Roku vs Firestick: The Ultimate Streaming Guide 2023
You want to be able to watch all of your favorite shows, videos and movies, but you’re not sure which streaming device is best for you.
It can be tough trying to decide which streaming device is right for you. Roku and Fire TV are two of the most popular devices on the market, but they both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks.
AirBeamTV has created a helpful media streamer guide that compares Roku vs Firestick so that you can make an informed decision about which device is best for your needs. Discover it below.
Are you looking for a way to take your home entertainment to the next level? Try this screen mirroring Roku app for Android for free today! Enjoy all your favorite content on the big screen.
Interested in casting from iPhone and iPad to Fire TV or Roku ? Try the AirBeamTV iOS app for free today!
Table of contents
- Roku vs Firestick: The Ultimate Streaming Guide 2023
- What is Roku?
- What is a Fire Stick?
- Roku vs Firestick Pros & Cons
- Roku vs Firestick models: The ultimate winner
- Screen Mirroring Apps
- Roku Express 4k
- Fire TV Stick 4k
- Roku vs Firestick – Express 4k and Stick 4k
- Roku Streaming Stick 4k
- Fire Stick 4k Max
- Roku vs Firestick – Streaming Stick 4k and Stick 4k Max
- Roku Ultra
- Fire TV Cube
- Is Fire TV Cube Better Than Roku Ultra?
- What are the alternatives to Roku vs Firestick?
- What Else Should I Know? Roku vs Firestick FAQ
- Good Questions and Useful Answers
What is Roku?
First things first. Let’s describe the meaning of this American product.
Roku is a streaming device that allows you to watch your favorite shows, movies, and more on your TV. It’s easy to set up and use, and sometimes it comes with a remote so you can control everything from the comfort of your couch.
And if you’re looking for something specific, you can use the Roku Search feature to find it quickly and easily. So whether you’re a cord-cutter or just want more options for watching TV, Roku is a great choice. Get the best online deals for Roku on Amazon today.
What is a Fire Stick?
Here’s the definition of the Amazon Firestick:
A Firestick is a small electronic device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV. It allows you to stream movies, TV shows, music, and other content from the internet.
The Firestick connects to your home’s WiFi network and uses the internet to download and stream content. You can also use it to play games, listen to music, and more.
The Amazon Firestick is an affordable and easy way to watch your favourite shows and movies without having to subscribe to a cable or satellite TV service.
Roku vs Firestick Pros & Cons
If you want to find some general pros and cons of Roku and Firestick systems, this is the place!
+ App-focused and ad-free interface.
+ A lot of apps and channels available for you.
+ Roku app with a remote, voice search, channel control and Private Listening.
– No smart home integration.
+ You can use the remote to operate smart home devices.
+ Great if you’re already an Amazon user.
– A lot of ads on the interface.
Roku vs Firestick models: The ultimate winner
The best 4k streaming device between Roku vs Firestick models is the Fire TV Stick 4k Max.
With this amazing media-streamer, you get a lot of power and all of the apps you need – all at an affordable price.
Screen Mirroring Apps
Want to get the very best home-entertainment experience with your Roku or Firestick? Check out the revolutionary apps from AirBeamTV!
With these free to download applications, you enjoy a useful feature on your streaming device, which is: screen mirroring.
Cast to Fire TV
AirBeamTVs app is a great way to connect your iPhone, iPad or Mac to Amazon Fire TV. The app allows you to cast to a Firestick for example. This is great if you want to watch a movie, series or TV show on your big screen TV. The app also allows you to stream music and podcasts from your device to your TV, meaning you can listen to them through your home entertainment system. In addition, AirBeamTVs app offers a number of other features such as the ability to cast videos and photos from your device to your TV.
And the best thing is: You can try it for free today.
Cast To Roku
If you’re looking for a way to mirror to Roku, AirBeamTV’s app is the best choice. Here’s why:
- It’s simple and straightforward to use. Just open the app and select your Roku from the list of available devices.
- It supports Full HD 1080p mirroring, so you’ll be able to see everything on your screen in stunning detail.
- There’s no need to fiddle with cables or wires – the mirroring process is completely wireless.
- The app is constantly being updated with new features and improvements.
- It has a free trial!
So if you’re looking for an app that will let you mirror your screen to a Roku device, AirBeamTV is the best choice.
Roku Video Tutorial
Not convinced yet? Check out the screen mirror vlog below. Simon explains everything step-by-step in less than 5 minutes. He also tells what you can do with it.
