Roku VS Android - World's Best Streamer

Roku VS Android - World's Best Streamer

Why Android not Roku may someday dominate the Media Streaming Industry!

The success Roku has had in the media streaming community is amazing. Roku practically an unknown company only a few years ago, is now dominating the media streaming market which industry giants like Apple and Western Digital once held firmly in their grasp. While Roku may no longer face a serious threat from the Apple TV, a far greater threat to their number one spot may be coming quickly from low cost powerful Android based media streamers.

Sometimes to see where we're going it's a good idea to take a look back to see where we've been. 

On May 20, 2008 the Roku DVP was their first Ubuntu Linux Based internet streaming box to hit store shelves as a Netflix player. Media streaming back then was still in it's early stages. It was just the year before on January 9, 2007 that Apple released their first generation Apple TV which gave it's customers access to iTunes and the ability to rent movies online from their TV sets. 

At this time most people still went to their neighborhood video store, supermarket or Blockbusters to rent VHS video tapes and DVDs to watch movies. Netflix was becoming popular by saving us two trips to the video store and delivering new movie rentals directly to our mailbox at home. With the faster speed of broadband internet, many people quickly began dumping their 56K dial up modems in favor of broadband and the media streaming industry began to take off.

In November 2008 Western Digital announced their 1st generation WD TV. This gave consumers the ability to play back media from a USB drive, computer or NAS from a small box plugged directly into their television. With faster internet also came the dark side to streaming as well. Pirated Movies and TV shows were easier and faster to download and save to home computers and laptops. During this time media players were actually more popular than streamers because downloaded movies and TV shows could easily be transferred to a media player by a USB stick or drive and then played back directly on a television instead of a computer screen.

1st Generation Apple TV

Apple TVs were locked down and only played mp4 or m4v video files. The Apple TV platform became more popular when people discovered they could jailbreak their 1st and 2nd generation Apple TV and install XBMC and use it to stream many different file types including .avi and .mkv files two very popular video formats on download sites.  

The Apple TV soon commanded a large portion of the media streaming market. The big limitation at the time was Apple's first and even 2nd generation Apple TVs only would play content in 720P HD. 

In September of 2010 Roku released a trio of new models including a model that could do full 1080P HD upping the ante against Apple.

Open Platform VS Closed Platform - The Fundamental Difference between Roku and Apple

Apple always tightly controlled their software and hardware. Some may view this negatively and short sighted. Others believe this tighter control over both hardware and software is what makes Apple products superior. There is no double that it is restrictive, and since Apple sells and rents media content through iTunes, it could have been put in place to protect and increase profit margins at the expense of giving their customers what the really wanted open unrestricted access to their hardware.

Fortunately for Roku, they had no video content store of their own and relied completely on independent 3rd party developers to provide content for their Roku players. This gave them a huge market advantage because instead of limiting themselves to just a handful of channels, their platform was opened to the imagination of many talented content or channel developers who created at last count over 1500 Roku channels. 

This sheer number of channels while both exhilarating and often overwhelming is largely the reason for Roku's success story today. 

Here is a list of the Top 70 Best Roku Channels you may want to try. 

Top of the Line Roku 3
Roku currently is on their 3rd generation of media streamers and surpassed all others in number of units sold. Roku today is one of the most popular media streamers available with millions of customers around the world.

Will the Roku Success Story Last? 

When two companies compete for market share, this often ends up a big win for consumers. Often times when a company reaches the coveted number one spot, they often get a little lazy and stop working as hard, or just rest on their laurels. Maybe this is what has happened with Apple, hopefully it won't happen with Roku. While Roku may enjoy their time in the sun, they would be wise to keep a close eye on their rearview mirror. Android is coming up quickly and nipping at their heals.

Why Android Media Streamers May Some Day Dominate the Media Streaming Industry

Android the brainchild of a few private developers and purchased by Google in August of 2005, started out as an operating system for cameras and then went on to become a very successful (OS) for mobile devices. 

The Android OS built on a Linux kernel is primarily used to power touch screen devices like tablets and mobile phones. It has a huge market share since many different hardware manufactures use this OS on their devices. 

Google has also built up a large App Store for the Android Platform that rivals iTunes. Android has one of the largest base of users in the industry and is installed on more devices than both Apple and Microsoft's mobile devices put together.

