Media Player Buying Guide: A Comparison of Four Streaming Devices | Smart Systems

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Media Player Buying Guide: A Comparison of Four Streaming Devices

Media players are all the rage in 2019, quickly replacing the more traditional ways of consuming television, movies, music, and games with devices that you can easily connect to your WiFi and television. But not all media players are created equally. Depending on what you want to do with a streaming device, certain devices may suit your needs over others. I’ve put together a list of four of the best contenders for 2019 and compared them so you don’t have to do the work.

So Which Media Player Should You Buy?

First of all, it is worth noting that there are other streaming devices out there outside of Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, and Google Chromecast. However, these four devices are the biggest ones in the game and are the most widely available for purchase.

Apple TV

Apple TV 4K has been a work in progress for quite a while. Thankfully, Apple finally decided to manufacture a 4K HDR video streamer. This device retails for around $199 and includes the device itself along with a chrome remote control.

The quality you get with this device in the visual sense is unlike any other. HDR10 and Dolby Vision support Apple TV 4K’s imaging, and Siri is included. You’ll be able to execute pretty much any action you’d like via voice command, totally hands-free. It’s really never been easier to watch TV.

The only major con to this device is, of course, that price tag. You’ll be paying a lot, and Apple does not have the biggest selection of streaming apps for the device. Many apps aren’t even updated for 4K as of yet.

Roku

Currently, Roku Premier+ (the 2018 version) is the most popular Roku device out now. Roku Premier+ retails for around $49.99. It boasts crystal clear 4K, HDR, and HD video quality. Complete with a simple remote control, you can access hundreds of apps, not limited to YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu.

The biggest benefit here is that it is inexpensive, and it’s ultra fast in the performance department. It also boasts voice remote capabilities that don’t require a line of sight. Just say the command, and you can control your television hands-free.

The only downside to this device is that you can only use the voice feature for searching. There is not a virtual assistant available with Roku technology.

Amazon Fire

Right now everyone is talking about Amazon’s newest streaming device: the Fire TV Cube, which is currently on the market for $79.99. Like with the Apple TV, you get complete hands-free control with Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Cube has loads of pre-connected apps and services.

The biggest pro of the Amazon Fire is its incredible voice control system. The microphone can literally understand your voice over loud TV audio, and voice control works for both smart home devices and home theaters.

A pretty big downside to the Amazon Fire TV Cube, though, is its lack of support for Google Play content. It also does not boast Dolby Vision capability. And while the voice control system is fantastic, some customers have complained about Alexa getting a little confused by syntax at times.

Google Chromecast

The newest addition to the Chromecast family is Google’s Chromecast Ultra. Currently, this device retails around $69.99.

For those unfamiliar with Chromecast, it is a bit unique when compared to chunky physical systems like Roku or the Fire TV Cube. Chromecasts simply make it easier to cast apps and videos from a secondary device, like a handheld phone or tablet, and display it on a home entertainment system.

The ethernet port on this device allows for smooth and very reliable 4K streaming. When considering 4K streaming options, the Chromecast Ultra is actually pretty cheap. Roku still takes the cake for value, but Chromecast is a close second. It’s also very small and not aesthetically disruptive. It can simply fit behind your television set, out of sight.

Of course, part of what makes the Chromecast so compact is also what gives it some downsides. You have to have a smartphone, laptop, or tablet in order to stream anything with the Chromecast. The Ultra is almost twice as expensive as the 1080p version of Chromecast as well.

Conclusion

Apple TV is worth looking into if you’re a die-hard, dedicated customer of Apple. It’s also worth considering if you want the most crystal clear, intensely high definition streaming device available. But if you’re not looking to spend a lot of cash, Apple TV may not be a great selection.

The Roku Premier+ might be your best bet if you want an ultra-simple streaming device for a low price point. If you’re not interested in the bells and whistles, Roku may be right for you.

The Amazon Fire TV Cube is a great contender if you want the luxury of extremely responsible voice control. This streaming device is great for people with disabilities, as the voice control system is nearly perfect. It’s also fairly inexpensive as well.

Google Chromecast is the best option if you want something compact and effective. Chromecasts are extremely dependable, so once you get past the learning curve of casting, you can pretty much expect this device to work perfectly.

I hope this guide has helped you decide which streaming device makes the most sense for you and reduces your risk of choosing something that doesn’t suit your viewing needs.

About the Author

Noah
Noah is the Director of Engineering & Sales at Smart Systems. He has been with the company since 2006. Noah lives in Chattanooga with his wife and two sons.

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