Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Which One Is Better?
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If you’ve ditched your TV subscription, there’s a good chance you’re trying to decide between an Amazon Fire TV stick and one of the many Roku devices as your new entertainment platform.

Keep reading to find out which gadget you should buy: Roku or Fire Stick.

A Complicated Comparison

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to make a like-for-like comparison between Amazon Fire TV devices and Roku streaming sticks.

We need to consider two Amazon products: The Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick 4K. On the Roku side, there are six devices which can be thought of as Fire TV competitors: Roku Express, Roku Express +, Roku Premiere, Roku Premiere +, Roku Streaming Stick, and Roku Streaming Stick +.

We’ll cover all of these devices in this article. If you need a primer, check out our overview of Roku TV Here's What Roku TV Is and How It Works Here's What Roku TV Is and How It Works What is Roku? A digital media streaming device, similar to Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV. Here's why you should choose Roku. Read More first.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Cost

fire tv cost on amazon

Before we get into the features and the technical specifications, let’s deal with the elephant in the room—the cost of the devices.

Amazon’s entry-level Fire TV Stick costs $39.99. The 4K model will set you back a further $10, coming in at $49.99.

The cheapest Roku model is the Roku Express. At $29.99, it’s more affordable than the Fire TV. At the other end of the scale, the top Roku model (Ultra excluded) is the Roku Streaming Stick +, which costs $59.99.

From a cost standpoint, the nearest Roku devices to Amazon’s two products are the Roku Premiere ($39.99), the Premiere + ($49.99), and the Streaming Stick ($49.99).

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Specifications

This is where things get confusing. Let’s try and make sense of all the different models on offer from the two companies.

First, the Amazon devices. The basic Fire TV Stick has a 1.3GHz processor, 8GB of internal memory, and support for Bluetooth 4.1. It plays videos in 720p or 1080p resolution at up to 60 frames-per-second (FPS).

The 4K model is a notable improvement. You’ll find a 1.7GHz processor, support for Bluetooth 5.0, and 2160p video resolution. The internal storage stays at 8GB.

Three Roku products—the Express, Express +, and Streaming Stick—only offer 1080p resolution, the offers offer 4K.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Controls

All Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices ship with a dedicated remote control.

Both Amazon controls support Alexa. If you want to control your Roku with your voice, you will need to buy a Roku Premiere +, Roku Streaming Stick, or Roku Streaming Stick +.

Both devices also have an accompanying remote control smartphone app.

Lastly, if you have an Amazon Echo speaker, you can sync it with your Fire TV Stick and use it to control your content.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Interface

Image result for amazon fire tv home screen

Visually, the Amazon platform is more modern and feels more polished. However, critics have argued that it pushes Amazon’s own content too aggressively.

It’s a valid viewpoint. You’ll only see one row of your own apps at the top of the screen. And if you have too many installed, you’ll need to scroll all the way to the right and click on View All to see them.

The rest of the home screen real estate is taken up by content from Amazon Prime Video. Even if you don’t subscribe to the service, you will still see it.

Roku’s interface is more customizable. All your channels are displayed in a scrollable list. If you install third-party add-ons, you can even place your channels into groups for easier navigation.

On the downside, Roku’s menus and visuals are dated. They badly need a refresh.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: TV Shows and Movies

add private channel roku

If you’re looking for a provider-agnostic device, Roku is the best streaming stick on the market. It’s not only better than Amazon Fire TV sticks; it’s also better than Android TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast dongles.

You’ll find apps for just about every on-demand video and music streaming app, including Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Google Play Movies, Spotify, and TuneIn Radio.

Roku also offers a vast library of private channels 20 Private and Hidden Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now 20 Private and Hidden Roku Channels You Should Install Right Now Here's how to add private channels to your Roku, alongside some of the best hidden Roku channels you can install right now. Read More . You need to enter a code in the Roku web portal to install them on your device. Be warned—many of the private channels lie in a grey area of legality.

The biggest problem with the Amazon Fire Stick is the lack of a native YouTube app. Ongoing bickering between the two tech giants forced Google to pull its apps from Amazon’s platform almost a year ago, and there’s no hint that they’ll be returning any time soon.

YouTube is still available via a web browser on the device, but it’s a clumsy workaround.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Web Browsing

Speaking of browsers, it’s worth noting that only the Amazon products let you surf the web. Two browsers are available—Amazon’s own Silk Browser and Firefox. You can control them both easily using the Fire TV remote.

You can also sideload apps on Fire TV Sticks How to Sideload Apps on an Amazon Fire TV Stick How to Sideload Apps on an Amazon Fire TV Stick Here's how to install Fire Stick apps that aren't available on Amazon. Read More . The process lets you install any browser from the Google Play Store. However, most other browsers are not compatible with the remote, meaning you will also need to install a mouse app on your Fire TV.

