Apple TV vs. Chromecast

Category: Gadgets , Television , Video

If a streaming media player is on your Christmas shopping list, you've probably narrowed the field down to a few market leaders. Google Chromecast accounted for 35% of media player purchases in Q3 of this year, and another 20% of buyers went with Apple TV. These products do much the same things in entirely different ways. Here’s how they compare:

Comparing Chromecast and Apple TV

Streaming media players make it easy to play Internet content (videos, movies and TV shows) on your big screen television. In this article, I'll compare the features of Google's Chromecast with the Apple TV.

Apple TV is a "hockey puck" crammed full of electronics. It’s a small box, only 4 x 4 x 1.5 inches, but it takes up shelf space. External ports include HDMI, Ethernet, USB-C, and a proprietary power cord jack. The AC/DC power converter is inside the box, so there is no wall wart or brick to contend with. Also inside are WiFi and Bluetooth radios, and an infrared receiver for remote control. Either 32 or 64GB of storage space are available. A 64-bit A8 chip handles all the data processing.

The Apple TV weighs about 15 ounces, and as Henry Ford would say, "You can have any color you want, as long as it's black."

Apple TV or Chromecast?

Chromecast doesn’t take up any shelf space. Its form factor is a disk 2 inches in diameter and 0.6 inches thick. A short HDMI cable emerges from the disk, allowing your Chromecast to just dangle from your TV’s HDMI port. A Micro-USB port accepts a thin power cable that connects to a wall power supply. WiFi is the only wireless connectivity; an optional Ethernet cable adapter is available for $15. The Chromecast contains the Marvell Armada 1500 Mini Plus 88DE3006 SoC, which has dual ARM Cortex-A7 processors running at 1.2 GHz. Only 512MB of RAM and 2GB of flash storage are included.

The Chromecast dongle weighs less than 2 ounces and comes in three colors: red, yellow or black.

The lightweight specs of Chromecast compared to Apple TV reflect the different ways in which the two products process data. Both products require an app for each streaming media service provider (i. e., Netflix, Hulu). Apple TV runs apps on itself. Chromecast relies on apps installed on external devices such as smartphones, tablets, laptop or desktop computers.

With Chromecast, you'll use an app on your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone to find a video you want to cast onto your TV screen. Once the stream starts, the Chromecast dongle takes over management of buffering and displaying the content, freeing your device for other chores and conserving a mobile device’s battery.

Compatibility and Other Considerations

Roku is another streaming media player that I've covered here. See my article Can Roku Replace Cable TV Service? to learn about the Roku product line.

Chromecast is compatible with devices running Android, iOS, or Windows. Apple TV can stream content stored on an Android device using Apple’s AirPlay protocol and an app such as DoubleTwist. Windows is supported via iTunes for Windows.

Remote control is also handled differently by each product. Chromecast relies on those external devices, while Apple TV comes with a new Siri-enabled remote control that’s getting mixed reviews. Apps used with Chromecast can provide full virtual keyboards that make typing login credentials and search terms fairly easy. The Apple remote has a 1.5-inch square touchpad; using that to navigate a straight line of alphabet characters on a big screen is very tricky; it’s easy to overshoot characters. (See apple_tv_keyboard.jpg) Fortunately, Siri’s voice control works well for searches. But login credentials for service providers cannot be entered using voice commands.

Apple TV now has an app store, as does Chromecast. But all apps for Apple TV run only on iOS, and there are few apps that aren’t music or video related. Chromecast apps include games and other types of applications that might look or work better on the big screen.

If you're shopping on price, there's no contest. The Chromecast costs $35. A 32GB Apple TV costs $149 and the 64GB version is $199. Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

 
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This article was posted by on 15 Dec 2015


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Most recent comments on "Apple TV vs. Chromecast"

(See all 22 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Jan
15 Dec 2015

Bob, one addition: Chromecast works fine with Google's Chrome Browser on a MAC or Windows system.


Posted by:

Brewster
15 Dec 2015

But Bob, What about the ROKU!?!

EDITOR'S NOTE: You missed the link to my Roku article in the sidebar...


Posted by:

Richard
15 Dec 2015

Bob another absorbing brief but to the point article. I'm a UK resident and have had Chromecast since it's inception. Absolute simplicity to use, never let me down or dropped a 'stream' and as always Google products are far easier to operate. It took months before Apple introduced a Chromecast App but the simplicity for multiple users of the Chromecast (such as partygoers, etc) means it wins hands down for me. I do have three very excellent Apple products with the latest IPod Touch among them.


Posted by:

Bill
15 Dec 2015

How about Miracast / WiDi? I want this but in the past it has had mixed reviews. I wonder if it has matured.


Posted by:

Peter Loppe
15 Dec 2015

I have been using Chromecast for a few years now and am very happy with it. Very few malfunctions. Bet of all -it's very portable. I take it along to Mexico where the TV programs are all in Spanish and broadcast my favourite Netflix show from my Smartphone or Laptop to the big screen TV.


Posted by:

Bill Boogaart
15 Dec 2015

I've been using Western Digital's WD TV Live boxes because they allow me to stream video that I have stored on my NAS boxes. Can either the Apple TV or the Chromecast do that? I'm only asking because the Western Digital TV Live devices are becoming hard to come by and if I ever need a replacement, I don't want to be buying the wrong product. I think Western Digital has discontinued them.


