The Apple TV is part of a class of electronic devices called set-top streaming boxes. These are devices that you can connect to your TV that allow you to stream digital videos from the Internet to your television. These have become increasingly popular as services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime have increased their subscriber numbers, as set-top streaming boxes are the least expensive and simplest options for watching these videos on a television.
There are a couple of features that are specifically available on the Apple TV that you can’t get from either of the options that we discuss below. The first feature is AirPlay, which allows you to stream content to the Apple TV from your iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. The second feature is the ability to stream your iTunes content from the cloud on the Apple TV. If you have a lot of Apple products in your home, or if you have a large library of iTunes content, then you may have trouble replacing this functionality that you would get from the Apple TV.
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But although the Apple TV can be purchased for less than $100, it can still be more than you might want to spend for a device like this. Fortunately there are two other options, the Google Chromecast on Amazon and the Roku 1 (also on Amazon), that are much less expensive and perform many of the same tasks as the Apple TV.
The Chromecast is an interesting alternative because it actually relies on your smartphone, tablet or computer to control the content that displays on your TV. This means that you don’t need to worry about losing a remote control, which helps to keep the Chromecast’s price as low as it is.
The Chromecast has the benefit of the Google brand behind it, which means that it will receive a lot of support in the future. You already have access to services like Netflix, YouTube, Google Play and more, and those options are only going to increase as developers create apps for the Chromecast.
Check pricing on the Chromecast at Amazon here.
The Roku 1 is another set-top streaming box that is budget-friendly, and it has a lot of positives on its’ side that could make it the right choice for you. It has a huge library of channels that you can choose from, including popular options like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, HBO Go and many more. This large selection gives it an enormous catalog of potential media options that can easily make it your primary choice for entertainment.
Check pricing on the Roku 1 at Amazon here.
The Apple TV is hard to replace if you are heavily invested in Apple products and content. But if you are just looking for an inexpensive way to watch Netflix and YouTube on your TV, then the Chromecast might be right for you, as it is the least expensive of all the options. But if you are looking for a ton of content options and something that could eventually replace your cable box, then the Roku 1 is probably the right device for you.
You can read our review of the Chromecast here.
You can read our review of the Roku 1 here.
Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech tutorials since 2008. His writing has appeared on dozens of different websites and been read over 50 million times.
After receiving his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science he spent several years working in IT management for small businesses. However, he now works full time writing content online and creating websites.
His main writing topics include iPhones, Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Android, and Photoshop, but he has also written about many other tech topics as well.