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Best streaming devices: Google Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and more

You can save time comparing streaming services from Apple, Amazon, Google and more, with side-by-side comparisons to help you decide which device or provider is best for your budget and show diversity preferences. Whether you’re looking to replace your cable to save money or make it easier to get Netflix movies and TV shows on demand — or both — you’ll need to weigh some of the pros and cons to find the streaming option that’s right for you. Take a look at some of the top streaming services and devices available and decide which one you want to switch to or cut down on cable.

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best streaming device

streaming device



Smartphone/Tablet Control

Internal Storage (GB)



Access to 200,000+ shows; Stream Android phone or tablet screen to TV; 108 hp resolution; Supports all wireless networks





Access to 350,000+ movies and TV shows; use the mobile device as a remote control; HD and 4K picture quality



tivo bolt


TiVo Service – $14.99/month; Delivers all channels in a cable subscription; 4K TV Compatible


500 GB

Apple TV


1600+ video apps to watch TV shows, movies and news; Interactive TV app for recommendations and mobile device connection


64GB or 128GB

amazon fire stick


Access to 7,000+ apps, games, Netflix, Hulu and more; Hands-free commands with the Alexa Voice Remote; Quad-core processor with 1GB memory



Ease of use: Apple TV vs Amazon Fire Stick

The Amazon Fire TV Stick, which costs $39.99, offers hands-free commands with the Alexa Voice Remote. Apple TV works with your iPhone, iPad, or tablet computer — and includes a handheld remote control.

Both devices require minimal setup, and you don’t need a cable box or satellite dish. If you’re interested in downloading Kodi — a free, open-source software media center designed to play video, music, and games — it works with the Amazon Fire Stick, and there are online tutorials to show you how. are available for how to set it up.

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Compatible with most smartphones: Roku vs Chromecast

The best media streamers will enable you to use your iPhone or Android phone as a remote control, and the Roku and Google Chromecast both fit the bill. Roku gives you the added advantage of HD and 4K picture quality, and Chromecast offers 1080p resolution for your high-quality viewing.

Both support all wireless networks and connect quickly to your mobile device via Bluetooth or WiFi. In addition, Chromecast can stream to your Google Chromebook as well as your Apple and Android devices.

4K picture quality: TiVo Bolt vs Roku

If you spent the money for a 4K TV, you now have four times more pixels than an equivalent 1080p resolution TV. But if you’re still watching low-resolution content, all those extra pixels are effectively wasted. You can’t watch 4K TV shows and movies without 4K technology, so you’ll want to make sure your streaming device can deliver.

Both the TiVo Bolt and Roku deliver 4K picture quality. If you choose TiVo, you’ll need to subscribe to the service to use its features, but it’s still one of the best streaming TV service options available. The Google Chromecast Ultra also streams in 4K Ultra HD and HDR.

Best value: Amazon Fire Stick vs Chromecast

The most affordable options for the best streaming stick or media streamer are the Google Chromecast, which costs $29.98, and the Amazon Fire Stick, which costs $39.99. Also consider Amazon’s Fire Stick Lite, which has all the features of the regular Fire Stick, in addition to Dolby Atmos support (the Lite remote also lacks the ability to control your TV, so you’ll need to touch your TV remote to control the volume). Have to use the remote and mute, for example). Both cost less than half the price of the Roku Ultra at $98.99.

If you go with the Chromecast, though, you won’t have any internal storage, but you’ll have access to over 200,000 shows. The Amazon Fire Stick comes with 8GB of storage and gives you access to over 7,000 apps, as well as games and movie rental services like Netflix and Hulu. If you’re a Roku fan, consider the Roku Streaming Stick, which is a portable version of the Roku that costs $49.99.

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Access to Shows and Channels: Amazon Fire Stick vs Roku

If you have Amazon Prime or want unlimited access to thousands of TV shows and movies, you might want to consider getting an Amazon Fire Stick. With a Prime subscription, you can also add more than 90 premium and specialty channels — including HBO and Showtime — for less than $10 each month.

Roku doesn’t offer Amazon Prime member benefits, but it does give users access to Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video, and Google Play rentals, along with a selection of free services. It also supports on-demand programming from ESPN and dozens of other channels.


If you want to replace cable with a low-cost streaming device, Amazon Fire Stick or Google Chromecast are your best options. Both devices cost less than $40 and offer high quality streaming. Also consider that many newer TVs have support for streaming built-in, so you may not need to buy a separate device if you’re trying to save money.

Look into the Roku Ultra if you want to get extra features. The Amazon Fire Stick has the added benefit of hands-free commands with Alexa and gives you access to thousands of apps, and if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll have access to a range of shows and movies. Google Chromecast gives you access to apps and works with Google Chromebooks and Apple and Android devices.

Although it costs more than other streaming devices, the TiVo Bolt — the only streaming device that enables you to record shows — gives you 150 hours of HD recording and the ability to record up to four of your favorite shows at once. You can upgrade to the TiVoBolt+ and get 450 recording hours and the ability to record up to six shows at once. If you’re a diehard Apple fan, the Apple TV is compatible with iPhones and tablets and will provide you with the simple user interface you’re familiar with from your other Apple devices.

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Laura Beck contributed reporting to this article.

This article originally appeared on Best streaming devices: Google Chromecast, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and more


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