Two streaming solutions, both alike in dignity, from fair Amazon, where we make our choice. … Which should you buy? We’ve got your answer.
When it comes to plugging into your television, Amazon has two options that’ll tempt you to open your wallet. There’s the Fire TV, and the Fire TV Stick.
Neither one should bust your budget. In fact, the more expensive of the two is less than $100. And both do generally the same thing — they give you access to Amazon’s Appstore (and Amazon Music, let you watch all sorts of streaming video, and play all kinds of games. (Because, again, apps.)
Let’s take a look at the differences.
Fire TV Stick vs. Fire TV — the specs
|Category||Fire TV Stick||Fire TV|
|Form factor||HDMI Stick||Small set-top box|
|Release date||September 2016||December 2015|
|Supported resolution||Up to 1080p||Up to 4K|
|Expandable storage||No||Up to 128GB|
|Processor||MediaTek 8127D quad-core (32-bit)||MediaTek 8173C quad-core (64-bit)|
|GPU||Mali-450 MP4||PowerVR Rogue GX6250|
|Bluetooth||4.1||4.1 + LE|
|See at Amazon||Fire TV Stick||Fire TV|
Fire TV Stick vs. Fire TV — what you need to know
You don’t have to be a tech head to know that you generally get what you pay for with this sort of thing. A higher price means more tech, and more tech often means a better product.
And that rings true with Fire TV. Both do the same thing — they plug into your TV, connect to the Internet and your Amazon account, and let you download apps and watch videos and stuff.
But one of them does it better than the other. That’s something you can glean from the specs — the more expensive Fire TV box has more powerful internals than the less expensive Fire TV Stick. (It also has more room for that more powerful hardware, which is a pretty good rule of thumb, too.)
What you’ll find is that both of them get the job done. What you’ll also find is that the full Fire TV box does it better.
Why you should get the Fire TV over the Fire TV Stick
For my money — and let’s be clear here, while $89 isn’t nothing, it’s not a whole lot of money — I’d get the more expensive of the two, the Fire TV box. For one reason:
You can get by with the Fire TV Stick, but get more out of the box for that extra $50.
It has better hardware. And when it comes to this sort of thing — decoding video and running apps — better hardware almost always leads to a better experience. That’s definitely true when it comes to the Fire TV. It won’t blow the doors off other streaming devices. But when it comes to these two, it’s definitely the victor. Better processor, better GPU. That means better performance.
Also: If you’ve got a 4K television — that’s the newfangled resolution that’s also referred to as UHD — then the Fire TV box also is the right call, as it’s the only one here that handles that many pixels. The Fire TV stick is limited to a 1080p resolution.
There are a few other minor differences, but those are the big ones you should worry about.
One caveat, though, and it applies to both devices: Neither one of these is a spring chicken. The current-generation Fire TV Stick was released in September 2016, and the current Fire TV box came out in December 2015. It wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a refresh drop this year. That’s always a gamble when it comes to buying tech, especially when the numbers line up like they do here. That shouldn’t affect your decision between the stick of the box, though. The box is better.
And moreover, when given a choice that’s within my budget I always get as much tech as I can. It won’t necessarily future-proof the device. For as much better as Fire TV is over the stick, it’s still not the same as getting a couple hundred dollars worth of hardware.
But in this case, the $89 Fire TV is the right decision.