Roku vs Fire TV vs Apple TV Best Streaming Device in 2019

When we talk about streaming platforms, three big names come to mind – Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV. These three streaming services have survived in the market (thrived, even) despite being rivals in the industry.

ProductBrandNamePrice
AmazonFire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote, streaming media playerCheck Price on Amazon
Roku2019 Newest Roku Express - Easy High Definition HD 1080p Streaming Media PlayerCheck Price on Amazon
RokuRoku Premiere+ - HD and 4K UHD Streaming Media Player with HDRCheck Price on Amazon
AmazonFire TV Cube, hands-free with Alexa and 4K Ultra HD, streaming media playerCheck Price on Amazon

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This is thanks largely to newer models with more features and upgrades to entice first-time adopters. Moreover, there are some distinct differences between each streaming platform, since they run a customized operating system with features unique to their respective devices.

We can understand users being confused between the three streaming devices or platforms. The choice becomes even harder when we consider the similarities. So we’ve decided to have a closer look at the three devices to give you a better idea about their functionality and make an informed decision based on that. So let’s have a look.

Roku vs. Fire TV vs. Apple TV Best Streaming Device in 2019

Roku

Variants

 

Roku Express (2019)

Roku Streaming Stick+

Roku Premiere+

Roku Ultra

Features

Roku is a versatile platform that comes with a wide range of features that cater to the traveling customer. All you have to do is take your Roku with you and plug it onto any television. Thanks to Roku’s comprehensive smartphone app, you can use it as a remote and even navigate the device’s features.

Roku is sold in multiple formats, which makes picking the best variant quite tricky. The company offers a streaming stick with 4K streaming support, which is ultra-portable and can turn any HDTV into a smart television. Moreover, you can access all your cloud features using this tiny stick, while the smartphone app, again, turns your phone into a remote. The Roku Streaming Stick+ also comes with HD, 4K, and HDR support, making it ideal for watching newer content on streaming platforms.

The company’s standalone streaming box, the Premiere+, offers HD and 4K UHD streaming support by default. It also has its own remote and a set of earbuds, allowing you to use your remote for the audio source. This can be perfect for getting some privacy while watching your favorite TV shows. The streaming box is pretty small, making it easy to carry around in your travels. It also comes with an Ethernet port if Wi-Fi is not your thing.

The Roku Ultra is a pretty capable streaming box and one of the company’s most potent offering. Some models of the Ultra also come with premium JBL headphones that can be plugged into the included remote. As you can expect, this box can stream content in HD, 4K, as well as HDR, although native HDR content is still pretty scarce out there. One of the most significant advantages of any Roku device is the ability to watch thousands of free TV shows and movies using The Roku Channel, which can be found on every Roku streaming box.

Availability

Roku sells its streaming devices on its website, while third-party retailers like Amazon also sell the product. The latter option is preferred for those who would like expedited shipping to their location in the United States.

Amazon Fire TV

Variants

 

Fire TV Stick HD

Fire TV Stick 4K

Fire TV Cube

Features

Amazon has somewhat cut down its lineup of Fire TV devices, although the models that it sells right now offer the best value for your money. In terms of features, the Fire TV Stick HD is the cheapest of the lot, and it’s also the oldest variant sold by the company. But that doesn’t take anything away from its functionality. There’s an Alexa voice remote included with this streaming stick, which works just as expected. You can also use this to watch live TV and sports using subscription services like Hulu, PlayStation Vue, Sling, and others. The Fire TV Stick also comes with the ability to alternate between your wireless Bluetooth headphones and the home theater system. There’s plenty of content to choose from here, and thanks to apps available on the Amazon AppStore, you can download practically anything you can find for the Android platform today.

The Fire TV Stick also has a newer version, which brings 4K support. It retains the same Alexa voice remote and a ton of skills that Alexa can learn over time. This is an excellent companion for your smart connected devices as the Fire TV Stick can also view live camera feeds, check the weather, dim the lights, or stream music simply using voice commands. Amazon even offers bundles of the Fire TV Stick 4K with the Echo Dot, turning your regular home into a smart connected home. It’s also worth noting that the Fire TV Stick 4K has the most storage on any similar device in the market. This allows you to install more games and apps.

The third of Amazon’s streaming device is a slight departure from the two HDMI compatible Fire TV Sticks that we spoke about. The Fire TV Cube is a standalone device and is naturally slightly more significant than the Fire TV Stick models. This is an entirely hands-free streaming device that allows you to turn off lights, or control any other smart connected appliance using just your voice. You will also find the best of Alexa’s features built into the Cube. This streaming cube also comes with its speaker, which allows you to get quick voice updates on weather, news, or any information that is relevant to you. Just as with the Fire TV Stick, this gives you access to more than 500,000 live TV channels and movies (subscription required) using offerings like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, SHOWTIME, NBC and Amazon’s own Prime Video streaming service. It is also feasible to consider getting the Amazon Prime yearly membership, which unlocks shows like Thursday Night Football.

