Noticing sluggish performance in that Roku player? Smaller electronics are undergoing a kind of renaissance at the moment as mobile processors (the kind powering your smartphone) are getting massive performance boosts. This means your streaming box may be trying to run 2014 software on a 2013 platform. Normally, this hasn’t been much of an issue, but those advances mean noticeable performance degradation year over year. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay top dollar for a newer, faster streaming option. The trend now is the streaming stick, a very small Roku-type device that plugs directly into your tv. Roku offers a 50 dollar option, but it hasn’t been updated in a while and there are more affordable options this holiday season. The Google Chromecast is a 30 dollar streaming stick that plays Netflix, Hulu Plus, Youtube, the Google Play services, Crackle, and more. At 30 dollars, that’s the best bargain streaming stick on the market, though it doesn’t come with a remote. Instead, it uses a smartphone or tablet as a controller, which may be a little inconvenient, especially if your phone doesn’t get great battery life.
The newest product in this category is the Amazon Fire TV Stick. At 40 dollars, it’s slightly more expensive than the Chromecast, but does come with a remote. The Fire Stick also sports a blazing fast dual-core processor and more memory than any other stick on the market, translating to very snappy performance.
Thanks for the great info, Chet! Tomorrow we’ll bring you one more round of tech gift ideas so stay tuned! Have you guys started your Christmas shopping yet? Completely done? Did you take part in Black Friday? What about Small Business Saturday. Let me know in the comments below!