How to Choose the Best Streaming Sticks for Christmas

Streaming-Sticks---JCapaldi


Are you still trying to find the perfect stocking stuffer? Why not give the gift of entertainment this season by filling those Christmas stockings with streaming sticks? Of course, it can be difficult to choose precisely which streaming stick is best for the needs of your loved ones.

There are currently three well known, name brand sticks and each is an a low cost, easy way to stream online content onto your TV. The three main choices are the Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick and the Roku stick. Even if a user is already streaming content to their TV via a set top box, these sticks are a smaller, lighter and less bulky alternative. Each stick will allow users to stream content from the big vendors: Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime as well as ESPN and YouTube via a Wi-Fi connection.

Users just plug any of the sticks directly into the TV’s HDMI port and then power it via a USB connection or AC cable to the wall outlet to begin streaming content. The main drawback between the streaming sticks and the traditional set top boxes is that users lose the ability to download and store content for later viewing.

The Best Streaming Sticks Showdown

While all three sticks share important features, there are enough differences that can make a particular stick the wrong choice for a user with specific needs and viewing preferences. We discuss the pros and cons of the Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV Stick and the Roku stick to make it easier for you to decide which of the sticks will make the best stocking stuffers for the lucky ones that made your Christmas List.

Google Chromecast

With the lowest cost of the three, this is the best choice for users that will set up streaming on multiple TVs, and the only choice for Comcast subscribers that can’t do without a regular dose of Game of Thrones or other hit HBO Go shows.

Advantages

  • Eliminates the need for a remote or onscreen TV menu as users control the Chromecast from their compatible smartphone or tablet.
  • Easy Installation – users just download and install the app on their device. Other apps on their device with streaming content can then “cast” it directly to their TV. Loved ones that are on the same Wi-Fi network can also “cast” content from their device to the TV as well.
  • Greatest flexibility in terms of access. Even if a content vendor isn’t supported, such as Amazon Prime, just open Google’s Chrome browser and launch the site in the browser window to stream content from that provider. Hooray for HBO Go Users and Comcast subscribers, this is your best option to get Game of Thrones!
  • Bendable HDMI Extender, great for wall mounted TVs.
  • Lowest price for basic model – $35.

Disadvantages

  • Only operates on 2.4g band, which may cause compatibility issues for users that have dual band wireless routers for their Wi-Fi network.
  • Voice search is not a feature and there isn’t a current workaround or app to enable it.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

This is the best choice for users that want to be able to quickly stream Amazon Prime and Amazon Instant Video content.

Advantages

  • Easy to find Amazon Prime Content – it’s in the center of the home screen.
  • Also returns matching search results for Hulu Plus, as well as Vevo, Showtime and Crackle.
  • Fast processor and large cache for memory means that content begins streaming more quickly.
  • Also comes with an HDMI extender that bends making it possible to install in the back of TVs that are mounted close to the wall.
  • Compatible with dual band wireless routers.
  • Has the middle range price of the pack at $39.

Disadvantages

  • Hard to search for content other than Amazon Prime, must go directly to the other vendor’s app, such as Netflix, to find streaming content to view.
  • Needs a separate Android only smartphone app or the special remote that comes with voice search and ships with its Fire TV in order to conduct voice enabled searches
  • Does NOT offer the HBO Go app – sorry Game of Thrones fans!
  • Physical remote required.

Roku Streaming Sticks

This is the best choice for users with dual band wireless routers that want a diverse range of content choices.

Advantages

  • Most diverse range of content – users can stream over 1,800 channels.
  • Easy to use search interface returns results from most vendors in a way that’s easy to see the lowest cost option to stream specific content.
  • Compatible with dual band wireless routers.

Disadvantages

  • Needs a smartphone app to enable voice searches.
  • Comcast subscribers are blocked from accessing the HBO Go app on Roku and Playstation devices – you are out of luck again Game of Thrones fans, if your cable provider is Comcast!
  • Physical remote required.
  • Most expensive choice at around $50 each.

There are few things worse than receiving a Christmas gift that you can’t use, but our readers no longer have to worry about picking the wrong streaming stick now that they a bit more about the advantages and disadvantages of each. Once you’ve made your choice, why not try out your gift by using it to stream one of the 20 Best Holiday Movies on Netflix now?

Are you giving or getting a stick this Christmas? Why not share your Christmas List with our readers in the comments section below and let everyone know what you want and what you are giving for Christmas this year?

Photo Credit: Jim, the Photographer


CABLE & SATELLITE TV

STARTING AT: $2999/MO

STARTING AT: $1999/MO

HIGH SPEED INTERNET


Enter your address to see available offers


SEE OFFERS



The following two tabs change content below.

Lyn Brooks

Lyn Brooks is a diverse freelance writer with over a decade of experience in the electronics industry. Her articles have appeared in Digital Landing, Stack Media, and various Yahoo! channels. The current focus of her writing is in the areas of tech, personal finance and travel. Brooks is also working on a series of novels in the science fiction genre with an expected publication date in 2014.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertisement