A few weeks ago, Google came out with their newest streaming media device in Chromecast. An HDMI dongle that plugs into the back of your TV to watch applications such as Netflix, YouTube and more. In the meantime, the Parks Associates just released a report stating Roku has 37% share to Apple TVs 24% in the market. So which one do you want to get?
Today, I am going to show you these three set top boxes along with their advantages and disadvantages.Then you can make an informed decision to purchase the set top box of your choice.
Other Streaming Media
First of all I want to state there are many other set top boxes out there. From Boxee, Western Digital and Sony to even gaming systems PS4, XBox One and Nintendo Wii. Certain DVD and Blu-Ray players also come with apps installed and even certain TVs have embedded apps inside.
With all these choices, you can get the set top box that works best for you. Since most of these devices are under $100, you might even get a couple of these items to put on the bedroom TV, basement TV and more.
We’ll start with Apple TV. It’s in its 3rd generation of set top box. The small form factor device plugs into the HDMI port, then to a Ethernet or wireless network. You can plug the Optical Audio into a receiver for a better audio experience.
The A5 processor will allow for 1080p on your Apple TV (when available). With Airplay, you can send signal from your iPhone or iPad to the TV. Purchase movies, TV or music through iTunes.
There are limited apps for Apple TV – Netflix, Hulu Plus, MLB, NBA, NHL, HBOGo and more. Of course with Airplay, you should be able to watch whatever you want from another device.
Apple TV comes with Apple Remote. $99
The Roku streaming player is similar to Apple TV only in look. Slightly smaller, the Roku has over 750 channels you can choose from. Most recent additions include PBS and College Humor.
Roku comes in multiple options from the LT to the newest Roku 3 – which the Roku3 also plays 1080p videos and games such as Angry Birds, Galaga, Pac-Man and others. The Roku 3 remote doubles as a game joystick and also has a headphone jack so you can watch TV while others are sleeping. You can even use your iPhone or Android as a remote (app download)
Roku has apps for free or at purchase. The SDK is available to download through their site.
Roku rangest from $49 (LT) to $99 (Roku 3). Get Roku 3 on Amazon
It’s pretty new, so ChromeCast probably has the least amount of apps. But – if you install the ChromeCast app – it will take the content from your device and play it on the TV without needing your device to be on. Your phone or tablet simply becomes a remote control – which everyone can connect to. You can send a video, someone else can start playing a Netflix movie. You can even queue it up like a jukebox.
ChromeCast plugs directly into the HDMI port. It almost disappears behind the TV. However, you also need to plug the Chromecast in – which in some TVs you can plug into the USB port (not the “Service port” for that could fry your Chromecast).
The GDK is available for those who want to write apps for Chromecast. There are only a few apps at this time – Netflix and YouTube are the primary apps. Any device that can install Chrome will become a remote control for Chromecast.
Chromecast is $35 and available now. Get Google Chromecast on Amazon.
The Results – Which Streaming Media Player Should You Get?
All three have merits and downfalls. I personally choose Roku at this time simply because of the amount of content you can get. Their updated OS makes it easier to find content – I can search on the main interface and find where I can consume the content.
Apple TV is great if you’ve been building up your iTunes account with video and audio. It’s also great for sending your Macbook pro or iPad screen to the TV and turn it into a second monitor for work.
Chromecast – after a couple updates and a few more apps – will really start to shine. It’s $35 price tag will ensure there could be one in every home in the next couple years.
What Can Change the Game?
Apple is expected to update their Apple TV in September. There is even talks of Apple TV being inside the Television. That would forgo any fight for the HDMI port. Roku usually announces at CES. Their SDK could be used to create a ChromeCast app – turning the Roku into a Chromecast itself. Of course, there are other apps in the Roku store that allow you to push content to the device.
So which one are you going to get? Apple TV? Roku? Chromecast? Maybe all three? Let me know – Twitter me @geekazine