Posted by:

A Frazier
15 Dec 2015

Disappointed Roku not included. Wonderful product, have two I have used for several years. For those stuck in the 90's with an analog TV Roku 1 works with analog TV with RCA input and when they finally upgrade to digital, works with that too with a HDMI cord. Great gifting! Breeze to install. Many other benefits, including a Roku stick which is very small factor - can't beat the price and works with all streaming sites. All you need is internet access. Roku site has good info and all particulars.

EDITOR'S NOTE: You missed the link to my Roku article in the sidebar...


Posted by:

John
15 Dec 2015

I received a Chromecast last year for xmas. There was a lot it couldn't stream. took it back and got Apple TV. Much better. Many apps and Can stream almost anything through wife's ipad. One year later and we love it as TV goes to reruns.


Posted by:

susan
15 Dec 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS BOB!!!! LOVE YOUR ARTICLES!


Posted by:

anita
15 Dec 2015

I use a Roku and since I am out of the US have a vpn going through my router. I also had to get a second router where I was able to change my dns # since the router that comes from our service is sealed. Would I still need a vpn and 2nd router with either of these devices?


Posted by:

Kenneth Heikkila
15 Dec 2015

I bought a Chromecast several months ago, but I was never able to set it up- it didn't like my router settings and I found the instructions for changing them quite complex. I do use my BlueRay disk player for Netflix, Amazon Prime and occasionally some of the other services.


Posted by:

Dayna DeLaVergne
15 Dec 2015

LOVE my Chromecast! Easy to get it up and running! No problems--have used it for about a year (at least). Merry Christmas, Bob!


Posted by:

MmeMoxie
15 Dec 2015

I have not tried either product. While, I must admit, the new Chromecast does intrigue me. Maybe, it's the female in me, it really does look so cute. :)

My granddaughter uses Netflix, as well as my Netgear Adapter. She loves it. I am a user of VUDU. We can get both, on the Netgear Adapter, plus, a lot of other services. What I like about the Netgear, is that lots of apps are available right in the adapter and you only have to chose which one or two you want.

The Netgear Adapter is rather easy to install. My granddaughter did it on her TV, without any help, I think. She is computer, network illiterate. Maybe, my grandson helped her, he could easily do it.

I got my Netgear Adapter on sale, for about the same price as a Chromecast Dongler. I looked at all of the adapters and finally, chose the Netgear. The hardest part is setting up the WiFi. Trying to get the numbers and letters in with the remote control, is really a bummer. Why? You are not using a keyboard, you have to use their format to enter the information.

I current problem is getting my Spectre Sound Bar, to work with my Phillips Blu-Ray DVD player! This one is making me nuts and I am not to sure, I can get the two to work, together. Bummer. :(


Posted by:

Rita
15 Dec 2015

I have one each (Chromecast in the bedroom & Apple TV in the living room.) They are similar in ease of use; I actually prefer the Chromecast interface over the Apple remote. My beef with both of them is, neither will stream Amazon videos. Guess I'll have to get the Amazon device and get a third tv, grrrrr.


Posted by:

Michael Shames
15 Dec 2015

We've been using both Apple and Chromecast. Both work quite well -- Chromecast is clearly a better value except for those who are tied in to the Apple environment. So, we've concluded that Apple TV is currently designed for Apple users....and the rest of the market is better served by Google's offering.


Posted by:

Leo
15 Dec 2015

Thanks Bob for writing this article. I was curious how they differed. I was interested in the Chromecast, for the price and the many things it could do! With this article it confirms my choice! Merry Christmas Bob, and thanks for the articles you write!


Posted by:

Paul
15 Dec 2015

I love the Chromecast. I used to have a Roku 3 and as a heavy user of YouTube the Roku YouTube channel basically sucked. Would hardly ever show videos at their best resolution unless you rebooted the Roku on a frequent basis. The Chromecast works perfectly with Youtube not surprisingly. Many complaints on the Roku forums but never any fixes.

I had assumed that a $35 device could not compete with a highly rated $99 dedicated streaming box but I was wrong.

As someone embedded in the Google lifestyle I should have got one earlier.


Posted by:

Ellett
15 Dec 2015

Rita's comment " ...neither will stream Amazon videos..." is not really correct. Both Chromecast and Apple TV would stream Amazon in a heartbeat if Jeff Bezos allowed it. It's an Amazon-created problem that only Amazon can fix.


Posted by:

Paul
16 Dec 2015

To add to @Ellett s comment. The chromecast is not at fault for not being able to stream Amazon content natively through the Amazon Prime app, the fact is that Amazon and Google are not the best of friends right now and so the functionality is deliberately crippled on Android. Funnily enough the Amazon streaming devices apparently stream Google owned YouTube. http://www.techhive.com/article/2982096/streaming-services/the-sad-story-of-amazon-video-on-chromecast-and-android-tv.html


Posted by:

David Baker
21 Feb 2016

Hey Bob,
Just got around to reading your article. Good stuff as always! I just bought a refurbished Chromecast from Groupon Goods for $18. It's the older model. Haven't used it yet but excited. Cheers, David


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