One just need browse the Amazon store for media streamers and you will see many are based on some form of Android OS. There are a few companies that have made a name for themselves like G-Box, Minix,  Ugoos and a few others that share powerful processors and use the Android OS.

Some clever developers have opened the Android platform to much more content from questionable sources with a handful of mostly unknown apps. Roku while more open than Apple still keeps their channel developers tightly under their control and can take down a channel at any time that may not conform to with their policies.

While Google has eliminate some questionable or undesirable apps from their Google Play store that stream Movies and TV shows from internet sources. This won't prevent users from downloading and installing these apps or .apks from other online sites. This is a very big draw for many people who simply install an app on their Android and then have access to stream pretty much any movie or TV show for free. 

Even though these apps are out there and available, hopefully streamers still subscribe to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Instant to support and help the streaming media industry continue to grow.

Along with access to this content Android media streamers also offer Kodi  (XBMC) which also has a long list of plug-ins or add-ons available that offer users access to pretty much every Movie and TV show available online. Kodi (XBMC) is not available on the Roku platform. 

Roku users can use the Plex Channel along with the Plex unsupported App Store together with computer that runs the Plex Server software. The computer must be on and used together with their Roku channel for it to work. Plex Unsupported Apps allow access to a few extra sources free streaming sites although still nowhere near the volume of content available on Kodi (XBMC) or the Movie streaming apps available for Android based streamers.

Roku vs Android OS

The Android OS which is based on Linux and is a much more powerful operating system than Brightscript which Roku media streamers currently run on. If Roku want's to continue keeping up with new technology, at some point they may need to change their operating system and move to a more robust Linux based OS.

Android Offers Faster Hardware

Minix NEO X8H Powerful Quad Core Processor with 4K UHD

Roku has not updated their flagship Dual-core Roku 3 since March of 2013.  In the fall of 2013 Android media streamers were available that had Quad-core processors, recently Minix released an even faster Quad-core X8H Neo that supports ultra 4K UHD. Amazon's new FireTV also has a lightning fast Quad Core CPU. 

Recently Roku announced it was partnering with HiSense a Chinese manufacture of budget televisions. The smart in these TVs will be powered by built in Roku H4 media streamers. While this is exciting and will certainly help promote their brand, there is still not yet a stand alone Roku Quad-core media streamer available from Roku. 

Still No Web Browser Available on Roku

Android OS comes with a Chrome web browser. A web browser is something still lacking on Roku. There are over a million apps and games available for Android. An Android media streamer can easily do double duty as a low cost computer. 

Both a Chrome web browser and an app for Gmail are included on Android media players. These apps and the powerful Android platform makes this hardware more versatile and future proof than a simple media streamer.

Roku is Easier to Use

Some may argue that Roku media streamers are much easier to use. There is no doubt the Roku graphical user interface is very simple to use for non techie users. You turn it on and it's pretty much plug and play once a simple setup process has been completed. 

Android on the other hand because it is far more powerful requires a bit more configuring or customizing out of the box. That's not to say a custom firmware could not be developed to have it start up into dumbed down mode. This may not be necessary since some Androids boxes are already rooted and can easily be set to start up in Kodi (XBMC) or with any other number of media streaming apps available for the platform. For those that aren't this app will do the trick: AutoStart - No root 

Cost - Android VS Roku

Roku media streamers are more affordable. Even the top of the line Roku 3 can be found for well under a hundred dollars. Android Media Players are also quite affordable with some dual core models also near the $100 mark. The newest fastest Quad-four Android models are closer to $150.

It's highly recommended to purchase a wireless or bluetooth mouse, or keyboard combo with an Android box as included remotes are often quite cheap and don't work well past 10 feet. This does add a little more to the cost and makes an Android streamer slightly more expensive than a top of the line Roku.

Why Android May Eventually Become Number One!

While Roku has a more open platform than Apple, their platform still has some limitations and restrictions. Meanwhile the Android OS continues to mature and become more polished with each version update.  As more manufactures release newer and faster hardware competing for market share, Android could eventually become the market leader and dominate the media streaming landscape in the future. Much like they currently do with mobile devices.  

Roku is enjoying their well deserved time in the sun and like other companies who once dominated their markets completely in the past, all good things eventually come to an end. When the day comes, Android media players will be there, ready and waiting to take their place as number one.

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