Want to cast Android to Firestick? AirBeamTV has a screen mirroring app for that too. Discover the brand-new Fire TV & Firestick Mirroring app. It works on any Android phone or tablet. It’s free today!
Experience your favourite apps, relive memories by mirroring photos and videos, and do much more with AirBeamTV apps for Roku and Firestick. Experience the apps for free and find out how they can improve your home entertainment!
Roku Express 4k
How much is Roku Express 4k?
Roku Express 4k cost $34.
Roku Express 4k packs 1GB of RAM and WiFi 5 capabilities. You can expect fairly good loading and response times. Nothing lightning-speed, but still very satisfactory given the low price of the device.
Picture-wise, Express 4k packs HDR10 support. You get no HDR10+ or Dolby Vision support, though.
Roku Express 4k supports Dolby Atmos, giving you 3D-like surround sound.
You can setup your Roku Express 4k in a few very simple steps:
- Plug Roku Express 4k to the power socket via the attached charging cable.
- Insert your Roku into the HDMI plug on your TV.
- Choose the same HDMI plug on your TV.
- Connect your Roku to WiFi.
- Finalise the configuration steps.
- Sign in with your Roku account, or create one.
- Set up your payment method via Roku Pay. You won’t be charged until you decide to make a purchase with Roku.
Set your Roku Express 4k in direct sight of the remote. You can place it on your TV stand, or stick it to your unit with a removable adhesive strip that’s comes with the device.
With Roku Express 4k remote, you get pretty limited functionalities compared to other options on this list.
First off, you’ll need to have both the Roku and your traditional TV remotes with you when watching content. Express 4k remote doesn’t come with volume control buttons.
Additionally, it has no voice search capabilities. It means you have to look everything up manually. And you know it can be a struggle, even on the best-designed interface!
The remote includes four quick access app keys for Spotify, Netflix, Apple TV + and Rakuten TV. You can’t program them to turn on the apps you’re actually interested in.
Apart from these lacks, you can expect a lovely, smooth experience of using the Roku Express 4k remote. It sits well in your hand and the buttons are responsive.
How to connect remote to Roku Express 4k
- Put the included batteries into the remote.
- The remote should connect automatically.
- If not, press and hold the button next to the battery compartment until the light next to it flashes.
Browsing through Roku interface is a smooth experience. Additionally, the apps will automatically arrange themselves based on how often you use them!
Apps on Roku
When you buy into Roku, you get ALL of the apps. That means all of your favourites – Netflix, Spotify, Disney Plus and more.
App availability is definitely Roku’s strongest selling points. But it also means you get a lot of very weird channels, most of which aren’t more than an oddity.
If you feel limited by Roku Express 4k remote, but still want a 4k experience for cheap, take a look at Roku app.
It gives you access to a smartphone remote control. Use your phone keyboard for an easier search experience.
Roku App remote has a voice search option. This is especially important since the physical Roku Express 4k remote doesn’t have that functionality.
Another great thing about Roku App is the Private Listening function. Now you can watch movies late at night with your headphones connected to your streaming device through the app!
Fire TV Stick 4k
How much Fire TV Stick 4k is?
Fire TV Stick 4k costs $49.99.
Fire TV Stick 4k packs 1.5GB of RAM and WiFi 5 support – a solid package that’s necessary for streaming high-quality content.
No surprise – Stick 4k supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG, as well as Dolby Atmos when it comes to sound.
The device packs quite a punch, but the price reflects that. It is much more expensive than Roku Express 4k.
Not sure what those things mean? Check out our Smart TV buying guide where our experts explain all the TV tech in simple terms!
- Plug your Firestick into an HDMI port on your TV.
- Plug the power cable into the Firestick and then into the power socket.
- Connect your remote.
- Pick your language and connect to your WiFi.
- Wait for the updates to download.
- You’re done!
How To Mirror iPhone to Firestick?
Fire TV Stick 4k comes with Alexa Voice Remote. It gives you all of the options and functionalities you need – importantly it has volume control. There are also four app shortcut buttons – Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu and Disney Plus.
But the biggest advantage of the remote comes in form of Alexa voice control. With it, you not only control your Fire TV, but also can set it up to operate your smart home devices.
Are you having problems with your remote control? Then take a look at this handy article in which our expert explains what to do if your Firestick remote is not working.
Fire TV’s User Interface is very content-focused, as opposed to app-focused. It shows you content based on your viewing history.
Up to six profiles
You can add up to six separate profiles on a single Fire TV Stick 4k. Each of them will have its own separate recommendations based on the owner’s viewing history.
