Sling TV is offering a free Fire TV Stick or Roku Streaming stick in return for 3 months of prepaid subscription. They are also offering 50% off for either Fire TV or Roku 3. This is a great deal considering a lot of people pay $60 for one month of their cable bill. Now, for $60 you get a streaming device which you can use for your Sling TV service and you get a Fire TV Stick or Roku streaming stick. If you are on the fence, this may be the deal which may push you over. However, this may also be a concern for some people as this may be an indicator that the service is not catching on and they are in need of a market injection to ramp up subscribers.
What is the difference between the amazon fire TV and fire TV stick aside from the obvious, the price. Amazon has a good side by side comparison of the device if you click on a link on the fire TV stick product page.
Price and Size
Let’s get the two obvious differences out of the way, the price and the size. Full retail price of the fire TV stick is $60 cheaper but we have seen Amazon offer discounts to both devices respectively. The fire TV is larger in size and heavier in weight but it’s not big enough to matter to move people unless you live in a RV. Most people won’t be carrying the fire TV around. However, the fire TV stick may come very useful to road warriors who travel a lot. Amazon created the setup portal on the fire TV stick to allow you to sign into your any WiFi connection through the setup screen. This should allow you to sign on to your hotel’s WiFi connection with its network and password.
What exactly is a processor and what does it do? Simply put, the processor is the CPU which is essentially the brain of your device. Dual core means the device has two separate CPU and quad core means the device has four separate CPUs at it’s disposal. The two processors are not the same. Fire TV’s processor is a Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz each CPU. The fire TV Stick processor is a Broadcom Capri 28155, dual-core 2xARM A9 up to 1 Ghz. It isn’t so easy to compare the two processors as they are different. Each core’s utilization also depends on how the apps are programmed. Unlike PC’s, you have no control over how the device or apps use the CPU. One thing for sure is that the Fire TV will perform computations faster than the Fire TV stick. You will likely see very minimal difference when watching videos or music except for load time but you will experience difference when playing games.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Amazone Fire TV uses a Qualcomm Adreno 320 chip as it’s GPU and the Fire TV stick uses a VideoCore4. Neither supports over 60hz of refresh rate but both support 720p and 1080p hdtv. So if you have that 240hz refresh rate TV, it won’t come to full use with either device.
Storage and Memory:
Both devices have 8 GB of internal memory used for storage. I haven’t come to a conclusion HOW the devices use this but I presume it is used for preloading content to avoid buffering delays during streaming. You cannot watch any content when wifi is off so those on a boat without wifi is out of luck. Fire TV uses 2 GB LPDDR2 @ 533 mhz external memory while the Fire TV Stick has 1 GB of build in memory. I haven’t seen any reports of anyone trying to upgrade the fire TV memory but I don’t see why anyone would want to do that.
The Fire TV has a built in mic which allows you to perform voice search for content. The Fire TV stick remote does not have voice search but you may purchase the Fire TV remote or simply download the Fire TV app for voice search which I have video demo here.
The Fire TV has an Ethernet port which can provide a much more reliable and ensure fast connection between the router to your device. However, your TV and Fire TV will need to be at a location that is relatively near your router unless you want a long Ethernet cable threading through your house. Both support WiFi which works for most people unless you have poor wireless connectivity where your device is located. In that case, you can purchase a repeater available at (where else?) Amazon!
Optical Audio Output:Optical outputs are a must for audio junkies to connect to your home receiver for surround sound, sound bar, and sub-woofers for that low base. The Fire TV will allow you to directly connect to your receiver but the fire TV stick will be limited in this aspect. However, not all is lost. If you want improved audio from your fire TV stick, you may connect your home theater system to the audio output of your TV and it will be almost equivalent. My TV has an optical out which I have connected to a Vizio sound bar and it works well.
As we stand today when this post was written, there are 898 apps available on the Amazon App store for Fire TV and 706 apps available for the Fire TV stick. I expect this number to change. You can click Amazon Appstore to see if they have the app that you want. You can filter the apps at the right menu by selecting the device you want to limit. The same apps will be available to you when you navigate the Amazon appstore on your Fire TV or Fire TV sticl.
One of the benefits to the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick is the availability of the free app which is available for iOS and Google Play store. The below snapshots are from the Google Play Store.
Once installed, open the app and select the device. I forgot to turn on the WiFi on my Samsung Galaxy S4 so I wasn’t able to find it initially.
Once found, select your FireTV Stick.
Once you are in, you will go through a quick tutorial on how to use the app. It is quite useful as not all the functions of the app is that intuitive or self explanatory.
Below is a snapshot of the app.
On the top row and from left to right, it is the options menu, the voice search, and keyboard.
