Want to change smart TV systems without breaking the bank?
As long as you have a TV with an HDMI port and Wi-Fi, one option is to buy a streaming stick, which will turn any TV into a smart TV.
When it comes to streaming sticks, the Amazon FireStick and the Roku Streaming Stick are two of the top options available.
But which one should you get?
Here’s What You Need to Know about FireSticks and Roku Streaming Sticks:
Amazon FireSticks and Roku Streaming Sticks are streaming sticks that you can plug into your TV’s HDMI input. When plugged into the HDMI port of a non-smart TV, it lets the TV access the Internet and streaming services, such as Netflix and YouTube.
1. What Are the Differences between Roku Streaming Stick and Amazon’s FireStick?
The FireStick and Roku Streaming Stick do the same thing, in the sense that they can turn non-smart TVs into smart TVs when plugged into the HDMI port.
But they are made by different developers. The FireStick is made by Amazon, while Roku Inc makes Roku Streaming Sticks. Generally, Roku TVs are super reliable, but there’s more to it than that.
So how do they differ?
The FireStick uses the Fire OS platform, which is based on the Android TV system.
The software of the FireStick supports voice commands through its remote control or integrated microphones. They can be controlled with Alexa through the Echo smart speakers by Amazon.
Roku Streaming Sticks, meanwhile, use the Roku Operating System, a customized Linux platform. It also has support for voice commands for navigating within the Roku platform.
The ability to pair Bluetooth audio devices is one of the most notable differences between the FireStick and Roku Streaming Stick.
The Amazon FireStick can pair with any Bluetooth audio device you have.
The Roku Streaming Stick has Bluetooth audio connectivity but can only be used with Roku audio products.
That means you can only pair your Roku Streaming Stick to the Roku Speakers. If you want to pair it with your headphones or non-Roku speakers, you need to pair the Roku Stick with your smartphone, then pair your phone with your Bluetooth speakers or headphones. It’s quite inconvenient.
Native Video Streaming Platform
The FireStick was made to support the Prime Video service of Amazon, while Roku is a spin-off from a Netflix project.
Roku now has its own streaming platform, with free and premium subscriptions available.
Both FireStick and Roku Streaming Sticks can stream content of up to 4k resolution. They also can stream HDR content, but the quality of the content is dependent on the display of your TV.
So, if your TV has a wide color gamut for HDR content, you can expect quality content from both the FireStick and Roku Streaming Stick.
The Amazon FireStick has over 10,400 apps available in its app store, while the Roku Streaming Sticks have around 4,500 apps, or as the brand calls them, channels.
If you are looking for a wide app selection, the FireStick has more options, which can be attributed to its being a derivative of the Android TV operating system.
Both FireStick and Roku Streaming Stick have remote controls, with the option for a remote control app.
The Roku Streaming Stick has hotkeys on its remote control, which you can use to set shortcuts to your most-used apps on Roku.
Other Notable Differences
Under the hood, here’s what you can expect from the FireStick and Roku Streaming Stick.
- Micro USB for Power and On-the-Go (OTG) connection, which lets you plug in external storage devices
- 4-watt power consumption
Roku Streaming Stick:
- Mini USB for power and the Advanced Wireless Receiver, which reduces wireless interference
- Less than 3-watt power consumption
2. Does the Amazon FireStick Have Roku?
You can access Roku’s streaming channel on the Amazon FireStick.
This app was rolled out recently and gives you access to the contents available on the Roku channel.
3. Does the Roku Streaming Stick Have Amazon?
You can download the Amazon Prime Video app on the Roku Streaming Stick.
The app does not come by default on the Roku Streaming Stick, but you can access it through the app.
4. Do I Need Both a Roku Stick and an Amazon FireStick?
The need for both a Roku Stick and an Amazon Firestick depends on the content you want to access, but you most likely do not need to have both.
If the streaming apps you use frequently are unique to either device, then you can consider getting both, as buying two streaming sticks is still cheaper than buying a pair of smart TVs.
If the platforms you watch are available on both, you don’t need to have both devices.
If you are getting a new smart TV but are deciding between getting a Roku Streaming Stick or FireStick, you can opt to get a smart TV with Fire TV, then get a Roku Streaming Stick to access Roku-specific content.
Considering the Bluetooth limitations of Roku, you have more flexibility getting a smart TV with the Fire TV operating system alongside the Roku Streaming Stick as a supplementary device for content that is not available on Fire TV.
5. Can You Connect a Roku and a FireStick?
As long as your TV has at least two compatible HDMI ports, you can plug the Roku Streaming Stick and FireStick in each of the ports.
