This can be a very confusing category. There appears to be a “million” choices out there. Let me attempt to simply the selection process.
For this post I’m going to break down the major players:
- Roku Devices
- Android TV Devices
- Apple TV
- Amazon Firestick
- Everything else.
First, let’s talk about Roku. Roku has had a steaming box on the market since 2008. They are by far the easiest to use and are very robust. Roku controls about 50% of the Streaming device marketplace and it was recently reported that 1 in 4 smart TV’s sold in the US are Roku TV’s. So…Roku pretty much owns this market. Here’s the article:
In 2018 1 in 4 Smart TVs Sold in The U.S. Was a Roku TV – Cord Cutters News
Next, Android TV devices. This is a HUGE category due to the number of manufactures in China that build Android boxes. However, we can easily narrow this category down by only looking at Google Certified Android TV devices. Regardless of how many “China built” boxes say that they’re Google Certified, don’t fall for that. For years, China has been selling boxes into the US with Spyware and other malware programs built in- designed to pirate the IPTV streams that you are watching and provide that data back to them.
They’re not going to tell you the truth as to whether their box is certified. So how do you know? Easy, go to Android.com/TV and look at devices. Two boxes that do very well here in the US are the MiBox and the Nvidia Sheild.
Apple TV. This is a tough pill for Apple lovers to swallow: Apple TV is irrelevant.
Apple shot themselves in the foot early on by being very restrictive of content…and it doesn’t help that their box costs $150. Even Apple users are buying Rokus.
The way things are going with Amazons Firestick, there are few manufacturers that are concerned with them as competition. For most owners…they will go straight into the trash within a couple of years. They are poorly built, overheat and struggle with traditional channel guides because the don’t have the processing power. They’re ‘cheap’ for a reason. By comparison, my first Roku (Roku 2) was purchased in 2011 and has been problem free and still works perfectly.
Everything else. We’ll talk about Googles Chrome cast here. The first thing to understand about the Chrome cast dongle is that it is designed to allow you to “cast” from you browser or phone to your TV. Apps are limited, but if you cast a lot…it’s probably not a bad way to go. But if you prefer to watch Netflix, Hulu and a host other Android TV focused products…you may not like Chrome cast. To keep is simple. Stick with a Certified Android TV device or a Roku device.