Mea culpa. I promised this comparison for Holiday 2014, and here it’s February next. The time between allowed for valuable cord-cutting experiment that will matter to some of you reading this review. The Wilcox household now streams Encore, HBO, Starz, and Showtime—via Cox Flex Watch—and the addition affects our choice of streaming stick; perhaps yours, too.
Google opened up the category with $35 Chromecast in July 2013, and the device gets better with age. Roku Streaming Stick, at $49.99, is priciest choice, while Amazon Fire TV Stick is the $39 in-betweener. Briefly, before deep diving, Chromecast is easiest to use and offers more commercial programming support. Roku delivers broadest streaming channel selection. Fire TV fits tightly into the broader Amazon Prime ecosystem, while offering satisfying, but incomplete, content options compared to either of the other devices.