Streaming Stick vs Streaming Box – What’s Best

With the humble televisions dwindling in popularity, and smart HDTVs fast capturing the market, the TV-viewing habits of people are also changing. No one likes to wait till a certain time for their favorite shows anymore, not when you could watch it anytime and anywhere, thanks to streaming services.

Streaming Stick vs Streaming Box - What's Best

Streaming Stick vs Streaming Box – What’s Best

But do you need to ditch your current TV and buy a smart TV to be able to enjoy streaming services so you can stream a show like House of Cards or Stranger Things? Or would a streaming stick or box suffice?

Streaming Stick vs Streaming Box – What’s Best

Streaming can be done on any TV as long as you have streaming device. This can be a streaming set top box or a streaming stick. A box isn’t that portable, while a streaming stick is small and compact and can be carried in your bag wherever you go. Both the box and stick are very popular with people obsessed with streaming, and both have their own advantages and drawbacks. 

Streaming Stick vs Streaming Box

Here are six things to consider when deciding between a box and a stick:

Price

What sets the streaming stick apart is the price. Almost all streaming boxes, including the Roku 3 box, Amazon Fire TV, and Apple TV cost close to $100. In comparison, the stick versions are far cheaper. The Amazon Fire TV Stick is only $39, the Roku stick is $50, and the Google Chromecast $35. If you’re looking for an affordable streaming device, you should choose the stick.

Connection

When it comes to the streaming sticks, all of them use a HDMI port to connect to the TV, and a USB port for power. The broadband connection for streaming videos comes from WiFi. Now here’s the catch: if your WiFi connection is strong enough to give you good speed, then you are okay with a stick. However, if you need a stronger speed and capacity, you must have a streaming box with an Ethernet connection to your router. This is especially useful for streaming videos in superior HD quality.

Size

This is another feature where the stick easily beats the box. The stick is the size of a USB flash drive, and when connected to a TV, it is practically invisible. There is no need for anything else when you use a stick to stream video on your TV. A streaming stick can also be used for different TVs in the house, and carried along when you travel. A box, on the other hand, needs to be placed somewhere, cannot be used for more than one TV, and isn’t convenient or portable like a stick.

Speed and Performance

The deciding factor between a streaming stick and a media box is the speed. Given the size of the stick and the number of features compressed into it, the speed, processing power, and memory automatically falter. Games will be slower, launching apps and searching for content will take a bit of time. There are games and videos that streaming sticks might not be able to play because of their slower processing speeds. On the other hand, a media box is more robust and has faster processing speed. It offers an overall better performance than its stick cousin.

Remote

This is one of the areas where the box wins. Some streaming sticks, like the Chromecast, don’t have a remote; it uses your smartphone as a remote. The Amazon and Roku streaming sticks do have a remote, but they are very basic, and lack several features like a headphone or audio jack.

All media streaming boxes comes with remotes that facilitate better navigation and also include options for headphone and audio jacks and voice search capabilities. The media streaming boxes don’t need the aid of a smartphone for proper functioning.

Content

The stick and the box are more or less the same when it comes to content, except that streaming boxes are more suitable for games and ultra HD content. Keep in mind that the streaming quality you get out of your media player depends on various factors including your TV’s quality, the streaming service you’re using, and most importantly your Internet speed itself. To watch ultra-high definition videos for instance, you need a TV, VOD service, and a streaming device that all support 4K videos. Both Amazon Prime and Netflix have been offering 4K video streaming for a while. Roku and Amazon have both developed streaming devices that can handle 4K videos as well. Mac’s Apple TV 5 will also support UHD 4K streaming.

Best Streaming Sticks

  • Roku Streaming Stick
  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Chromecast

Best Streaming Boxes

  • Amazon Fire TV Box
  • Roku Box
  • Apple TV
  • Nvidia Shield TV

Streaming Stick vs Streaming Box – Final Thoughts

Should you get a streaming stick or a box? Even though it mostly depends on what and how you use it, the above pointers should make your purchase decision easier. The most important aspect you should look at when deciding which media player you should get is the apps it supports.

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