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I just installed a Roku stick, and I'm impressed

Thomas Veil

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Mrs. Veil and I, along with my mother (who lives separately), have been planning on ditching cable for streaming. Frankly, though both Mrs. Veil and my mom are intelligent enough to handle streaming, the thought of it has always made them apprehensive. They're afraid of any menu that is more complicated than a basic cable TV channel grid.

So while I've been researching which set-up would be easiest for all of us to use, our Fire stick started to develop arteriosclerosis. It buffers a lot, it drops out, and weirdest of all, sometimes it experiences such severe audio lag that voices sound like HAL 9000 singing "Daisy".

I was planning on being the guinea pig anyway, to see if my planned setup would be suitable for my mom, so this afternoon I replaced my Fire stick with a Roku 4k streaming stick...and boy, what a difference!

I'm sure the Apple TV is simplest and most elegant of all, but at that price tag, I couldn't convince my wife or mom to go that direction. The Roku stick was $39 (on sale this week), and it pretty much lives up to the hype. The menu isn't Apple simple, but it's pretty easy to understand and customizable so you can simplify it even further.

Performance-wise there's no contest: the Roku is way faster than the Fire stick. I can tell I'll be able to set it up in a way that probably won't confuse my mom. The only thing that may be a problem is the remote. Her vision isn't great, so a black remote with small black buttons isn't ideal. A couple of fall-back options: you can voice-control the remote; and Roku has a phone app that duplicates the functions of the dedicated remote.

Anyway, like I said...color me impressed. That's a dandy little gadget.

The author of this post is in no way affiliated with Roku or any related company, and has not been compensated for this review.
 
Addendum...

When I signed back into everything, including Prime, Amazon asked me if I wanted to de-register the Fire stick I installed in 2019.

Really? Is that only how long I've had it? Is it common for those to go bad in only three years?

Or are streaming speeds increasing so fast that older equipment can't handle it?
 
Or are streaming speeds increasing so fast that older equipment can't handle it?

I've been streaming 1080p since 2014, so I doubt it's an issue with the hardware not being able to handle the data being thrown at it.

My guess would be that Amazon sells you cheap products for a cheap price, fully expecting it to last only a maximum of X amount of years.
 
Really? Is that only how long I've had it? Is it common for those to go bad in only three years?

Could heat be the culprit? Some TV's have an HDMI port on the side so the stick can get air. Others have them tucked up in a recessed area that could get hotter. And as we all should know by now, electronics hate heat.
 
Mine’s on the side. @Renzatic may be right, though. A work colleague says his wife likes Kindles…except she has to buy a new one every other year because they break. He wasn’t specific about what wasn’t working, but maybe Amazon electronics just aren’t that good.
 
Mine’s on the side. @Renzatic may be right, though. A work colleague says his wife likes Kindles…except she has to buy a new one every other year because they break. He wasn’t specific about what wasn’t working, but maybe Amazon electronics just aren’t that good.

Many of us trail riders are using Android tablets for mapping. Far superior to dedicated GPS units. But someone will always try to load the programs on a Fire and then find out that Fire's don't have GPS chips in them. So yeah, Amazon electronics = cheap.
 
Mine’s on the side. @Renzatic may be right, though. A work colleague says his wife likes Kindles…except she has to buy a new one every other year because they break. He wasn’t specific about what wasn’t working, but maybe Amazon electronics just aren’t that good.

I would've figured that Kindles would've been among their more endurable products. They cost around $150 on average, unlike, say, the Fires, which can be picked up for dirt cheap.

Edit: like Herdfan said.
 
Addendum...

When I signed back into everything, including Prime, Amazon asked me if I wanted to de-register the Fire stick I installed in 2019.

Really? Is that only how long I've had it? Is it common for those to go bad in only three years?
You made me curious as to how old my current Apple TV 4 is so I looked it up. Purchased in 2018. I paid $149 for it at Best Buy.

I hope I didn't jinx it bringing up that it's still going strong (and still supported).
 
I will say this for the Fire stick...it has non-video apps you can run, even its own Silk browser. I've actually tried looking up web pages on Silk, and while things like inputting URLs is tedious, seeing a web page blown up to a giant screen size is kind of mindblowing.

On the other hand the Roku appears to be purely a TV and movie delivery device, as is the Apple TV...and that's okay with me.
 
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On the other hand the Roku appears to be purely a TV and movie delivery device, as is the Apple TV...and that's okay with me.
...and music. I crank up one of the music apps when I'm cleaning house. You can also do exercise programs/meditation/etc using Apple TV if so inclined.
 
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So…progress report. Roku does have a known technical issue.

Rewinding and fast forwarding tends to freeze after a while. The sound will continue from your intended starting point, but the picture will freeze.

There are workarounds involving either backing out of the stream and re-entering it, or rebooting the Roku altogether. They work, but if I’d known this I probably would’ve just sprung a lot more money for an Apple TV.
 
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