Google Chromecast, Mi TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite it’s the Roku Express are the most basic and affordable TV dongles today. The four devices are very popular in Brazil and, as a result, it is normal to have doubts about the performance, interface, image and available applications. Is there the best? Which one should you invest in? I evaluated all the devices and compared the following four.
Chromecast, Mi TV Stick, Fire TV Stick Lite or Roku Express video comparison
O Tecnoblog is a technology-independent journalistic vehicle that helps people make their next purchase decision since 2005. Our product reviews are opinionated and have no advertising intent. For this reason, we always transparently highlight the positive and negative points of each product.
No company, manufacturer or store has paid the Tecnoblog to produce this content. Our comparisons are not reviewed or approved by external agents. Chromecast, Fire TV Stick Lite and Roku Express were provided by Google, Amazon and Roku by donation. The Mi TV Stick was provided on loan by DL Electronics and will be returned to the company after the tests.
Hands-on and Review
Before, I remember that the analysis of each one of them is already available here in Tecnoblog, if you want to check it individually later
Let’s start with the design, considering as the main factor the possibility of installing the dongle in other televisions in your home and the practicality of taking it during a trip, for example. The Mi TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite are similar and resemble a pen drive, which means that transport can be done without difficulty. The same goes for the Chromecast, which has a wafer shape, is very light and easy to install. You can carry it in your pocket without any problems.
The Roku Express reminds me of a mini cable TV set. It, like the others, is light and compact, but its installation is more complex because it works with infrared and you need to point the control for the device to recognize the commands. The Express even comes with a double-sided tape to fix the set-top-box on the side of the TV, but it interferes with the look of the device and I honestly don’t like it.
To work, the four gadgets need to be connected to Wi-Fi and power (all come with a micro USB port for this purpose). The power can be done either through a USB port on the TV or via a plug adapter; Roku is the only one that does not offer the accessory.
All things considered, Chromecast wins in design.
Remote control: Mi TV Stick
Remote control is a controversial point that can interfere with the purchase decision. Chromecast is the only one not to bring the accessory; as it serves to mirror content on TV, you must use your smartphone or tablet to stream movies, series and other things.
The control of Roku is intuitive and, in Brazil, it comes with dedicated buttons from Netflix, GloboPlay, HBO Go and Google Play. However, I remember that only he that works by infrared, unlike the rivals. Amazon did not even add shortcuts to its own services, at least it included a button to invoke Alexa.
The Mi TV Stick excels in bringing volume buttons, power / on, Google Assistant and dedicated to open Netflix and Prime Video.
So, point to the Mi TV Stick.
Software: Mi TV Stick
The operating system is another delicate point to analyze, so let’s choose the winner from the resources offered, then the one that delivers more functionality to the user wins, without considering available streaming applications, which was on a separate topic. At the outset, let’s discard Chromecast, as it is the most basic of the four and does not deliver an interface like competitors.
The Fire TV Stick Lite runs Fire OS and acts as a gallery of Prime Video recommendations, since many of their contents are on the home screen. The screens are very organized, the system is fluid and, as an extra, you have Alexa available. If you have an Echo box, you can control the Fire TV Stick Lite through Amazon’s smart speaker.
Roku Express has its own software, it is beautiful and also the most different from this comparison. It displays advertisements that are actually recommendations for services available for you to install; has no personal assistant and content mirroring can be done through the official Roku app, which also works as a remote control.
The big difference here is the advanced search present in Express, which is able to locate movies on several platforms at the same time.
The Mi TV Stick runs the popular Android TV 9.0 with a more intuitive, flexible and customizable interface. In addition to bringing Google Assistant and integrated Chromecast, Xiaomi’s device excels at embarking on Google platforms and having integration with your Gmail account. Furthermore, although you can use the Google Home app, the Mi TV Stick control has everything a person needs to navigate the interface.
That’s why the Mi TV Stick, with its Android TV, wins in software.
Performance: tie (Fire TV Stick Lite and Roku Express)
The Fire TV Stick Lite has a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal memory; the Mi TV Stick is also equipped with a 1.5 GHz four-core processor, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal memory. Roku and Google do not provide information on the performance of their products, but that does not prevent us from having a champion here.
Chromecast works smoothly, with a good switch between apps and doesn’t take long to start.
Fire TV Stick Lite and Roku Express have great responses, don’t have unexpected crashes and closings. However, I can’t say the same thing about the Mi TV Stick, which is the slowest of the comparative and, occasionally, chokes.
Therefore, we have a tie between Fire TV Stick Lite and Roku Express.
Apps and services: Chromecast
We have separated a topic to talk about applications and services available on each device, as these issues also have a big influence when deciding which one to buy. In the case of Chromecast, as it does not have an interface like the competitors, we therefore include the supported services.
And, oddly enough, for a very small difference, Chromecast wins in this regard. We analyzed 21 famous platforms in Brazil, including Netflix, Prime Video, Globoplay, Disney +, Spotify and even other media services, such as PlayPlus, DirecTV Go and TuneIn.
After that, we found that out of 21 analyzed, the Google gadget supports 20 and only owed Apple TV +. Soon after, there are Mi TV Stick, with 19 available; Roku Express, also 19; and the Fire TV Stick Lite is last, with 17, failing to deliver Globoplay, HBO Go and Google Play Movies, this in January 2021, when this comparison was published.
Point for Chromecast. Below are the main services available on each device:
|Top apps (videos / audio)||Chromecast (supported)||Mi TV Stick||Fire TV Stick Lite||Roku Express|
|Apple TV +||not||not||yea||yea|
|Google Play Movies||yea||yea||not||yea|
Image and sound quality: Fire TV Stick Lite
All of these dongles have something in common: the maximum resolution is Full HD (1080p) at 60 frames per second, that is, no 4K. However, both in image and sound, the Fire TV Stick Lite can stand out.
When we analyze the codecs, it supports H.265, H.264, VP9 formats, in addition to being compatible with HDR 10, HDR10 + and HLG, as long as the TV supports the technology. In audio, the product is compatible with Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos.
Roku, Chromecast and Mi TV Stick support H.264 and VP9, in addition to Dolby Audio and the Chinese product adds DTS.
The Fire TV Stick Lite has a wider range and wins in terms of image and sound quality.
Value for money: Roku Express
We got to the last topic and the differences are not huge now. The Chromecast is the oldest of this comparison and arrived in 2019 for R $ 349, today, it is already possible to buy it for less. Fire TV Stick Lite and Roku Express were also announced for R $ 349, but currently Amazon has been selling both products for much less.
And the Mi TV Stick, officially, is the most expensive, because DL Electronics charges up to R $ 600 for the device. The best in cost-benefit is Roku Express. A quick search on the internet already reveals how much easier it is to acquire the device from the American company for less than R $ 300. And, depending on the store, the Express can cost R $ 200.
And the winner is … nobody! We had a draw that I wasn’t expecting, each gadget got 2 points, but that didn’t happen for nothing. The truth is that these are good affordable dongles, popular and that offer the main streaming platforms in the market, so it is natural to happen, that way, it will taste.
The Mi TV Stick, so adored by Xiaomi fans, has the most complete remote control and a good interface; Chromecast appeals for convenience and broad support.
Roku Express attracts attention with good performance and excellent value for money, but not only that. The American’s product stands out for its wide list of streaming apps available in the catalog. Finally, the Fire TV Stick Lite follows the rival and emerges as the winner in image, sound, and pleasing by the performance.
Now it’s up to you! Share in the comments which one is your favorite to help others make their next purchase decision!