Chromecast Ultra vs. Apple TV 4K vs. Roku Ultra vs. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K: Which Is Best?
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The streaming device market is more competitive than ever, with a plethora of devices to choose from. And with 4K becoming more popular, you should invest in a device that supports 4K video.

With that in mind, in this article we pitch the Chromecast Ultra vs the Roku Ultra vs the Apple TV 4K vs the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. Which is the best of the big-name 4K streaming media devices?

Comparing Like for Like

chromecast ultra

The devices we are looking at aren’t necessarily all competitors; they are filling slightly different roles in the marketplace.

That’s because the Chromecast Ultra and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K are both take the dongle approach, whereas the Roku Ultra and the Apple TV 4K are set-top boxes. Naturally, that means the Roku Ultra and Apple TV 4K are more powerful, but they are also more costly.

A more suitable comparison for a buyer, therefore, would be the Google Chromecast Ultra vs. the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and the Roku Ultra vs. the Apple TV 4K.

Price Differences

Of the two dongles, the Chromecast is more expensive than the Amazon Fire Stick. A Chromecast Ultra costs $69 whereas the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K will set you back $49. We’ll take a look at whether the $20 price difference is worth it later in the article.

And what about the Apple TV 4K vs. the Roku Ultra in terms of price? The Roku Ultra is $99 whereas the Apple TV 4K costs either $179 for 32GB or $199 for 64GB.

Comparing Specs

So, let’s run through the technical specs of all four products. It will help you to crystallize which one offers the best value-for-money.

In ascending price order…

Chromecast Ultra Specs

Chromecast Ultra supports all 4K and HDR video. There’s also an ethernet port; you can use it to create a wired connection between the device and your router for a faster and more stable connection.

Under the bonnet, you will find a Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus 88DE3009 chip, 256MB of RAM, support for 802.11 b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks, and support for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The Chromecast Ultra weighs 1.66 ounces.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Specs

Aside from 4K and HDR video support, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Specs boasts 8GB of storage, support for Dolby Atmos audio, and support for 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi.

Unlike the Chromecast, the Fire TV Stick 4K lets you listen to your TV using headphones if they are Bluetooth enabled.

And if you wish, you can buy an optional Amazon Ethernet Adapter to connect your Fire TV Stick 4K directly to your router.

Roku Ultra Specs

As you’d expect, higher prices bring you more features. The Roku Ultra has a quad-core processor, 256MB of internal storage, and a USB port. This allows you to play video content direct from your memory stick or external hard drive.

There’s also a voice-control remote (complete with alarm for when you misplace it), and the device comes with an IR receiver for use with universal remotes. And for the first time, we see an SD card slot appear. You can use it to increase your space available for extra channels.

Apple TV 4K Specs

apple tv 4k

As with all Apple products, you’ll pay a premium for the Apple TV 4K, but it’s worth the money. As mentioned, the device comes with either 32GB or 64GB of memory; then there’s also a gigabit ethernet port, an A10X Fusion chip with 64-bit architecture, and support for Bluetooth 5.0.

Away from the device itself, the remote also has some premium features, including an IR transmitter¸ an accelerometer, and a three-axis gyro.

You can charge the remote using a lightning cable.

Content and Channels

The technical specs are only half the battle. Many people won’t even place that much importance on them. What really makes or breaks a streaming device is the availability of content, apps, and channels.

The Chromecast Ultra is unique in this regard. You don’t install any channels on the device itself. Instead, it acts as a bridge between your mobile or laptop and the TV. As such, it relies on apps making themselves Chromecast-compatible.

Some apps have a built-in cast button; others require you to cast your entire Android screen. Unfortunately, some apps don’t work at all, even with full-screen casting.

Almost every large TV network and streaming app has an app for the other three devices. The big exception is YouTube on Amazon Fire TV 4K. An ongoing dispute between Amazon and Google means it’s not available, though you can use one of the Amazon Fire TV browser apps The Best Web Browser for Amazon Fire TV Stick: Firefox vs. Silk The Best Web Browser for Amazon Fire TV Stick: Firefox vs. Silk You probably already know that you can browse the web with Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick. But what's the best browser to use? Read More as a workaround.

If you watch a particularly niche streaming service, make sure you check its availability on the various devices before you make your choice.

It’s also important to note that there are some great private Roku 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 can install, and you can sideload apps on the Amazon Fire TV Stick 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 , giving you access to even more content.

