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Roku Streaming Stick vs. Chromecast: Which dongle should dangle from your TV?

Lincoln Spector | Dec. 1, 2014
Last fall, Google released the first pint-sized streaming device: the $35 Chromecast. The $50 Roku Streaming Stick soon followed. They look like flash drives, both plug directly into an HDMI port, and both are reasonably priced. You can access a huge selection of online streaming services with either device, which you can control via a smartphone or tablet.

You must unplug the stick from power to avod this problem. Each has a micro-USB port that you connect via cable to a USB power adapter or a powered USB port on your HDTV. Note that if you do plug your Chromecast or Roku Streaming Stick into a USB port on your TV, it will only get power when your television is on.

Who wins? Nobody. It's a tie.

Startup time

If you power your stick through the TV's USB port, it will have to go through its startup routine each time you use it. And that means you'll have to wait a bit — but not too long.

In my tests, the Chromecast started up in about 24 seconds. The Roku took almost a minute and a half. The Roku tries to entertain you with an animated logo while you're waiting, but that gets old quickly.

Who wins? No contest here — the Chromecast wins.

The final analysis

Roku won two categories, Chromecast two more, and the fifth is a tie, so it really comes down to personal preference. I own both of these, but I seldom use the Chromecast outside of testing. The physical remote plays an important part in my choice, as does the wider selection of apps.

If your tastes are more esoteric, if you want pay-per-view choices, or if you prefer a physical remote control, Roku makes the superior device. Otherwise, save $15 and go with the Chromecast.


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