The world of video streaming to your HDTV is a lot easier these days. You no longer need to go through the elaborate ritual of connecting your TV to a laptop or Blu-Ray player. All you need is a small HDMI stick and a Wi-Fi connection. Plug the stick into your HDTV and you are ready to go.
The problem is which one do you use?
Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast
Winner: Chromecast – based off of price alone
Out of the Box
The Chromecast comes with an HDMI extender, USB power cable, and power adapter, while the Roku comes with a remote control, USB power cable and a power adapter.
Winner: Roku – I like the convenience of remotes
Both units are very easy to set up, simply plug them into the HDMI on your HDTV and connect them to Wi-Fi.
The Roku can be controlled with its remote via your portable device. Roku provides an app for your smartphone or tablet that will act as a remote. The app also has a “Play on Roku” feature that allows you to play any music, video or photos directly from your phone or tablet onto your Roku equipped HDTV.
Chromecast doesn’t come with its own remote, but you can control it with your smartphone or tablet through a simple app.
Winner: Roku – your devices aren’t always handy and not everyone has access to it, a remote is convenient.
Both the Roku Streaming Stick and the Google Chromecast will travel easily, all you need is to find a location with an HDMI TV and a Wi-Fi connection. They are both small and lightweight – about the average size of your typical memory stick. Neither will make a difference in your luggage. Even though the Roku has a remote, it doesn’t need to be used or brought with you on the trip. Both the Chromecast and the Roku can be operated from your mobile device.
The Roku viewing options include the usual options, such as Netflix, M-Go, Amazon Instant Streaming and Hulu Plus, they also give you HBO Go and their own variety of specialized channels. If you know what you want to watch, enter the name into the search and Roku will give you a list of providers that carry the title, you can then choose to watch it through whichever service you prefer.
Chromecast streams content from mobile devices and computers, which means that it can broadcast from anything on your network. The Chromecast can stream content from the Chrome Web Browser, your phone, or your tablet. It allows you to stream from a variety of sources including YouTube, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Plex, MLB.TV, Crackle, Rdio, Vevo, Flixster and Google Play Movies and Music mobile apps. It will also be capable of viewing almost any video that you can view with Google Chrome.
Winner: Chromecast – The wider selection of viewing capabilities makes it my favorite here.
Chromecast offers a variety of apps that can be downloaded onto your mobile device for streaming, which means that you need to download the app into each device you plan to use with it.
The Roku Streaming Stick lets you download apps directly into it, making it very similar to the set-top version. Downloadable apps include music and video channels, as well as games, and the media center Plex. These apps are ready to go and are available whenever you want, through whichever device you use.
Winner: Roku – I want access to the apps no matter what device I use to access it.
And the Streaming Stick Winner is…
With a score of 3 to 2, the winner in the Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast battle is Roku! Both units are portable and easy to use, but what pushes it over the top is the remote control and the apps. The remote makes it easy to use the Roku at any point, you don’t need to pull your phone off the charger or reclaim your tablet from a child. The fact that the apps download directly into the Roku unit means that you have the apps there, no matter what. You don’t need to worry about them when you get a new phone or tablet and that also means you have less apps on an already over-used device.
When it comes to video streaming it seems to me that Roku is still head of the pack, including in this Roku Streaming Stick vs Google Chromecast battle. Also, have you considered buying a Smart TV?