Amazon announces the Fire TV Stick, a $39 Chromecast competitor


amazon fire stick

Amazon’s Fire TV is a slick device for $99, but for that price tag it might not be quite the looker for folks who only need to use a few of its streaming video apps. They’ve gone ahead and challenged Google at their own game, though, with the company officially unveiling the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

This $39 dongle attaches itself to your TV and allows you to stream all your video with ease. It can be used independently of a phone or tablet as it has ample on-board storage for downloading all the streaming apps you need. Amazon’s put quite a bit inside its chassis to power the experience:

Dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, and 8 GB storage for fast and fluid navigation and instant search results. Fire TV Stick has 50% more processing power and 2x the memory of Chromecast; it has 6x the processing power, 2x the memory, and 32x the storage of Roku Streaming Stick—this results in faster and more fluid navigation, plus more storage for apps and games. It delivers stunning 1080p HD video and immersive audio with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. All of this power comes in an incredibly small package—Fire TV Stick is the size of a pack of gum.

amazon fire stick comparison chart

What’s more is that it features a remote control in the box for those who don’t like using smartphone apps to control playback. For those who do, a smartphone app will be available that will also enable voice search to find the content you want. Folks using the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Amazon Fire Phone can “fling” content from their devices to the TV without much effort. Not a bad little companion if you’re already deeply ingrained in Amazon’s content ecosystem.

The device is available for pre-sale right now, and Amazon expects it will ship starting November 19th. Prime members get a great opportunity to grab the thing for super cheap as Amazon is holding a two-day sale of the thing for just $19.

Thankfully the company has confirmed that you can sign up for a free trial of Prime if you don’t have it already and still get in on the deal. Amazon’s also offering a free 30 days of Prime and Netflix for those who decide to order. Not a bad way to spend a quick $20 if you aren’t a fan of what the Chromecast or similar options have to offer.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. As long as Plex supports it, the remote might make this edge out the chromecast for my family.

    1. Plex is listed as one of the compatible apps on the Amazon listing so you should be good to go!

      1. Yeah, I should have clicked through before I posted. I got it ordered. I had a $10 credit expiring on the 31st anyway, so it was really a no brainer.

  2. Is it just me, or does anyone else laugh everything they see / hear the word dongle.

    *tee hee*

  3. Too bad I’m not investing into Amazon’s ecosystem like that. Hopefully Chromecast 2 puts this to shame.

  4. I would be more invested in the Amazon ecosystem if they didn’t try to act as a replacement to Google Play, instead of supplementing.

    1. Normally I would agree, but Chromecast has neither as far as apps are concerned. As far as buying movies/shows, I don’t like either since both have DRM. I like Prime instant as a supplement to Netflix(since I have prime already anyway) So, easy access to prime instant videos is a lot more valuable to me than access to Google Play content.

  5. For 19 bucks it’s def. a great deal. No wonder they didn’t make the Amazon video stream compatible with chromecast. Now to buy this or wait for CC2….. hmmmm

  6. With remote control? Netflix and $19? Decent! Now to take care of the old TV in the back of the house.

    1. Does the remote not cost $29.99 on it’s own? More than the device itself on sale? Seems like a rip off to me if it’s difficult to navigate without a remote.

      1. It comes with a remote. If you want the voice-activated remote it’s an extra $30. You can use voice search on the Android app so it seems pointless to spend the extra $30.

        1. Good call, I saw the remote for $29.99 and couldn’t understand why that was there in the first place. Who would pay that much just for voice control? Just another way for Amazon to overestimate their customers intelligence I guess.

          1. Well to be fair to Amazon they do mention their “Fire Stick” app first when mentioning the use of voice control and the remote second. So basically they just made the stick compatible with the Fire TV remote. But, yeah $30 for a remote and $40 for a streaming stick (the regular price) adds up to $70, in which case, might as well just get the Fire TV that comes with a voice controller and has better specs (frequently on sale for $85).

