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Roku Stick vs Fire Stick (2021): Comparing the Most Popular Streaming Sticks

The Roku stick, aka the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, and Fire TV Stick lineup are arguably the best in the scene. But at first glance, they’re so similar in functionality and features that they’re hard to tell apart, making it difficult to choose.

Basically, the Streaming Stick Plus is for users with multiple subscriptions to various services, while the Fire TV Sticks are for those invested in the Amazon ecosystem. But that doesn’t paint the whole picture.

Roku Stick vs Fire Stick Comparison Chart

ModelRoku Streaming Stick PlusFire TV Stick
 Roku Streaming Stick+ | HD/4K/HDR Streaming Device with Long-range Wireless and Roku Voice Remote...Fire TV Stick 4K streaming device with Alexa Voice Remote (includes TV controls) | Dolby Vision
PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
ResolutionUp to 4K, HDRFire TV Stick Lite: Up to 1080p, HDR
Fire TV Stick: Up to 1080p, HDR
Fire TV Stick 4K: Up to 4K, HDR
AudioDolby Audio, DTS pass through over HDMIFire TV Stick Lite: Dolby Audio pass through over HDMI
Fire TV Stick: Dolby Atmos
Fire TV Stick 4K: Dolby Atmos
RemoteWith voice controls and TV controlsWith voice controls and TV controls (except Fire TV Stick Lite)
Virtual AssistantAmazon Alexa, Google AssistantAmazon Alexa, Google Assistant (limited functionality)
Size3.7″ x 0.8″ x 0.47″Fire TV Stick Lite: 3.4″ x 1.2″ x 0.5″
Fire TV Stick: 3.4″ x 1.2″ x 0.5″
Fire TV Stick 4K: 3.8″ x 1.1″ x 0.5″
Weight25.5gFire TV Stick Lite: 32g
Fire TV Stick: 32g
Fire TV Stick 4K: 53.6g

Models and Specifications

Both Roku and Amazon have devices that can handle streaming in 4K.

Roku Stick vs Fire Stick Models and Specifications
The Roku Streaming Stick Plus (left) and the Fire TV Stick 4K (right).

Right off the bat, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus can stream up to 4K with HDR. There’s also the Best Buy-exclusive Streaming Stick Plus Headphone Edition. It’s the same across the board, except that it has a headphone jack on its remote. The older Streaming Stick is still available from other retailers, but there’s really no point in getting it anymore. It costs about the same as the Plus variant and lacks 4K and HDR, not to mention that it has slower performance.

Amazon’s selection consists of the Fire TV Stick Lite, standard Fire TV Stick, and Fire TV Stick 4K. Put simply, the Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick can only go up to 1080p, but they do have HDR support. Now, as its name suggests, the Fire TV Stick 4K can deliver up to 4K with HDR, and it’s the most powerful Fire stick at the time of writing.

Beyond the streaming sticks, there’s the Fire and Roku TVs and the Fire Cube, as well as Roku set-top boxes, smart bars, and dongles, but that’s another story.

Click here to see how the Fire TV Stick 4K compares to the NVIDIA SHIELD.

Content and Services

Both platforms have the usual streaming services, like Netflix and YouTube.

Roku Stick vs Fire Stick Content and Services
Here’s how the Roku Streaming Stick Plus (in photo) looks like plugged in behind a TV.

The Roku Streaming Stick Plus and the Fire TV Sticks have access to the most popular services around. That includes Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, among others. Obviously, the Fire TV Sticks have Amazon Prime Video, and it’s worth clearing up that the Streaming Stick Plus also has it.

Determining which platform has more content than the other is a near-impossible task, but at the very least, the Streaming Stick Plus has the free, ad-supported Roku Channel. That technically means it has more content, but that’s not saying much.

The takeaway here is you can’t go wrong with either one, regardless of which streaming services you have a subscription with.

Remote and Ease of Use

Roku has a better search feature for other streaming services.

Roku Stick vs Fire Stick Remote and Ease of Use
The Fire TV Stick Lite (left), Fire TV Stick (middle), and Fire TV Stick 4K (right) have different remotes.

Both have remotes with features you’d expect, particularly voice search and an easy-to-use layout. For the record, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus have Google Assistant and Alexa, while the Fire TV Sticks have Alexa, needless to say.

It’s also a simple task to navigate their respective interfaces, but the Fire TV Sticks put front and center Amazon content—and that’s despite the company already dialing it down in this regard. If nothing else, that makes things a tad more inconvenient, especially if you mainly use other services like Netflix.

As for their search function, the Streaming Stick Plus and Fire TV Sticks do an excellent job of it. But again, the Fire TV Sticks focus more on Amazon content. In other words, the Streaming Stick Plus is better at searching for TV series and movies across streaming services. 

Speaking of, Roku has a feature that lets you know of new content coming to the services you’re subscribed to. That way, you won’t have to go through each one in search of new shows to binge-watch.

Besides streaming, the main selling point of the Fire TV Sticks is their seamless integration with other Amazon devices, namely Echo speakers. For instance, you can do things like ask Alexa to play a certain movie or something along those lines through an Echo device.

Verdict

Both platforms are similar, and it’s better to pick one depending on the streaming services you use.

To sum things up, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus isn’t necessarily better than the Fire TV Sticks and vice versa. In short, deciding between them can be based on your setup. Essentially, the Fire TV Sticks are better if you have Echo devices and Prime Video and use Alexa a lot, but if not, then it’s better to go with the Streaming Stick Plus.

FAQs

📌 Which is better, Roku or Fire stick?

It depends on which model you pick, but if we take the Roku Streaming Stick Plus and Fire TV Stick 4K, they pretty much deliver the same experience. To be exact, both can stream up to 4K with HDR and come with remotes with voice search and TV controls.

📌 What is the difference between the Roku and Fire sticks?

While most Roku and Fire TV stick models are similar, the latter is better if you’re subscribed to Amazon Prime Video. In general, Roku has a better search function across services.

📌 Is there a monthly fee for Roku?

No, there’s no monthly fee to use Roku devices or accounts.

📌 What is the best Fire Stick to buy?

Even though it’s a bit older than the Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K is arguably the best available. That’s because it can stream in 4K with HDR.

Last update on 2021-07-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Vincent Lanaria

Senior Editor, researcher and writer passionate about running, cooking, and how technology mixes with the two.