Amazon officially introduced the Fire TV this week, a small black box for streaming media to your TV, which only costs $99. Aside from streaming media, you can also use the device to mirror content on your Kindle Fire HDX, as well as play popular games.
Fire TV features Voice Search, FreeTime, and ASAP, and you can read more about these standout features here.
The question now is, how does the Amazon Fire TV compare to other popular streaming devices such as the Apple TV, Roku 3, and Chromecast? Will its features and media offerings be enough to entice consumers to ditch their old streaming device?
Amazon Fire TV compared
Design and interface
Fire TV: small square black box that connects to an HDTV and comes with an intuitive Bluetooth remote that can also be used for gaming, and has a built-in mic for the Voice Search functionality.
Chromecast: flash drive-like design, black in color, connects directly to HDTV via the HDMI port; mobile devices or laptops are needed to browse content.
Apple TV: black square device with rounded corners, comes with a remote but users can also use their iOS or Mac OS X devices to control it.
Roku 3: black square device with rounded corners and a power button, comes with a remote that doubles as a motion control game controller and also has a headphone jack.
Fire TV: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, Pandora, Showtime Anytime, HuffPost Live, iHeart Radio, Vivo, Vimeo, Crackle, Bloomberg, TuneIn, NBA Game Time, Amazon Prime Instant Video, RedBull TV, Plex, Daily Burn, YouTube, AOL On, Flixster, QelloConcerts, Frequency, TastyTrade, Minecraft Pocket edition, The Walking Dead Game, The Game of Life, Sev Zero, Asphalt 8, and a lot more coming soon.
Chromecast: Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Pandora, YouTube, Crackle, Rdio, Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music, Songza, Red Bull TV, Vevo, Plex, PostTV Viki, and RealPlayer Cloud.
Apple TV: Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO GO, Watch ESPN, MLB.tv, NBA, NHL, WSJ Live, Sky News, YouTube Vimeo, flickr, Qello, crunchyroll
Roku 3: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, HBO Go, MLB.tv premium, Disney, vudu, Crackle, PBS, PBS Kids, NBA Game TIme, popcornflix, Blockbuster on demand, FLixster, Smithsonian channel, Viewster, Syfy, EPIX, crunchyroll, Midnight Pulp, Big Star, Gravitas Movies, BYUtv, Drive-In CLassics, CJC, TV Guide, FrightPIX, The Man Channel, SnagFilms, Cryptic Television, Cowboy Classics, and more
Fire TV: 1080p HD
Chromecast: 1080p HD
Apple TV: 1080p HD
Roku 3: 720p HD, 1080p HD
Dual screen support
Fire TV: Yes
Apple TV: Yes
Roku 3: No
Fire TV: Yes
Apple TV: Yes
Roku 3: No
Fire TV: Internet, Cloud, device-to-device
Chromecast: Internet, Cloud
Apple TV: Internet, Cloud, device-to-device
Roku 3: Internet
Fire TV: Quad-core
Apple TV: Single-core
Roku 3: Dual-core
Fire TV: 2GB
Apple TV: 512MB
Roku 3: 512MB
Fire TV: Dual band (MIMO) WiFi and wired ethernet
Chromecast: Single band WiFi
Apple TV: Dual band WiFi and wired ethernet
Roku 3: Dual band (MIMO) WiFi and wired ethernet
Fire TV: $99
Apple TV: $99
Roku 3: $99.99
Comparing the basic features of the streaming devices, Fire TV is not too shabby and is even better in some areas compared to the others. The Bluetooth remote is a useful addition since you don’t have to worry about line of sight for it to work, and the fact that you can use it as a game controller is an added bonus. However, we’ve already seen this combo on the Roku 3.
What makes the Fire TV stand out is its exclusive features such as FreeTime, which allows parents to control what their kids can watch and for how long. Voice Search is also a compelling alternative for remote control, and the ASAP capabilities empowers Fire TV’s predictive capabilities to pre-load videos it thinks you want to watch, skipping the buffer time it takes to stream media.
If you’re looking for a streaming device, for $99, and if you’re already an Amazon Prime subscriber, Fire TV may do you good.
It should be noted that these streaming devices require subscriptions to some providers such as Netflix and Hulu Plus. Without a subscription, you cannot access their content. Owning a streaming device doesn’t automatically give you access to subscription based content.