Chromecast Vs FireStick TV – Battle of the Budget Streamers
Can’t decide who to pick between the competition of Chromecast Vs FireStick TV to select for your entertainment streaming experience? Here’s a close look at both of the budget streaming devices from Google and Amazon, so you can choose the right one to buy.
The television is more than just an entertainment system – it is a piece of technology that is able to bring alive the party and adds to the home space for some family time. For decades, the visual entertainment industry has been tied down to the cable company, which strictly limited the content you could enjoy on the big screen. But the recent pushback possible with the help of the internet, has ushered in an era of streaming entertainment, made possible by smart devices that allow content to be played over the wireless network.
In the fight to cut the cord and reclaim the easiest way to watch our favorite movies and TV shows, the biggest brands in the tech business have come up with some nifty solutions. Streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime Video, and many others are offering millions of customers across the world the ability to enjoy entertaining content on the go as well as from the comfort of their living rooms. What makes it possible for users to stream content on the big screen are devices like the Google Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Chromecast Vs FireStick TV – The Fight
Web entertainment services can be expensive as it is, which is why most users are weary of stepping up and spending hundreds of dollars on a premium streaming device. The idea behind the Google Chromecast as well as the Amazon Fire TV Stick is to create an entry-level solution for customers to access online entertainment. By bringing down the price point and making online entertainment accessible, both the budget streaming devices are here to help you explore a world of content, while cutting out the hefty recurring fees, viewership restrictions, and advertisements that the traditional cable company dumps on you.
Are you planning to get onboard with wireless entertainment, but can’t decide on whether you’re all about Amazon, or want to be a member of team Google? We’re here to help you understand the best features of the both these wildly popular budget streaming devices, so you can choose the one that suits your needs the best.
Design and Build
Starting off with the Amazon Fire TV Stick, you get a rectangular structure which resembles an extra-large USB drive by its design. But instead of the USB connector, you have an HDMI port that plugs into your TV, along with a Micro USB port at the rear of it, which takes in the power supply. There isn’t any element to the design of the Amazon Fire TV Stick that would stand out, but since it will mostly be tucked away behind the TV panel, the aesthetics should not be much of a concern. A useful addition in the box is the HDMI extension adapter, which should come in handy if the boxy structure of the Fire Stick TV obstructs the HDMI port.
Speaking of the Google Chromecast, you get a rather unique look in the form of a circular structure with the HDMI cable dangling out from one end. The pebble-shaped Chromecast conveniently tucked into the back side of the TV, while the flexible HDMI cable ensure that it never gets in the way either. Available in Black and White color schemes for you to choose from, the rear side of the HDMI cable and the Chromecast itself is magnetic, allowing you to fold it over for an even more minimalist appearance. Unlike the Fire TV Stick, Chromecast does come with a button right next to the Micro USB port, which acts as a reset button.
Winner: Google Chromecast
The competition of Chromecast Vs FireStick TV starts heating up when it comes to the remote control options, especially since the latter comes with a physical remote control. Amazon offers the Alexa Voice Enabled Smart Remote along with the Fire TV Stick right out of the box, which comes with a physical voice assistance button built right into it. Apart from allowing you to easily access content using your voice, the added ability of having a smart voice assistant on the big screen allows you to perform a quick online search, look up the weather, and even check the latest sports score right away.
With a circular navigation panel at the center which resembles the old Apple TV Remote, you get the Back, Home, Options, Rewind, Play/Pause, and Fast-Forward buttons embedded in it. A physical remote control makes it easier for the less-tech-savvy users to operate the smart streaming device, hence giving the user a more traditional way of enjoying big-screen entertainment. The Amazon Fire TV for both, Android and iOS allow you to ditch the remote, and makes it easier to type in your searches, which is quite a slow experience when done through the Alexa Voice Remote.
On the other hand, Google Chromecast takes a different approach entirely, by ditching a physical remote control and turning your phone or tablet into one. Google has integrated the Chromecast service into thousands of apps, which makes the transition from the mobile phone’s display to the TV screen almost instantaneous. The user interface that the app provides you to control the Chromecast from a phone or tablet is fairly easy to understand, and the entire ecosystem of Google apps such as YouTube, Google Play Music, and many others, makes the experience fairly gentle and intuitive.
While Google Chromecast may beat the Amazon Fire TV Stick app, it does beat the actual interface that comes with the convenience of a physical remote control. For instance, when you choose to cast a movie or TV show from your Netflix app on the phone to the Chromecast, you can’t choose to watch anything else on Netflix from your phone without interrupting the playback on the big screen. Additionally, your phone or tablet must always be well within the range of the Wi-Fi network to which the Chromecast is connected to, if you want to enjoy uninterrupted streaming.
Winner: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Apps and Content
Amazon follows the same process of app deployment for the Fire TV Stick that it does for the Fire tablets, choosing to run its own version of Android. The company chooses to filter out Google Apps suite such as the Google Play Store, Google Movies, Google Play Music and several other, in an effort to minimize the monetization for its closest rival in the online media streaming business. The Amazon App Store still gives you a healthy choice of apps to choose from, including everything from news, games, productivity, and more, and there’s the option to sideload apps such as Kodi media player by enabling “Unknown Sources” from the Developer Options, just like you would on an Android phone or tablet, and the built-in 8GB storage should give you enough room to do so.
