Have you ever noticed how ridiculously high your monthly cable or satellite bill is? Even basic plans can be as high as $60 per month after fees and taxes are factored in. Want service in multiple rooms for your kids too? That’s more money. And you are likely paying for channels you don’t even watch. There has to be a cheaper way! Luckily, there is: cut the cord!
In this article, we’ll take a look at the leading streaming media players: Roku, Chromecast, Fire TV, Apple TV, and more. All of these devices are a one-time purchase that will enable you to eliminate your monthly cable or satellite TV bill. There are many similarities between all of the devices, but there are also some important differences. Here is a comparison of the major features of these cable TV replacement devices:
Streaming Media Players
|Roku 3 Streaming Media Player||$99.99||1500+ channels (some free, some requiring a subscription, some offering movie rentals)||Controller included, and it has a headphone jack|
|Roku Streaming Stick||$49.99||1500+ channels (some free, some requiring a subscription, some offering movie rentals)||Controller included|
|Amazon Fire TV||$99.00||500+ channels (some free, some requiring a subscription, some offering movie rentals) + many games||Controller included|
|Fire TV Stick||$39.00||500+ channels (some free, some requiring a subscription, some offering movie rentals) + many games||Controller included|
|Google Chromecast||$35.00||Hundreds of compatible apps and services||Must be controlled from either a smartphone, laptop, tablet, or other device.|
|Apple TV||$99.00||50+ channels but it is the only one that lets you access your Apple/iTunes content||Controller included|
The above table doesn’t really reveal too much about which device you should buy, but it does display two important point: all the devices cost less than $100 and probably offer more content than your current cable/satellite provider offers you. These are ultimately all much better deals than your current subscription is offering you.
As for choosing which device is best for you or best to give as a gift, it depends on the person and what devices/services you currently have. Before we get into those details, it should first be noted that all of the devices offer you access to Netflix, Hulu, and some other major services. Amazon Instant Video is only officially available for the Amazon and Roku devices, but it can be streamed via a laptop using Google Play or Apple TV. Keep that in mind as we now break down which type of user should buy which device:
Apple device owners – Those who are entrenched in the Apple world should probably buy an Apple TV. If you have a lot of content purchased within iTunes and you use Apple devices, Apple TV will give you the smoothest experience. Nobody else should buy an Apple TV.
Those who are always using a laptop while in front of the TV and those who like to tinker – Google Chromecast is probably the best bet for you. It is at the bottom of the price range, and it is the most flexible since it allows you to easily display the content from any web browser tab onto your TV. This opens up the door to stream video from any website onto your TV (though sometimes the quality can take a hit when you do this).
Those who want an experience most similar to cable/satellite TV – Roku 3 Streaming Media Player (for better performance and a couple more features) or Roku Streaming Stick (if you want to save some money and get nearly the same experience) are the ones for you. You can choose what channels you want (some free, some paid) and browse through content endlessly. The interface is very user-friendly, and you get a handy remote control.
Those who subscribe to Amazon Prime but not Netflix – Fire TV Stick is likely the best choice for you. The price is right, and this will give you the best Amazon Instant Video experience. It is also comparable to Roku in its user-friendliness. Roku’s larger amount of content makes it a better device for most users though.
Those who subscribe to Amazon Prime but not Netflix and have simple gaming as a priority – Amazon Fire TV is likely the best choice for you. It has some extra gaming features compared to the less expensive Fire TV Stick. Be sure to check out what games are available first before buying.
If you have read this far, you are in for a special treat. What we haven’t mentioned yet, is that none of those devices will give you access to all of your local channels. For this, we strongly recommend getting a separate HDTV antenna. They are cheap, you only have to buy it once, and it gives you access to local channels for free forever (as long as you are within range of the broadcast signal). We strongly recommend the Homeworx HW110AN Super Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna. Just make sure that your TV has a coaxial cable jack since it requires one. Also, be sure to check that you are within range of some channels by checking the FCC’s DTV Reception Maps.
Good luck expanding your available entertainment while saving money at the same time!