Roku vs Chromecast – What’s the Difference?

by Lisa Hayden
roku vs chromecast

More and more people are getting into digital entertainment. We wouldn’t blame you if you were bitten by the online streaming bug, too.

There are tons of choices for TV shows and movies online these days, it’s practically heaven right now for film and television buffs.

However, if you want the best streaming experience, you need a working media player. Two of the top picks in IPTV (internet protocol television) units today are Roku and Google’s Chromecast.

If you’ve considered either of the two but can’t decide between both units yet, maybe this article can help. Let us discuss the differences and similarities between two of these hot products.

The Similarities

  • Both Roku and Chromecast enable HD video streaming through HDMI ports that connect to Wi-Fi networks.
  • Both IPTV devices provide content from lots of free and streaming sources from web-only providers, pay TVs and networks.
  • Both devices provide user-friendly smartphone and tablet apps supporting iOS and Android systems.
  • Both units are easy to assemble.

At the moment, Roku has six devices in its fold: Roku Express, Express+, Premiere, Premiere+, Streaming Stick and the Streaming Stick+.

Next, we will discuss the differences between Roku products versus Google Chromecast.

The Assembly

Between the two, Chromecast is the easiest to set up. All you need to do is plug the device into an HDMI port, get into your Google account through Google Home and link the device to the home Wi-Fi.

You can buy or rent content using Google Play Store and to access pay-TV and streaming television channels, you need to log in through your TV or cable provider account.

Roku, on the other hand, has a setup which guides users through every step. You do need to make a Roku account first and connect it with your credit card or PayPal account to get content.

The User Interface

This is the most significant difference between the two IPTV favourites; their respective user interfaces.

Roku is designed with its operating system. Once activated, the device shows an on-screen interface with the channels, settings menu, search functions and store.

On the other hand, Chromecast does not feature any on-screen interface. The device is made to mirror another device like your smartphone, tablet or desktop screen on the television.

The Chromecast actually functions as a secondary desktop monitor. Users can control the device using the Google Home app, which supports both iOS and Android systems.

roku on tele

The Connections

As mentioned earlier, both Roku and Chromecast connect to your TV by way of the HDMI port. Roku Express+ though comes with A/V ports as well, thus it can accommodate older television models without HDMI ports.

The Image Quality

For the best TV and movie experience, they say 4K is the way to go. Roku has products like the Premier, Premier+ and Streaming Stick+ that accommodate 4K. Chromecast has it in the form of the Chromecast Ultra.

However, if your TV does not accommodate 4K yet, or you don’t have a 4K subscription, you can consider the standard Chromecast or Roku’s Express, Express +, and Streaming Stick, which supports 1080p video.

Remember, the speed of your internet connection is a factor in excellent image quality as well. Make sure that your internet speed is up to snuff at all times, so your media’s images remain crisp and clear.

The Controls

Devices from Roku feature remote controls. Premium models from the brand offer voice remote. Voice remote allows you to search for shows and movies vocally.

This remote also comes with volume controls and a power button. The brand has other remote controls for sale too like the Gaming Remote and the Enhanced Voice Remote.

Related: Why Is My Roku Remote Not Working?

To control Roku and change between different devices from the brand during use, you can download its app. The Roku app accommodates both iOS and Android systems.

Chromecast meanwhile can be managed from your smartphone or desktop computer. Keep in mind that applications like Netflix are Cast-enabled, meaning you can click on the built-in Cast button on the device to begin watching your choice streams.

run down on chromecast

The Content

Devices from Chromecast differ; this means that not every app is enabled by this IPTV device. Thus, you need to cast the whole screen manually.

And if you’re using your smartphone, better have a spare battery on hand since the casting can take a toll on your phone’s juice.

Also, apps that work with Flash, VLC, QuickTime and Silverlight will not work with Chromecast.

Roku allows its users to install beyond a million channels on their unit. While not every streaming platform provides excellent content, you can surely get your favourites from popular sources like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video and the like.

The Price

The most affordable Roku device is the standard Express model at ~$29 while the most expensive would have to be their Streaming Stick+ model, which costs ~$59.

The regular Chromecast costs ~$35 while its 4K Ultra model is priced at ~$69. The differences between these devices’ prices aren’t really significant; thus, it’s not that big a consideration.


The Choice?

Roku offers plenty of streaming solutions on the table for long-time internet media enthusiasts, while Chromecast has the basics covered, which makes it a neat device for IPTV beginners.

When it comes to choosing between Roku products and Google’s Chromecast, it will all come down to your own preferences; from exploring and streaming content to your TV and the way you want to control the device.

There are still users who prefer to have only a few devices on hand to control their TV-viewing experience while some won’t veer away from the good old workings of a remote control.

There are also people who want something different to watch or test out every night or during weekends.

If you want variety when it comes to movie and TV show selections, Roku devices are the best choice. For more straightforward setup and control, there’s always Chromecast.

In the end, your preferences matter most. Choose the one that meets your needs, always.

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