Tried both and have good things to say about Roku Streaming Stick!
First thing I would like to say about Chromecast to Google engineers is, ‘No, my smartphone is not a perfect remote; indeed my smartphone is a smartphone and a remote is a remote”. And to Roku, ‘Good job for not trying to re-invent a different kind of wheel!’
This is in reference to Google’s introduction to Chromecast saying “Your phone is the best remote”. It does make sense initially, traditional kind of remote or a visual remote, touch screen remote or etc. However, in my experience this did not help me so much. Most obviously, what happens when the phone’s battery is dead? Let’s assume, it won’t be a big deal. Then say for instance, I would want to pause the show for a minute or even 5 seconds to talk to somebody and then continue, what ends up happening is, you first bring up the respective app on your phone, then the app connects to Chromecast and once the pause button is available on the screen, you select it (talking specifically about Netflix). Similar workflow is true for start re-playing. Multiple clicks and taps. On the other hand, Roku comes with a standalone remote. For this kind of needs, you know where to press for pause and play. Btw, this is all tried on iPhone 6 with iOS 9. In the future, things could be more seamless but for the time being, this is what it is. The only downside of the remote is no illumination at dark.
How to Stream From Computer to Roku
This part of the review is especially for Windows 10 PC users looking to cast their screens to the TV, either via HDMI cable or via Miracast technologies. I recently upgraded my laptop and unfortunately the laptop of my choice did not come with a HDMI port. Instead, it comes with a USB-C port, so I would have to look for USB-C to HDMI converters to be able to use my HDMI cable. The alternative was to use a Miracast dongle and hook it up to the back of the TV and cast my screen using Intel WiDi option. Both options come with a minimum $20 cost, ranging easily up to $50. This is when I came across Google’s Chromecast beta feature, casting the entire screen to the TV using the Chromecast extension on Chrome browser. Got a Chromecast and tried it but the performance was exteremely bad, mouse cursor would follow with about 1 second of delay on the TV so it was practically impossible to use. Next I tried the Roku Streaming Stick and to my surprise, it gave me the same or similar performance as my HDMI cable connection, less the cable clutter on my desk. It took a few checking around to adjust the settings though, the resolution was originally set to something totally irrelevant, but after setting it to 1920×1080, and the size of the text to 150%, everything was perfect to my taste. I believe the Roku stick (SKU# 3600R) has a perfect implementation of Miracast technology and it worked seamlessly with my Samsung 32″ TV. Cast to Roku worked.
As described, Google’s Chromecast depends on your smartphone to establish the interaction with the TV and undoubtedly works well with the YouTube, Netflix and other popular apps. All you need is to click on the cast button on your smartphone app. Unfortunately, having a full dependency on a smartphone and not having a remote option pushed me away from Chromecast and the remote and a good implementation of Miracast pulled me towards Roku Streaming Stick, which I’m very happy to use on my Samsung TV. You can use my affiliate link to order from Amazon. At the time of this writing, Chromecast is retailing for $35 and Roku Streaming Stick for $50, the $15 price difference is very well justified.