You want to cut the cord and start saving some money by streaming. However, you are not sure whether to choose Chromecast or Roku. Fret not, we’ll discuss the differences between Chromecast vs Roku below so that you can choose the best streaming device for your home! While they both are popular, they actually have different working ways and features.
Below, you can learn further about:
– How Chromecast and Roku devices work
– How many content options that are available on each platform
– Which streaming device that is generally easier to use
– The comparison of the picture quality
– The cost of Chromecast vs Roku
Chromecast is a streaming media player designed to provide easy access to digital content from any of your devices, including smartphone, tablet, and laptop. To ensure a seamless experience, Chromecast indeed offers fast, lag-free streaming and, when connected to Google Home, voice control.
The dongle-like device is small and compact. It measures 2.04 inches x 2.04 inches x 0.54 inches, and weighs barely 1.41 ounces. It has an HDMI connector to plug directly to your TV, so there won’t be any wire or cord poking out from behind your TV.
The set-up of Chromecast is very easy and quick. You just need to plug the dongle to your TV, download the Google Home app to your mobile device, and connect the dongle to your home’s Wi-Fi network. From here, you can start streaming Cast-enabled apps from your mobile devices and watch them on your TV.
Unlike most other streaming devices, Chromecast vs Roku is much more flexible that it is compatible with a wide range of TV models. You don’t need an HD or 4K UHD TV in order to stream content. As long as the TV has an HDMI port, Chromecast can work on that. The dongle is available in two color variants, black and white.
Roku is different. A Roku device will also serve as a streaming media player that will allow you to enjoy various channels on your TV with a very low cost. However, the Roku OS becomes the hub of all the content; instead of downloading multiple apps to your mobile device, you need to open the Roku OS on the TV and select a channel. Roku offers plenty of free digital content.
There are several different Roku devices that vary in size and feature set. The smaller ones, like Roku Streaming Stick, have a dongle-like shape with an HDMI connector so that you can plug them directly to your TV. The larger ones, like Roku Ultra, require HDMI cables; they may come with additional connection ports or higher resolution options. Some models include a remote control that has shortcut buttons to Netflix and Hulu and support for voice control.
Compared to the Chromecast dongle, most Roku devices except Roku Ultra are smaller. For example, Roku Premiere measures 3.3 inches x 1.4 inches x 0.7 inches and weighs only 1.28 ounces.
Nevertheless, the set-up is fairly simple. Just connect the Roku device to your TV, plug the power cable if needed, and select the input source on your TV. Then, use the Roku remote control to navigate through the Roku OS, and create a Roku account in order to start streaming content.
So, when choosing between Chromecast vs Roku, you may want to consider their streaming capabilities and how much content that they offer. Chromecast is great if you not only want to stream content, but also want to cast your games from your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to a larger screen. Roku, on the other hand, is exclusively for streaming content on a TV. See also: Google Chromecast vs Chromecast Ultra.
With Chromecast, you need to stream from apps that are Cast-enabled. However, you can also cast the entire screen of the device manually when the app is not Cast-enabled, or when you want to play a game. That said, some apps that rely on VLC, QuickTime, Silverlight, and Flash will not work properly.
However, Chromecast will prevent you from using the smartphone, tablet, or laptop for doing other activities while it is streaming. Also, streaming continuously will indeed drain the battery of the device, so that’s another thing to consider.
With Roku, you can enjoy more than 500,000 channels directly through the Roku OS. You can find Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, Sling, and Spotify among them. There are also plenty of private channels that you can install.
A Roku device doesn’t rely on any other device, so you won’t need to drain the battery of your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. It also means that you can use these devices freely while you are streaming on your TV. However, Roku lacks the ability to “cast” the screen of your device directly to your TV – some people are okay with this, but some others may need that particular feature.
Ease of Use
Chromecast does not have any on-screen user interface, as it is designed simply to mirror the screen of your device on your TV. Because it casts the screen of your device, any input that you make on the device will also be shown on the TV. You can manage the settings via the Google Home app, which is available for Android and iOS.
Many streaming apps now are Cast-enabled, so you can cast only the content instead of the entire screen. However, some streaming apps are still not Cast-enabled. But you can still cast the entire screen if you want.
Roku OS has an on-screen user interface where you can browse channels, search content, and configure settings. You can also download the Roku app, available for both Android and iOS, so that you can control all Roku devices in your home remotely via your smartphone.
All Roku devices come with remote controls. The three cheapest models only include the basic remote, whereas the three premium models include the voice remote which will allow you to use voice commands. There are also more powerful remotes that are sold separately: the Enhanced Voice Remote, which has a headphone output jack, and the Gaming Remote, which comes with additional buttons for playing games available for the Roku OS.
Before you rush buying a 4K-enabled streaming device, you need to check whether your TV supports 4K or not. If it doesn’t, and you are not planning to upgrade to a 4K-capable TV in the near future, getting a streaming device that supports a maximum resolution of 1080p will be more cost-efficient.
Also, do you really watch 4K content? Most streaming services like Netflix often charge higher for providing access to 4K content. Yet, not all shows and films are available in 4K. So, if you have a 4K-capable TV but you don’t want to spend more money for your Netflix subscription, getting a streaming device with a maximum resolution of 1080p is fine.
Chromecast has two models: the regular Chromecast and the Chromecast Ultra. While the regular model only supports resolutions up to 1080p, Chromecast Ultra supports 4K content. If you have a 4K UHD TV and you want to watch 4K content, consider getting Chromecast Ultra.
When choosing a Roku device, make sure that you choose one that is suitable for your TV. Roku Express, Roku Express+, and Roku Streaming Stick only support resolutions up to 1080p, whereas Roku Premiere, Roku Streaming Stick+, and Roku Ultra support 4K UHD and HDR10 content.
All Chromecast vs Roku devices connect via HDMI ports. The only one that is a bit different is Roku Express+, which also has A/V ports to work with older TVs.
Chromecast Ultra comes with an ethernet port, which you can use if you want a perfectly stable and smooth Internet connection. Roku Ultra is the only one among the Roku range that has an ethernet port.
Although Roku devices are mostly for streaming and not for mirroring screens, they actually support Miracast. You can use Miracast to mirror the screen of your Android or Windows device. However, it is a bit clumsy to use, and it is not available for iOS devices. Roku OS has also supported Google Assistant and Google Home since late 2018.
The regular Chromecast is sold at $35, and is quite cheap and budget-friendly. Despite the low cost, it already has excellent features and capabilities, and you can connect it to various smart home devices. Meanwhile, the price of Chromecast Ultra is $69, comparable to the premium Roku models.
The cheapest Roku model is Roku Express, which is a little bit cheaper than the regular Chromecast at $29. Roku Streaming Stick+ and Roku Premiere are in a similar price range as Chromecast Ultra, $59 and $50, respectively. Meanwhile, Roku Ultra is the most expensive at $99.99.
Regardless of the model that you choose, whether it is Chromecast or Roku, the total cost will always be lower than the typical cable bill. So, you can save some money with either route.
Chromecast vs Roku
In general, Roku is better and more recommended for the best streaming experience. You can access a lot of channels through the Roku OS, and you won’t need to rely on another device to stream content. Depending on the model that you choose, you can get a maximum resolution of either 1080p or 4K. Roku devices support screen mirroring via Miracast, and already support Google Assistant and Google Home.