It’s been an extremely up and down year for Amazon with their Fire products.
The Fire TV, on the other hand, has been highly praised for its performance and feature set. Amazon is always cagey about sales figures, but it at least appears that things are going quite well for the fledgling Nexus Player competitor.
While the $99 price tag on the Fire TV is completely reasonable for that hardware, it still leaves the more budget-conscious consumers trending toward the $35 Chromecast. This apparently was not lost on Amazon, because they have now launched a direct competitor to the Chromecast in the Fire TV Stick.
From a pure specs standpoint, the Fire TV is considerably ahead of both the Chromecast and Roku’s Streaming Stick. It offers a dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM (twice times that of the others) and 8GB of storage as opposed to 2GB on the Chromecast and 256MB on the Roku Streaming Stick. It also offers dual-band WiFi, something the current Chromecast hardware lacks.
As far as software and streaming services go, it appears that all of the most popular options are there, with the notable exception of HBO GO. That omission seems a bit surprising given that earlier this year Amazon paid to make the HBO back catalog available for free to its Prime subscribers.
I don’t think anyone views these streaming sticks as compelling gaming devices, but as gaming is a focus for the Fire TV, the TV Stick nets some of those benefits and will offer over 200 games at launch. And yes, the Fire TV gaming controller will be able to work with the Fire TV Stick as well.
Speaking of controllers, the Fire TV Stick does also come with a physical remote, unlike the Chromecast. You can use your phone or tablet to control it if you prefer, and if you find the ability to talk to your remote to be a desirable feature, the Fire TV Stick does support the Fire TV’s Voice Remote, which is available separately for $29.
The Fire TV Stick is available for pre-order today and will start shipping November 19th. Prime subscribers are being highly incentivized to order in the next two days, as the Fire TV Stick is just $19 during that promotional period. The retail price of the Fire TV Stick will be $39 after that promo period ends, and that’ll be the price for non-Prime members as well. If you are a Prime Member and decide to pre-order just note that the discount won’t show up until you are at checkout.
So what do you think of Amazon’s new offering? I’m particularly interested in hearing from my fellow Chromecast owners: is there anything you would like to see implemented in a future Chromecast?