Features Compared: Amazon Fire TV Battles Roku, Chromecast, and Apple TV for the Soul of Your Set
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies are fighting over your TV set. Google, Amazon, Apple, and tiny little Roku are locked in The Octagon, wrestling for the loyalty of cord-cutters: the 5 million or so Americans who’ve ditched cable, or are trying to, and who are getting their video entertainment via the Internet.
Amazon has the newest bruiser in the ring. On Wednesday the company announced the Amazon Fire TV. It shows video, plays games, and makes cord cutting more compelling than ever. Here’s how it stacks up:
Size and shape
Streaming media boxes come in essentially two formats: the wallet-sized set-top box (Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Roku) and the cheaper, albeit somewhat slower and funkier, thumb-drive variety (Google Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick). All of them rely on WiFi and a broadband connection to work; all of them make your old cable box look like some hulking relic from the previous century.
Each of these devices costs $100 or less, not including extras like gaming controllers. Roku offers three versions ranging from its $50 Streaming Stick to its $100 Roku 3. None of these include the cost of video-on-demand or subscription services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime.
But remember, the money you save by axing Comcast or DISH Network may end costing you more, as you spend $2 for à la carte episodes of How I Met Your Mother or $4+ renting new movie releases. Love sports? Subscriptions to professional baseball, basketball, and hockey events can run hundreds of dollars a year. And, so far, the NFL is a no-show on all these boxes.