Amazon India launched the Amazon Fire TV stick today, priced at ₹3,999. Having launched its video streaming service, called Amazon Prime Video, some time ago, this was the logical next step for Amazon India, as the Prime video app is not available for streaming on most smart TVs. The biggest competition for Amazon's streaming stick is, of course, Google's Chromecast 2. The first and second generation Chromecast have been available in India for quite some time. Let's see how the two products fare in comparison.
Amazon Fire TV stick resembles a big USB drive at first look. In a way, it is like the Teewee stick produced in India and the American Roku stick. The first Chromecast too had a similar look. However, Chromecast 2 is sleeker, sporting a smaller puck-like design that is a much better fit for wall mounted TVs.
Amazon's device comes with a remote control, so even if users don't have a smartphone around to control the streaming, they can sit back and relax. The Chromecast on the other hand relies on a smartphone, tablet or a PC connected to the same network.
Specs & Functionality
Chromecast runs on 1.2 Ghz Dual Core Arm Processor, whereas Amazon Fire TV stick has a Quad core MediaTek processor. That doesn't really make a world of difference as Amazon's device actually has to host and run the apps while Chromecast acts as a pipeline most of the time.
The new Chromecast has a RAM capacity of 512 MB as compared to 1 GB RAM included in Amazon Fire TV stick. Additionally, the stick comes with 8 GB of internal storage. Both devices have house dual-band WiFi adapters for faster streaming. (For tech geeks, Chromecast does support additional codecs such as MPEG-4 and VP8. Apart from that, all the formats under H.264 codec are supported.)
One of the major upticks for Chromecast is that it is easy to broadcast any laptop screen, browser or phone on to the TV screen. Even local content can be streamed through all kinds of devices through apps. This can be tricky to do in the case of Fire TV and users might need to perform extra tweaks.
Although, one downside with Chromecast is that it does drain your battery if the device is handling streaming over long periods. With the Amazon Fire TV stick, you can handle that by remote. The remote has voice control as well which can be used for the search. There are no Alexa functions but search phrases of Indian accent is picked up well
Apps and the interface
While Chromecast has its own app where you can find more content, you essentially don't need separate apps for the device. If any app such as YouTube, Netflix or Hotstar has Chromecast compatibility, users can stream music or video directly to the TV at the click of a button. Nor is there a home interface for Chromecast. The device just acts as the streaming carrier from apps to the TV screen.
The Fire TV Stick has its own set of apps loaded on the platform or, rather, the device. You can browse through the catalog using the remote on the tile-like interface. Additionally, there is voice search which can help users find the apps. During initial usage, I found the aspect-ratio a bit weird and the apps are not as well made as the ones on the Apple TV. Streaming through the apps was a good experience though.
Pricing and closing thoughts
The new Chromecast is priced at ₹3,399 in India while the Fire TV Stick will set you back by ₹3,999. Both serve different purposes. If you have most of your content on streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube and Hotstar, Amazon's stick with a remote is a better choice.
But if you want to stream local content, mirror your screen (broadcast content on the screen of your choice) besides streaming, Chromecast is a good all round device for making your TV smart.