing on the cake. Even though Fire TV and Roku both offer a massive array of streaming options, there is always something you can add to get even more use out of your device.
Running Kodi on Roku and Fire Stick
The most popular media center app is Kodi in the world. The free open software gives you access to a massive variety of content; it’s hard to wrap your head around it. Kodi allows people to stream live TV, check out blockbuster Hollywood movies as they are released, watch sports around the globe, and much more.
Kodi does not support either Roku devices or the Fire TV Stick. However, because Fire TV runs an Android operating system, you can sideload Kodi without too much hassle.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Specifications
This is the point where things become confusing. Let’s make sense of all the different models offered by these two companies.
The Amazon devices: The basic Fire TV stick has a 1.3GHz processor, support for Bluetooth 4.1, and 8 GB of internal memory.
It runs videos in 720p or 1080p resolution at up to 60 frames per second (FPS). The 4k model has notable improvements. It has a 1.7GHz processor, 2160p video resolution, and support for Bluetooth 5.0. The internal storage is the same at 8GB.
Three Roku products, the Express, Express +, and Streaming Stick, only offer 1080p resolution, the others offer 4K.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Controls
All Amazon Fire TV and Roku devices are delivered with dedicated remote control. Both Amazon models support Alexa. If you want voice control functionality on your Roku, you will need to purchase a Roku premiere +, Roku Streaming Stick, or Roku Streaming Stick +. Both devices also feature an accompanying remote control smartphone app.
Finally, if you have an Amazon Echo Device, you can sync it with your Fire Stick TV and use it to control your content.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Using Smartphone Apps
Companion apps for iOS and Android devices are great resources to expand your streaming device’s functionality. Both Roku and Firestick are supported by several third-party remote apps, along with an official Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled remote app.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Interface
Visually, the Amazon platform is more advanced and seems more polished. However, critics have argued that it pushes Amazon’s content too aggressively. It’s a fair point. People will only see one row of their apps at the top of the screen, and if they have installed too many apps, they will need to scroll to the right and click on View All to see them.
The rest of the home screen is taken up by content from Amazon Prime Video. Even if you do not subscribe to the service, you will see it.
Roku’s interference is more customizable, and all channels are displayed in a scrollable list. If you installs third-party add-ons, you can even place your channels into groups for better navigation. One downside is that Roku’s menus and visuals are outdated, and are badly in need of an update.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Web Browsing
Speaking about browsers, it is important to note that only Amazon products offer you the option to surf the web. Two browsers are available – Firefox and Amazon’s Silk browser. You can control them both easily using the Fire TV remote. You can also sideload apps on your Fire TV stick. This lets you install any browser from the Google Play Store. However, not all browsers are not compatible with the remote, meaning you may also need to install a mouse app on your Fire TV.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Speed
Roku and Fire Stick are almost equal in terms of actual specifications. The Fire TV Stick has a faster processor and much more storage, however, which is useful if you plan on installing many third-party apps. Both devices play HD videos without any hassle and have lag-free interfaces.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Gaming
Amazon Fire TV sticks and Roku devices both offer games on their platform. If you’re a heavy gamer you may find that Fire TV devices are more affordable for you. Generally speaking, Roku games are a bit “cutesy.” Sure, they keep you entertained for half an hour, but they do not offer enjoyment for a long time.
The games on Amazon’s devices are beefier. You will find titles such as Badland, Star Wars, and Minecraft.
However, if the ability to game on your streaming device is high on your list of priorities, then it’s worth stating that neither a Fire TV Stick nor a Roku can hold a candle to 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.
Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku: Screen Mirroring
Roku devices have built-in Miracast technology. Miracast functions like a wireless version of an HDMI cable. Most Windows and Android devices are Miracast compatible.
Apple devices are not. Some older Amazon Fire TV models support screen mirroring though, strangely, it is neither available on the third-generation Amazon Fire TV Stick nor the 4K model.
Firestick vs Roku – How To Decide
Still, it is difficult to choose the best between these two platforms. It’s not a simple decision; both pieces of hardware are the best at what they do. The following things can help you in choosing which device is better:
Get a Firestick If…
You enjoy sideloading content and using all kinds of “unofficial” apps to watch free streaming TV & movies, if you want to play games on your TV, or if you cannot live without Amazon’s dedicated video streaming services.
Get a Roku If…
You want a range of free third-party channels, you want more hardware options, or you need YouTube on your streaming device.
Roku and Fire streaming sticks are breathtakingly convenient devices. Either one gives you access to more TV shows, and movies than you could ever hope to watch. Deciding which one is better depends entirely upon your preferences. Both have a low price tag; thus, there is no harm in trying them both too.
The most important difference is, you cannot install third-party apps on Roku devices. In contrast, you can install third-party apps on Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV. This is a huge difference because millions of Fire Stick users get free TV and movies by using third-party apps.