Fire TV's best

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Roku's best

Roku Streaming Stick+

The Fire TV Stick 4K has nearly every spec you want in a streaming device. Really, the only thing missing is YouTube and YouTube TV, thanks to a feud with Google.

$49 at Amazon

Pros

  • 4K resolution, Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos
  • New and improved remote control
  • Great price

Cons

  • Doesn't play nice with Google video

Roku is inexpensive and easy to use. The Streaming Stick+ has easy access to YouTube and YouTube TV, but lacks support for Dolby Vision HDR.

$59 at Amazon

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Has nearly every service available

Cons

  • Lacks Dolby Vision support

Choosing between the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick+ really is more about choosing an ecosystem than hardware. There's near-parity between the two products, and the real question is about which trade-off you want to make.

Pick your stick ...

For most folks, one of these two devices is what we'd recommend if you're going with a basic streaming stick over either Amazon or Roku's top-of-the-line offerings. (Actually, I argue that the Fire TV Stick 4K is Amazon's too-of-the-line offering.)

They're nearly in line when it comes to specs. Really the only difference you need to know about is that the Roku Streaming Stick+ doesn't have support for the Dolby Vision flavor of HDR. It still does HDR 10, but Dolby Vision is just better. If your TV supports Dolby Vision, then you want your streaming device to also support Dolby Vision.

Fire TV
Stick 4K
Roku
Streaming Stick+
Price $49 $59
OS Fire TV OS Roku OS
Resolution 4K 4K
Dolby Vision Yes No
Dolby Atmos Yes Yes
HDR 10 Yes Yes
Wifi 802.11ac 802.11ac
Ethernet No No
SD card No No

The other side of the trade-off coin, however, comes on the services side. Roku has pretty much every streaming service available. That includes Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube TV. But Roku doesn't do HDHomerun, if that's what you rely on for over-the-air TV.

Amazon Fire TV, on the other hand, doesn't do YouTube or YouTube TV, because it's still fighting with Google. That's probably not a deal-breaker for most folks, but it is something to know going in.

Me? I'd recommend either one of these sticks. Dolby Vision is important if you've got a TV that does Dolby Vision. And YouTube TV is important if you use YouTube TV.

In other words, pick the one that works best for you, and it'll work best for you.

Fire TV's best

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

This is the Fire TV you want to buy.

If you're going with Amazon Fire TV, this is the stick you want to get. Full stop.

Roku's best

Roku Streaming Stick+

Nearly every spec you need in one little stick.

Roku's platform remains beautifully simple to use, with access to pretty much all the content you want.

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