Streaming is a part of life now. It’s also more accessible than ever, thanks to devices like the Fire TV Stick and Chromecast. But in the battle of Amazon Fire Stick vs. Google Chromecast, who comes out on top?
Both the Fire Stick and Chromecast let you stream on all your favorite platforms, even if you don’t have a smart TV. While they serve the same purpose, their specific features, pricing and user experiences vary. Here’s a closer look at what each offers to determine which is best.
Amazon Fire Stick vs. Google Chromecast: Features
Let’s start by comparing the Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast’s features. If you zoom out, both devices do the same thing — they let you stream content on your TV. If you get more specific, though, there are some pretty significant differences.
Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick has plenty of live TV apps and all the familiar streaming channels you’d expect, like Netflix and Hulu. It also supports up to 4K picture quality, though you should know the cheaper models — namely, the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite — only go up to 1080p.
All Fire Sticks come with physical remotes, too, which is handy if you don’t want to control everything from your phone. All models also support HDR, which makes the picture look better. They also have Dolby Atmos support for better audio, except for the Fire TV Stick Lite.
Most Fire Sticks have 8 GB of internal storage for your apps, though you should know the operating system takes up roughly 3 GB. The high-end Fire TV Cube boasts double that amount of space.
The Chromecast has many of the same features. Like the Fire TV Stick, it supports all the major streaming apps. It also has both 1080p and HD models, though Dolby Atmos support is only available on the higher-end models.
Unlike the Fire TV Stick, the cheapest Chromecast doesn’t have a remote. Instead, you use a companion app on your phone to cast content to your TV. Similarly, if you have a cheaper model, you’ll have to use your phone or a Google Home device to use voice commands. It’s worth noting, though, that the models that do have remotes have more buttons and features than Amazon’s remotes.
This round of Amazon Fire Stick vs. Google Chromecast goes to Amazon. The Chromecast shares a lot of the same features, but it loses out in some areas, giving the Fire Stick the edge.
Amazon Fire Stick vs. Google Chromecast: Pricing
Considering even the cheapest smart TVs can cost around $300, both the Amazon Fire Stick and Google Chromecast are cost-effective ways to steam. They also fall within similar price ranges, but they go about pricing differently.
Fire TV Stick
Fire Sticks come in five tiers. The most expensive is the Fire TV Cube, the newest version of which costs roughly $140. That’s certainly less than a smart TV but fairly expensive for a streaming device.
Below that is the Fire TV Stick 4K Max at $60. The Fire TV Stick 4K — which is largely the same but has a less powerful processor — will run you $50. Below that is the run-of-the-mill Fire TV Stick, the third generation of which costs $40.
Rounding out the list is the Fire TV Stick Lite. This low-end version costs just $30, nearly 80% less than Amazon’s most expensive option. That leaves plenty of options for different budgets.
Google doesn’t offer quite as many options as Amazon when it comes to pricing. The Chromecast technically has three tiers, but the lowest — the Chromecast (3rd Generation) — is now officially discontinued, though you can still find some for sale.
That discontinuation leaves Google with just two Chromecast tiers. The higher-end option is the Chromecast With Google TV 4K at $50. Below that is the Chromecast With Google TV HD, which runs $30.
This round of Amazon Fire Stick vs. Google Chromecast again goes to Amazon, but only by a slight margin. The lowest-end Chromecasts and Fire Sticks cost the same, but Amazon offers a wider variety. If all you need is a cheap HD streaming device, either will do, but it’s nice to have more options at higher budgets.
Amazon Fire Stick vs. Google Chromecast: Usability
Finally, let’s look at how easy it is to use each device. Most Americans spend roughly three hours every day streaming video, so you’ll be using these gadgets a lot. Given that frequent use, you’ll want something convenient.
Fire TV Stick
All Fire TV Sticks — except the Cube — plug directly into your HDMI port like a flash drive. The only wire is a small power cable that plugs into a USB port on your TV.
Once you’ve set the device up, using it is fairly straightforward. You can use the remote to look through apps and shows or use voice commands with Alexa. However, the Fire Stick Lite’s remote can’t control your TV’s power or volume, which is inconvenient.
All Fire remotes also lack input switching. You’ll need a separate remote to switch to a different HDMI port to play video games, for example. If all you need your TV for is streaming, then this won’t be a big deal, but it’s an annoyance otherwise.
Setting up a Chromecast is just as easy as the Fire Stick. There’s one more cable to deal with, but it’s still just a matter of plugging one end into an HDMI port and another into a USB port for power. It may be a little harder to hide everything behind your TV, though.
Using the Chromecast is also an intuitive process. You may find voice controls more convenient than Amazon’s, though, as Google Assistant has more device compatibility and is usually more accurate than Alexa.
If you have the now-discontinued Chromecast (3rd Gen), you won’t have a remote or a visual interface on the TV to work with. That can be a pain, but both of the newer models have nice interfaces and remotes. Both these controls have power and input switching buttons, too.
This round of Amazon Fire Stick vs. Google Chromecast goes to Google. The better voice commands and more convenient remotes make a sizeable difference.
The Final Verdict: Which Is Best?
So, which is the best streaming device overall? The Fire TV Stick beats out the Chromecast in most categories, so we’ll give it to Amazon. That said, the Chromecast is still an excellent device and is more convenient.
If ease of use is your biggest concern, go for the Chromecast. You may also prefer it if you use a lot of other Google Home devices. If not, though, the Fire TV Stick has more options and features for a wider price range.
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