Roku Streaming Stick Plus VS Amazon Fire TV

We put the two most affordable 4K video streamers head-to-head.

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The Good

The Roku Streaming Stick Plus delivers 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price. Its dead-simple interface puts every streaming service on a level playing field. Roku has more 4K HDR apps and better search than competitors. Its responses are lightning fast, its video quality as good as any streamer, and its remote can control your TV's volume and power.

The Bad

The menus can seem dated compared to rivals, and some apps use old-school layouts. Voice search and control is worse than some competitors.

The Bottom Line

With its simple design and focus on features you'll actually use, Roku's affordable 4K HDR streamer is one you should get.

Overview

The Good

The Amazon Fire TV serves up 4K and HDR video in a compact package for an affordable price. Its voice features are best-in-class, and Echo and Dot owners can control it hands-free with "Alexa" commands. App and game selection is superb, responses are lightning-fast and video quality is as good as any streamer.

The Bad

The user interface pushes Amazon content too aggressively and doesn't allow customization. Fewer 4K HDR apps than Roku, and finding 4K content is more difficult.

The Bottom Line

Although Roku's 4K stick is slightly better overall, the Fire TV wins with Alexa devotees who own 4K HDR TVs.

Ratings

Ecosystem

What content can you get on these streaming dongles? All of the basics, and more: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, HBO and nearly all of the cable TV alternatives. But while Roku has nearly everything -- except iTunes -- Fire TV has some notable holes. YouTube is a browser-based workaround, for instance, rather than a native app.

Performance

Both of these streamers are 2017 models with fast response time. But the Roku felt zippier and faster overall in our tests.

Features

Both streamers have the basics -- 4K HDR video, Dolby audio, fast Wi-Fi and nicely stocked app stores. Fire TV offers excellent integration with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant, too. But Roku's remote also offers voice control options and full TV control for power and volume. It has a nifty headphone jack for private listening, too.

Design

These are both dongles that plug into the rear or side HDMI ports of your TV (or AV receiver). But we really prefer the straightforward, customizable and easy-to-navigate Roku interface. The Fire TV one feels like it's more about shoving Amazon commerce options to the forefront.

Value

Both products retail for $70 in the US, but are frequently discounted as low as $50. That's a world of streaming entertainment for a pittance. The Apple TV, by comparison, costs more than twice as much.

Overall

The Fire TV delivers excellent entertainment options and superb integration with Alexa. But we found Roku to be the flat-out winner here, with better design, smarter features and more content offerings.

Videos / Photos

Specs / Prices

model 2017
  • Amazon Fire TV (2017, with AmazonBasics HD Antenna)
    Amazon Fire TV - 2017, with AmazonBasics HD Antenna b07592rz8m
$59
$70
Network & Internet
Internet radio playback, Internet video playback, digital audio playback, digital photo playback, digital video playback Functionality Internet video playback
Connections
HDMI output Type DC power input, HDMI output
Miscellaneous
Black Color Category Black
2 AAA batteries, AC power adapter, USB cable, remote control with voice search Included Accessories 2 AAA batteries, AC power adapter, USB cable, remote control with microphone
Header
Roku Brand Amazon
Roku Product Line Amazon
Streaming Stick+ Model Fire TV
1 Packaged Quantity 1
Audio System
digital multimedia receiver Type digital multimedia receiver
AV components Subcategory AV components
digital multimedia receiver Functions network player
Network Media Content Source Network
Dolby Audio Built-in Decoders Dolby Atmos
voice search Additional Features HDR10 color, Quad Core CPU
HDCP 2.2 Digital Content Protection HDCP 2.2
Network & Internet Multimedia
Internet radio playback, Internet video playback, digital audio playback, digital photo playback, digital video playback Functionality Internet video playback
IEEE 802.11ac Connectivity Interfaces Bluetooth 4.1 LE, IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Amazon Prime Instant Video, Google Play, HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, Sling TV Internet Streaming Services Amazon Prime Instant Video, CBS, Hulu, NBA, NBC Today, Netflix, PBS, Showtime Anytime, Sling TV, WatchESPN, CNBC, CNN, Crackle, FOX NOW, FOX sports, Food Network, HBO NOW, HGTV Watch
Supported Video Resolutions
3840 x 2160 Resolution 1280 x 720, 1920 x 1080, 3840 x 2160
Service & Support
1 year warranty Type 1 year warranty
Service & Support Details
limited warranty Type limited warranty
1 year Full Contract Period 1 year

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