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When it comes to voice control and Prime Video content, Amazon Fire TV is much better. Moreover, it supports many features, unavailable for Roku users.
Still, Roku offers you a wide selection of smart TVs with the streaming software onboard. So if you do not want to buy a separate stick for your TV, choose Roku.
But does Roku provide better picture and sound quality? Do Amazon's customers have a better selection of apps and content? Which device is more affordable? Read on, and you will find the answers to all your questions.
Fire TV vs. Roku
The first thing that comes to mind when you think of Fire TV is Amazon Prime Video. The company's customers have access to dozens of original Amazon movies and TV shows that are not available for others. However, if you are not a fan of Prime Video shows, the content discovery will be a problem for you, as Amazon puts them front and center.
When it comes to streaming, Fire TV users can enjoy Apple TV, Hulu, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube TV, HBO, Showtime, and Sling TV. Moreover, music fans will have access to Tidal, Deezer, and Spotify. And Amazon's voice assistant Alexa will help you to find the desired TV show or movie using your voice.
Furthermore, Echo Dot owners can issue commands without using their Fire TV Stick's remote control. It feels natural, and the device always understands your commands. And it can do more than simply pause a movie or search for a show.
Still, Alexa is Amazon's slave, so be ready to see the Prime Video Shows at the top of the search results page. And you will have to scroll down to the bottom to find Netflix or Disney movies. Nevertheless, the user interface of the Fire TV is almost excellent.
And what about Roku?
Over the last years, Roku has gained its popularity in the US, and now we know this company as a principal competitor to both Google and Amazon. Roku Streaming Stick+ was the first streaming stick with HDR10 and 4K support in the UK. Roku's stick looks better than the Fire TV device, as it is slimmer and smaller, and plugging it into the TV's HDMI slot is much easier.
Roku does not make its movies or TV shows, so its content discovery platform has nothing to promote. As a result, Roku is better organized and much cleaner. And flipping through menus or navigating multiple streaming apps is quick and easy too.
The fact that Roku doesn't make movies doesn't mean that you will not be able to watch Amazon Prime Video Shows. Moreover, it serves up Netflix, HBO, YouTube TV, Apple TV, Sling TV, Disney+, and NBC. Furthermore, Roku customers will also get Google Play, Vudu (US), and Now TV (UK), which are not available for Fire TV users.
You can use your tablet or smartphone with the Roku app installed to control this device. You may also issue voice commands, instead of using the remote control. Roku provides some smart features to increase your comfort, for example, the ability to use your headphones instead of TV sound.
However, Roku has also some drawbacks, like no HDMI cable in the box. Still, you can plug your Roku Stick+ into the USB socket, and it can be even more convenient. Although Roku is an exceptional device for your TV, Amazon's Fire TV is better when it comes to Prime Video content and voice controls.
Winner: Amazon Fire TV
Ease of Use
You will enjoy using a Roku stick if you are used to the concept of launching apps on your smartphone. You can quickly launch the streaming app using the device's main menu presented with a grid of icons. And the home screen with the Channel Store section allows you to easily find the most popular apps.
On the contrary, the Amazon Fire TV menu is much less intuitive. There are separate rows for recent and favorite apps instead of a single app launcher. Also, you can hold down the home button to access a master app list.
Besides, several extra menus for TV shows, movies, and apps surround the home screen. It can be difficult for some people to get used to this approach. For this reason, compared to Roku, Fire TV is more troublesome to navigate.
If you are on a tight budget and you need the most affordable streaming device, you may get the $39.99 Fire TV Stick. Although it is Amazon's cheapest streamer, Fire TV Stick supports HD video and Alexa voice remote control.
However, if you need 4K HDR video support, surround sound, and much faster performance, you should spend $10 more on the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. And if the price does not matter to you, and you need the best Amazon device with built-in Alexa voice control, you should buy the $120 Fire TV Cube.
Meanwhile, Roku offers six streaming devices at different prices. $30 Express and $40 Premiere are Roku's most affordable players. However, they do not have built-in TV power or volume controls, and they both use infrared remotes with a long response time.
For 1080p, you will have to get the Walmart-exclusive Roku Express+, and for 4K HDR video, you will need the $50 Roku Streaming Stick+. And the $100 Roku Ultra, which is Roku's best streamer allows you to use programmable remote buttons along with ethernet and USB ports.
Still, even with all those options, Roku does not have streaming devices with HDR10+, Dolby Vision, or Dolby Atmos. You will need these functions if you want Atmos support on Netflix. And the Fire TV Cube and Fire TV Stick 4K support all of them.
Also, Roku devices cannot remember your place in recent apps, so they will restart each time. The Roku and Amazon prices are comparable. But buying the Fire TV, you will get better quality for the same price.
Winner: Fire TV
Hardware: Smart TVs
If buying a separate streamer is not for you, you may buy a TV with a built-in streaming device. And in this case, Roku gains the advantage. Roku is available for TVs of different sizes and prices, including Sharp, RCA, Hisense, Walmart's Onn, and TCL TVs. Even though Dolby Vision HDR is not available for Roku's standalone streamers, some of those TVs support this option.
As was mentioned above, buying such a TV, you do not have to buy a separate player. TCL and other vendors sell the TVs with the needed software onboard.
In the case with Amazon's Fire TV, the only models with the Fire TV built-in software are Toshiba and Best Buy's Insignia TVs. Your choice is limited to a narrow range of TV features and screen sizes. So if you need a 70-inch TV with Dolby Atmos and 4K HDR, you will find one with a Roku built-in operating system, but not with Fire TV software.
Roku cares about its customers, so the company supports even old software. Roku's smart TVs and streamers from 2014 onwards are still receiving new features and apps. And Amazon's long-term support is far behind the Roku's level.
However, many app makers can stop supporting old hardware, regardless of Amazon's or Roku's support. For example, YouTube TV does not support the original Fire TV, nor does it work with old Roku devices.
The Amazon Fire TV allows you to watch videos in up to Full HD resolution. The picture colors and dark scenes look amazing. Although this device is quite cheap, the sound quality is also impressive. And Alexa's voice control makes its use even more convenient.
But what about 4K sticks?
Roku Streaming Stick+ serves up videos in excellent quality, but this streamer only supports HDR10. So you need to get Fire TV Stick 4K to enjoy Dolby Vision HDR. Amazon's device also supports many other high-end options, like Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLJ, and HDR 10.
Winner: Fire TV Stick 4K
Fire TV vs Roku: Which Is Better
Both Roku and Amazon video streamers are an exceptional addition to your home TV. They allow you to watch hundreds of movies and TV shows not available on other platforms. However, let's determine which video streaming platform is better.
Those, who love Prime Video shows and Alexa voice control will prefer Amazon's Fire TV. Its price is comparable to the price of Roku devices, but Amazon streamers support more advanced features, like Dolby Atmos or Dolby Vision HDR. And Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K can be the best video streaming player on the market.
However, if you do not want to buy a separate player, Roku will be the better option. You will find many smart TV models of different manufacturers with built-in Roku software onboard. So everything depends on your budget and preferences.
Winner: Depends on your needs and budget