As Cordcutters, finding the right streaming media player can be a bit overwhelming with so many available options on the market.
It could even be down-right frustrating, especially when trying to discern through all the tech features and functions.
So, if you’ve landed on this page then you at least know you want a light-weight streaming stick. The two popular choices being discussed are the Roku Streaming Stick+ and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
We’ll try to break down the two streaming sticks into sections to help see the similarities and differences.
Be sure to check out each section below as we break it down a bit more. Choosing one of these devices really comes down to preference.
However, here is a snapshot of pros and cons of each device.
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Alexa voice for commands & searches
- Remote controls power and volume for TV
- Ability to sideload third-party programs
- Faster processing power than Roku
- Dual-band a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Dolby Atmos
- Runs warm to hot after heavy usage
- Amazon ads
- Fewer channels overall compare to Roku
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Easy to use interface, great for beginners and families
- A large extensive list of channels
- 4K HDR Capable
- Private listening through App
- Remote with shortcuts to popular services, also controls power and volume
- Dual-band a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Lacks Dolby Vision support
- Can’t sideload additional applications like the Firestick
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
The Firestick interface is very simple yet complex enough for a more tech-savvy user… You see the menu right on top with literally 7 options to choose from.
- Your Videos
- TV shows
Right below the menu displays the content of that menu section. Finding Apps can be easily done by scrolling to your videos, movies or TV shows.
You can even use also use Alexa to help search with your voice or manually type in whenever you’re looking for.
Amazon Firestick 4K display their ads obtrusively on your screen. This could downgrade your overall user experience. Roku will have fewer ads on its platform.
Roku Streaming Stick+
The user interface for Roku is extremely user-friendly. Everything you need is easily placed on the main screen and
🏆Best User Interface: Each has its own unique interface and are evenly matched. However, if you don’t like ads being on your screen, then Roku wins this section.
Ease of Use
The Amazon and Roku, in general, are both easy to use but it could come down to the type of person or family using it.
Roku is awesome for individuals and families who are less tech-savvy, want more simplicity in using a streaming media player. It’s easy enough for a 4-5-year-old to operate, which makes it great for families with small ones.
You have to remember, streaming media devices have a more active versus the passive approach of just flipping through channels with cable TV.
Amazon is simple as well but could become more complicated with how settings and apps are layered out. It takes a few more steps to accomplish things but great if want more control or options on your device.
🏆Best Ease of Use: Roku Streaming Stick+
- Easy enough for a child to use
- Great for cordcutters, especially those less inclined to technology.
By far, Amazon Firestick is the best for gaming when compared to the Roku. It may be a small device but it can handle most games like Prince of Persia, Asphalt 8, Star Wars and more.
The list doesn’t end here as there are more popular game titles to choose from. Check out our list of the best amazon fire tv games to try!
You could purchase a gaming controller, sync it and turn it into a small mini-game console.
Another cool thing about the Firestick is the ability to side-load third-party programs. Programs such as SNES and Sega emulators that would allow you to play all those classic 90’s video games.
For the Roku Streaming Stick+
You’ll be pleased to find the popular Angry Birds, along with other cute related games. However, it doesn’t offer the same gaming experience as the Firestick nor an option for a gaming controller.
Hands down, Firestick wins this category especially if you’re looking to play a few good games here and there. Great for a family with small ones.
🏆Best for Gaming: Amazon Firestick 4K
- Better gaming titles
- Ability to add a gaming controller
- Sideload third-party emulators (SNES, SEGA, etc)
Apps & Channels
Roku is known to have the largest selection of channels, officially stating they have over 1000+ channels and 50,000+ movies and TV shows to select from. It also offers a dedicated channel by Roku, called the “Roku Channel” where it offers free content.
That’s pretty awesome all in itself.
Roku also doesn’t favor any particular service like Amazon does, which often tries to steer you within their own ecosystem. You’ll find that Roku is very transparent and is more about providing the best service without any biases.
The Firestick may not have that large extensive list of channels like Roku but it does come pretty close. An advantage with the Firestick is the ability to sideload third-party programs. As of recent, it’s becoming quite popular to install additional programming, which you can’t do with a Roku.
