fire stickWe just bought a $39 Amazon “Fire Stick” for our second TV, to bring in hundreds of extra movie and TV channels, plus games and apps. On our main TV, we have the $49 Roku 3 stick. Here’s the difference: Roku usually gives you more choices.

For example, we recently searched for the screwball comedy, “The Long, Long Trailer,” with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez. The Roku found the movie as a $3 rental from “Vudu.” The Amazon Fire Stick couldn’t find it, because it only searches Amazon and Hulu Plus. Later, we looked for the Hitchcock classic, “The Lady Vanishes.” The Fire Stick had it for $3 from Amazon, but Roku had it for free. Roku also has the History Channel programs for free but on the Fire Stick they are either unavailable or cost $3 each.

But the Roku player has one glitch that bugs us.  Joy uses an exercise app called “The Daily Burn,” and the Roku often gets mixed up.  She’ll select level 9 yoga and get level 5. It will even say “Yoga 9” while playing Yoga 5. It can be quite annoying but if she leaves the Daily Burn and starts over, it works. The Fire Stick doesn’t do this. But if we had to recommend one stick, we’d say, go with Roku or Google’s $35 Chromecast.

Whichever stick you choose, try the “search” function. Searching on “new releases” turns up the latest movies. Searching on an actor is fun. On the Fire Stick, we searched on “Cary Grant” and got dozens of movies we’d never heard of: one starred David Niven but was the sort of movie Cary Grant fans would like. All these sticks, including Google’s “Chromecast,” require a TV that has an HDMI port or a DVI port that can handle a converter cable, something you’ll find only on high-definition TVs.

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