Skip to main content

Watch Out Chromecast: Amazon Has A Fire TV Stick

Amazon introduced on Monday the Fire TV Stick, a smaller version of the company's Fire TV set-top box that was released back in April. The device plugs directly into an HDMI port and comes with a remote control for easy navigation. The Fire TV Stick ships on November 19, but customers can pre-purchase the device now for a mere $39.

The Fire TV Stick sports a dual-core Broadcom Capri 28155 processor, a VideoCore4 GPU, 1 GB of memory, 8 GB of internal storage, and dual-band Wireless N and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity. The accompanying remote is quite simple, although it doesn't do voice search; to take advantage of voice, customers will need to purchase the Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote for $30.

As a comparison, Google's $35 Chromecast includes a single-core processor, 512 MB of RAM, 2 GB of internal storage and single-band wireless connectivity. Chromecast also doesn't come with a remote control. Meanwhile, the Roku Streaming Stick, costing $49, includes a single-core processor, 512 MB of RAM, 256 MB of internal storage, dual-band wireless connectivity and a remote control.

The new Fire TV Stick not only supports Amazon Instant Video, but popular streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, HBO GO, Twitch, Crackle, SHOWTIME ANYTIME and more. Music services supported by the stick include Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Spotify, Amazon Music and Prime Music among others. However, this stick isn't locked down to just Amazon's own services.

Although the Fire TV Stick ships with a remote control, Amazon also provides a remote control app for the Fire Phone, Android phones and eventually Apple's iPhone. This app includes Voice Search, which is powered by the same voice search engine that's found on Fire TV. Users can also "fling" media to the stick if they have a Fire tablet or Fire phone.

Additional features provided by Fire Stick include X-Ray for movies and TV shows, X-Ray for music, and a service that Amazon calls ASAP, or Advanced Streaming and Prediction. This will actually predict what the viewer wants to watch and will download a portion of the video for instant playback. No more waiting for the content to buffer, Amazon promises.

The Fire TV Stick is also a micro-console, offering over 200 games such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2, The Game of Life, Flappy Birds Family, Tetris, You Don't Know Jack Party, Ski Safari and loads more. By comparison, Chromecast offers fewer than 30 games, and the Roku Streaming Stick has less than 100. The Fire TV Stick also supports Amazon's game controller, which can be purchased here.

"The team has packed an unbelievable amount of power and selection into an incredible price point," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO.

So what's the difference between Fire TV and Fire TV Stick other than the obvious form factors and price points? A representative told Tom's Hardware that Fire TV includes optical out, an Ethernet port, a more powerful processor for better support of graphics-intensive games, and voice search that's built into the remote right out of the box. Remember, to get voice search on Fire TV Stick, you need to purchase the special remote that's sold separately.

Amazon Prime customers who pre-purchase Amazon's Fire TV Stick within the next 48 hours can get the device at $19.99.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • thecoach0742
    There is no HBO go on either fireTV device. Small mistake but needs pointed out.
    Reply
  • Zaranthos
    I ordered one. I've loved my Roku 2 but I'm bitter about the lack of Youtube support for so long and now that it finally has Youtube I don't like the way it works. The Roku 2 Youtube search is terrible to use and it all just runs slow on the Roku 2 entirely because of bad design and layout. The competition is kicking Roku in the backside on hardware specs so performance will almost surely be better.
    Reply
  • Evolution2001
    I ordered one. I've loved my Roku 2 but I'm bitter about the lack of Youtube support for so long and now that it finally has Youtube I don't like the way it works. The Roku 2 Youtube search is terrible to use and it all just runs slow on the Roku 2 entirely because of bad design and layout. The competition is kicking Roku in the backside on hardware specs so performance will almost surely be better.
    Zaranthos, to be fair, your Roku 2 was released in mid-2011. Even by now, the Roku 3 (which I have) was released in early-2013. There's almost 3.5 years between your Roku 2 and the Fire TV. Comparing the two is somewhat ridiculous. If anything, at least make a comparison of the most recent Roku (stick). FWIW, my Roku 3 has no problems with YouTube. However, I'm primarily an Amazon Prime & Hulu+ viewer. And I use Roku's built in media player as well for streaming from my DLNA server as well as playback from my USB stick.

    At $20, I'm tempted to give the Fire Stick a shot...
    Reply
  • Evolution2001
    - dupe post -
    Reply
  • Zaranthos
    I'm not comparing the hardware of the Roku 2 with the Fire Stick. The Youtube complaint was a general complaint that it didn't exist for years even though other players had it and when we finally get one it's crap. The Roku 2 hardware is more than capable of running Youtube just fine if it's designed right which it was not. They fill the screen with useless video previews and then have a one line search box you have to navigate from beginning to end to do a search. Are you kidding me? Every other search box is multiple lines so you can get from a to z quickly but the Youtube search was one line beginning to end. Horrible. They also didn't need previews for videos filling the screen to make video performance terrible. It was poorly designed and years late.

    As far as hardware goes the Fire Stick is vastly superior to anything Roku has by a wide margin. I really don't care about the hardware specs though if it works well. Youtube on the Roku 2 was an insult. I have no idea what it's like on the Roku 3.
    Reply
  • Merca_Tech
    I made my video about it. Its for 19dlls right now.

    Amazon discount link http://amzn.to/1wCKNDC
    Reply