Streaming players have become a great way for those without a “smart TV” to get access to streaming channels and services. For a relatively low cost (the most basic streaming players cost as little as $29) you can get access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and all the other streaming services you might be interested in on your TV.
The most popular streaming players are the Chromecast by Google, the Apple TV, and the Roku. Figuring out which streaming player is right for you will depend on a number of factors including your budget, the streaming services you are looking for, and the type of smartphone you own.
Apple TV will be best for those who are looking for a premium, easy-to-use streaming platform. Like all Apple products, the Apple TV is quite easy to use. Apps are easy to discover and download. It has all the top streaming services, from Netflix to Hulu to NBA League Pass, in one easy to find location. And the video quality is very good, with the top model of Apple TV streaming shows in vivid 4K HDR quality.
Apple TV has some other nice features: You can control your smart home through it, and AirPlay screen mirroring makes it easy to share whatever is on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac on your big screen. It even has non-streaming apps like games and social media apps.
The biggest drawback to the Apple TV is the price tag. Starting at $149 for the basic model and $179 for the 4K version, the Apple TV is more than three times what some of its competitors cost (although you can find it cheaper on Swappa). This will be worth it if you already have Apple devices and value high picture quality and a friendly user-interface. However, if you are just looking to stream Netflix or Hulu, you can do the same thing for cheaper on other devices.
Roku vs. Apple TV is an interesting comparison because of how different the devices are. The most basic version of Roku runs only $29, less than a fifth of what the Apple TV costs. It lacks many of the same features and perks, but it will get the job done for much cheaper. The Roku Streaming Stick+ is still less than half of the more basic model of Apple TV and boasts 4K quality.
While Roku can screen mirror an Android or Windows device, it lacks the ability to do this with any Apple devices. The user interface is perfectly fine, but lacks the simplicity and elegance of the Apple TV. If you are simply looking to stream, and want to do relatively inexpensively, the Roku is probably for you. If you don’t mind paying $100 more for a slightly better experience, then opt for the Apple TV.
The Chromecast is the most interesting device of the bunch. It starts at $35 and has no TV user interface. You control the entire thing from your mobile device or laptop. This makes the Chromecast vs Apple TV comparison a little tricky. Chromecast is ideal if you already have the ability to stream all of your content, but you just want to get it on the TV. It is very inexpensive, and very easy to set up.
The drawbacks of the Chromecast are that you have to have a mobile device or laptop capable of streaming all your content, and the lack of a centralized user interface. It can also be a little difficult to get guests set up on the Chromecast if they want to share content from their devices. However, for those who just want to move their streaming from their tablet or laptop to the big screen, the Chromecast is a great choice.
Whichever streaming device you choose, buy it on Swappa and save some money.