Today we continue our series on how to get started with cord cutting. In Part 2 of this series, we look at Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV streaming players helping you pick the right one for you. If you missed Part 1, how to get started with cord cutting, you can find it HERE.
We often get asked what is the best streaming player? Roku? Fire TV? Apple TV? Android TV? The truth is there is no one player that is right for everyone. We each have our own wants and needs. So, if you have a friend who says the best player is an Android TV box, that may be true for them but for you, it may not be.
I am going to give a few pros and cons for each of the big four streaming players. Our goal is to give you information you can use to pick the right one for you.
First, what is a streaming player?
A streaming player is a cable box for streaming services. Streaming players like Roku, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Android TV will let you watch services like Netflix on your TV just like how your cable box lets you watch the cable TV you paid for.
Now just because you bought the box does not mean everything on it is free. Like on your smart phone just because there is a Netflix or ABC app on it does not mean the app or the content offered on the app is free. There is a lot of free ad-supported content on streaming players but services like Netflix still charge.
Roku was one of the early companies to jump into streaming. With streaming players starting at $30 for HD-only streaming players and their high-end Roku Ultras costing $99, they have become popular. You can also find TVs with Roku players built into them.
Roku also offers a large selection of apps including apps exclusive to Roku players. It is likely that the app you want will be on Roku with one noticeable exception: Facebook’s Watch TV app. Beyond that most major streaming apps and services can be found on Roku players.
Apple was also one of the first companies to get into streaming players. Now they have two models to pick from: an HD-only Apple TV starting at $149.99 and a 4K HDR Apple TV starting at $179.
In the past the main disadvantage to the Apple TV was the limited app lineup. Apple has recently doubled down on apps adding new streaming services. Now most major streaming services offer apps on the Apple TV. Although it still lags behind devices like Roku for app support the Apple TV now has most of what cord cutters want.
The main selling point for the Apple TV is iTunes. If you buy most of your content on iTunes, you are going to want an Apple TV.
The main downside to the Apple TV is the remote. Some love it. Others hate it. There seems to be no middle ground.
Amazon’s Fire TV is one of the newest streaming players on the market, but it is one of the fastest growing streaming players. Amazon also sells TVs with Fire TV players built in. The Fire TV has a huge library of apps and has great integration with Amazon’s video services. If you buy most of your content from Amazon, you should check out the Fire TV.
The Fire TV also has great integration with Alexa and Echo devices. This allows you to control your Fire TV through Echo devices and with the built-in Alexa voice assistant.
The main downside to the Fire TV is the lack of an official YouTube TV app. Amazon has added a web browser to replace the YouTube app, but the lack of a dedicated YouTube TV may be an issue.
Android TV is Google’s OS for streaming players. Many companies make Android TV streaming players, but the Nvidia Shield is probably the best known. Prices range from about $69 all the way up to $200.
Android TV has come a long way in app support but still lags behind the other streaming players. No Hulu live TV, no DIRECTV NOW, and on most Android TV devices no Amazon. Also, not all Android TV devices support Netflix but most of the big ones do. So, make sure to do your research before you buy a device.
So, why would you buy an Android TV player? If you buy most of your content from Google Play you may want to think about an Android TV player. They also offer support for YouTube Kids something most streaming players do not.
You really won’t go wrong with any of these devices. They are all great players, but you need to pick the one that is right for you.
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