Roku vs Amazon Fire Stick

Roku and Amazon Fire TV are both popular streaming devices that allow you to access a variety of streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video, on your TV. So which one is better? Let’s break it down.

Our pick for Roku vs. Amazon Fire TV: Roku for best overall, Fire TV for best budget streaming stick

Roku and Amazon compete directly against one another when it comes to streaming players and other related TV-enhancing devices. Some users prefer Roku, while others swear by Fire TV. Personally, we’d recommend Roku over Fire TV, for a couple of reasons.

Source: Roku

  • Simple, easy to navigate interface. If you’ve ever owned a Fire TV device, you know how annoying those pesky Prime ads can be. Of course, if you are a Prime member, you might love these insights on promotions and new products. But if you want to minimize the clutter and keep TV time sacred, then you’re better off with Roku. Roku’s interface is simple and easy to navigate, and the home screen is completely customizable.
  • Easier to search for titles. Another reason why we find Roku a better choice than Fire TV is due to the ease in which you can search for specific shows and movies. With a Roku device, you can search for specific titles, actors, or directors, as well as browse through categories and genres to find something that interests you. If you have a voice control remote, you can also make these commands by holding down the button with the “microphone” icon and speaking. Technically, you can do the same with Fire TV devices and the Alexa voice control remote, however there are numerous complaints from users that the remote is faulty and unreliable. We haven’t experienced this directly, but you can check out some user reviews on Amazon’s site.

But to help you get the full picture on which brand and which device specifically fits your needs, we’re going to pin each brand’s top-rated devices against each other.

A couple of the main devices that Roku and Amazon Fire compete on include:

  1. Streaming sticks: Both Roku and Amazon Fire offer streaming sticks, which are compact devices that can be plugged into the HDMI port of a TV or other display, allowing users to access streaming services and other content.
  2. Streaming boxes: Both Roku and Amazon Fire offer streaming boxes, which are larger devices that offer more advanced features and capabilities than streaming sticks, such as the ability to access content in 4K resolution or support for high dynamic range (HDR) content.

Best 4K streaming stick: Roku

Roku’s most popular streaming stick is the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, and Amazon’s is the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Let’s start off with what the two have in common. They both support streaming in 4K resolution and have a compact, portable design, which tucks away nicely behind your TV and makes them easy to take with you wherever you go—for travel, moving, etc. Both devices come with a remote that offers hands-free voice control.

So why do we think Roku wins over Fire TV for best 4K streaming stick?

Both devices have user-friendly interfaces, but the Roku Streaming Stick 4K has a simpler and more straightforward layout, which some users may prefer. The Fire TV Stick 4K also has more features and options, which can make it more complex to navigate. Roku offers way more free content and channels than Fire TV, including the Roku Channel.

Not to mention, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K costs about the same as the Fire TV Stick 4K, so we believe that the perks of Roku outweigh the Fire TV Stick.

Best budget streaming stick: Fire TV

Roku’s entry-level streaming stick is the Roku Express, and Amazon’s is the Fire TV Stick Lite. Both are budget-friendly and offer a stripped-down version of what the more premium streaming sticks offer.

With either one, you’ll still get access to a wide range of apps to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and more, and access to tons of other free and paid content, including movies, TV shows, and live TV.

So why do we think Fire TV wins over Roku for best budget streaming stick?

The Fire TV Stick Lite simply offers more features for less. Amazon runs steeper discounts than Roku, meaning the Fire TV Stick Lite is usually slightly cheaper than the Roku Express. The Fire TV Stick Lite is also generally considered to be slightly faster and more powerful than the Roku Express, and it also comes with a voice control remote, while the Roku Express does not.

That said, the Roku Express is still a great choice for non-fussy watchers who just want faster streaming, an extremely user-friendly interface with all the streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu clearly accessible, high definition TV, and a non-complicated remote.

Best streaming box: depends on your price point

Roku’s most popular streaming box is by far the Roku Ultra, and Amazon’s is the Fire TV Cube.

Although we’re pinning these two products against each other, it’s important to remember that the Fire TV Cube is usually almost about twice the price of the Roku Ultra. If price is extremely important for you, then we’d definitely recommend the Roku Ultra.

At just $139.99 (and it’s currently on promotion for $119.99), it supports 4K HDR modes including HDR10, 10+, HLG and Dolby Vision, comes with a smart voice control remote with private Bluetooth listening options (perfect for when the family is asleep), and a handy “Lost Remote” feature. Just say “Hey Roku, where’s my remote?” or click the button on your streaming player and your Roku remote will release a sound.

On the other hand, the Fire TV Cube stands out for those who want an all-in-one solution for streaming media and controlling their home entertainment system. It combines the best features of an Amazon Echo voice assistant and a Fire TV Stick, meaning it can control any compatible smart home device you own, and you won’t even need to pick up the voice control remote for much.