      2. The “voice” remote is $30.00. It comes with a basic remote included.

  7. I’ve always wanted to try a “dongle” so I went ahead and did the 30-day Prime trial and ordered the “Fire Stick” for $20 (estimated delivery date November 25). With the month of free Netflix it brings it down to $12. Having a remote and being Miracast enabled help sell me too. I’m guessing Vudu will never come to any Amazon device which is a huge letdown for me, but I guess I can at least watch my Ultraviolet movies on Flixster.

    *Edit: Hmmmm….they seemed to take out the part that mentioned Miracast on the Fire Stick page. It still says you can “mirror” your content from your Android device.

  8. This technically does not compete with Chromecast as it can stream BY ITSELF. It DOES NOT need another mobile device for streaming. It is essentially a smaller version of the Fire TV but less horsepower for games and such. So in my mind it kicks the crap out of the Chromecast.

  9. Really not seeing the value of this device over a Chromecast. The remote is $30 on it’s own and it seems as though the services are limited unlike the Chromecast where you can cast anything from a browser. This is just a device that allows you to watch Amazon’s videos, Amazon’s way. You can cast them from a Chromecast though so if you already own a Chromecast, what’s the incentive?

    1. as stated in other comments below, the remote is included, with the option to buy a separate, voice search capable remote, for an additional $30.

      1. I better use my android/iOs device’s speech to text and use it, instead of spending 30$ more.
        I ordered a stick today and chose late delivery for 1$ instant video/mp3 cash.
        and i think casting is a software thing, so, we should get our firmwares upgraded soon on fire tv stick.

        Meanwhile, Google should release ChromeCast 2 with some innovative ideas for same price as now.

    2. Biggest reasons:
      -Most videos streamed directly from the browser look grainy on the Chromecast…for Amazon Prime members and those with paid movies and shows on Amazon, this will be awesome.
      -Internal storage means you can load up a movie, so no buffering problems.
      -Better internet connectivity.

      Don’t get me wrong, Chromecast has its advantages, primarily in the content department. But there are some things to be said about this little stick!

    3. On top of those mentioned this will run apps by itself meaning NO need for a tablet/phone to do the casting. This comes with a basic remote and will run apps NATIVELY unlike the Chromecast. That is where the value of this vastly outpaces the Chromecast.

      1. I wonder how much of the 8GB of space is available for apps after the Fire OS? Do we know yet?

        1. I assume its similar to the amount left over on the Fire TV since it to has only 8gb of space.

  10. I’m not seeing the $19 sale price. I am an Amazon Prime member, but alas it costs $39. What am I missing?

    1. If you paid attention to the red banner on top of the page (on amazon), you’ll see that it says “discount applied at checkout”. I can confirm that it does give you the discount.

      1. Strange, I tried going to checkout and it was still listed at $39. Thanks I’ll try again.

        Worked, thanks.

      1. Thanks for your kind reply! Appreciate the help.

  11. As someone late to the streaming box/stick options party (previously used a hacked Wii, now using a PS3 for netflix & PC content streaming via PS3 Media Server), is the $19 Fire Stick something worth trying out?

    The main issue I have with this PS3 setup is just how LONG it takes for the PS3 to boot up, sign in to netflix, and get content streaming. Searching is also a real pain when necessary as I don’t keep a keyboard permanently plugged in.

    I’m not particularly invested in any purchased content ecosystem, so that isn’t swinging me one way or another…

    1. For me it depends on the apps you use. For instance, ATM Fire Stick doesn’t have HBO GO, so if you use that app Fire Stick won’t be a good solution. However if you stream Amazon Prime Videos, the Chromecast is not a good solution. If you use Twitch then Roku is not a good solution. Personally IMO for a full fledged experience you need something more, like a SmartTV or NexusTV, AppleTV, GTV, etc. Of course those all have their limitations and drawbacks as well. It is kind of difficult to match something to all of your needs. Sorry, not sure that was any help :-P

      1. That totally helps frame my query, thanks!

        I currently do not subscribe or utilize any content streaming services beyond netflix, which seems universally supported by all these options. What I’m looking for is an affordable option that brings me from “all devices off” to streaming content (from netflix and/or PC) at a much faster clip than my current PS3 solution.

        Does this fit that bill? Because if so, $19 is a very attractive entry point!