You can then shuffle between the two devices by changing HDMI sources.
There will also be no problem using a FireStick on a Roku smart TV, and vice versa.
6. Can You Download Roku to an Amazon FireStick?
Roku has made its video streaming app available to other platforms, including the FireStick.
The Roku Streaming App is available in the Amazon App Store of the FireStick.
7. Does the FireStick Use More Data than the Roku Streaming Stick?
The data usage of the FireStick and the Roku Streaming Stick depends on the app used and your settings, but it is generally the same.
If you are using the same connection speed and streaming settings, you can expect the same amount of data use, or a minimal difference.
Data usage is dependent on the app and not so much on the device.
8. What Does the FireStick Have That the Roku Streaming Stick Does Not?
There are many features that FireStick has that are not available in the Roku Streaming Stick. Here are some of them.
Micro USB OTG Connection
The FireStick lets you plug in external USB devices through the micro-USB port built into it.
Thanks to the OTG feature, you can add more functions to your smart TV by adding external storage or even by plugging a LAN cable into it for a more robust connection.
If you plan to do this, make sure the OTG adapter you choose has a provision for the power plug so that the FireStick will still have a source of electricity to work with.
Dolby Vision Support
The FireStick supports Dolby Vision in HDR. For ordinary people, the difference might not be noticeable. But for those who are very particular about image quality, you will find that the Dolby Vision support makes a lot of difference.
Sideloading of Apps
The Amazon FireStick is a better platform for sideloading or installing apps not found in its app store.
You can add other apps that you think you need without many problems. As long as the app is known to work with Android TV, which is the most widely used system for smart TVs, then there’s a good chance it will work with the FireStick.
All you need to do is sideload the app through the OTG connection of your FireStick.
9. What Does the Roku Streaming Stick Have That the Amazon FireStick Doesn’t?
The Roku Streaming Stick also has some features that the Amazon Firestick does not.
The Roku Streaming Stick uses a more agnostic system, making it more compatible with many of the major streaming apps available for smart TVs.
While Amazon FireStick has more apps than the Roku, there’s a better chance you can get a wider range of the major apps on Roku’s platform.
That can be attributed to Roku’s strategy of working with streaming platforms. It focuses on making new and sought-after services immediately available on its system.
Availability of Private Channels
Roku gives you access to private channels, which you can access by entering a code on the Roku web interface. These channels allow you to unlock more content on your Roku device.
But a word of advice on the Private Channels: some private channels border on illegal content, such as piracy. You may have to do a background check on this content before proceeding to access them.
10. What Is the More Popular Choice?
Between the two brands, the Roku Streaming Stick is the more popular choice for those looking for a streaming service.
And here’s why:
- Roku has a wide selection of movies and TV content on its own platform. The Roku Channel, or the streaming service of Roku, offers free and premium subscriptions. You get access to content that caters to viewers of all ages, and you can access live channels.
- That is on top of other streaming services available on Roku, such as Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu. That is why Roku is referred to by many as a very agnostic TV platform: it plays nice with tons of streaming services.
Smart Home compatibility
- Speaking of an agnostic system, the Roku is compatible with both Alexa and Google Home, while the FireStick only works with Alexa.
- So if you want a more versatile option for integration with your smart home, the Roku is a wiser choice.
Bluetooth and remote control
Roku’s remote control and Bluetooth capability are also notable.
- It features hotkeys for common steaming apps, so you don’t have to navigate as much.
- It features a headphone jack that lets you plug in your favorite pair of headphones for silent watching. You can adjust the volume of your headphones through the remote control.
- You can also pair your Bluetooth headphones with your smartphone and watch your favorite programs without disturbing your household or roommate.
Another thing worth noting about the Roku Streaming Stick is its cleaner interface.
- It’s easier to navigate in the Roku system.
- There are no excessive advertisements on the home screen, unlike the Amazon FireStick, which aggressively pushes its Prime Video content.
- You can also customize the apps on the home screen of the Roku Streaming Stick.
Lastly, the price of the Roku is a great value, given its excellent features.
11. Which Is Cheaper—Roku or FireStick?
At the entry-level, the Roku Streaming Stick comes out as cheaper.
At the top-tier, the FireStick comes out cheaper than the Roku.
So if you are looking into trying out streaming sticks, the Roku is a good option to start with, given its price.
The Roku Streaming Stick and the Amazon FireStick have their respective strengths and weaknesses.
These weaknesses are not dealbreakers, as it’s a matter of preference and usage on which device to choose.
You should look into your current setup and how you plan to use it before deciding which of the two streaming sticks to get.