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Amazon Takes Aim at Chromecast with $39 Fire TV Stick

I sometimes feel like we're the only ones not to have launched a 'Chromecast competitor'.

amazon fire tv stick

Following Microsoft, Mozilla and Dell, Amazon is the latest tech company to pitch a dongle-sized smart TV add-on at a dirt-cheap price.

Amazon is gleefully comparing its new $39 Fire TV Stick as besting the Chromecast, with twice the RAM, quadruple the storage, and better Wi-Fi connectivity.

But is it really a fair comparison? Well, ish. Both devices give you access to a wide range of popular VoD services, including YouTube, Netflix, ESPN, etc. And both allow you to “cast” (‘fling’, in Amazon speak) content from your smartphone or tablet to the TV, while controlling playback from it.

It’s not currently too clear how “fling” features and screen mirroring works with the Amazon device, but it sounds like it’s using Miracast technology. Chromecast uses a custom, low-latency protocol.

Unlike the Chromecast the HDMI Amazon Fire TV Stick cannot be powered by a USB port on your TV, and has to be connected to the mains.

That’s not to say that the Fire TV Stick isn’t a great product — on paper it sounds fantastic for the price, for sure.

But as we’ve seen with other so-called ‘Chromecast competitors’, the Chromecast remains the only device on the market that does what it does in the way that it does — it’s not trying to be a comprehensive media centre or an all-in-one. It defers the innovation to mobile developers — something that continues to bear fruit.

The Chromecast is a receiver; a malleable hub. It doesn’t need 8GB storage or x times more power to function. It just needs to be powerful enough to do what it does.

And given that Amazon’s HDMI stick presents the “same experience” as the full Fire TV box it launched earlier in the year, and installs streaming apps to its local storage, it’s perhaps better compared against similar devices, like the Roku box or Apple TV rival.

It certainly ticks some of the uses of a Chromecast, but falls short in matching the “blank canvas versatility” of it.

Fire TV Stick launches this November for $39. International release date is yet to be revealed.

Pre-Order Amazon Fire TV Stick (US Only)

  • Boothy

    “Quadruple the storage”
    Considering the Chromecast has zero usable storage, that means the Fire stick has no usable storage too, right?
    I mean 4 x 0 = 0……..

    • OJ Edwards

      I guess it stores the apps you download for it since it’s more a hub type of thing. Chromecast has no main screen just a canvas, so I can see why the Chromecast wouldn’t need that kind of storage.

  • frewquinnn

    everyone trying to copy Chromecast…. my best purchase ever…

  • Tom Barnes

    I guess HDMI hubs are going to become more important. Would possibly get one of these just for Prime Video, it is what I wish my Chromecast would do.

    • Brian Heddell

      Can you tell me what this is since I’m no tech genius? Thanks.

  • FirstLine

    I would have said more like Roku than Microsoft. Miracast dongles aren’t fully in the same category.

  • Michael Mims

    The biggest difference I can see that’s not mentioned is the support for to Amazon Instant Video. While there are some workarounds to get it to work with Chromecast, the Fire stick has native support.

  • Brian Heddell

    The biggest thing is not being able to cast your desktop computer or Laptop with the Fire Stick. That’s a deal breaker.

  • OJ Edwards

    I have a Chromecast, but I preordered the Fire TV stick for my granddad tonight for $20 because he is a Prime member. Seems like a good device for him since he prefers to have a remote anyway.