A possible downside with the Firestick, you aren’t able to officially download or use YouTube and Vudu. However, there are workarounds that could solve that problem.
See this guide: Ways to Install YouTube on Firestick
🏆Best for Apps & Channels: Tie, comes down to preference.
- Get a Roku Streaming Stick+ if 1000+ channels are more than enough for you and your family
- Get a Firestick 4K if you like to customize and go outside the box such as sideloading programs. Though the amount of stock content is enough to compare with the Roku
The search functionality is the same on both devices. They are able to search through vast amounts of content through voice, manual text inputs and even from a phone app.
Of course with Roku being more agnostic toward any particular brand, you’ll find that’ll it offers more non-biased search results.
Search for a movie or TV show title and it’ll show you every app or service that has it.
With the Firestick, you’ll notice a bit of a preference toward using Amazon’s services first then other alternatives. But hey, it wouldn’t make sense to display your competitors first.
Though, this is a positive note if you are more immersed in the Amazon system.
🏆Best Search: Tie, comes down to preference.
- Get a Roku Stick+ if you want a more agnostic search results
- Get an Amazon Firestick if you’re already more geared toward Amazon products and services
The newer remotes that come with the Firestick 4K and Roku Stick+ have improved GREATLY when comparing them to their older counterparts. The most useful features of all are the ability to power on your TV and control your TV volume.
Two most important features that eliminate the hassle of having two controllers!
As far as design, we do prefer the Roku remote, especially for Cordcutters. You have shortcuts to the main popular services like Hulu, Netflix, SlingTV and PlayStation Vue.
This saves a step or two and makes it easier for maybe a younger family member to access services quicker. However, the search functions can also shortcut your way there as well.
🏆Best Remote Control: Roku Streaming Stick+
- Shortcuts on remote (Hulu, Netflix, SlingTV, etc)
- Simple and easy to use
- More colorful compared to the plain black Amazon Stick
Video, Audio Quality, and Wifi Connection
Both Amazon Firestick and Roku Stick+ is even matched here. It both offers 4K UHD and HDR.
Amazon may have a slight advantage due to their support of Dolby Vision, alongside HDR10.
Of course, all this comes down to the equipment you have that can even support these features. Otherwise, there aren’t any huge discernable differences or if you care enough for it.
Most people just don’t care as long as it looks and sounds great on TV, to be quite honest.
Both devices offer dual-band a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi connectivity. You’ll be able to handle 4K streams relatively easy, which also depends on your other hardware as well.
🏆Best Video/Audio/Wi-Fi: Amazon Firestick 4K!
- Dolby Vision Support: Slight edge over the Roku (If your TV supports it)
Is the Amazon Firestick 4K or the Roku Streaming Stick+ better for Cordcutters?
To be completely honest, it’s really hard to say as they are so evenly matched. It’s just the small preferences that might sway in you one direction a bit more. So hopefully breaking down each section, helps you to see which needs it satisfies the most for you.
It could be the gaming, sideloading, search, remote, whatever.
To finally answer the question, we’re going to have to go with the Roku Streaming Stick+ overall when recommending to our audience of Cordcutters.
Here are the quick overall points of why we prefer the Roku Stick+
- Interface and ease of use: Simple enough for a child to navigate.
- Search is unbiased: Shows all results first. Cordcutters normally have 1 or more services
- Remote: It’s got shortcuts to the main popular services like Netflix and Hulu with easy to press buttons. Saves a few steps (convenience is key in life)
- More options: Access to over 1000+ channels, dedicated Roku channel.
With the Amazon Firestick, here are a few points that may sway you
- In the Amazon Ecosystem: It’s great if you’re already immersed with Amazon. It makes more sense if you already have more Amazon products and services like the Echo or Amazon Prime video membership.
- Gaming: Not exactly important but you and your family might enjoy a few games from time to time. They have a great selection of titles to enjoy versus the cute stuff.
- Sideloading: If you like customizing and installing third-party programs which have been very popular with Firesticks. This could completely sway you, just depends on what you are content with.
- Dolby Vision Support: Great if you have a TV that supports it.