        1. if this works with the same speed as roku/chromecast/other “always on” boxes, (which I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t), this might be just the ticket to solve your problem of slow booting/loading PS3 for streaming netflix.

          I’ve got a mixture of Rokus and chromecasts currently, with a majority of my streaming being netflix, and honestly, while the chromecast is cool and all, there’s something to be said for the convenience of picking up a remote and controlling the roku without having to do anything with my phone/tablet. It especially makes things easier for my kids to be able to get up and running watching something on netflix not having to “cast” it to the chromecast from mommy or daddy’s phone, or their tablet.
          This appears to be basically just a really cheap, standalone streaming device with included remote. I would definietly buy one if I didn’t currently have more rokus/chromecasts than actual tvs, heck, I might buy one anyway during the 2-day, $20 off sale just to try it out.

          1. Awesome!

            I also have a wife & toddler who often need daddy to get the latest animated musical movie up and running – sounds like this could save us all a few gray hairs (and if not… hey $19 doesn’t sting so much)!

          2. Totally agree. I prefer streaming to casting.

  12. a day late and a dollar short …
    Sorry Amazon, I moved on long ago after so many years of no video support on Android.

  13. This Fire TV stick doesn’t allow you to “cast” from your phone, right? I don’t see any reference to Google Cast anywhere on the product description page. If this is the cast, Chromecast is still a superior device. I’ve played with the Fire TV device for a few days and it was total s#!7. Navigation was poor for Prime users and the lack of content killed it for me.

    1. MIRACAST is what is being used on the Fire Stick. Android and WIndows both support it.

        1. Basically if you know their devices you would know about this

          “Fire phone and Kindle Fire HDX use Miracast (also known as display
          mirroring), a wireless standard that offers over-the-air display of
          your screen on your television without the use of an HDMI cable. Any
          interaction with your Amazon phone or tablet – whether you’re swiping
          through the carousel, watching a movie, browsing the web, or performing
          another similar activity – is mirrored on the larger screen.”

          1. Ok. Go buy one and update your comment when you find out that it doesn’t work.

          2. I might grab one once they start shipping considering the current back order on them. $40 is to hard to pass up for something that does more then a $35 Chromecast which I do own by the way but rarely use. But if I could get XBMC up and running natively on this that would be perfect. I also have a bluetooth controller already that works perfectly fine on all my mobile android devices including the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ (2013) I own. and ontop of that being able to mirror the screen on my tablet to the tv would be useful as well since Chromecast does not work on it.

          3. It said on the “Fire Stick” page on Amazon that it uses Miracast and is compatible with devices from Samsung, LG, etc. It literally said that. They have apparently taken that part off of the page since yesterday morning. It was there when I ordered mine (one of the reasons I got it). Now it just says fling content from your Fire OS or Android device to your TV. I’m hopeful that it uses Miracast and @ $20 that is a steal (especially with Microsoft’s new display adaptor going for $60 that is basically just a Miracast device).

            Also, I believe it says you can cast two apps from your phone currently: Youtube and Spotify. Netflix is in the works. So sounds like it’s up to the app developer just like Chromecast.

            And if you want to watch personal videos and photos you have to save them to your Amazon cloud drive or use Plex or screen mirroring.

          4. No need to store files in the cloud when you can just sideload a dlna client and media player like MX Player and use your network. At least thats how I watch my content on my mobile devices currently. Everything is stored on 1 pc and I use a DLNA server to serve it to other devices.

  14. I hear you Ichy. I’m not stuck on Amazon Fire Stick either.

  15. Seems like a loss leader at the POS price. I cant even imagine how they are breaking even at $39. I am going to guess they are doing a WalMart-Amazon combo style approach.

    Bleed the competition at a super low price point and gain the extra money on the back end with user-purchases.

    I think Google is much more straight forward: Heres our product, heres the price. Take it or leave it. No marketing or sales gimmicks.

    I have always felt Amazon always wanted more from me. There always seems to be some kind of catch associated with there products and services. They always seem way too calculated in a possibly bad way,

    1. POS price? You do understand Amazon’s model right? That’s how they offer high quality tablets at low prices as well.

      As a Amazon Prime member I well covered their costs for this device. The content is what people pay for in Amazon’s world not the devices. And it works quite well.

