The participants in this contest represent the top three contenders for Internet streaming dominance. The test was simple; how fast could each device load up Netflix for two kids impatiently waiting for their weekly fix of “Wild Kratts” and “My Little Pony”.
ROKU 2 XS – $89.99 (Discontinued)
This is my old warhorse. While the user interface won’t blow your socks off it did deliver where it counted. Netflix loaded up in about 30 seconds. Roku offers up a ton of channel selections, many of which I would never watch but if you want variety, it’s the only option. All the big channels you’d expect, including Amazon Prime.
The UI is classic Apple, easy to navigate and intuitive. Channel selection isn’t very good but if you download your content from iTunes exclusively this is the set top box for you. No Amazon Prime but I can stream my iTunes library through it, which makes me a happy Kaiser. Netflix loaded up quicker and looks better than the Roku.
The setup was clunky and is not a true set top box in the traditional sense. You essentially stream apps from your mobile device to the Chromecast which I had directly connected to an open HDMI port on my television. Netflix took forever to load up but looked great through the 2.4 Ghz WiFi connection once it got going (no 5 Ghz option). Limited channel selections but Google has been updating the device regularly since its debut.
As many of you with kids have already figured out this was pretty much my Kobayashi Maru. There is no device on earth that can load up Netflix fast enough for two restive young’uns.
I put my Roku 2 XS out to pasture and the Google Chromecast will become a permanent part of my travel arsenal. The Apple TV is my current go to set top box.
It is the current (and probably only) winner of the Pop Tech Jam Annual TV Streaming Smackdown.