Ultimately, Fire TV Cube wins on account of more features, but the Roku Ultra is a cheaper option, and still great.

Which is better for audio and visual streaming quality?

When it comes to audio and visual streaming quality, we’re going to have to call it a tie between the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ and the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max.

If you have a TV that supports 4K UHD streaming quality and Dolby Atmos audio, you’ll be great with either of those devices. They both support 4K UHD with Dolby Vision and HDR10+, including Dolby Atmos audio for a spectacular listening experience.

The main difference would be that the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max supports Wi-Fi 6 for faster, smoother streaming and gaming. If you have a Wi-Fi 6 compatible router, you’re better off with Fire TV for this one. On the other hand, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ has a long-range wireless receiver for smooth streaming throughout the house, great for if your TV is farther away from the router.

Which is better for ease of use?

If you’re looking for the easiest device to use, Roku wins in all categories. First off, Roku’s interface is much simpler, more intuitive, and more customizable than Fire TV’s. Amazon Fire TV offers too many features, which isn’t a bad thing if you’re a tech enthusiast, but can get overwhelming for the average Joe just trying to level up their TV set-up.

Roku’s remote control works just as well as Fire TV’s—arguably better—but it keeps things simple, with just enough buttons to get the job done.

Setting up your Roku takes just 15 minutes and the whole thing is fairly straightforward. Its search function makes finding your favorite TV shows, movies, or channels extremely quick and easy.

Overall, we’d recommend the Roku Express if you’re looking for an entry-level streaming player, or the Roku Streaming Stick 4K if you want something more advanced but still easy to set up and use.

Which devices have the better remote control?

Roku wins for the better remote control, mainly due to the fact that it has a “Lost Remote Finder”. Got a dog that loves to run away with the remote and leave it in hard-to-find places? Kids that find your remote more fascinating than their playset? Sick of your remote slipping between the sofa cushions, never to be found again?

There are endless reasons why our remotes go missing—but thanks to Roku’s Lost Remote feature, you no longer have to worry about that. This feature is available with the Roku Streaming Stick 4K and the Roku Ultra.

Beyond that, users have found Roku’s remotes generally more reliable than Fire TV’s. Users have complained endlessly in reviews that their Fire TV voice control remote stopped working suddenly and they had to get it replaced. Until Amazon finds a fix for that common issue, we’re going with Roku for this one.

Which is the better value for your money?

When we think of value for money, we think of finding you “the best deal”. When it comes to which device offers the best deal, we’d have to go with Fire TV’s budget-friendly streaming stick: the Fire TV Stick Lite.

Roku’s cheapest device meant to compete with the Fire TV Stick Lite is the Roku Express, which frankly doesn’t offer as many features as the Fire TV Stick Lite does. On top of that, Amazon runs frequent discounts on the Fire TV Stick Lite, so you can generally get it for even less than $20.

For the low price, you get an Alexa voice control remote, helping you navigate and control your TV using voice commands. The Fire TV Stick Lite is also still considered slightly faster than the Roku Express.

Our takeaway: Overall, Roku is a better choice, but it depends on the device and your needs

It’s important to consider your specific needs and preferences when deciding between Roku and Amazon Fire TV. Both products offer a range of features and access to a wide range of content, and which one is the best choice for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences.

Overall, we choose Roku as a better choice over Fire TV for the following reasons:

  • Its interface is more user-friendly. Roku’s interface is simple, easy to navigate, the home screen is completely customizable, and it's not constantly cluttered with Prime ads.
  • Easier to search for titles. With a Roku device, you can search for specific titles, actors, or directors, as well as browse through categories and genres to find something that interests you. If you have a voice control remote, you can also speak these commands by holding down the button with the “microphone” icon. Technically, Fire TV devices offer the same abilities, but a number of users have complained that the remote breaks down easily.

We hope this article helped you decide which device is best for you, whether it be a Roku device or a Fire TV device. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to compare prices and check out reviews before making a purchase to ensure that you’re getting the best deal and a product that meets your needs. Happy streaming!

Tara Khudairi

Tara Khudairi Author

Tara Khudairi is a freelance content writer and copywriter based in Toronto. Since 2014, she has contributed to brands and blogs alike to tackle popular topics relating to technology, personal finance, entertainment, travel and lifestyle. Whether it’s the latest streaming service or cryptocurrency, she’s passionate about making the complex simple. When she’s not busy typing away, you’ll find Tara watching Netflix’s latest true crime doc or a classic 90’s horror flick.

Desiree Wu

Desiree Wu Editor

Desiree is a full-time Honours Business Administration student at Ivey Business School at Western University. She also served as an Editorial Intern at Flixed. Desiree is based in London, Ontario.

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