In contrast, Roku devices do not offer any facility to browse websites.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Gaming

roku games list

Roku devices and Amazon Fire TV Sticks both offer games on their platform.

However, hardcore gamers might find Fire TV devices are more suitable for their needs. Generally speaking, Roku games are a bit “cutesy”. Sure, they’ll keep you entertained for half an hour, but they don’t offer longevity.

The games on Amazon’s devices are beefier. You’ll find titles such as Minecraft, Badland, and Star Wars.

Of course, if the ability to game on your streaming device is high on your list of priorities, neither a Roku or a Fire TV Stick can hold a candle to the Nvidia Shield. You can stream titles from your PC using Nvidia GameStream, download a host of local games from Nvidia and Google Play, and install emulators for classic consoles.

We have written about the best games on Amazon Fire TV The Best Free Amazon Fire TV Games The Best Free Amazon Fire TV Games There are a surprising number of free Amazon Fire TV games available to download. Here are the best we found. Read More and the best games on Roku 10 Amazing Roku Games You Should Be Playing 10 Amazing Roku Games You Should Be Playing Did you know that the Roku has a surprisingly extensive gaming catalog? Here are the best games you can play on your Roku now! Read More if you’d like more information before making a purchase.

Amazon Fire Stick vs. Roku: Screen Mirroring

Roku devices have Miracast technology built-in. If you’re not aware, Miracast is like a wireless version of an HDMI cable. Most Android and Windows devices are Miracast-compatible. Apple devices are not.

Some older Amazon Fire TV models also support screen mirroring. Oddly, it’s not available on the third-generation Amazon Fire Stick nor the 4K model.

Which Is Right for You?

It’s really difficult to choose a clear winner between the Roku and Fire Stick. Much depends on how you plan to use your device, which gadgets you already own, and which streaming service you subscribe to.

All else being equal, we’d recommend either the Amazon Fire TV 4K or the Roku Streaming Stick +. And remember, you could even buy a Chromecast or Android TV. We have written a comparison of Roku and Chromecast Chromecast vs. Roku: Which One Is Best for You? Chromecast vs. Roku: Which One Is Best for You? There are many streaming media devices to choose between. In this article, we compare the heaviest hitters: Chromecast vs Roku. Read More  and a comparison of Android TV and Amazon Fire TV if you would like to learn more.

Explore more about: Amazon Fire Stick, Cord Cutting, Media Streaming, Roku.

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  1. George
    June 29, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Odd that putting in web pages is easy with firestick and nonexistent with Roku. Otherwise Roku is clear winner.

  2. Paul
    June 20, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    I just setup a Fire Stick 4K, so the most recent version and contrary to what the article states, Mirroring is supported and available, it just isn't very discoverable. To mirror, while on the Home screen, press and hold the Home button down on the remote.

  3. Matt
    May 12, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Sideloading is a way overrated feature on the Fire, because you can streamcast anything you want from your phone to your Roku very simply anyway. And in fact, it's a lot easier and more convenient than sideloading.

  4. Nick
    March 30, 2019 at 6:21 am

    I had been using Roku for a long time and that was my preferred option until I found out that the Fire TV supports VPN. That alone makes the Fire TV the way to go for anybody that travels out of the country a lot. So much more convenient being able to just log into the VPN and be able to access everything like back at home.

  5. gerald henrikson
    February 24, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Very helpful pretty objective
    Sometimes i like you guys to nake the decision lol
    Thanks gerry

  6. DJH
    February 24, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    I have 2 roku-embedded TVs and 1 roku stick. The issue that we see is the time to load the streaming service into memory. I bought a 4k fire stick and a fire TV with 4k ultra. Both fire Amazon load the service faster. The challenge for me is the family won't let me replace cable/directv until the service like directvnow or psvue will come up as fast. And with Roku, this will not happen. Now, maybe the latest highest-brand Roku will do this, but I don't have them nor do I want to put a Roku device on my Roku-embedded TV.

  7. Tom
    February 5, 2019 at 3:50 pm

    While not a stick, the Roku Ultra is a great standalone little box that connects with an HDMI cable.

    Asides from programming, I'm not a fan of a big blob of plastic dangling from an HDMI port on the TV, very easy to ruin a perfectly good HDMI port on a TV if
    brushed by accident.

    Not sure what sideloading is, but there are tons of apps available to install on Roku. When you first set it up, the selections are sparse, up to you to see what's available and install onto your home screen.

  8. Brian
    January 22, 2019 at 11:05 am

    You forgot to discuss Wifi performance. Among the devices there are notable hardware differences in how well they pickup wifi. For example among the sticks the FireStick 4K and Roku Steaming Stick + have more advanced wifi attennas which could help avoid buffering - a common complaint among streaming.

