Roku Streaming Stick vs. Google Chromecast For Travel

Roku Streaming Stick vs. Google Chromecast For Travel

June 29, 2020 Travel Tech Blog 0

How does the Roku Streaming Stick compare to the Google Chromecast for travel? If you are wondering which you should go pick as a travel stream stick, we break down each of their travel features. This includes how resilient it is with potentially inconsistent Hotel WiFi, some common problems and solutions you might need while away from home with your Roku.

We’ve recently recently tested a number of streaming sticks to determine which streaming devices are best for travel. If you are interested in knowing the other options available and how they compare, check out our Best Streaming Sticks for Travel.

Travel Features

Hotel/Airbnb WiFi Support

The Roku generally works well on hotel or Airbnb WiFi. Unlike the Chromecast the Roku does not need any special configuration for each hotel. You just need to connect to the hotel’s WiFi. However, most hotel WiFi systems do have a captive portal. You can read more about that below.

Captive Portal

What are captive portals? They are the popups you get that prompt you to login or provide additional information prior to using the Hotel, AirBnb or other locations WiFi. Captive portal are rarely used at most AirBnb’s. However, for regular hotel travelers they are a primary feature for sure. Very few hotels allow you to use their WiFi without accepting terms and conditions, entering a room name, an additional password screen or other consideration.

Roku Streaming StickGoogle Chromecast
The Roku streaming stick has have a special feature to detail with captive portals. It popups and gives you a code you can enter on your phone where you can then complete the captive portal login there, rather than on the Roku.Google Chromecast does not support captive portals at all. However, if you connect with a phone or other device that does support captive portals and then configure the Chromecast, it can in some instances still use the connection, but it’s generally the exception. If you stay at a lot of hotels that use a captive portal, the Chromecast is not going to be a great choice.

travel router can help you avoid this extra step. With a travel router once you pass the captive portal on one device, usually your phone or laptop, any additional devices you connect will work normally.

Automatic Remote Config

Something rarely discussed by non-travel sites is the automatic remote configuration feature of many streaming sticks. While at home setting up your remote is a one time need, at least until you buy a new TV. When traveling each new location has a new TV. If you want to be able to use a single remote to control the volume and power on your TV and your streaming stick, you’ll likely want a device that can automatically detect the TV.

For the devices that have this feature, all you need to do is connect via HDMI to a newer TV. Most TVs since 2016 support identification via HDMI that the supported devices can use to configure the remotes.

Roku Streaming StickGoogle Chromecast
The Roku Streaming Stick supports this feature. It will automatically detect the TV and control it’s volume and power features without needing to enter any codes or identify the TV model yourself.Since the Chromecast does not have a remote, it does not support this feature. You’ll need to continue to use the remote that came with the TV to control the volume.

WiFi Performance

In our recent comparison of Streaming Stick WiFi Performance, the Roku Streaming Stick performed very well. It essentially tied at the top of our performance list. Bottom line the Roku will be as capable as any other WiFi stick at dealing with inconsistent or poor hotel WiFi.

The Google Chromecast placed last. While the Chromecast is reasonably resilient to poor WiFi it degraded and stop working under half the conditions the Roku did. This does not necessarily make it a bad choice for travel. It’s low cost and the chance you may already have one mean it can still be a viable choice. However, if you are looking to purchase a dedicated streaming device for travel, you may want to consider some of the other players.

Common Problems and Solutions

Finding Power For Your Streaming Stick In A Hotel – Many hotel rooms don’t make it easy to find power sources for your streaming stick. Here are a few tips and tricks that may help you.

Changing Input On Hotel TVs – many hotel TVs don’t make it easy or obvious how to change the input on the TV. This guide will provide a few tips and tricks.