Smart Assistants

Smart assistants are playing a growing role in streaming dongles and set-top boxes.

The Roku Ultra does not come with a smart speaker built into either the device or the remote. It is, however, compatible with Google Assistant. If you have a nearby smart speaker (or even just using your Android phone), you can control the content.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is Alexa-enabled; you can use Alexa through the device’s remote control. Unsurprisingly, the Apple TV 4K supports Siri.

The Chromecast Ultra is more like the Roku Ultra. It doesn’t have a physical remote but is tightly integrated with Google Assistant and can be controlled using another Assistant-enabled device.

Should You Buy Now or Wait?

roku ultra

Finally, a note on the age of the products.

The Chromecast Ultra was released in November 2016. After so long on sale there’s reason to believe that it’s coming to the end of its lifecycle. The Roku Ultra and Apple TV 4K were both announced in September 2017—though the Roku was re-released with identical hardware 12 months later.

And the newest product is the Amazon Fire TV 4K. It only went on sale in October 2018.

If you want to future-proof your purchase, you can draw your own conclusions.

And the Winner Is…

Hardware-wise, the Apple TV 4K is clearly the best product. However, as is often the case with Apple products, it lacks some of the customization options of its competitors. It’s also the most expensive and isn’t readily compatible with non-Apple gadgets.

At the other end of the spectrum, we love Chromecast technology, but it’s better suited for second and third TVs around your home, rather than the main screen in your lounge.

So, we’re left with the Roku Ultra vs. the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. Android users might prefer the Amazon product, but for a genuine provider-agnostic experience, we recommend the Roku Ultra.

And remember, we haven’t even talked about the fragmented Android TV market in this article. To learn more, check out our list of the best Android TV boxes for all budgets The Best Android TV Box for All Budgets The Best Android TV Box for All Budgets Looking for the best Android TV Box on the planet? We rounded up the top Android TV boxes around for budget, mid-range, and high-end needs! Read More .

Explore more about: 4K, Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, Media Streaming, Roku.

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  1. John Smith
    June 17, 2019 at 9:26 am

    My experience with them all is as follows:
    Apple TV.
    Too much limitations, overpriced for that it does.

    Chromecast Ultra
    Very little to complain about, except it does not fit certain scenarios.
    Roku Ultra
    Easily the best for this list.
    The lack of web browser app that works is beyond me at this point.

    Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.
    I was one of those who were so excited with the introduction of the Amazone Fire TV stick line.
    The original one was garbage, very limited, slow.
    The latest one is the same, offers little improvement.
    One thing is missing, the best one in my opinion, nVidia Sheild.
    Beware though, Plex player acts strangely on it, which from what I can see is not their fault. The authors of the player should get their act together.

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    June 12, 2019 at 1:11 pm

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  3. Filippo Lippi
    March 21, 2018 at 11:48 am

    You left the best one out -- NVidia Shield.

  4. Mike
    March 21, 2018 at 11:29 am

    "The Apple TV 4K is undeniably the best looking of the bunch"?
    It's a clean black box like the rest. Isn't that comment just an automatic reflex because it's Apple?
    Perhaps the remote is cleaner as it has almost no buttons but that's it.

  5. Gary S
    March 18, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    What about the Nvidia Shield? That has done 4k for years and the latest version is better than the ones featured.

  6. David S
    March 18, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    So which devices have "significantly" more memory than the 3gb of the Apple TV?

    • Rob Record
      February 18, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      I noticed that too. I think the author mistook memory for storage. Actually the Apple device has the most memory of the bunch.

  7. Jeff
    March 17, 2018 at 11:30 pm

    Yea for anyone actually researching products shield TV is hands down one of the best devices. Not only is it Android TV based but it has built in Chromecast and Google home. The remotes have voice search. It has USB ports to add HDD or mouse/keyboards. You can Bluetooth connection headphones or plug in headphones to the remote to privately listen to your shows. For those who casually game you can play your computers games through it. You can also put Kodi on it without any hassle. Offers things like optical out audio, expandable HDD space that may be important to some people. Worth checking out.

  8. Marlon Hall
    March 17, 2018 at 7:56 pm

    Do I need any of these AND my XBOX One and PS4 consoles?

  9. Philip Merritt
    March 17, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    The answer to the question is shieldtv is inarguably is the best. How do you ask a question like this but leave of the best device?

  10. Dionne
    March 17, 2018 at 6:53 pm

    I like the Roku because it allows me to stream from my cable company without having a cable box and all the wires.

