Hubbl v Chromecast v Apple TV: Which Streaming Box Should You Buy?

Hubbl v Chromecast v Apple TV: Which Streaming Box Should You Buy?

We’ve just finished up with the Hubbl streaming box, the latest piece of kit from Foxtel, set to shake up the Australian streaming box landscape. But it’s a tough market to crack and in Australia, the device faces hot competition from the Apple TV and the Google Chromecast (particularly the newest version, the ‘Chromecast with Google TV’).

As someone who has spent quite a bit of time with each of these devices, let’s compare them, to help you figure out which you should buy for your household.

If you’re not across these devices, we’ve reviewed the Hubbl, the Chromecast with Google TV, and the Apple TV separately.

A Hubbl Glass TV, note that you don’t need a Hubbl box to use Hubbl on this. Image: Hubbl

Best compatibility: Hubbl, Chromecast, or Apple TV

You might be the type of person that likes having all of your devices talking to each other, and would like your streaming box to be part of the equation.

Stating the obvious, Apple TV works best with Apple devices, while Chromecast works best with Android devices. By ‘best’, we mean that if you’re using an iPhone and an Apple TV, for example, then you can also use your iPhone as a TV remote, or you can project your iPhone screen directly to the TV. The same goes for Android devices and Chromecast, with the added functionality of mirroring your Google Chrome browser display (on a laptop or desktop) directly to your Chromecast, along with any compatible apps across the iOS and Android ecosystems. Apple TV also has Siri compatibility across your smart home setup, while Chromecast has Google Assistant compatibility. Hubbl doesn’t have any of this functionality, although unlike these two devices, it does have a port in the back for digital channels via aerial. Hubbl also has an Ethernet port, as does the more expensive Apple TV model. All devices can connect to your TV via HDMI.

Hubbl vs Chromecast vs Apple TV compatibility: Chromecast and Apple TV offer great compatibility with your devices and apps, but it depends on what other tech you’re bringing to the equation.

Best apps: Hubbl, Chromecast, or Apple TV

All three streaming boxes offer (most of) the expected suite of apps: Netflix, Binge, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Stan, YouTube, and other mainstays of the Australian streaming market, but there are obvious caveats here and there, especially for Hubbl.

Naturally, as Apple TV and Chromecast have been around for longer, and developers are more accustomed to making apps for those platforms, there is a greater variety of downloadable content on those streaming boxes, including lighter-weight games. You can even expect to find many of your favourite niche streamers on these platforms, such as Hayu and Shudder.

However, Hubbl is missing a lot of those smaller players, and lacks some bigger ones, too – such as Optus Sport and Paramount (though these are said to be on the way). There’s also no ability to download apps from an app store, and at the time of writing, you must login to your Hubbl with the same account that you intend to use for Binge, Kayo, Flash, and LifeStyle. There’s currently no support for alternate accounts on these apps.

Hubbl vs Chromecast vs Apple TV apps: Hubbl has many of the favourites, and although you might not mind the absence of some smaller players, Chromecast and Apple TV have greater variety and a more open framework with their operating systems.

hubbl chromecast apple
Image: Google

Best interface: Hubbl, Chromecast, or Apple TV

Hubbl, Chromecast, and Apple TV are all streaming ‘aggregators’, meaning that while they’re not streaming services on their own, they are each devices designed so that all of the content across all of your subscribed streaming services can be found in one place, in one menu. This allows you to quickly search for something to start watching, be it over voice or typing (all three are compatible with voice commands via the remote).

Now let’s be honest – this section is fairly subjective, as it mostly comes down to personal preference, or you might find the interface to be so similar that it’s a non-issue. After some nights of use, I consider the Hubbl interface to be the nicest, as it’s fairly clean and easy to navigate, though a bit slow with loading some apps, such as Prime Video and Disney+.

Of the three, the Apple TV is certainly the most premium-looking and lends itself best to the Apple ecosystem (obviously). It’s like having a big iPhone blown up on your TV.

Finally, the Google Chromecast certainly looks nice, but you might find its design to be a bit cluttered or boring. I find it to be fine, but using Hubbl recently has been a breath of fresh air.

Hubbl vs Chromecast vs Apple TV interface: All three are fairly well laid out.

Best remote: Hubbl, Chromecast, or Apple TV

As your primary point of interface for your nominated streaming device, a good remote can matter quite a lot, and you might prefer to have less complexity or more buttons.

The Apple TV ‘Siri Remote’ is certainly the most premium feeling. With six buttons and a navigation disc, it has a really nice metallic feeling in your hand. If you lose the remote, and you own an iPhone, you can use the iPhone to locate it.

The Chromecast remote is the cheapest-feeling, but it’s fine in a middle-of-the-road way. There are buttons specific for YouTube and Netflix, and a navigation wheel at the top.

Finally, the Hubbl remote is the most normal-looking, as if it’s a standard TV remote. Who would have thought? It has numeric buttons, buttons specific for Netflix, Kayo, and Binge, and of course, a navigation disc. It also has a feature that I absolutely love – backlights behind each button so that it can be easily seen at night.

Hubbl vs Chromecast vs Apple TV remote: Obviously, don’t let this be the deciding factor, but each remote is completely serviceable.

hubbl chromecast apple
Image: Apple

Best price: Hubbl, Chromecast, or Apple TV

Before we get too far into it, we need to note that price shouldn’t be the deciding factor. As you’ll see below, these devices can all do different things.

  • The Google Chromecast entry-level device is available for $59. It’s only HD-compatible, mind you, and for 4K resolution, you’ll need to spend $99. It’s available in three different colours
  • The Hubbl streaming box is available for $99, though TV-integrated models (named ‘Glass’) are available for $1,595 (55-inch) and $1,995 (65-inch). All models are capable of 4K resolution, and the box is available in black
  • The Apple TV is the most expensive, with its entry-level device available at $219, with an ethernet-compatible model at $249. Both are capable of 4K resolution, and both are available in black.

It’s also worth noting that Hubbl offers a ‘Stack and Save’ deal, where when you stack three, four, or five apps for billing through Hubbl, you can save on your monthly bills with credit (up to $5, $10, and $15 respectively). Eligible apps include Netflix, Binge, Kayo, Flash, and LifeStyle.

You’ll also find that some TVs have Apple TV functionality built-in, some TVs run the Android TV OS (and by extension, have similar operating systems to the Chromecast), and as mentioned, Hubbl is selling two TVs with the streaming box built-in. This might be a valuable thing to keep in mind if you don’t want a separate box.

Hubbl vs Chromecast vs Apple TV price: On price alone, the Chromecast is the winner, though its entry-level device is only capable of HD resolutions. However, Binge’s ‘Stack and Save’ deal may be attractive.

The verdict

There’s pros and cons across each device, and while there isn’t one clear emergent winner, there’s certainly one here that you’ll prefer over the rest. For me, it’s the Chromecast, for its wide usability and for its integration with Android. However, the Hubbl streaming box is also a worthwhile option, though it might be worth holding out for the moment while some quirks are worked out. Finally, if you’re an Apple fan, the Apple TV would be the best bet, though it is certainly the most expensive.

Image: Gizmodo Australia

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