Illustration by Kris Kinkade, USA Today
Consumer Reports just tested 11 stream box video units, basic ones, including Apple TV and Roku 3. USA TODAY did it's own review of ChromeCast.
We have a mix of both below.
When it comes to Apple TV and Roku 3 they cost $50 to $100 and testers found big differences in how easy they are to set up and use.
"When it comes to connecting to your Wi-Fi network, some of them make it a lot easier by offering the WPS push-button option, which if your router supports it, all you have to do is push a simple button to connect to your wireless network," says Christopher Andrade of Consumer Reports.
The devices were set up in this connectivity lab to evaluate how well they deliver content to a television.
All offer great picture quality, but when it comes to features, some are lacking.
"Some of these boxes give you access to a lot more services, like Netflix, Vudu, and Hulu, while others are a lot more limited. Also, some of them allow you to access your personal content, like home movies, music, and photos from your cell phone, tablet, and home PC."
Consumer Reports found you don't have to spend top dollar to get top performance.
The Western Digital WD TV Play was the highest rated and costs just 65 dollars. It's less expensive and easier to use than both Apple TV and
It has handy features like a remote control with dedicated app buttons, and a USB port so you can access personal media files like home movies. Consumer Reports didn't test Chromecast because testers felt that it didn't offer as much as the others and shouldn't be included.
USA TODAY Technology Reporter Ed Baig did look at Chromecast.
"It is $35 and that should not to be underestimated. We're talking an impulse purchase here. But moving beyond that, Chromecast is a tiny product. It's a little key fob and it's an easy set up. You simply plug it in to the HDMI port that is on every HDTV. The one tricky thing is you have to hook it up to power either through a USB port if the TV has one or through a strip." You also need Wi-Fi.
The selling point for Chromecast, aside from the cheap price, is you can use either android or ios which is Apple. And the fact it's the size of a key fob, which means you can take it with you when you travel.
Chromecast uses Youtube, Netflix, Google zone play apps movies, tv ,music , and your computer.
When it comes to streaming your family photos or videos from your phone, that isn't an option. But you can do it through your computer. "I have to caution folks though , this is still being tested it's in beta mode this ability to cast from this computer that probably gets sorted out pretty quickly because there has been a lot of interest in Chromecast.