Perfectly balancing affordability and performance, both the Amazon Fire Stick and the Roku Streaming Stick are formidable competitors in the streaming device industry. And when it comes to the topic of Fire Stick vs. Roku Streaming Stick, it’s hard to decide which one to pick since they have so many similarities.
They cost almost the same, look similar, and offer an equal level of performance. Both these devices support streaming in up to 1080p resolution, for instance. So, for the most part, the battle between Roku vs. Fire Stick may be a little difficult to settle. This post gives you an in-depth look at these streaming devices and helps you decide which is better – Roku or Fire Stick?
Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku Streaming Stick features and specs
|Amazon Fire Stick||Roku Streaming Stick|
|Dolby Vision support||No||No|
|Google Assistant compatible||Yes (limited)||Yes|
|Dimensions||3.4 x 0.5 x 1.2 inches||3.7 x 0.8 x 0.47 inches|
How much do the two devices costs?
At just $39.99, the Amazon Fire Stick is the more affordable option. Not only that, but it’s also easily one of the most budget-friendly streaming devices on the market. And it still does what it’s supposed to — providing HD (high-definition) streaming and solid performance. So if you’re looking for a low-cost streaming device that does the job, this would be an excellent option.
On the other hand, the Roku Streaming Stick costs just $10 more at $49.99. And with this, you get slightly better features such as more comprehensive support for Google Assistant and content upscaling. Not to mention a much more intuitive interface. So if you’re willing to spend just $10 more on your streaming device, you could get a slight upgrade in performance with the Roku Streaming Stick.
Both of these devices offer great value for money, along with solid performance. The better option for you mainly depends on what’s more important to you — getting the most affordable device or spending slightly more for better performance.
At the same time, the Fire Stick also gives you the option to use an Ethernet adapter and stream through a wired connection for an even more stable feed. But there’s no wireless adapter for the Roku Streaming Stick, so you won’t get the same option. So if reliable connectivity’s important to you, you’ll get more value out of the Amazon Fire Stick.
Roku Stick vs Fire Stick Interface and Personalization
In terms of performance, both the Amazon Fire Stick and the Roku Streaming Stick offer a fast and straightforward experience with decent personalization.
Amazon Fire Stick
On the Fire Stick, the home screen highlights suggest content and apps, which the device personalizes based on your recent streaming habits. This makes it a lot easier to find and access videos that you’d want to watch. But you’ll have to use the device a few times to really improve these suggestions. One thing to note is that the Amazon Fire Stick naturally prioritizes Prime Video content, with most of the sections highlighting titles available with Prime. While this can be a convenient way to access content for Prime Video subscribers, it can be a bit limiting if you like to explore content from different services.
And on the home screen, there’s an ad at the top taking up almost half of the page, which is highly intrusive. Below, you’ll find the apps and channels you have installed on your Fire Stick. While this works fairly well, it can get slightly frustrating to scroll through the carousel options until you find what you need.
The Fire Stick neatly tucks away the menu bar at the top of the screen. From here, you can easily navigate between your apps and your home screen as well as your device settings. The same section will also let you access available live programming, movies, and TV shows. More importantly, you can even go to “Your Videos” to browse through the videos you’ve saved to your watchlist or purchased from Amazon.
From here, you can browse through featured free content, settings, and streaming channels or even conduct a search. You can also access your personalized feed, which highlights content and programming from your favorite channels and services.
Roku Streaming Stick
On the Roku Streaming Stick, you won’t be able to find individual shows and movies on your home page. But it makes up for this with less-intrusive ads and smoother navigation. The layout is much cleaner compared to that of the Amazon Fire Stick. Plus, you get to browse through your apps and channels in a grid format, which makes it a lot easier to find what you need.
On the Roku Streaming Stick, you can access the menu bar from the left-hand side of the screen. This section takes up about half of the screen, which some users may find a little messy. But it doesn’t really interfere with the other sections because of the cleanly-organized layout.
The personalization feature on the Roku Streaming Stick is much more comprehensive than that of the Fire Stick. It allows you to follow not just TV shows but also keep track of your favorite actors and directors. And you’ll be able to get updates about the latest discounts and offers on purchases and rentals.
The streaming quality on the Amazon Fire Stick and the Roku Streaming Stick is essentially the same. Both devices let you stream in up to 1080p and 60 fps (frames per second), which offers excellent picture quality. Although they don’t have HDR (high-dynamic range) or Dolby Vision support, the full HD streaming capability is more than enough for something that costs $50 or less.
What sets the Roku apart from the Fire Stick is that it comes with content upscaling capabilities. So it can transform and improve 720p content to let you watch it in 1080p. This feature makes it highly appealing for those who want excellent streaming quality on a budget.
If full HD doesn’t do it for you, you could consider spending a little more and upgrading to a higher-end version of either the Fire Stick or the Roku Streaming Stick. Check out our review of the Amazon Fire Stick 4K if you want an upgrade from the regular Fire Stick. Or you could read our Roku Streaming Stick Plus review if you want a 4K-compatible version of the Streaming Stick.
To support full HD streaming, both the Amazon Fire Stick and the Roku Streaming Stick come with powerful networking hardware to give you reliable wireless connectivity. The 802.11ac dual-band wireless on both devices will support smooth HD streaming for both live TV and on-demand content.
If you want even more reliable connectivity for uninterrupted streaming, you can even use an Ethernet adapter to stream content on your Fire Stick using a wired connection. Unfortunately, with the Roku Streaming Stick, you won’t have the option to get an Ethernet adapter unless you’re willing to upgrade to the Roku Ultra or the Roku Ultra LT.
So with each of these devices having their unique perks, the right option for you depends on what kind of streaming experience you’re looking for. Consider the Roku Streaming Stick if you want to be able to stream lower-quality videos in 1080p. But choose the Amazon Fire Stick if you like having the option to enjoy smooth and uninterrupted streaming using an Ethernet adapter.
Connect the devices with your home
Both the Fire Stick and the Roku Streaming Stick work with a wide range of HD TVs capable of 1080p or 720p. But one of the main highlights of these streaming media players is that you can integrate them with your smart home devices. This makes it easier to seamlessly perform tasks or access certain features with your Roku or Fire Stick device.
For instance, you could turn up the heat on your thermostat without getting off the couch. Or you could display the feed from your security camera onto your TV screen using these devices.
But it’s good to note that although the Fire Stick seamlessly works with Alexa, it has limited support for Google Assistant. So while you can use your Fire Stick with Google Home, it’ll only recognize some basic commands and perform a few simple tasks.
In that way, the Roku Streaming Stick has a leg-up over the Amazon Fire Stick because it seamlessly works with both Alexa and Google Assistant.
The final cut
With only a few minor differences between the two devices, the Roku vs. Fire Stick debate is challenging to settle. The Fire Stick makes more sense if you’re looking for the most affordable streaming service. It’s also a great choice for avid fans of Amazon Prime Video and those who want the option to get wired internet using an Ethernet adapter.
But if you like navigating through a clean interface and you like the content upscaling feature, the Roku Streaming Stick would be a great choice. Plus, it integrates more seamlessly with both Alexa and Google Assistant, so that’s another thing to consider. And you’ll only have to spend an additional $10 on the device.
If you’d like to consider other options, you can also check out our comparison between the different Amazon Fire TV devices. And read up on our Roku devices comparison to further expand your options and explore other Roku players.