Amazon FireTV

Amazon jumps into the media-box market with the FireTV

Today, Amazon unveiled their newest bit of hardware, called FireTV. Basically, think Roku box, with the Amazon logo on it.

It’s $99, about an inch-ish thick, comes with a bluetooth remote (because we don’t already have enough remotes to lose) and lets you stream tons of apps.

As a Chromecast user, this has finalized my decision regarding which service to use for purchasing/renting movies/TV shows. I have decided I will be using Google Play exclusively now for Music, Movies and TV. Why? Well partly because I’m already using Google for their Google Music All Access, but mainly because I have a $35 Chromecast which has Google Play support, but no Amazon Instant support.

So, I don’t have any more HDMI ports, and I certainly don’t see why I would spend $99 on a box just so I can stream Amazon Instant Video. Google it is.

Now if you haven’t made up your mind yet, and you don’t already own a media streaming device, then you have some serious thinking to do. Here are a couple things to think about before making your decision.

Apps. The FireTV has the Chromecast beat in number of apps. But, if you’re like me, you wouldn’t use 99% of the apps it supports anyways. I really only use Netflix, and Google Music. Maybe YouTube once in awhile. I’m not too worried either, because while the list of supported apps might be rather small right now, it’s only going to get bigger. But for right now, the FireTV wins this category.

Price. The Chromecast costs $35, while the FireTV costs $99. That’s a significant difference, especially if you’re like me and have 3 T.V.s that’s $105 vs $297. The FireTV may support more apps, and have a bit better hardware, so bang for your buck is debatable. But, I have to say, since the Chromecast supports most of the important apps, and considering you can cast anything inside your Chrome browser (I actually watched the Superbowl this year, by watching it on a Fox website on my Acer C720 and casting it to my Chromecast) I have to say, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck with the Chromecast.

Another remote. The Roku, and the FireTV both require you have another remote in your living room. So, if you’re like me and you have 3 TVs, that’s 3 more remotes in the house. The Chromecast is controlled via your smartphone, tablet or laptop computer. No extra remotes that I have to worry about losing under the couch or bed. It’s just so stinking convenient. The Chromecast does all the work, meaning your phone isn’t streaming the video from the internet and transmitting the data to the Chromecast, your phone is merely telling the Chromecast what to stream and the Chromecast, running a very simple version of ChromeOS, does all the streaming for you. This leaves your phone free to do whatever you want with it while you’re movie/music is playing.

Hardware. The FireTV has pretty good hardware, which will make for a pretty good gaming system. Chromecast has some simple games available, but with the lag time, any semi-serious gaming is going to be a pretty poor experience. This sacrifice comes with the benefit of the Chromecast being smaller, and less than half the price. So it’s all about what you’re looking for. So spec-wise the FireTV has the upper hand.

What do you think? Got room for one more HDMI input? Here’s a visual comparison between the FireTV, a couple Rokus, and the Chromecast.

FireTV vs Roku vs Chromecast


About James Welbes

James is a guy who does things. Lots of things. Nothing weird, mostly computer things like blogging, web development, Netflix. He's a total Google fanboy, (despite Allo) and has been recognized as a Google Expert in Google's Chromebook Central product forum.