TechSpot

Quick & Dirty: Fire TV vs. Roku vs. Chromecast vs. Apple TV

By Julio Franco
Apr 21, 2014
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  1. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,623   +320

    Noticed this on the chart:
    The AppleTV does not have Amazon Instant Video, but it does have Watch ESPN.
     
    JC713 likes this.
  2. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,355   +402

    OR...you could use the streaming services on your SmartTV or blu-ray player which pretty much amounts to the same that these devices offer.

    In fact, I'm scratching my head at why you would even want one of these considering every SmartTV, blu-ray player and gaming consoles offer the same.
     
  3. NotParker

    NotParker TS Rookie Posts: 19   +6

    Quad core should be capable of running a browser. If they add a browser that can do webmail the home PC is going to die a lot quicker.
     
  4. Nobina

    Nobina TS Booster Posts: 409   +90

    Are you kidding me? Home PC won't die because of a TV with webmail support. Even dumb tablets have more function than that and they are portable toys. People who don't use PC as a toy are always gonna need proper OS with proper capabilites.
     
  5. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,018   +912

    I love my Chromecast. It is great if you dont have a Smart TV and the tab mirroring in Chrome is quite nice. That said though, I would really love it if they brought Chrome the Chromecast or at least Safari on the Apple TV since that would be of major use.
     
    SNGX1275 likes this.
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,623   +320

    @TomSEA, like JC713 said, they are a cheap add-on to a non-smart HDTV. My TV is about 8 years old. I used to have a bluray player that I did use for Netflix, but I lost that in a breakup a couple years ago. For Christmas I asked for a Bluray player, it took me 2 months to unbox it, and even though it is hooked up now I still haven't used it. With Plex Media Server on my PC, and the Plex app on my iPod touch I can play bluray rips through the Chromecast. So with my AppleTV and my Chromecast I get by without a smart-tv or bluray player. I bought the Chromecast and the ATV was a gift, but even if I had purchased them both that is $135, when to get that functionality I would have needed to replace a perfectly good HDTV, a lot more than $135.

    Unfortunately, unlike @JC713, I've had really poor performance with my Chromecast mirroring a tab in Chrome. That may be because it pretty much pegs my CPU on either my laptop or desktop. I really wanted the Chromecast for tab mirroring of live sports, but that isn't going to work. Thankfully Plex works great, otherwise I would get no use out of it.
     
    JC713 likes this.
  7. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,018   +912

    Have you tried messing with the projection quality in settings?
     
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,623   +320

    I haven't played with it too much. I'm sure it works pretty good on websites that support it, but for just straight tab mirroring of flash that I then fullscreen it just isn't even watchable. I do think I'm hardware limited on this since on mirroring it seems the host computer is doing an on the fly encoding to something the Chromecast can handle.

    Edit - Setting it to 480 had the video playing smoothish, but the audio dropped a few times on flash video. Maybe when it gets out of beta it will be better, but I'm not holding my breath.
     
  9. stateofjermaine

    stateofjermaine TS Rookie

    Wow.
     
  10. distantreality

    distantreality TS Rookie Posts: 55   +6

    I actually ran into a problem with my Fire TV....half the videos wouldn't play even half of them that I owned! Go figure it just kept telling me error 13 can't play yada yada etc...finally figured it out I had to go into settings of the amazon video application and reset the "DATA" and it started to work again!! Of course it didn't tell me that but I figured it would have been the cache not the data but oh well did both and everything works again as for gaming...sigh if it only had more storage space...as is formated it has 5.49gigs and after a couple big games and some other apps you can get cut off while streaming a video if you are over a certain amount depending on what the size of your stream is go figure lol....I still love it better than apple tv and chromecast the picture is flawless but I only stream on a 27" my apple tv never looked as good in hd as my fire does....and chromecast umm better to just get a slimport adapter atleast there are some cheaper and you can watch everything on your tablet no matter what well I have a nexus 7 fhd 2013 edition ie slimport..but got a cheap adapter on amazon and it works great! also have the chromecast but eh I don't see the point...but thats just me anyway good luck gotta get back to my laptop's os's deleted grub but mbr is still setup to run it bleh fun fun
     
     
  11. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,018   +912

    Yeah the video support is kind of lacking currently. Videos on web pages play with sound via the computer not the TV currently. Youtube works fine though. Hopefully they add a few features in the future that could enhance the device. I bet they could load up Chrome but that would kill Chromebooks.
     
  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 12,623   +320

    @distantreality - what apple tv did you have? I watch mine on a 46" tv and I think it looks really good, but mine is a 3 and will do 1080 out. If you had a 2 it was limited to 720.
     
  13. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 13,446   +324

    Love our WD TV Live. Has all the streaming stuff AND
    can access your PC shares to get Music playing while you perform a slideshow for your friends. "Smart TV"s are like DOS; single tasking while WDTV is like multitasking with threads { hmm; it's Linux inside :) }

    @TomSEA
    but the browsing/selection stinks. Viewing NetFlix via WD TV Live shows full screen width and height so scrolling is minimal and quick.
     
  14. distantreality

    distantreality TS Rookie Posts: 55   +6

    I believe mine is the same you have "MD199LL/A" I have not used it in forever...so it may have gotten better in the last year when they added the pre-purchases to cloud...
     
  15. Capaill

    Capaill TS Rookie Posts: 94   +15

    I also use a WD TV Live, accessing files on a network shared drive. It also connects to the internet for TV stations, youtube, etc but I rarely use them. Has its own remote and I also use an Android app (easier for typing). Firmware upgrades are plentiful and extremely easy as the box is connected to the internet at all times. It might not have all of the broadcasting partners that the above boxes offer but I'm not in the US so they probably wouldn't work anyway. And it works with pretty much any encoded file you can throw at it. I've been using WD media players for years, they are excellent quality.
     
  16. 0ojoyo0

    0ojoyo0 TS Rookie

    Not everyone owns a smart tv or blu-ray player or wants to use it to stream media. I have a wifi blu-ray player I much prefer these set-top boxes because of the speed. Also, I can't load XBMC on my blu-ray player. This is an example of someone living in their own world.

    Not sure about the home PC dying part, but you can sideload browsers. I've had success loading Firefox on my FTV.
     
  17. GrantOss

    GrantOss TS Rookie

    Where's the WDTV Live?? An excellent player in my opinion more flexible and versatile than Apple TV. I have been using WDTV boxes for year, and they are fantastic. Disappointed to see this product not included in the comparison. I run all my movies over Wireless-N at home with no hiccuping, stuttering etc that some of these players experience. I run up to 1080p movie files and use Mezzo DLNA server on my PC which is fantastic. WDTV FTW!!!!
     
  18. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 4,683   +86

    Nothing plays streaming best is my SONY SMP-N100 and SMP-N200 these are the best ones. Both do shared drives on your network streaming. Works with NAS, USB devices can be streamed on network. Has all the major media vendors too. Other than these two a laptop with U-IR can do the same, still might not want to turn your laptop into network media player.

    I've own WDTV, Roku XP was the last one I've tested. Chromecast weighing in both this and the SONY opt out of the Chromecast. Android tablets with Media Network Streamer can be use to HDTV. Beside these devices there are others out there.
     
  19. Well I could see it for a household like mine; we have no interest in the new game consoles or a blu ray player and haven't bought a new tv in years and years since we rarely use it but do watch netflix on our laptops and tablets, so for us the roku whether it's the box or stick would seem a good idea for us
     


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