Media streamers have been around for many years, yet there are a lot of people who do not know what this product is, the benefits of using one and the different options available to potential customers. 

What non-media streamer users need to understand is that these products offer an inexpensive alternative to being stuck in a contract with Cox, Direct TV and Dish.  One would think that if there is a way to watch TV programs at an affordable price, contracts are non-existent and not having to be concerned regarding expensive or extensive installations; this is something that is worth learning about. 

There are two media streamers that are worth discussing and they are the Roku Streaming Stick second generation and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.  Our conversation today will be taking about defining both products, comparing the two and which would be the better choice.

What are Media Streaming Sticks?

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When looking at media streamers, they are modernized units that have the capacity to deliver streaming content and the internet to a television directly.  There are media streamers that deliver other content, such as movie files or music, that are stored on a computer or hard drive. 

Although these units are normally set-top boxes that would sit by or under the TV, the media stick is different in that the unit is small, rectangular and directly plugs into an HDMI port that is located on the side of a high definition TV.  This configuration is preferable in that it is easier to take with you to a hotel or someone else’s home and then access the streaming stick than to take the box with you. 

Also, the media streamers provide content that contain free apps/channels as well as some require a monthly fee; however, the prices are less expensive and with no contracts, users can stop their monthly payments whenever they wish.

Roku 2nd Generation Media Stick Overview

While I can go into the intricate details and specs of the two devices, our discussion will not be so detailed that it would put many readers to sleep or just abandon the discussion.  What I will say that the second-generation Roku Streaming Stick is much faster than the original since it contains a quad-core processor instead of the original which had only a single-core processor. 

Since I have both Roku Streaming Sticks, I will say that the newer version is much faster in starting up, searching for content and in playing the selected content.  Although the non-media streamers offer the user plenty of channels to see, including options of seeing TV programs and movies from decades ago, the cost involved in obtaining these channels would leave an unwelcome taste in the mouths of those on a fixed income. 

Another thing to consider is that even though the programs a customer may want to watch are available, the content cannot easily be obtained to watch.  One must wait for the day and time that program can be watched before seeing it which today, customers want access to programming on their time instead of having to wait. 

Media streamers provide this type of control to watch something pretty much in the hands of the watcher, so the Roku Stick accomplishes this successfully.   Furthermore, I have used both generations of the Roku stick and am pleased with being exposed to more content at an affordable price; however, this made me curious to see if Roku was the best media streamer stick available or would the Amazon Fire TV Stick surpass it.

Amazon Fire TV Stick Overview

Both versions of the Roku Media Streaming Sticks are quite affordable and the Amazon Fire TV Stick is no different in this regard.  Since I consider myself a passionate tech user, it was worth making the investment in obtaining Amazon’s version of the media streamer stick and I must say that so far, I am not disappointed in acquiring it.  Immediately, I could see that the interface was quicker to use and while it says the stick only uses two cores instead of four, the RAM is roughly doubled which would explain how it seemed quicker than the Roku. 

The search features on both sticks can be inputted with their remotes (Amazon’s is quicker) and the Roku has an app where you can use your smartphone or tablet as the remote to do voice searches.  Yet, Amazon does not need an app as a voice interface as the remote has a microphone button and pressing it allows you to search with your voice; having the microphone button on the remote makes searching somewhat quicker rather than first needing to open the Roku app to accomplish this.  Even though both media sticks will give the user access to streaming content, the Amazon Fire TV Stick stands out because of having something Roku does not; Alexa.

Alexa Rocks…

Though both media sticks will suffice in allowing you access to streaming content, the ability to be able to use Alexa is the game changer as far as I am concerned.  Anyone who does not know who Alexa is needs to research her importance to Amazon before purchasing this product.  However, I will quickly explain that she is a personal non-human assistant that helps users of tech in many ways and is associated with certain products that must be purchased. 

The fact that Alexa can be used with a media streamer helps to cut down on the time it would take to locate specific content significantly.  I quickly tested this out by using Alexa Search to ask for content by an actor’s name, genre as well as the title of a movie and within in seconds, choices of contact appeared before my eyes!  While the ability to do this alone gives Roku a run for their money, there are other uses that make Alexa stand apart from the competition.

Now, if everyone in this conversation knew everything that Alexa can do, I would have just mentioned she comes with the Fire TV Stick and move on with the discussion.  Since I feel this is not the case, it is important to understand that searching with Alexa is not limited to just finding movies, actors/actresses, TV shows, genres; she can assist in finding other useful information.  Instead of searching for a weather channel to find out the weather, just ask her and she will give it to you quickly.  Looking for information about a certain United States President?  Ask Alexa and she will be happy to provide you the information.

Roku 2nd Generation Streaming Stick or Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa?

When making a choice between the two media streamers, there is no easy answer as everyone’s needs differ from each other.  Both provide HD 1080p, so the picture quality would not be an issue.  Those looking for 4K video quality, there are streamers that can accommodate this but neither of these products would be able to.  Both devices will be able to provide plenty of content to stream from and searching for it will not be time consuming.  Roku’s remote can be used to do a physical search using the virtual keyboard on the TV and using the app can allow the user to do a search using your voice. 

Nevertheless, anyone who has experience using an Alexa enabled device should go with the Amazon Fire TV Stick with Alexa access.  Since I have and continue to use several Alexa enabled devices, the Fire Stick is a more enjoyable experience than the Roku for me because it is faster, more intuitive and being able to access Alexa has added to my enjoyment with streaming media. 

Finally, I encourage those who have not tried to use a media streamer to research and try it.  The result will be having control of your entertainment so that contracts become a thing of your past, access to content for free or at a fraction of a price and watch something when you want instead of having to wait for your content to be shown.

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Seth Horowitz
Seth is an avid tech writer who currently lives in Las Vegas, NV. While he always had a passion for writing, his original goal was to combine business and writing and go into Advertising, but that didn't happen quite how he planned. He decided to go into education and became an English teacher in Brooklyn, NY. After teaching for many years, he made the move to the Las Vegas area in 2008 where he began his new career as a freelance writer, and has been doing so for over six years.