Internet streaming video devices like the Roku, Apple TV and the Amazon Fire TV are increasing in popularity as more and more people subscribe to services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. The ability to stream movies and TV shows from ever-growing libraries offers an easy and affordable way to keep yourself entertained. All that you need is a TV and a good Internet connection and you can start to take advantage of this new wave of entertainment.
But deciding on the right set-top streaming box is not an easy matter, and there is no one choice that will be correct for everyone. This difficulty is exacerbated even more when you are dealing with two devices that have the same price tag, which is the case with the Amazon Fire TV and the Roku 3. So if you are having trouble deciding upon which of these excellent set-top streaming boxes to purchase, then check out our comparison below.
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You can click here if you have a Roku and want to be able to sign into the Prime Video app with a different Amazon account.
Roku 3 and Amazon Fire TV Comparison
Amazon Fire TV
|Additional video outputs||No||No|
|Wireless internet connection||Yes||Yes|
|Wired internet connection||Yes||Yes|
|Available Gaming Controller||No||Yes|
|Dolby Digital Surround Sound||No||Yes|
|Optical Audio Out||No||Yes|
|Check prices on Amazon||Check prices on Amazon|
*The Amazon Fire TV has a USB port, but does not currently support local file playback using it, as the Roku 3 does. You can read here to learn how to play files from a USB device on the Roku 3.
From the table above, there are a few things that stand out. First, that the Amazon Fire TV is missing apps for some of the more popular streaming services, such as HBO Go and Vudu. While it is very likely that these will eventually be available on the Fire TV, they are not there currently. So if your streaming habits will involve these two apps, then it is an important thing to consider.
A second thing worth noting is the superiority of the Fire TV when it comes to sound output. The surround sound output and the optical audio out are very important features for people with home theater setups that want to maximize the audio experience of the content playing from their set-top box.
A final item to consider is that an HDMI connection is the only available method for connecting either device to your TV. If your TV does not have HDMI ports, then you may want to consider an option like the Roku 1 (view on Amazon) instead.
Both the Roku 3 and the Fire TV are very fast and very responsive. I use a Fire TV in one room in my house and a Roku 3 in another, and have never had any issues with performance from either device. However, the Fire TV is faster, and this is largely due to the fact that it contains a quad-core processor, while the Roku 3 only has a dual-core. The Fire TV also has 2 GB of memory compared to the 512 MB in the Roku 3. Both the speed of the processor and the amount of memory help to make the Fire TV a much better device for gaming, if that is something that is important to you when deciding between these two devices. If so, then the availability of a dedicated gaming controller (view on Amazon) and a larger gaming library for the Fire TV are likely important as well.
Why Should I Get the Roku 3 Instead of the Amazon Fire TV?
Perhaps the best reason to decide on the Roku 3 is the number of channels that are available to you, as well as the fact that you can connect a flash drive or external hard drive to the Roku and play movies and music that way. The availability of content on Roku devices is difficult for any competitor to match, and is perhaps the biggest selling point of entering the Roku ecosystem.
View the Roku channel lineup here
View the Amazon Fire TV channel lineup here on Amazon’s site
Why Should I Get the Amazon Fire TV Instead of the Roku 3?
The Amazon Fire TV is a superior piece of technology when compared to the Roku 3. It has more powerful components, more audio options, and it performs better. Additionally, if you are already an Amazon Prime member or are considering becoming one through Amazon’s site, then there are a lot of benefits to the Amazon Fire TV over other options that are capable of playing Amazon videos. The ability to search for and purchase movies and TV shows with Voice Search is very convenient, and Amazon Prime and Instant content loads incredibly fast on the Fire TV, thanks to a special pre-loading feature that the device contains.
The gaming features of the Amazon Fire TV are much better than those of the Roku 3, and Amazon really seems to be putting a lot of focus on improving in this area. So anyone that is looking for a gaming system in addition to a method of watching videos will benefit from the Fire TV’s performance and selection.
One final item to consider is the integration between the Fire TV and the Amazon Fire HDX, if you have one. You can mirror content from the HDX screen on your TV through the Fire TV, plus you will have access to a feature called X-Ray, which provides additional information about the movie or TV show that you are watching.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, these are both excellent devices. If there isn’t one that immediately jumps out at you as the superior option, then you will likely be happy with either choice. But if you would like to read more about each individual set-top box, then you can read our Amazon Fire TV review or you can read our Roku 3 review.
Click here to purchase the Amazon Fire TV from Amazon.com.
Click here to purchase the Roku 3 from Amazon.com.
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.