Availability

As you would expect, the only place you can get Amazon’s streaming devices is either through your smartphone, tablet, or computer using the Amazon website or apps. As we briefly discussed above, almost every Fire TV device now comes with a bundle of either the Echo Dot or Amazon’s Cloud Cam security system. Be sure to compare all available bundles and make an informed decision on your purchase.

Apple TV

Variants

4th-gen Apple TV

Apple TV 4K (32GB, 64GB)

Features

Apple isn’t too far behind when it comes to streaming devices. Although one may argue that the company was relatively slow to adopt 4K technology in its streaming device, one can safely say that Apple’s offering is definitely on par with the Roku as well as the Amazon Fire TV lineup. However, one big limitation of Apple’s TV platform is the fact that it doesn’t support Android by default. Although there are ways to enable support, particularly via mirroring apps, that cannot beat the default support that products like the Roku offers.

Apple has a total of two devices for the living room, one which offers only HD streaming quality, while the second and the most recent model also includes support for UHD 4K content by default. It’s no surprise that the standard HD variant is significantly cheaper today, and it’s only a matter of time before it is taken out of circulation by Apple. In terms of features, the entry-level Apple TV offers 32GB of default storage for apps and games, while a bunch of streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, etc. are bundled with the device. You can also choose to sign in with your Apple ID to find all the compatible apps for the Apple TV.

The Apple TV HD also comes with a Siri Voice Remote bundled in, allowing you to navigate the device’s features only using your voice. It offers a reasonably simple and effective set of buttons that don’t overcomplicate things for the customers. As far as ease of use is concerned, the Apple TV is pretty hard to beat.

As for the newest addition to the Apple TV family, in addition to adding support for 4K and HDR10 content by default, this variant is also available in two storage sizes – 32GB and 64GB. This appears to be a lesson Apple has learned following the limited storage of older Apple TV models. With apps and games increasing in size, it makes sense to offer customers the chance to get a bigger storage variant. Although if you’re going to cram in a lot of apps and games, even 64GB may not be sufficient for your Apple TV 4K. Much like Roku, Apple TV allows you to control the functioning of the unit using the built-in Apple TV iOS app on your smartphone. This acts as a remote of sorts and even allows you to type in commands on the Apple TV given how tedious the onscreen keyboard can be.

Availability

Apple TV is available from practically every major retail outlet in the country, including Apple’s stores in and around the United States. Naturally, you can also pick up all models of the Apple TV from Amazon, which may even offer some discounts that Apple usually wouldn’t. As far as pricing is concerned, it’s no surprise that the Apple TV is the most expensive of all three streaming platforms that we’ve talked about today, even after all the discounts.

Verdict

So which is the best streaming device of the so many options we’ve provided? Well, I’m personally leaning towards Roku primarily due to its low-cost factor, not to mention the fact that it’s just as functional as the other two TV streaming platforms.

But if you’re looking to eke out the best performance from your home media streaming box, you can’t do better than the Apple TV. It is also worth pointing out that the Apple TV can pair with Bluetooth gaming controllers to turn your streaming box into a gaming powerhouse. While the quality of the content will vary depending on the developer it’s coming from, but the current list of Apple TV games on the App Store is very high, so it’ll take you a fair bit of time to go through them all. Apple TV also supports a handful of retro games like Sonic The Hedgehog, Mario, etc.

So what about the Fire TV lineup? If you were to consider every aspect of a streaming device, i.e., performance, content, ease of use as well as portability, this industry will struggle to do better than the Fire TV Stick. What makes Amazon’s offering so promising is the fact that it comes with its streaming services (Prime Video and Prime Music).

Roku doesn’t have a vast library of content like its rivals do. While Amazon is among the best in the business today with multiple Emmy winning shows on its platform. Apple is gearing for the launch of an Apple TV+ series known as The Morning Show starring Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, and Reese Witherspoon later this fall, which is believed to be the start of Apple’s entry into original content. The company initially offered Apple TV customers its version of Carpool Karaoke as well as a few other shows. But this is the first time Apple is officially stepping into an original series with a big star cast, the kind that we see from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. These are exciting times to be a streaming media fan, given the number of choices there are today.

But as far as the best streaming device is concerned, nine out of ten times, I would be inclined to go with the Fire TV lineup. When paired with an Alexa device, this can make for an exciting combination for your entire home. Naturally, there’s no shortage of content to watch here, which makes a choice even more straightforward. Every Fire TV device is plug and play, allowing you to take it wherever you go and get back to the same home screen that you left at home. This makes more sense when you consider the fact that the Fire TV Stick doesn’t cost more than $50. The only thing standing in Apple’s way towards streaming superiority is the pricing of its devices.

Do you have any other streaming devices in mind? Let us know in the comments below.

ProductBrandNamePrice
AmazonFire TV Stick 4K with Alexa Voice Remote, streaming media playerCheck Price on Amazon
Roku2019 Newest Roku Express - Easy High Definition HD 1080p Streaming Media PlayerCheck Price on Amazon
RokuRoku Premiere+ - HD and 4K UHD Streaming Media Player with HDRCheck Price on Amazon
AmazonFire TV Cube, hands-free with Alexa and 4K Ultra HD, streaming media playerCheck Price on Amazon

* If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.