Ways to Figure out which Streaming Media device to purchase

Picking up a streaming-media player to watch Netflix and Amazon on your TV may seem like a simple process in comparing features and prices, but it’s actually rather difficult.

It so because isn’t exactly a normal market. Some companies, like Amazon and Apple, run their own digital video stores, produce shows and sell streaming-media hardware, which can push them to restrict content in ways that might make economic sense for them, but will probably annoy you, the paying customer.

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick.

The situation with Apple, fits into its history of limiting its services to its hardware: Enjoying TV shows and movies you rent or buy from iTunes on the biggest screen in your house without fussing with audio-video cables requires a $149 Apple TV.

Amazon’s behavior makes less sense. It has long balked at shipping an Apple TV app, even though its iOS app supports AirPlay streaming to an Apple TV. Amazon has been just as recalcitrant about adding support for Google’s Chromecast to its iOS app or its Android app, which you can only install by disabling a security setting.
Last year, Amazon banned Apple TV and Chromecast devices from its storefront—a spectacularly petulant move.

It does not really matter what you think about these companies conduct because Apple will keep being Apple and Amazon will keep being Amazon. Roku comes the closest to being the Switzerland of streaming players—remember, it doesn’t sell its own video service. So if your taste in dystopian political dramas requires binge-watching both Netflix’s “House of Cards” and Amazon’s “The Man In The High Castle,” Roku is your best bet.

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Amazon’s Fire TV devices also have Netflix, but its interface gives non-Amazon services second-class treatment. For example, Amazon’s “universal” voice search only gained the ability to find Netflix programming in September. Google’s Play TV & Movies doesn’t offer any exclusive content of note, but if you want to user the service and don’t want to get a Google (GOOG) player, you’ll have to get a Roku. Roku offers a variety of streaming devices with different capabilities.

Ways to Figure out which Streaming Media device to purchase

Putting aside Apple, Amazon and Google’s services, most other big-name streaming offering like Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV can be found on all major players. You’re also likely to find them on new smart TVs, connected Blu-ray players and even a new cable box: Comcast (CMCSA) added Netflix to its X1 boxes in early November and just announced Sling TV is coming to, as well.
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