Google offers the ability to include the Chromecast option in almost every major media streaming app available on the Google Play Store, which is in the thousands. You get seamless integration in all of the popular names such as YouTube, Netflix, Hotstar, Hulu, Plex, Kodi, and there’s even the ability to cast non-supported ones through third-party apps such as AllCast. Amazon once again goes head to head with Google, by not offering the casting feature in the Amazon Prime Video app, thus putting your hopes of cross compatibility between Amazon and Google to rest. Additionally, Chromecast does not come with any built-in storage like the Fire TV Stick does, so all of the apps that you use with it need to be installed on your phone or tablet.
The Chromecast Vs FireStick TV showdown gets even closer when you are comparing two devices’ ability to perform screen mirroring. The feature allows users to use their TV screen as a duplicate display for their phone or tablet, allowing them to essentially view all sorts of media on the big screen effortlessly. Amazon Fire TV Stick comes with Miracast support right out of the box, which makes it possible for Android users to easily select the streaming device as a casting display and get going. Albeit there is lag when it comes to casting motion content such as videos, but the Mirroring feature on the Fire TV Stick is self-sufficient in handling photos, documents, and even music content.
Google Chromecast is a power-house when it comes to the ability of casting and mirroring content, allowing you to not only use the Cast button that is supported by thousands of apps, but also to cast directly using Google Chrome web browser. Just like its rival, the streamer does lose a few points when playing high-definition video content using screen mirroring, especially when the wireless router is not built to handle it. But the seamless integration of Google Photos makes the experience viewing images on the big screen a lot more fluidic and comfortable to navigate through.
Value for Money
Amazon is creating an ecosystem of products and services that are intertwined, and it has been successful in the form of Prime service. The chances are that as someone who is purchasing an Amazon Fire TV Stick, you are also an Amazon Prime member, which grants the Amazon Prime Video, Prime Music, and Prime Photos service bundled in. Considering that you can get the Fire TV Stick for cheaper as a Prime subscriber during the Amazon Prime Day sale, it makes the device even cheaper to get. The base price of the Fire TV Stick is set at $39.99 as of now, which includes the Alexa Remote along with it, making it a standalone media streaming solution.
Google Chromecast on the other hand is just a few dollars cheaper than its competitor at $35.00, but it does come with a lot less than the Fire TV Stick. You don’t get any form of physical remote control with the device, or is there an HDMI extension adapter included in the box. Google does have its very own streaming services such as Play Movies & TV, and Play Music as well, but these services are offered separately and not bundled along in the sense that Amazon has been able to achieve, which makes them an added entertainment expense for you to bear.
Winner: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Chromecast Vs FireStick TV – ExpressVPN is Essential
Regardless of the streaming device that you have your mind set on, it all comes down to the quality of your viewing experience with the numerous streaming services that are available. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and many others tend to offer varying catalogs of content based on the region you access the website from. Additionally, you may not be able to enjoy premium streaming services in certain regions due to regional copyright conflicts, but your way around it all is ExpressVPN.
Bypassing Geo-restrictions – If you reside in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other regions where there the federal authorities have blockaded access to streaming services, you won’t be able to access the service through Kodi either. Whether the functionality of the add-on is censored in your region or the service is entirely unusable, ExpressVPN allows you push forward with hundreds of remote servers across the world for you to connect to.
Avoid ISP Logging – Even if the service is not explicitly banned in your region of residence, the ISP (internet service provider) can still keep tabs on your usage. The online activity that you perform can be logged, which poses not only a privacy threat, but the problem of the ISP fining you for unauthorized usage as well. With ExpressVPN and its military-grade encryption to secure your online activity, rest assured that your online browsing experience is 100% secure.
High-speed Streaming – Although you can find plenty of free and barely-secure VPN services out there that can help you connect with Kodi and make the most out the services, most of them offer sub-par streaming quality. When using ExpressVPN, you are automatically recommended servers which offer top upload and download streaming speeds, so you don’t ever have to sit in front of the screen, waiting for the buffering circle to load up.
Amazon may essentially be an e-commerce company, but it is attempting to conquer the streaming entertainment world as well. Although there is plenty of competition in the space, thanks to Apple TV, Roku Player, Android TV, and others, Amazon is reaching out to the consumer base by offering a unique entry-level streaming device in the form of the Fire TV Stick. The only real competitor to the service at the same price point and similar features is the Roku Streaming Stick, but it also pales in comparison when you consider how well Amazon Prime Video and its supporting streaming services are cross-integrated.
Google may have been first to market with the Chromecast, but the streaming device has always been more of an accessory, rather than a standalone streamer. In the battle of Chromecast Vs FireStick TV, the fact that the latter has its own user interface that is free from the requirement of a mobile phone or tablet, makes it a better choice. Google still has a huge stake in the industry, thanks to Android TV, which gives the Fire TV platform a run for its money. But when comparing the budget offerings from two of the biggest names in the tech industry today, Amazon Fire TV Stick is our preferred choice.
Is your home entertainment system powered by the enclosed, self-sustaining ecosystem of Amazon Fire TV Stick, or is Google Chromecast your choice of weapon against the cable company? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section on which side you’re on in the battle of Chromecast Vs FireStick TV and specify why so.