Cut the cord, watch the shows and movies you want from anywhere.
Holiday Guide to Streaming Devices for 2016
As more streaming devices come out (Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast, or even game consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One), you might be wondering which one is best for the cordcutter in your life as we head into 2016. As avid cordcutters ourselves, the team at NetflixFixer is here to which devices are best depending on your situation. Disclaimer: This post will contain affiliate links to products when applicable, but that won’t change our reviews in any way – all of the popular devices are available on Amazon, and while we would appreciate if you use our links to let them know we sent you, you can easily search for any of these devices on your own.
Fire TV vs Roku
If you’re shopping for someone who has cut the cord from cable, or who wants to, the real decision is between the Roku 3 and Amazon’s Fire TV. These are the top of the line so far for 2016, with actual on-board processors capable of running the various apps put out by content-makers (Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, etc.) without lagging as your TV tries to run things itself. They’re also capable of playing games surprisingly well – I’ve gotten countless hours out of Hill Climb Racer on my Fire TV. But which is better? Let’s compare:
Right off the bat you can see above that at the time of this writing, Amazon is offering free same-day shipping on the Fire TV, so they definitely have the advantage when it comes to holiday shipping (it still has free shipping without Prime; they really want to sell these).
The new version streams up to 4K resolution, as well as 1080p. They’ve also upgraded the processor to a quad-core that is 75% faster than the first iteration (we have the first version and it is already plenty fast for us). Amazon boasts having more games available, with over 800, and they recently added the ability to get Showtime and Starz for Prime members starting at $2.99/mo:
The Fire TV and Roku 3 both have access to all of the other big channels available to stream, and they both have voice-activated searching, so they both come with high marks in content availability.
Like the new Fire TV, the Roku 3 is fast, has no problems streaming any kind of video. It has less games, but it does have a similarly fast processor that can handle the games it has access to. Some people prefer the Roku ecosystem to Amazon’s or Apple’s, because they aren’t trying to push their own content. Apple TV will actually force you to buy through iTunes, which is not always the best price; and while Fire TV has access to lots of Amazon content, they also advertise that content around the platform.
We would normally recommend the Roku 3 and Fire TV equally, except for one glaring problem:
The Roku doesn’t allow you to change your secondary DNS server to watch other countries’ content! As you may have heard, we use and recommend Unblock-Us to access American Netflix from Canada, Europe, or most other places. You can also find shows streaming only to countries outside the US and watch those – unless your streaming device doesn’t allow you to put in alternate DNS codes. This is a big no-no to us, so we can’t recommend the Roku over the FireTV for most users (even if you don’t currently use DNS codes to unblock country-locked content, you never know when something you want to watch will be available if you just put in the codes).
Amazon, Google, and Roku also all have their own USB stick streaming devices, which act like the above streaming platforms, but don’t have their own processors to handle streaming. This means it will generally take a little longer, and you don’t get all the features of the full media players, but you can start streaming for less money. They’re also pretty useful for using your laptop to play movies/internet on the TV.
In general, a “real” cordcutter without cable will need more than a streaming stick, but they can be useful to start getting into streaming or to cast content from your computer onto your TV. They’re generally about half the price of their larger counterparts.
Wrapping it all up (TL;DR)
After having used the Fire TV extensively for over a year now, we can definitively say we highly recommend it. The Roku 3 is a close second, but it is missing a crucial feature that NetflixFixer values – streaming content from other countries’ version of Netflix. The sticks are cool, but if you think you’ll be doing serious streaming eventually, it’s worth it to upgrade to the full box.
That’s all you need to know if you’re wondering what to get the cordcutter on your list this holiday season. Happy Holidays, we hope all your shows are great!