      I have set up my ecosystem for my kids with Amazon because they do a much better job, kindle fires for all of them. I run most of my stuff in the google ecosystem because that makes sense for me.

      I cut cable a long time ago, so it’s Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and Netflix for me.

      Dude, the Fire TV Stick doubles in specs compared to Chromecast. Additionally, Chromecast suffers from poor streaming due to being a single band wifi transceiver. The Fire TV Stick is dual band.

      1. I completely understand Amazons model for there Eco System. They want you to buy into it similar to Apples way of doing it. I personally just dont like that entire idea.

        If you’re invested into the Amazon Eco System as well as a prime member then that is fine. I just dont need it. I like to know I can go buy a product, own it and use it. Its mine and doesnt require some random piece of software or hardware to use it.

        BTW: For those not sure….I meant POS Price (Point-Of-Sale)

        1. I’m invested equally in both Google’s ecosystem and Amazon’s ecosystem. They both serve different purposes for what I do. I have a Google Play Music subscription and listen to music unlimited that way. I watch most of my movies through Google Play because it works with my Google TV (but it’s the Sony NSZ GT1, ancient in terms of electronics). I utilize amazon for shopping purchases and a prime member, and I utilize prime video for several shows that I watch.

          Amazon’s model is nothing like Apple. Apple charges top dollar for their electronics.

          What can you not do on a Amazon Fire TV stick that you can do on a Chromecast? In regards specifically to “require some random piece of software or hardware to use it”.

          I’m honestly curious because thats such a vague statement.

          If you think that Google is the unbranded option you’re incorrect. It’s just the original brand for Android.

  16. interesting…been thinking about getting another chromecast, but at 2x for $40 (says limit two on the page) this makes more sense price wise, plus i can finally (hopefully) try out games like fibbage. (if the ps3 can have it why not the 360? :(

  17. This is a no brainer if you are already a prime user such as myself. $19? That’s nothing, and well worth it, even if it turns out to be terrible like some people in the comments are saying.

  18. This is more appealing to me than the fire tv. The dolby pro alone makes it much better than the chromecast and at 5 dollars more it’s a no brainer. Still hoping Google releases a more capable chromecast though.

  19. Crap…why did I pick up that refurbished Chromecast for. Then again I have so many streaming devices already at home that this is pointless.

  20. Biggest knock against the Chromecast is that it can not be controlled by my phone while also receiving an Internet connection from my phone. Thus I have to take a tablet with me on business trips (connecting to hotel TV.) This stick with the supplied, little remote will work nicely.

  21. Too bad you can’t power this from the USB ports on a tv, that’s a nice feature to the Chromecast.

  22. Hm. What do I need this for? I have Chromecast – Hulu Plus – Google Play Movies – Netflix – Solar Movies (which now can suddenly Cast from my Samsung Note Pro 12.2…cool!) – and yes, TV Portal which is fantastic. They restrict streaming from Amazon prime on my tablet version or their updated app. I like Amazon, but they’ve lost quite a bit of money from me regarding streaming movies and the inability on my tablet. I love them for shopping; buy a few items a week but no ‘Fire’ products will ever see fit to land in my hands.

    1. They are using Miracast to stream and Android and Wndows both support that. Ontop of that this will run apps natively since it runs FireOS 3 aka Android 4.2

  23. Am I missing something? What’s more convenient then your phone? It’s always on you, and remotes are always lost. Plus Amazon puts out garbage, as well as being a prime member who doesn’t understand the point of being one…. That reminds me, I need to get rid of that. Love my chrome cast. Can’t wait to get nexus player. Keep anything Amazon away from me.

  24. I had a gift card so I’ll try it for free. Thanks to everyone for the pros and cons.

  25. From what I have read this runs apps Natively as well as serving as a Miracast receiver.

  26. So this is why Amazon never enabled Chromecast support for Amazon Instant Video…

    Not cool, I don’t plan on buying a Fire Stick now.

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