    • Shawna Chatman
      May 1, 2018 at 12:23 am

      They all let you do that. Your cable company has an app, and it works on all the devices.

  11. Joar Addam Nessosin
    March 17, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Why is the Shield Android TV never featured in articles such as these? It's hands down one of the best media boxes available. To leave it out diminishes any comparison making this article suspect.

    • Jason
      March 17, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      Agreed! How can you publish a comparison without including the Shield?

    • Nicolas Nieves
      March 18, 2018 at 5:29 am

      Maybe I'm just ignorant on the device but I thought the Shield was pitched as an Android console that can play media and not the other way around. Wasn't the marketing around a 192 core GPU and controller and how the demos rivaled PC's?

    • Shawna Chatman
      May 1, 2018 at 12:27 am

      Because Nvidia never pays writers to endorse their products. They are the best at what they do and do not need to bribe tech writers to tell the world what they already know. If Nvidia sells it, it's probably the best out there.

      Commercial endorsement has ruined articles and the internet for me. Companies have to pay writers to mention their products or they will pretend they don't exist, or pretend they have serious flaws.

  12. Matt
    March 17, 2018 at 3:54 pm

    "Amazon and Google have been at loggerheads for months," this needs to be corrected to "years". Amazon removed all Chromecasts from their store weeks before the second generation Chromecasts launched on to of blocking Google services since launch and many other things. Google retaliated for the first time in years this past fall. And the fire devices, while being Android based and thus easy to implement, have never supported casting to a Chromecast.

    All we have are a Chromecast and Chromecast ultra and we have never looked back. We have guests in our house all the time and they know how to use their phones where the other devices require learning their UI's not to mention using your streaming accounts when guests are watching. Chromecasts are the most versitile for a large household or those that host regularly with guests that have Android or Apple devices. No competition.

    I am amazed at all the fire lovers in the comments. Netflix already has my viewing data, I am not a fan of Amazon tracking everything I do and every app i open on top of that. Google for the win.

    • Kinzzz
      March 17, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      Also, Apple TV now allows Amazon Video. I don't think the writer really bothered trying these devices out, its some old article with new specs and incomplete info.

  13. Craig
    March 17, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    The Chromecast Ultra has both wired and wireless so I don't understand your writing in the Roku portion. Did you even try the devices? This just reads like a stat sheet. Where is the real comparison between them. HDR quality, stability and streaming quality?

  14. Liam
    March 17, 2018 at 12:49 pm

    I cant speak to Roku as ive never used that. But the Fire Stick is by far the best between the others. Apple being Apple is far too restrictive in what you can do. Chromcast is basically just a go-between device. The Firestick can completely replace your cable and thats just the tip of the iceberg. By allowing 3rd party apps (like android does) the options are almost endless for media content. That, coupled with the fact you can use the speech remote to control any Alexa devices makes the firestick way, way better than AppleTV or Chromecast.

  15. Adam
    March 17, 2018 at 11:55 am

    The correct answer is none of the above. Buy an Nvidia Shield. It's more expensive but it buries the others in performance and functions like a Chromecast as well

  16. Daniel
    March 17, 2018 at 11:36 am

    The dis on Apple 4K only having 3 GB of ram saying the rest have more when the Roku has 256 mb and the Amazon Fire only has 2 FB ram, Apple has MORE ram than the others for the A10 Fusion chip

  17. Ken
    March 17, 2018 at 9:22 am

    What a lame comparison. No conclusions really?
    I have 2 Chromecast and i never use them. Why because once i got my first Fire TV i could no longer understand why anyone would deal with how inconvenient a Chromecast is.

    • Liam
      March 17, 2018 at 12:52 pm

      3 chromecasts got the sack after getting the firestick. There is no comparison. The firestick is far superior.

  18. Scott
    March 17, 2018 at 3:31 am

    I have some of these. I don't have a Roku Ultra but I have a Roku 4k television, which is nice. If you are considering these, look at the Nvidia Shield and the Xiaomi Mi Box, which the author neglected to mention.

  19. The Genius
    March 17, 2018 at 1:08 am

    Wow s comparison article that reads like it was copied from the brochure and for a bonus, the article has no conclusion!

    Try harder.

    • Daniel
      March 17, 2018 at 11:37 am

      I agree!

    • Daniel
      March 17, 2018 at 11:38 am

      I agree