What Streaming Box Should I Get Next?

I am what you call a “cord cutter”. I haven’t paid for cable television for about 5 years now. The reason? I don’t think it is worth paying $100/month when I can get almost everything I want with local television and an $8/month streaming service like Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. The one big omission is ESPN. I miss my “da na na, na na na”. Without hesitation, I would pay $8/month for just the ESPN channel to be provided as a streaming service without the current requirement of an existing cable provider. One can only wish for now.

I currently get my streaming services through a Blu-ray player, which has a handful of streaming apps, and my Roku. They are each connected to separate televisions. Since we hardly ever watch physical discs anymore and my Blu-ray is quite slow with its few streaming options, I would like to supplement our Blu-ray player with a second streaming box. Which should I get? This is what you call a 1st-world problem. With the announcement of the new Amazon Fire TV, the battle to dominate my living room is really beginning to heat up.

The first major consideration is an Apple TV. As a designer, I am an Apple guy. But I am not currently invested deep enough in the iTunes ecosystem for this to be a major option for me. I have not bought any movies through iTunes and the Apple TV provides some of the major apps, but not much more. Frankly, I believe they are behind the times on this. I think they are failing to innovate and look ahead, but that is for another blogpost. So for me, Apple TV is out.

I currently own an older version of the Roku and I love it. It is small, opens apps quickly and has a ton of apps available to download. The one omission on my older Roku is a Youtube app is not available. But Youtube is now an active channel on the newer Roku 3. Roku boxes currently have 1000+ channels/apps to choose from. The strength of selection makes this a major consideration to get another.

Then there is the Amazon Fire TV that was introduced a couple days ago. This has some innovative features, such as a bluetooth remote that allows you to do a voice search with the touch of a button. It has certified Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. It has a faster processor and twice the memory as it’s competitors. It also appears to have the best gaming features and games available. Although it has more streaming apps than Apple TV (the biggest omission is HBO GO), it is still a distant second to Roku with its selection. I am willing to bet the app library will grow considerably in the future.

If you had to choose today, which streaming box would you purchase and why?