Streaming Devices Change The Way To Watch TV Content

By: Bryan Faux

Do you find it difficult to keep up with the constantly evolving landscape of modern television? This year, more than 400 scripted shows will air. It is impossible to watch that much TV while balancing daily professional or collegiate responsibilities.

Sound overwhelming? Do not fear.  There are several great ways to stream content to your TV if you forget to set the DVR for that new show you really wanted to check out. Here’s a comparison of two of these devices: Roku 2 and Amazon’s Fire TV stick.

The Roku 2 (with included remote) is compact and portable. The remote includes shortcut buttons to popular apps like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Photo by: Bryan Faux
The Roku 2 (with included remote) is compact and portable. The remote includes shortcut buttons to popular apps like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Photo by Bryan Faux

The Roku 2 is a small black box that plugs directly into your television’s HDMI port. It provides access to popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. In addition to the most popular services, the Roku 2 offers other apps such the PBS app and FX Now.  Both of these allow users to watch recent episodes of some of the best shows on. For access to FX Now, users must validate that they are subscribed to FX through a cable provider.  No such validation is needed to watch shows like Downton Abbey on the PBS app. Apps on Roku 2 stream content in high-definition over a Wi-Fi connection.  The Roku remote provided with the box is small, simple, and user friendly.  There is also a free Roku app that allows users to turn their smartphone into a remote.  The Roku 2 sells for $69.99.  Roku and other retailers frequently slash the price, so be on the lookout for a great deal.

Amazon’s Fire TV stick launched late in 2014.  As an Amazon Prime member, I was offered the device early for half of the regular price.  But even at full price, $39, the Fire TV Stick is worth every penny.  It is fast, streams beautiful HD content and has a beautifully designed, easy to navigate, user interface.  No knock on the Roku 2, but I greatly prefer the user experience of the Fire TV Stick.  Of course it has the requisite channels such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime, but it also has benefits that the Roku 2 does not have, namely HBO’s new a la carte streaming service HBO Now.  The Fire TV currently doesn’t have as many apps as Roku 2, but it’s faster, sleeker and perhaps most importantly: cheaper.

 Amazon's Fire TV Stick features a vibrant, sleek and easy-to-navigate menu. Amazon offers a free Fire TV app on iOS and Android that allows users to voice search on the Fire TV Stick. Photo by: Bryan Faux

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick features a vibrant, sleek and easy-to-navigate menu. Amazon offers a free Fire TV app on iOS and Android that allows users to voice search on the Fire TV Stick. Photo by Bryan Faux

Technology has profoundly altered the way consumers watch TV, and the two devices I’ve highlighted here don’t even scratch the surface of the different ways consumers can catch up on the hundreds of original programs available.

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