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.