In the gray region, you can use it to navigate through the menu by using your finger and swipe to the menu you want on your TV.
At the bottom row, there is the back, home, and menu button.
If you hit the 6 small dots just above the home button, you can expand to additional menu for rewind, play, and fast forward.
To use the voice function, slide down your finger from the mic at the top of the screen down. While keeping your finger on the screen, say your keyword that you want to search. Once you are done, let go of your finger.
See my video demo below.
I came across a problem with my Fire TV Stick. My Samsung TV doesn’t have enough room to plug the USB cable for my Fire TV Stick! See for yourself. I don’t have a good answer right now. I had problems connecting the Fire TV stick to the other HDMI ports as it didn’t fit. I didn’t want to jam the HDMI port on my TV as I use it for my cable box, PS3, and Chromecast.
Update: Issue is resolved. See updated post here.
Christmas gift is here! Amazon sent me a notice saying that the fireTV stick was ready for shipment which is way ahead of schedule! This is a nice Christmas present that wasn’t supposed to be. I got an email on Dec. 19th with the subject, “Welcome to Fire TV Stick.” I placed this order on Nov. 2nd and my initial delivery date was supposed to be mid-Jan so this is a very nice surprise! Mr. UPS dropped off the Amazon fire TV stick just now and I can’t wait to do the first unboxing.
Users are not happy with Amazon as the voice recognition software prefers its own content and only supports Vevo content (verified by reviews on its own website). It doesn’t appear to work with Hulu or Netflix. One of the major feature of Fire TV is the ability to use voice search. However, when you search for a video, only content to purchase will be displayed even though it may be free on other apps such as Hulu or Netflix.
Amazon finally gave full details to its Fire TV Stick to go head on with Google’s extremely popular Chromecast. A bit late to the game but Amazon has revealed why it was worth the wait. The current backorder signifies its popularity which will complement its Prime subscription. If you order the Amazon Fire TV stick today, you will not receive it in time for Christmas but in mid-Jan. The date will likely slip as you approach the holidays which is a huge dissapointment. The price is $39 which is comparable to Chromecast’s $35. Amazon Fire TV stick includes a remote which is a nice add on.
Here are other features listed on Amazon’s website.
- Four times the storage capacity and double the memory of Chromecast.
- Dual core processor and one gigabyte of memory
- Huge selection of apps which is synonymous to Chromecast
- Huge library of movies, tv shoes, music, and games through Amazon Prime
- Ability to stream slideshows of personal photos and videos through your amazon cloud account
- Instant streaming with its ASAP technology
- Dedicated remote
- Easy to use app with voice search through its Android app (iOS app not yet available)
- Mirror function. Share what is on your tablet or phone to your TV.
- Only requirement is that you have an HDTV and an available HDMI port on your TV.
Another problem with Chromecast is it’s inability to let you bypass hotel or college dorm captive portal Internet access. Apparently, Amazon has a solution to this and it is in the pipeline.
You can play simple games with your remote but not sure how much use this will have.
The Android app which will let you voice search. iOS / Apple app coming soon.
Stream directly from your Amazon music library of stream Prime music which has a wide variety of music available on demand. You also have the option to play music from other apps such as vevo, Pandora, iheartradio, and others.
A lot of people will compare the Amazon fireTV with the Chromecast. One major sticking point with Chromecast is that it didn’t have a specific app associated with Amazon instant or prime videos. However, there is a workaround with this which you can find here. It doesn’t work as smooth and some users have experience where it doesn’t work at all. If you want to only watch Amazon Prime videos along with your Prime membership, the fireTV is the way to go. At $99, it is not a bad price to pay. However, $99 is much higher than Chromecast’s cost at $35. If you find yourself watching Netflix more than anything else, there will be no need to get the Amazon fireTV. Amazon fireTV does have more features as a remote, voice control, and ability to play games but not everyone will find this as attractive.
The war is on and consumers should come out the winner here. See below on further details between fireTV and Chromecast comparisons along with Roku and Apple TV.
Amazon finally announced its much anticipated media console the Amazon TV! It is immediately available for $99 which is higher than other competitors. There was speculation that it would be called the FireTube as we did but it is officially called the amazon fireTV.
As of now, the fireTV has the same offering as other streaming devices such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, WasthESPN, Pandora, Showtime, and many others. The main advantage it has over other competitors is the availability of videos that comes with Amazon Prime membership.
Another neat feature is its voice search. Check it out here in action. They also boast of one of the more powerful streaming devices which is a plus considering you can use this to play games. it has a powerful quad core processor, dual-band, dual-antenna, dedicated GPU for graphics and 2GB of memory. It also has an ‘ASAP’ system where it predicts what content you may be interested in.
Will you buy it?