Apple TV Vs Google Chromecast Vs Roku: A Guide

Regular TV has become passe. Smart TV and web-based video is the future. But should you buy a Chromecast, or an Apple TV, or a Roku? How does the Chromecast Compare to the Apple TV? What is the best streaming device? We’ll take a look in this comparison.

First let’s look at each competitor individually:

Chromecast – the affordable, easy option $35

Chromecast is one excellent option as a streaming device. At $35, it’s the most affordable device on the market. It takes minutes to set up, and it’s controlled entirely by your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Best of all, it consumes very little space and power, making it the easiest of streaming solutions. While app selection is currently limited, an open API means that more and more chromecast apps will soon be appearing. Netflix, Google Play, Youtube, and screen sharing are all good starts.

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Apple TV – Classy, Functional, $99

The Apple TV offers streaming television with a variety of apps in a very elegant package. The device is larger than the Chromecast, and requires a place to perch, rather than just sticking out of the TV, but it also looks excellent. Although it is built for Wifi, the Apple TV does offer an ethernet port, allowing for faster connectivity. Most services (i.e Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB Live) require a separate subscription for use, but they allow for features that the Chromecast doesn’t have (like watching live sports games).

The Apple TV is a device that could replace TV (paired with subscriptions to netflix and your sports network of choice) rather than just complimenting it. You can also stream music, movies, and TV from your itunes account, and videos from your mac (as well as using your TV as a screen on newer macs). There are some totally free services included, such as Youtube, Vimeo, and the Wall Street Journal network. It’s more full-featured than the Chromecast, but costs quite a bit more.

Roku – The Independant Option $50-100

Roku, a company who specializes in streaming devices, offers five different devices, ranging from $50 – $100. Most of their devices resemble the Apple TV in design, although their “streaming stick” resembles the Chromecast in design (I can’t recommend this, as it’s overpriced, and only works on a few models of television).

The benefit of Rokus are that they have a far more diverse content selection than the Chromecast (currently) and the Apple TV. Roku boasts (a slightly bloated claim) 750 entertainment channels. It’s not a huge difference, but it certainly is one.

The interface for Roku isn’t nearly as intuitive as the above-mentioned devices, and they don’t offer full 1080p HD until you get to their $80 model. Still, Rokus have some benefits, and they’re worth exploring.

Which would I buy?

It depends on your needs. If you’re looking for an affordable device to accompany your TV, I’d recommend the Chromecast, or the Apple TV. Given time, the Chromecast should have a content selection to match Roku’s. If you’re looking to replace your TV, I’d recommend a high-end Roku or Apple TV paired with a subscription to Netflix or Hulu + (I use netflix).

You can pick up a Chromecast here. They’re selling like hotcakes (currently on backorder), so you’re going to want to buy now, so as to shorten your wait for one.

You can pick up an Apple TV here at a slight discount ($5). Paired with free shipping, this is just about the best deal out there.

Finally, if you’d like a Roku over the above-mentioned for some reason, you can buy the most recommended Roku model here.

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Michael Sitver

Michael Sitver is a technology insider who has been blogging about technology since 2011. Along the way, he's interviewed founders of innovative startups, and executives from fortune 500 companies, and he's tried dozens or hundreds of gadgets. Michael has also contributed to works featured in Newsday, The San Francisco Chronicle, and the associated press. Michael also occasionally consults, and writes for Seeking Alpha and Yahoo News.

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