Amazon is taking the battle for the living room pretty seriously. About half a year after launching the $99 Amazon Fire TV, the company has a smaller, cheaper option.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a $39 device that you plug into the HDMI port of your TV. You can use it to stream internet video from Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, and HBO, among other services.

It costs just a few bucks more than a Google Chromecast, but it comes a wireless remote control and Amazon says the Fire TV Stick is also more powerful than a Chromecast. Oh yeah, and if you order one by October 29th, Amazon Prime members can get a Fire TV Stick for $19.

fire tv stick_01

Note that you don’t actually need to be an existing Prime member to qualify for the discount: You can sign up for a 30-day free trial to get the promotional price. Just make sure to cancel your membership if you don’t plan to keep it (although you’ll lose the ability to stream Amazon Prime Instant Video content to the Fire TV if you do that).

The Fire TV Stick features 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage, dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi support, Bluetooth 3.0, and a Broadcom Capri 28155 dual-core ARM COrtex-A9 processor.

The device comes with a free Fire TV remote that you can use to navigate apps, and you can also use a Fire TV Remote App on a phone or tablet running Android or Amazon Fire OS. An iOS app is also on the way.

Like the more expensive Fire TV, the new Fire TV stick supports voice search… but the remote control that comes with the stick doesn’t have a mic. You’ll need to either opt for a $30 Fire TV Voice Remote or use the mobile app if you want to use voice search.

Amazon says the Fire TV Stick also supports over 200 games, and you can pair an Amazon Fire TV Game Controller or another third-party Bluetooth game controller with the stick.

Like Roku and Chromecast devices, you can also use the Fire TV Stick to mirror your phone or tablet display on the big screen.

Overall the Fire TV Stick could be a more versatile TV streaming device than the similarly-priced Chromecast… although it might really be designed to appeal to a different audience. Part of what makes the Chromecast special is that you don’t need to learn navigate a TV-centric user interface at all. Instead you just find content using apps on your phone or tablet and fling them to a TV.

Google offers the $99 Nexus Player with Android TV software for folks that are looking for a smartphone-free way to get internet media on their TVs. The Chromecast is a smaller, cheaper, simpler option.

Amazon’s approach to offering a smaller, cheaper device seems to be simply to offer a model with the same basic functionality as the $99 Fire TV… but with less powerful hardware.

The Fire TV Stick may also support a feature that’s missing from the Chromecast: Amazon says you’ll be able to use it in hotels, dorm rooms, or other places where you need to open a webpage to enter a password to login to WiFi. That feature is listed as “coming soon,” suggesting it won’t be available at launch.

While the Amazon Fire TV Stick is available for pre-order immediately, it won’t actually ship until November 19th.

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16 replies on “Amazon Fire TV Stick is a $39 Chromecast/Roku rival”

  1. I wonder what android version this is based on, because I can’t find it. I know they just released fireos 4 and thought will this be one that gets that os. It’s probably fireos 3 like the fire tv box but it’s worth thinking about.

  2. I don’t know. I think Google Play store tends to get better updates than Amazon store for apps. Though I haven’t checked lately so could be wrong. Also, if I want the remote with the mic then it’s more like $50 even with the discount price and will be $65 normally.
    There seems to be zero reason why some of the many cheap Android Sticks sold for TVs won’t just go with Android TV when it comes out. I think this will compete more with them. Though it does beat them to market.
    The only thing this really seems to offer over straight Android or Chromecast is Amazon Prime Streaming. And the lack of that on Android seems to be just Amazon uncharacteristically protecting its own hardware sales rather than trying to broaden their service sales. Whatever their reason I find it a bit distasteful to be honest.
    It is slightly tempting but I’m gonna wait on reviews for Nexus Player and perhaps wait on other Android TV hardware to emerge. While I think it will take a few months for major apps to come on board and get integrated with the surface level voice search on Android TV I think it will end up being quite a powerful little platform. And with it tied to Android now it should be kept up and overall fare much better than Google TV did.

  3. Looks like BCM28155 will run at 1.3GHz.

    https://www.networkworld.com/article/2186483/smartphones/broadcom-readies-chips-optimized-for-android-4-0.html

    “The BCM28145 and BCM28155 are dual ARM Cortex A9 cores cranked up to 1.3 GHz, and 21/5.8 Mbps HSPA+ modems. The former supports HD 720p, the latter 1080p video, through the chipmakers VideoCore technology, which effectively offloads graphics from the application processor. Broadcom says the chips have the lowest-power HD playback and camcorder capabilities up to 1080p. The integrated HSPA+ modem supports up to 21Mbps downstream, and 5.8Mbps upstream.”

    1. Supposedly, it’s the same chipset as a Samsung Galaxy 2, and runs at 1.2 Ghz.. The GPU is the same as the Raspberry Pi.

  4. Looks like a great winter-vacation hacking project. I am going to wait for others to report the clock frequencies and the linux xbmc results, but $39 for a device with remote is a very good deal. Does anyone know if the fire-tv has a good linux jailbreak?

    1. Changed my mind. My wife has prime, and she just ordered it for me. Christmas comes early. Thank you Brad.

    1. My exact thoughts. There is all so many really cool “hey that would be a neat toy” devices coming out, but I don’t feel line sharing my 3x HDMI ports between 6 devices.

      It would be great if TV manufacturers would figure out an expansion solution for TVs. HDMI switches are annoying.

    2. I’m pretty sure you can pull a HDMI cable out of a HDMI jack. It’s not a one time thing.

  5. With the $19 Prime special, I could see this as a better value than the Matchstick, because 1) the Fire TV Stick includes a remote, and 2) it can run non-web programs.

    How do you think the CPU in the Fire TV Stick compares to the Rockchip 3066 in the Game Stick?

    1. The CPU appears to be in the neighborhood of the Rockchip 3066. My only concern is how well the GPU will perform compared to the Mali GPU.
      With that said, it should feel faster than the Game Stick, as the system software cripples the Game Stick. The Game Stick cannot run above ~45 frames per second. Someone posted, on a Game Stick forum, that the bluetooth scanning eats a lot of processing power.

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