Compare Power E*Trade versus thinkorswim (TOS) whos trading platform, charting, mobile app is better?

Two Rivals: thinkorswim and Power E*Trade

If you’re looking for potent software to boost your trading regimen, be sure to check out the platforms that E*Trade and TD Ameritrade offer. In particular, thinkorswim from TDA and Power E*Trade both pack quite a punch. Here are the details:

Opening the Platforms

Power E*Trade is a browser platform that is launched from inside E*Trade’s website. A separate window is created. On the left-hand side of the platform are account and position windows and any messages with customer service. On the right-hand side, there is a watch list, a market view section with data on important economic sectors, and a link to Bloomberg video news. The middle section is where all the action takes place: security research, charting, and trading.

Power Etrade

thinkorswim is a desktop program that is launched from, yep, you guessed it, the desktop. It does take a few minutes to download updates and produce the login screen. Once inside, the program offers just one column on the left side. Here, a variety of windows can be added or deleted. One of them is CNBC streaming news. The section to the right of this column is where the trading action occurs.



On Power E*Trade, a graph can be detached from the main center area to form its own separate window. This allows for full-screen charting. We found approximately a hundred technical studies. There are also many drawing tools and ten graph styles.

On thinkorswim, we found roughly 400 technical studies, about four times the number on Power E*Trade. As with E*Trade’s platform, a chart can be expanded to fill the width of the monitor. There are seven graph styles (candlestick is the default) and over twenty drawing tools. A chart can be saved or printed.

Stock Research

Both software programs in our survey offer stock research tools; but the quality difference is remarkable. Power E*Trade offers categories of major market movers. For example, under ‘Market View’ in the right-hand column we found ‘Most Liquid Stocks Daily.’ On the list were QQQ, AAPL, AMZN, CSCO, and others.

In the middle of the screen, there is something called ‘LiveAction.’ This tool offers several pre-defined scans, such as ‘dollar price losers.’ This scan returns stocks that have the day’s biggest price drop in dollar terms. Other scans include volatility and technical events.

We were much more impressed with thinkorswim’s equity research capability. Stock Hacker, for example, is a search tool that can be found under the ‘Scan’ menu. It can search for investments based on a wide variety of criteria. These include EPS, bid or ask size, volume, and profit margin. A graphical interface allows for the adjustment of maximums and minimums in order to refine the results.

Placing a Trade

After you have found a stock you’re interested in on either platform, it’s time to submit a trade. We were very impressed with Power’s order form. It offers several order types, including market, limit, stop, trailing, OCO, 3-leg bracket stop, hidden, and reserve types. Duration options include day, GTC (2 months max), good-till-a-certain-date, on-the-open, on-the-close, IOC, FOK, and extended hours. A nice profit-loss graph appears on the trade ticket.

thinkorswim also provides an advanced order ticket with a similar range of choices. It’s a little less user-friendly than E*Trade’s order form; although one major advantage it offers over Power is direct-access routing.

Buying and Selling Options

Derivatives can be traded on either platform. Power’s order ticket has pre-defined strategies, such as straddles, diagonals, butterflies, and condors. It’s also possible to build your own option strategy because multiple legs can easily be added to the order ticket. The software’s stock screener can look for equities that meet certain option characteristics, such as highest call-to-put ratio.

thinkorswim offers better option search tools. Option Hacker is a helpful scanner that can look for contracts based on lots of different criteria. We found Greeks, days to expiration, implied volatility, and more. The platform offers pre-defined strategies and multi-leg orders.

Futures and Forex

E*Trade offer trading in futures contracts, and the Power platform is able to submit orders for them. We did not find futures research tools on the platform, however. There is a different order ticket for futures. Inside a futures quote, you need to click on ‘Show Ladder’ to generate the trading ticket.

thinkorswim offers both futures and forex. The best way to trade them is to click on the ‘Trade’ tab in the top menu and then select either ‘Forex Trader’ or ‘Futures Trader.’ With either selection, user-friendly dealing boxes will be populated. As with the Power platform, there are no research tools in this category.

Mobile Cousins

Both thinkorswim and Power E*Trade are available in mobile versions, and they both have similar interfaces as their desktop cousins. The Power app comes with complex option strategies, ACH transfers, watch lists, alerts, and futures trading. Charting has ten technical studies. Unfortunately, a graph cannot be shown in horizontal format. There are news articles on the app, but not video news.

Power Etrade Mobile

The thinkorswim app offers many more technical studies (at least a hundred we counted), and a graph can be rotated horizontally. Futures and forex can be traded on the mobile platform. As for derivative trading, there are option chains and multi-leg strategies. The order ticket for options includes direct-access routing. Another great feature on the app is live streaming of CNBC and a TD Ameritrade television network.

thinkorswim Mobile

Software Cost

Neither TD Ameritrade nor E*Trade charge anything to use thinkorswim or Power, either in computer or mobile mode. Furthermore, there are no account minimums or trading frequency requirements.

Simulated Trading

Power E*Trade does not offer a simulated trading mode, either in mobile or computer format. thinkorswim, on the other hand, offers practice trading on both mobile and PC platforms, and this in our mind gives it a major advantage.



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