Luna is Amazon’s own cloud gaming service. If you have a Prime account, it’s completely free! There are some optional gaming channels that you can add at an extra cost, for example a Retro game channel. Luna also allows you to stream directly to Twitch.
Although it certainly is a nice addition to your Prime account, it has a pretty limited game library. It comes out very weak, especially when compared to Google Stadia.
It also requires a very strong and stable Internet connection – Fire TV Stick 4k’s WiFi 5 might not always be enough!
Roku vs Firestick – Express 4k and Stick 4k
Fire Stick 4k has slightly better support and specs than Roku Express 4k.
Roku, however knocks it out of the park when it comes to the sheer number of apps. Their extra functionality in form of the Roku app is also a great addition. With it, you can use the remote on your smartphone and have the Private Listening experience.
All of that at a much cheaper price!
Roku Express 4k is our winner!
Roku Streaming Stick 4k
How much Roku Streaming Stick 4k is?
Roku Streaming Stick 4k will set you back $49.99.
With Roku Streaming Stick 4k, you get to enjoy Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and 4k support. These are all the things you need for a top-of-line viewing experience.
Sound-wise, with Roku Streaming Stick 4k, you get DTS and Dolby Atmos support.
But, it only has WiFi 5 support, 1GB of RAM and no native Ethernet plug. You will need a strong wireless network connection to be able too carry all of those amazing sound and picture features.
With average WiFi speeds, you can expect this Roku stick to take a while to load.
The setup process for Roku Streaming Stick 4k is pretty much the same as in case of Roku Express 4k. Except, you won’t need an HDMI cable to connect it to the TV. Instead, you plug the stick in directly.
If you don’t have space to fit the stick, Roku offers a free HDMI extender. Order it separately here.
Roku Streaming Stick 4k comes with a Roku Voice Remote. The design is the same as the Roku Express 4k remote – it’s sleek, sits well in your hand and is easy to use.
The biggest step-ups? Voice search and volume control buttons.
The main complain about the remote is that it works best with streamable video content. But when you try to look up music, it can turn up unsatisfactory results.
What is more, you can’t control your smart home appliances with it.
Just like Roku Express 4k, the remote has four app shortcut buttons for Netflix, Spotify, Apple TV + and Rakuten TV. And you can’t configure them.
Roku Streaming Stick 4k +
Roku Streaming Stick 4k + sounds like a new product. But in fact, you’re getting the exact same streaming device, and a slightly upgraded remote control.
The Voice Remote Pro is rechargeable nad comes with two buttons, which you can personalize.
Roku Streaming Stick 4k + costs $69.99, while the Voice Remote Pro goes for $29.99.
How To Mirror Mac To Roku?
Easily mirror your iPhone, MacBook, iPad or Android screen to your Roku device with the AirBeamTV Mirror for Roku app! It works on all Roku streaming devices, from the cheapest Roku Express, to the most expensive Roku Ultra.
Roku Streaming Stick has the typical Roku UI. Browsing it is a smooth and pleasant experience. And, you get all of the apps you need.
A definite downside are the wallpapers you can pick as the background of the interface. They’re just… kind od unappealing. You can also expect some ads, but nothing too pushy. These two drawbacks are definitely not deal-breakers, though.
Just like Roku Express 4k, you can also get the Roku app for Roku Streaming Stick 4k. It has all the same functionalities throughout the board.
Fire Stick 4k Max
How much is Fire Stick 4k Max?
Fire Stick 4k Max costs $ 60,-.
Fire TV Stick 4k Max comes with the same Alexa Voice Remote as the Fire TV Stick 4k.
It’s a powerful voice control tool, with which you can operate your smart home appliances as well as your Fire TV, of course!
Fire TV Stick 4k Max has all the same TV specs as Fire TV Stick 4k. It supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Atmos.
Where it’s different is the guts. With 2GB of RAM, a better CPU and WiFi 6 support, it offers a smoother browsing experience as well as faster loading times across the board. It’s said to have 40% more computing power than Fire TV Stick 4k.
- Plug your Firestick into an HDMI port on your TV.
- Plug the power cable into the Firestick and then into the power socket.
- Connect your remote.
- Pick your language and connect to your WiFi.
- Wait for the updates to download.
- You’re done!
While Fire Stick 4k Max has the same features as the Stick 4k, it can get you to your content faster and smoother. Compared to Roku’s more premium 4k streaming device, Firestick just gives you way more.
Roku vs Firestick – Streaming Stick 4k and Stick 4k Max
Fire Stick 4k Max offers a lot more power at only five extra dollars. You get faster Internet capabilities and smoother browsing.
