As a provider of the live streaming service MG-TV, Innovative Systems has ran the gauntlet of consumer streaming devices. We feel well qualified to offer up some opinions on what devices you should suggest to customers based on their desire now, or down the road to have a live streaming video service with a full channel lineup.
The two obvious choices here are Amazon and Roku, with Google Chromecast TV an emerging dark horse. Of the three, Roku has the cleanest home screen with the App ads on the right side of the TV screen, far enough away to not be intrusive. Amazon has been getting aggressive with their banner advertising across the top, and many consumers have expressed frustration. Amazon also has pre-loaded apps that you can’t get rid of and that can be a problem as you add more apps to the stick. For someone who wants to use one of these devices to watch a full 200+ channel live streaming line-up, the base priced Amazon Fire Stick is the fastest, followed by Google Chromecast TV, and Roku is definitely the turtle in this group. Both Amazon and Google Chromecast TV have really good entry level remotes that include TV and volume control while an upgrade above the base Roku is needed for those features. Overall when it comes to basic inexpensive consumer devices, our developers and product managers agree that in the 30-40 dollar price range Amazon is still the best bet for your customers.
Overall Best Experience – If Price is not an Issue
When it comes to more features and integration, the three that would give a customer the best live streaming experience are Apple TV, Amazon Fire Cube, and Roku Ultra. Amazon and Roku have faster processors than their base cousins, but Apple TV delivers the fastest app load times, too bad they don’t have the “find your remote feature”, considering Apple TV comes in at the highest price point. The Roku Ultra has several nice features like a USB port to play back your own library of files on your TV, and the ability to plug in a set of earbuds to the remote for private listening. For the Amazon Fire Cube, tight integration the the Amazon Alexa product is a perk for Amazon users, and the HDMI-IN port lets you connect more devices. Mainly due to better processing power, the Apple TV would be our pick if price was no object. This recommendation would not have been made a couple of years ago before Apple delivered a revamped remote that now has the same look and feel of if it’s competitors remotes.
The Other Alternative
Demographics are the true X factor because some people that have been embedded with a linear video service for decades really struggle with an app based format. When you add in the challenge of having to change TV inputs, for some it’s game over with a consumer streaming device. One solution for service providers has been to offer proprietary Set Top Boxes with traditional remotes set to streaming mode like the IS-5041W. Here is a quote from one service provider on how this is really a game changer with customers.
“By using the multi-purpose IS-5041W STB we can convert our cable TV customers who still desire a traditional remote control and offer video service to customers who want to use their existing consumer devices. “Matt Knegendorf, Baldwin LightStream, WI