Cheap streaming sticks like the Roku Premiere or the Chromecast with Google TV provide instant access to Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and all your other favorite platforms. But if you own an Xbox or PlayStation, is there any reason to buy a dedicated streaming stick? This is what you miss when you stream everything through a game console.
Xbox and PlayStation are real streaming machines
Before streaming sticks and smart TVs became popular, game consoles like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 were the go-to solution for people who wanted to stream video on their TV. Few people saw the point of buying a $ 60 Roku that could only play Netflix if the Xbox and PlayStation were compatible with a variety of apps, plus games, DVDs, CDs, and Blu-Ray discs.
Streaming sticks are a lot more capable (and cheaper) than they used to be, but some people prefer to stream on a game console for the same reason they were 10 years ago: the Xbox and PlayStation let you do everything in one place. You can watch the most popular streaming services, play games and even use cable TV through your Xbox or PlayStation without pressing the “input” button on your TV or rearranging your HDMI cables.
For some, the Xbox and PlayStation are a lot more convenient than a streaming stick. But the benefits don’t stop there. the Xbox Series X / S and PS5 are about as powerful as a high-end desktop computer, so they last much longer than a $ 30 Fire TV stick or a Roku box. Plus, they have built-in Ethernet ports to get the fastest speed from your home internet, a rare feature (or you’ll need an adapter) if you’re using a streaming stick.
But consoles have some limitations
Despite their power and convenience, there are some drawbacks to using your Xbox or PlayStation as a dedicated streaming machine. Most of these problems are the result of power consumption. The Xbox and PlayStation consume more energy than streaming sticks, so if you watch a lot of Netflix you might notice this on your electricity bill. Plus, all that power consumption causes the console to heat up and turn on the internal fans, which can be annoying when you’re in a small room.
And while the Xbox and PlayStation must be used non-stop for hours on end, they are not invincible. Endless streaming could wear out the console and shorten the life of the internal components. Streaming sticks also wear out when you use them, but replacing a $ 60 Roku is a lot less painful than replacing an Xbox or PlayStation.
The Xbox and PlayStation also lack some of the features that come standard with streaming sticks, such as a traditional remote control (unless you buy one for $ 30), smarthome features, and platform-exclusive streaming apps (like The Roku Channel). Consoles users also miss the streaming stick’s UI, which makes it easy to find shows and movies thanks to personalization features and the ability to perform a single search across all of your streaming services.
Other problems arise when streaming from a last-generation console, as streaming services have little incentive to provide long-term support for the Xbox One and PS4. Don’t worry, your last generation console will have streaming for several more years, but bugs, slow loading screens, and other issues will only increase over time. It’s also worth noting that, because most last-generation consoles boot from a hard drive, their navigation menus and app loading times are slower than current consoles or streaming sticks.
Advantages of a streaming stick
The Xbox and PlayStation use a lot of power and do not have the cool features of streaming sticks. But still they work with all of your favorite streaming services, so why bother dropping $ 30, $ 50, or even $ 100 on a dedicated streaming device? The answer is simple: streaming sticks come with exclusive features and services, and they are often the first devices to access new streaming platforms.
Dedicated streaming sticks take streaming to a whole new level thanks to their intuitive interface, voice control and personalization features that automatically ‘learn’ your preferences. The Chromecast with Google TV is a standout device when it comes to smart features and personalization, with a universal watch list, content recommendations on the home screen, a universal search that covers all your streaming services at once, and Google Assistant for smarthome control and faster search. . (Many of these features, such as voice control and universal search, are also available on Roku, Fire TV, and Android TV systems; the Chromecast with Google TV just happens to be the ‘smartest’ option.)
Streaming Sticks also include some exclusive services, such as The Roku Channel and Amazon’s Fire TV app, which include tons of free on-demand content and live TV channels. Roku streaming sticks and the Amazon Fire TV Recast can also connect to an antenna for free wireless TV without the help of an additional TV tuner (a requirement for OTA TV on Xbox).
And while the Xbox and PlayStation support the most popular streaming platforms, it often takes months or years for new streaming services to hit consoles. Streaming Sticks, on the other hand, are usually the first devices to access new services, and they often receive better bug and security support than their console counterparts.
If you own a lot of smart home devices or use a smart assistant on a regular basis, that’s another reason to use a dedicated streaming stick. Roku, Fire TV, Android TV and Chromecast with Google TV devices all support Alexa or Google Assistant, letting you use voice commands to turn on and control your TV, control your smart home from the couch, search for videos or music without typing, or even watch a live feed from your smart security cameras on the big screen.
Which streaming stick should you buy?
Even if you own an Xbox or PlayStation, a dedicated streaming stick can help you maximize your streaming experience, reduce console wear and tear, and access exclusive services. But since there are so many great streaming sticks at different price points, it can be a daunting task to pick one.
That’s why we’re going to take a quick look at some of the best streaming sticks available today. To learn more about the best streaming sticks, check out our detailed buying guide.
The cheap and simple option
Roku Premiere 4K
The Roku Premiere costs less than $ 40 and works with all of your favorite services. In addition, it can stream 4K video and is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant for voice commands.
For Amazon households
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K is the ideal streaming stick for Prime Video fans and Alexa users. It’s also one of the most affordable 4K streaming sticks available right now, and it can even play some Android games.