Just like there are tons of choices for televisions, and hundreds of Cable TV channels to choose from, there are a few options for streaming TV devices — and we want to help you find out which one’s best for your home.
If you have already have a Smart TV or a game system, then you really don’t need a streaming TV device, since those devices already allow you to watch Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and other services through their apps.
Streaming TV Devices Breakdown
We’re actually talking about the main streaming TV devices, which include Apple TV, the Roku Streaming Stick, and Google Chromecast, along with the new Amazon Fire TV.
Amazon Fire TV — $99
The Amazon Fire TV ties in all of the streaming apps, like Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Crackle and obviously, Amazon Instant Video. Plus, like Apple TV, it allows you to buy or rent over 200,000 movies and TV shows. You’ll connect it with your Amazon account and get personalized recommendations, too. You don’t have to be an Amazon Prime member to use it.
This is the new kid on the block, and it has the most power, which makes sense. With a fast, quad-core processor and 2 GB of memory, this is more than just a streaming stick.
Amazon Fire TV is perfect for families and parents with kids for a couple reasons. First, it has plenty of games kids can play, which might be the next step that the rest of the streaming TV devices follow. (It even has a dedicated game controller that you can buy separately!) Secondly, Amazon Fire TV has “Amazon FreeTime” which lets you limit screen time for kids.
Amazon Prime Instant Video is also the new exclusive home for HBO programming, which includes classic shows like, “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.”
Finally, one major feature that Amazon Fire TV has over other streaming devices is “Voice Search,” which allows you to search movies, TV shows, genres, actors and directors all by just using your voice.
This is the best streaming device out there, and it’s also the first that is produced by a company that also provides a streaming service (like Amazon Instant Video). That tells me they’ll be ahead of the game when knowing what kinds of changes they should make in the future.
Apple TV — $99
Fans of the iPhone and iPad will certainly find themselves at home with Apple TV, and it’s good to know that any movie or TV show you buy or rent from Apple becomes available from all of your devices, including your computer. Unfortunately, if you want to watch Amazon Instant Video or Hulu Plus — no dice. The Netflix app, however, is available, and all the other things you’d want in the TV or movie area is available through iTunes.
Pandora is another app that Apple TV doesn’t support, but you’ll have access to your own music through iTunes, of course.
The Apple TV unit is great for Apple fans, and those that really don’t plan to stray much from Netflix. It’s super easy setup marries to your iTunes account in no time, but renting and buying content on iTunes can be pretty expensive.
Roku Streaming Stick — $49
My favorite features of the streaming sticks — both Roku’s and Google’s — is that they are portable. You can move and use them to any room in your house, and you can even take them with you to plug into a hotel TV if you want. Granted, you’ll still need a USB port on the TV and Wi-Fi access, but it does make traveling feel more like home.
Roku has over one thousand channels to keep everyone in your family entertained. From Netflix to Amazon Instant Video to Pandora to Hulu Plus — you’ll get it all.
Another really cool feature of the Roku Streaming Stick is that it comes with a nice remote control that allows you to plug a pair of headphones into, so you can listen and not disturb those around you.
When you go to search shows or movies, Roku will allow you to search in one spot, then it will deliver all the different apps where it is available to watch. That’s super convenient!
I also enjoy the fact you can stream music and photos from your smartphone or tablet to your TV, through the Roku app on your mobile device.
Without question, this was the leader among TV streaming devices — until Kindle Fire TV came along. But, it is half the price, and it has some features Amazon Fire TV doesn’t have.
Google Chromecast — $35
“Why pay a lot when you can pay a little?” That’s the thinking here as the Google Chromecast streaming stick plugs right into a USB port in your TV, and once you connect it to the Internet, you’ll be able to watch most of the same apps as the more expensive streaming devices.
You’ll also be able to watch Google Play Movies and Music, which is a feature the other devices don’t have.
Like the Roku Streaming Stick, you’ll be able to stream online videos and music to your TV using your mobile devices or your computer. Your smartphone actually works as the remote control for this device.
While it doesn’t support a few streaming services like Amazon Instant Video, it does allow you to stream from Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, WatchESPN, Crackle and many more.
For the person that wants access to these apps, but watches much more Cable TV than streaming entertainment, then the Google Chromecast Streaming Stick is the perfect choice.
As you can see, there are several great choices among streaming TV devices, and they’re adding apps to each of them frequently. Let us know which one you decided to purchase — and why!