If that matters to you, opt for the Firestick. But if you’re looking to save up a couple of bucks, then opt for Roku Streaming Stick 4k.
It still packs great features, plus the Private Listening function can ba a make-or-break for you, depending on your viewing habits.
Because of how powerful it is, our final winner is Fire Stick 4k Max!
However, of you’re looking to spend $50 and choosing between Fire Stick 4k and Roku Streaming Stick 4k – pick the second one!
How much is Roku Ultra?
Roku Ultra cost $99.99.
Roku Ultra is a much bigger device than Express 4k or Streaming Stick 4k. With size, you get bigger power.
The Ultra model boasts 2GB of RAM and WiFi 5 support. That makes it the most powerful device from this manufacturer on this list. With it, you’ll get pretty much no lag when browsing the interface. The loading times will also be very short.
With the latest Roku Ultra models you get 2GB of internal memory. Older models only have 1GB.
Roku Ultra supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and 4k.
For sound, it supplies you with Digital Stereo, DTS, Dolby Audio and Dolby Atmos support.
Roku Ultra setup follows the same steps as any other device from this producer.
- Plug it into an HDMI socket.
- Plug it into a power source.
- Connect the remote.
- Connect Roku Ultra to WiFi.
- Finalize configuration.
- Sign up for or create a Roku account.
You don’t have to place your Roku Ultra in direct view of the remote. It works on Bluetooth. You can hide the box behind your TV.
You get the Roku Voice Remote Pro with your Roku Ultra. It’s the same one that comes with Roku Streaming Stick 4k +.
You get voice control as well as two programmable buttons. Assign specific functions to them, for example ‘turn on Netflix’ or even ‘show me Idris Elba movies’. You can also configure the buttons with voice search.
Roku Ultra carries several sweet extra features.
To stream 4k content with HDR10+, you need a powerful Internet connection. WiFi sometimes doesn’t cut it.
With Roku Ultra, you get a built-in Ethernet plug. Use it to create a beast of a streaming machine!
Remote call button
Remotes get lost quite easily, don’t they? With Roku Ultra, you can easily find your Voice Remote Pro by pressing a button on the streaming box.
MicroSD card slot
One of the biggest flaws of all streaming devices is their tiny storage. Roku Ultra has a built-in MicroSD card slot, with which you can expand its capabilities and download more apps.
If you want to take advantage of the amazing Private Listening feature, but have no headgear for it, look no further. Roku Ultra includes a pair of JBL earbuds, which is definitely a nice touch.
Fire TV Cube
How much is Fire TV Cube?
Fire Cube cost $119.99.
Fire Cube includes the same Alexa Voice Remote as the two other Fire TV models we’ve discussed.
Fire TV Cube will give you a beefed-up performance. That means smoother browsing and even faster loading times than the already fast Fire TV Stick 4k Max.
It has 2GB of RAM, a powerful CPU and WiFi 5 support. It also gives you 16 GB of internal storage for all your apps.
Fire Cube supports Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Atmos.
- Pick a spot that’s around two feet from any speakers.
- Plug Fire TV Cube into your TV’s HDMI port.
- Plug Fire TV Cube into a power socket with a provided cable.
- Turn your TV on and pick the correct HDMI port.
- Put batteries inside the Alexa Voice Remote – it will connect automatically.
- Press the ‘Home’ button in case the remote doesn’t connect automatically.
- Connect to your WiFi.
- Sign in to your Amazon account.
Cast Mac To Fire TV
With the AirBeamTV Mirror for Fire TV app, you can effortlessly mirror your iPhone, iPad, MacBook screen directly to your Firestick or Fire TV Cube.
Fire TV Cube has microphones built into its structure. With them, you can move around Fire TV without a remote, instead using just your voice. You don’t even have to get up from your couch!
To offset the weaker WiFi connection, Fire TV Cube has a built-in Ethernet plug. This is especially important if you plan on streaming a lot of high-quality 4k content.
Is Fire TV Cube Better Than Roku Ultra?
Roku Ultra and Fire TV Cube support the same picture and sound options, WiFi 5 support and RAM.
Roku Ultra has a less powerful CPU, reaching up to 1.2 GHz, compared to Cube’s 1.5 GHz. The storage capacities are also way different on both devices. Fire TV Cube boasts 16GB, while Roku Ultra only has between 1 and 2 GB.
That means you will need to use that MicroSD slot on your Roku! Otherwise you won’t be able to install too many apps.
You can use the far-field microphones on your Fire TV Cube for a true hands-free experience. You can also operate your smart home with it.
