There are multiple streaming sticks on the market these days. Roku was first to the market with their boxes in 2008, followed in 2014 by the Google Chromecast and then came the Amazon Fire TV Stick. One thing I am not including in this list is the Apple TV device, because I have never used it so I wouldn’t be able to give an honest opinion on it.
I have this in the form of a NOW TV box because underneath the branding and packaging, that is all the box is – a glorified Roku. Don’t believe me? Download the Roku app and you will be able to control your NOW TV device. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using one of these boxes as the base for your streaming service because all in all they are good devices and I have no issues with them.
The quality of the casting through Google Cast is great, YouTube videos come up amazingly on them and they are quick to respond when you change or pause/fast forward through a video. All in all a great experience, the downside to the version I have is the modifications put on by SKY. The applications work well, I think primarily because under the hood it is still the Roku versions of the apps, however, when you are watching Live TV through the NOW TV box with the menu up, the signal for the TV is absolutely shocking. Once the menu disappears though, everything works perfectly. Not sure why this happens.
I use this a lot, I have several of these little devices both in work and at home and I honestly would not like to live without them. The main one is in the back of my TV and it’s my favoured way to stream videos, especially now it can be controlled simply with a Google Home device. Yes, I have one of those and yes, I will be getting the mini.
What is really lovely about the Chromecast is the simplicity of working with Android – streaming the smallest thing is so easy and very little has ever gone completely wrong with it. The updates are also frequent and the changes are significant, plus wrapping it into the whole Home eco-system is so clever and mixing both visual and audio chromecasts so you can have one in the back of your speakers and your tv.
Oh Amazon, what went wrong? I thought the TV stick looked brilliant, I saw a friend using one and immediately wanted one to call my own. But after getting one and using it for a while, I’ve noticed a lot of issues that are annoying me. First and foremost, the home screen – a glorified advertising board for Amazon shows and products which just gets in the way of the content selection.
Then we have video casting and playback, two of the most important things for an internet streaming device and two of the things that the Amazon fire stick cannot do. Whenever I try to use it to stream a video, I get an error on the first attempt and it takes a good few minutes for the device to twig and the second is the constant need to refresh the device to actually make seamless streaming work – video and audio seems completely out of sync more often than not.
For ease of use and maximum compatibility I would recommend a Google Chromecast, these currently work the best compared to the competitors on the market and they have the ability to work seamlessly with other Google things, such as Home, YouTube and Android without any issues.
I would stay away from a Fire Stick – the ideas are good but the streaming is pretty awful and unless you really like adverts for Amazon shows then they are a bit blah.
Do what you want with the Roku, I’m not fussed either way on them at the moment.
I’m always interested in new opinions on these devices, so any thoughts you want to share please do so in the comments below!