Which Media Streamer Should You Buy?
Looking to Purchase a Media Streamer? Not Sure Which One?
Your friends are doing it, your neighbor is doing it, and even your grandparents who can’t program their VCR are doing it. What’s everyone doing? Streaming their media, of course. Maybe you’re not quite ready to upgrade to a Smart TV, but with the latest release of Fuller House on Netflix, you can’t wait any longer. You’ve got to hop on the streaming bandwagon, but what media streamer should you choose? From the Apple TV to the Roku, Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV, we’ve got you covered. Let’s take a look at some popular media streamers that will let you get into the binge-watching game.
The current Apple TV received a much-anticipated update in September 2015, bringing new features including updated hardware, Siri voice-activated control and access to apps and games. Should you choose an Apple TV? If cost isn’t a factor – the base model starts at $149 – and you’re already invested in the Apple ecosystem of iTunes, iPhone, etc., then the Apple TV can make a great addition to your media center. With its built-in AirPlay capability and the ability to stream media from places like Netflix, HBO, YouTube, and Hulu – in addition to iTunes – you’ll have access to nearly any media available. On the other hand, if you don’t use iTunes and primarily run Android devices, or need to easily stream Amazon content, you might want to consider another device.
You can’t really go wrong with a Roku device. From the $44.99 Streaming Stick to the popular Roku 2, to the top-of-the-line $119.99 Roku 4 with 4K streaming capability, there’s a device for nearly every price point. Unlike Apple or Amazon, Roku doesn’t sell its own media content, so the platform provides an un-opinionated experience that’s also highly customizable. And with access to nearly 2000 channels, Roku leads the pack with the widest selection of content. There’s even a native Amazon app so you can sit back and stream your Amazon content without needing to Cast or AirPlay it from your mobile device. One caveat, if you’ve accumulated a large iTunes library over the years, you’re out of luck as the Roku is unable to natively play Apple’s DRM protected content.
At a cost of $35, the Google Chromecast gets you into the streaming game on the cheap. But, there are a few drawbacks when compared to other streaming devices. Chromecast isn’t a traditional standalone media streamer. It’s a tiny USB-powered dongle that plugs into a spare HDMI port on your TV. It doesn’t come with a remote but our SURE Universal app fills in that gap nicely. The one thing it does require is for you to install the Chromecast app and use your phone, tablet or PC to “Cast” streaming content onto your TV. It’s not a huge drawback, but it is one extra step. You’ll still be able to stream your favorites like Netflix and YouTube, and for the person who’s always on their mobile device, the Chromecast is a great – although somewhat limited – starter device.
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon is among the most popular streaming content providers and even creates its own original shows like Red Oaks and The Man in the High Castle. So, it’s no surprise the $84.99 Amazon Fire TV with its voice search and strong parental controls – or its little brother the $39.99 Fire TV Stick – is a popular device. Like most other media streamers, you can stream from all the popular sites and apps, but Amazon focuses heavily on their own library of shows. So, there’s a strong emphasis on things like Amazon Video. In general, the Fire TV is a sleek, snappy device with a polished interface – albeit one with a big focus on Amazon’s own content.
The Bottom Line
If you’re new to streaming and just want to get started right away, you’ll probably be happy with a Roku. The latest Apple TV is sure to satisfy the Apple enthusiast, and if you’re a heavy Amazon user, going with the Amazon Fire TV – or maybe the Roku – is probably your best bet. And for those not sure about this whole media streaming phenomenon, the inexpensive Chromecast is an easy way to test the waters. No matter which media streaming device you choose, adding a universal remote is only going to make your life easier. Our SURE Universal remote definitely fits the bill. With library of over 1 million devices and hundreds of media streamers to choose from, you won’t have any problem finding yours and enjoying all that media streaming has to offer. Over to you – what media streamer suits your home the best?