The three best streaming media boxes available today are Roku 3, Apple TV and the new Google Chromecast. Which one is right for you? Continue to read to find out as we compare Roku 3 vs Chromecast vs Apple tv.
It can be hard to pick the right equipment today as the technical specifications are very similar, they all display a high quality picture (1080p resolution) through HDMI so that’s not a distinguishing factor anymore. They all have Wi-Fi and support all the major streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu etc. I will tell you about the things you really need to know to make a decision.
Roku 3 is a very versatile device and it has all the bells and whistles you need. It has a USB port, so you can hook up your thumb drive or keep an external hard disk connected and play your movies straight from the disk without a computer. Alternatively, you can set up a server on your computer and stream off your local network. It offers a lot of different content through third-party channels. Check out the two lists on Roku-Channels.com and Roku Yahoo Group to see what’s available. The past versions of Roku had a sub-par quality remote, but this redesigned one is 100x times better and has a feature that I’ve never seen before, a headphone jack! Now you can watch your movies with your headphones and essentially make them wireless. You can check out your full review here.
- Price: $89
- USB Support (Connect your hard drive and play videos straight from the disk)
- Play videos from your local network
- Third party channels and Live TV: You can add a lot of private channels in Roku.
- Remote with headphone jack.
- Wi-Fi and Wired connections available.
Roku 3 is a clear winner! It’s a very flexible device and can be tweaked a lot more than the others. Support for a USB hard drive, live TV (via Ustream), local streaming and the headphone connection on the remote is the cherry on top. It’s also very easy to set up and use, I’d be comfortable setting this up for my parents and grandparents and they would be able to to use it without my help.
The Apple TV is a a great device and it’s very easy to use. However, it is expensive and doesn’t really deliver any better experience than the Roku 3, unless you have other Apple devices or purchase all your media through iTunes. Apple puts some heavy restrictions on how you can use this powerful equipment. The lack of USB port and local streaming is a huge disappointment. But on the flip side, if you own an iPad and a Mac and purchase your music and movies through iTunes, then it’s an awesome streaming device as these devices play so well together.
- Price: $94.99 with Free Shipping
- Nice remote
- Plays well with your Apple devices (iPhone, iPod touch, Mac and iPad) via AirPlay
- Wi-Fi and Wired connections available.
Apple TV is a great device and highly recommended if you have other Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPod touch, iPad or even just a Macbook. If you have these other devices you want to pick the Apple TV to be able to stream media directly from your device to the TV screen using AirPlay.
The Google Chromecast is a brand new device from Google, set to compete with Apple TV and Roku 3. It’s a lot cheaper and smaller than the competitors. It resembles a USB stick, just with a HDMI connector. However, the large con about the Chromecast is that you actually need to stream media from other devices, it does not work as a stand alone device.
- Price: $35 (clear price winner)
- You do need to stream media from other devices you already own (Android tables and smartphones, iPhones®, iPads®, Chrome for Mac® and Chrome for Windows®. )
- It’s not possible to use the Chromecast as a stand alone device.
- No remote
- FREE Netflix for 3 months with Purchase (Note that you can get 1 month for free, regardless)
We expect the Google Chromecast to be the choice of the price conscious. In our early tests we feel this product has a lot to offer and currently, users can stream anything using the Google Chrome browser extension, as well as YouTube, Netflix, and movies from the Google Play store. It’s also likely to be a favorite of hard core Android users.
Here is more Wikipedia information on Streaming Media
Need an MP3 Player? See our Review of the Coby MP620