A huge draw for Roku Ultra is its $99.99 price point, compared to Cube’s $119.99. But keep in mind that you will have to get a separate SD card for your Roku device.
Private Listening is definitely a nice touch and so are the included JBL earbuds.
Roku Ultra’s extra features seem to either be covering up its flaws, or giving you something extra.
With Fire TV Cube, you get a more powerful machine with additional features that can truly make a difference.
Fire TV Cube is our winner.
What are the alternatives to Roku vs Firestick?
Although Firestick and Roku are the leading streaming devices, they’re not the only ones.
Apple TV is also a good option, especially if you have other Apple devices. Check out our comparison guide of Apple TV vs Samsung Smart TV to learn more about the functionalities of Apple’s streaming device.
Another great streamer is Chromecast with Google TV. It’s a solid device with great UI and additional options.
Finally, you can simply buy a Smart TV that’s equipped with all the apps and connectivity you need. But this will be a bigger cost than the price of a Roku or Firestick device.
What Else Should I Know? Roku vs Firestick FAQ
Do I have to pay to activate Roku or Firestick?
No, you only pay for the hardware itself.
You don’t have to pay for the activation process of Roku and Firestick devices. If you have to create an Amazon or Roku account to finalise the process, that will also be free.
Do I have to pay to download apps on Roku vs Firestick?
While some apps might cost money, all your streaming favorites, such as Netflix, HBO Max or Spotify are free to download on both Roku and Firestick devices. The apps require a separate subscription, though.
Does using Roku and Firestick require a monthly fee?
No, you only have to pay for the Roku or Firestick device itself. From there, you can enjoy a completely free-of-charge experience with apps such as Tubi, Peacock, or Xumo.
You can also opt for apps with a subscription plan such as Apple TV +, Hulu or Disney Plus. These require a separate subscription that doesn’t involve Roku or Firestick.
Are Roku and Firestick compatible with all Smart TVs?
Good Questions and Useful Answers
What channels are free with Firestick and Roku?
Both Roku and Firestick have plenty of great free channels, all available to you. We’ll list several of the best. Keep in mind that all of those will most likely be available for both Roku and Firestick.
What free channels are on Roku?
- The Roku Channel – a channel that includes live TV, movies, documentaries and series.
- CBS Sports Stream & Watch Live – live sports, news and latest events from multiple disciplines.
- Pluto TV – watch movies and TV channels.
- Tubi – an app that includes movies, series and live TV in multiple niche genres.
- Xumo – access live TV and on-demand streaming.
- NewsON – news coverage for each US state.
What free channels are on Firestick?
- Peacock TV – A free TV and streaming channel with some paid options.
- Plex – With Plex, you get free access to streamable movies.
- NFL – an all-in app for football fans. It has some paid elements.
- ABC News – Live news, ‘Good Morning America’ and more!
How can I watch Live TV on Firestick or Roku?
Both streaming devices have plenty of Live TV options.
How to watch Live TV on Firestick?
Use the Live tab on your Firestick to browse hundreds of Live TV channels directly from the interface. Alternatively, you can install an app such as Pluto, Peacock or integrate an IPTV service.
How to watch Live TV on Roku?
Use The Roku Channel for instant access to more than 300 Live TV channels. Alternatively, you can use an app such as Hulu or YouTube TV.
Can I use Roku or Firestick without a Smart TV?
Yes! A great thing about devices like Roku or Firestick is that they turn any display with an HDMI socket into a Smart TV.
If you have a TV without smart functions, you can use a streaming stick or box to browse the Internet, watch Live TV or use your favorite apps.
What apps are there on Roku that aren’t on Firestick?
In general, Roku has a bigger selection of apps and channels compared to Firestick. But what are the differences? And should it influence your Roku vs Firestick decision?
You’ll find all of your favorites on both Roku and Firestick – Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, Spotify and more!
Roku, however, is the choice for you if you want less known channels and apps. Roku will more likely have them!
Can I have Firestick and Roku plugged to the same TV?
If your TV has at least two HDMI sockets, you can have both a Firestick and a Roku plugged in at the same time. To use each, you’ll have to switch your HDMI channel with your remote control.
AirBeamTV is a leader on the screen mirroring market. With us, you can mirror your screen to all the most popular TV and streaming device brands. Whether it’s Roku, Fire TV, Samsung, LG, Android, and more TV brands – we have a solution for you!
With AirBeamTV, you can have your iPhone, iPad, MacBook or Android screen up on your big TV in minutes. Whether it’s photos, videos, apps, presentations or the Internet – we make it happen.