  9. Mike
    January 1, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    Roku is neutral. That alone will make it better. Apple, google, amazon all have a leg in the content game.

  10. Steve Zelinka
    December 6, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I recently switched from Fire TV to Roku because I was fed up with how much Amazon pushed it's own content. You always need to scroll past its banner to get to your limited real estate containing your preferred apps. On Roku I have a clean simple launch screen that only contains my selected shortcuts. Performance seems identical to me.

  11. ANTONIO
    December 5, 2018 at 3:52 am

    i've had firesticks for a couple of years now, but i'm having a hard time with wifi even though firesticks are placed next to wifi routers this is a frustrating issue.
    can roku's be "jailbroken"? i'm new to the cutting cable thing, i just want a device that i can setup and use anytime anywhere no lagging. maybe you all can help with this topic
    thanks

  12. Syn
    December 4, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    How is this even a question? The Roku is very limited...yes private listening is great but most tvs can do that now you know what how to do so. As far as battery life who cares buy a pack of batteries ,or get rechargable one. You can also use the remote app and there are plenty of third party keyboard remotes that work with the firestick but not roku. You can’t sideload apps. The roku, I will say is better for elderly people or people who aren’t doing much besides watching a few shows. It should come with orthopedic shoes or crocs..

    • Flokki
      December 6, 2018 at 3:43 am

      lol so true

  13. Andrew
    December 4, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    FireStick 4K for the versatillity. The main reason is that the Fire OS is basically Android so you can run practically any Android app from the Google PlayStore and other Android app stores. Sideload is very easy with the FireStick. With App2Fire on your phone, you can install any app that is on your phone directly to the FireStick. So all those apps you use to stream movies and TVs, you can have also on your FireStick. You are not limited to Amazon content only. I just override the Amazon screen with HALauncher to just display my own apps. .

    • Jesse
      February 7, 2019 at 2:19 am

      I can’t even find the app2fire in Apple store. Can you tell me how to find it so i can download it to my iPhone to watch youtube tv? Thanks

      • Fred Blosser
        March 16, 2019 at 2:56 am

        It is on Google Play.

  14. Michelle Grandstaff
    December 4, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    My Roku tv stopped connecting to the internet...so, I bought a fire stick, refurbished for 19.99, so I could street on my TV. Disappointed by Roku.

  15. John Schubert
    December 4, 2018 at 4:06 am

    I have both a Roku Stick and the Amazon Fire Stick. Roku is far superior. Roku is more user friendly and it responds much quicker than the Fire Stick.

  16. Truth Provider
    December 4, 2018 at 2:35 am

    Roku is platform agnostic. That's all you need to know. Amazon will remove apps like Netflix and those of other competitors at the exact moment that it can get away with it.

  17. Frank
    December 4, 2018 at 2:20 am

    Roku, hands down. I've had Chromecast, fire sticks, and now Roku. Hated that the Chromecast required a phone and was laggy, and fire stick was just a big Amazon ad, and, no YouTube app.

  18. Georgia
    December 4, 2018 at 1:14 am

    I have both, but perfer the Firestick. The only advantage that my Roku has over my Firestick is the ability to use earplugs for private listening. Of course, the battery life sucks worst in the Roku when using earplugs.

  19. Al
    December 4, 2018 at 1:08 am

    One important point often overlooked in these reviews is the battery life of the Fire TV and Roku remotes. They both use up a lot of juice since they are designed to be on all the time and the batteries get depleted fast. I have both a Roku and a Fire TV connected to a Vizio TV that has a built-in Chromecast and my solution is to use a "smart" surge suppressor that cuts off the power to the peripherals when the TV is off. The Vizio remote can be used to control the Fire TV directly but it doesnt work on the Roku, however the phone and tablet apps work great for both streamers.
    I only wish they followed Apples lead and used long lasting rechargeable batteries in all of their Apple TV remotes.

    • Marcella Wright Scurry
      February 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm

      ? Can you use both my daughter watches you tube alot which 1 will provide that

  20. Daniel
    December 4, 2018 at 12:12 am

    I tried both top end models and preferred the FireTV.

  21. Alicia
    December 3, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    I have to go with fire stick. You cant sideload apps onto roku like you can with fire stick. The new 4k stick is amazing.

  22. Marc Jentzsch
    December 3, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    "It’s really difficult to choose a clear winner."

    Not generally if you are just looking for the best streaming device. I have owned multiple examples of both. The Roku is better in almost every meaningful way. The dated interface of the Roku is still better and easier to use than the Fire which is jumbled and repetitive and can't quite seem to stop falling over itself.
    The Roku is just more intuitive, simpler, cleaner.

  23. Ivan
    December 3, 2018 at 8:01 pm

    Had to go with the fire stick because it can run JackBox