Roku and Chromecast are media streaming devices that bring in content that you can watch on your HD television from a wide range of services, such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube and several others.
Chromecast is available in a stick or dongle form, whereas Roku comes in three versions of Roku 3, Roku 2 and Roku 1, with the last two being in stick form and the first one in a set top box form. The HDMI port of the TV can directly hold the sticks when plugged.
The dongle is available for just $35, but the negative aspect is that it doesn’t have a remote of its own. You must use your phone, your laptop, tablet or PC as a remote for controlling and navigation purposes. The Cast feature starts to show the apps that are supported, so you just press it and the Netflix video begins to show up.
The Roku stick version costs about $50, but it also has a remote control and offers all the functionalities of the flagship version, Roku 3. It offers plenty of good content, as the service has been available for a long time.
Content or Apps Available
Both the devices have Netflix and YouTube as also Pandora and Hulu Plus. However, there are some differences in the content available. Roku comes with an app for HBO Go, but it doesn’t work for users who are Comcast customers. Chroemcast offers HBO Go as long as you pay up a subscription. Regarding Amazon Prime Instant, Roku offers support, whereas Chromecast does not. Chromecast also does not offer support natively for Spotify, but you can access it with third party applications. Both the devices offer support for WatchESPN and UFC, whereas NFL Now is not available for Chromecast. In short, Roku offers the maximum sports services, but Chromecast is fast catching up.
If you consider the number of apps or services, Roku is the better device, so it would be better to check out if your favorite apps are available on the device before purchasing one or the other.
Chromecast supports 2.4 GigaHertz, 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. On the other hand, Roku offers support for double band 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi combined with 2.4 GigaHertz or 5 GigaHertz. As far as RAM is concerned, it really doesn’t matter much in the case of Chromecast. All the content is being played from the web, so the 512 GB of RAM along with the 2 GigaByte of storage in Chromecast is sufficient. However, Roku downloads data from channels, and comes with only 512 MegaBytes RAM with 256 MegaBytes Flash Storage. This means that you could face a shortage of space for downloading new channels very quickly.
Control and Mirroring
Chromecast has no remote control but Roku has a sturdy remote control. Both the devices offer support for screen mirroring, so that users can display the content on their phone screen or their PC screen on to the TV. Chromecast offers support for such mirroring using Chrome browser or through a few Android phones. Roku uses Miracast for mirror, but both the devices cannot mirror iPhones. However, the mirroring feature in both is still a little choppy and is not a key feature.
Not sure which one to opt for? Well, that depends on your requirements. Both the devices have their benefits and cons. If you watch lots of videos on your smartphone or from your iPad, Chromecast could be the best option, as many other mobile apps also support casting. However, if you want the conventional television experience, you could opt for Roku.