What is Amazon Fire TV, What is Fire TV Stick, Are they same or different devices? These are the frequent questions I notice in several forums. This is the reason I have compiled this Fire TV vs. Fire Stick guide to answer your questions. If you wanted to know something which is not covered in this article, feel free to comment below and I will answer as soon as I can.
Amazon released the 2nd generation Fire TV Stick (or simply FireStick) media device on October 20, 2016. Almost a year later, the company released the 3rd generation Fire TV media player dongle. While both these devices are incredible media and streaming tools, we often can’t decide which one to buy. Therefore, in this article, we are going to lay out Fire TV vs Fire Stick and help you make the right choice.
Fire TV and Fire Stick plug into the HDMI port of your TV and let you watch your favorite movies and TV shows on the larger screen. These devices support hundreds of popular TV channels and you can watch live TV through proper subscriptions. You can also download and play games on your TV. Both these devices have built-in support for Amazon App Store from where you can download apps and games. If you need more, it is also possible to install Google Play on FireStick where you can access thousands of apps designed for Fire TV / Stick devices. You can also side-load apps, such as Kodi onto Fire TV or Fire Stick.
Amazon Fire TV vs. Fire Stick
In the coming sections, we will be comparing the Processing power, RAM, storage, and other important factors for both the devices. I hope it will help you decide what is the best streaming stick for your requirements.
Better processing definitely results in better device performance and overall experience. Fire TV is costlier but it also packs a more powerful processor. While FireStick ARM Cortex A-7 clocks at the maximum 1.3 GHz, Fire TV’s Cortex A-53 goes up to 1.5 GHz. Given the fact that both have the same number of cores, the difference of 0.2 doesn’t seem like much. But, that’s not only the pick between the two.
When it comes down to Fire TV vs FireStick, former has a 64-bit process as compared to the 32-bit of the latter. For me, this is decisive. Having used both the devices, I can confidently say that Fire TV offers noticeably better performance than FireStick. Also, Fire TV has a larger RAM (which we will talk about next) and that too plays an important role.
RAM – Fire Stick vs. Fire TV
Both these Amazon devices are not supposed to be the high-end smart devices. They are designed largely for entertainment purposes. What most of us are looking for in both is the ability to play movies, shows and TV channels without any hassles. We know that Fire TV has a better processor. But, another advantage Fire TV enjoys over FireStick is that it also has a larger RAM.
FireStick carries a 1GB RAM while Fire TV has 2GB. I have already said that the RAM size makes a significant difference, especially when it works in conjunction with a better, faster processor. So, keep RAM and performance in perspective, Amazon Fire TV is a clear winner here.
This is the area where there is nothing to choose between the two devices. Both Fire TV and Fire Stick have 8GB internal storage without any support for external storage either through USB or MicroSD slot. If storage matters to you the most, you could buy any of the two. Of course, Fire Stick will save you $30, with some compromise in the performance.
These media players weren’t created to serve the purpose of storage. They let you install your favorite apps like Netflix through which you stream the content online. Therefore, 8 GB is good enough for most users. But, I still feel that slightly more storage space would have been better, especially for someone like me who likes to have several apps. I have noticed that the app data quickly consumes the space and when there is little storage left, the performance is affected.
Resolution – Fire TV vs. Fire Stick
The entertainment technology has evolved rather rapidly in the past decade. One aspect of the evolution was the advancement in the display technology. For the longest time, the best we could get was 1080, full HD resolution and a lot of us even settled for 720, partial HD. But, the introduction of 4K or UHD resolution completely changed our perception as well as the viewing experience.
4K offers more delightful, crisper display and 1080 stands nothing in comparison. In the Fire TV vs Fire Stick showdown, Fire TV is a clear winner here. Fire TV supports 4K resolution, while FireStick doesn’t go beyond 1080. If you have a TV with 4K support and you don’t mind spending an extra 30 bucks, Fire TV is a clear choice.
4K, however, is not the only thing that makes Fire TV a better option – it also has HDR (High Dynamic Range). I can go a whole length talking about HDR, but what you really need to know is that it enhances and balances the contrast and brings out more details in the video. HDR can dramatically make your viewing experience more delightful. Your TV must support HDR for you to enjoy it through Fire TV.
Remember that Fire TV will work on HDTV and FireStick on 4K TV. But, Fire TV will be restricted to 1080 and Fire Stick will not be able to maximize the full potential of 4K.
Design & Exteriors
Fire TV is a dongle while FireStick, well, is a stick. Fire TV is a little bigger in size as compared to FireStick, which is more compact and portable. But, I have been using these devices for a while and never had to carry them frequently. So, even though, unlike FireStick I might not feel very comfortable keeping Fire TV in my pocket, I can easily slip it in my bag.
When I am pitting Fire TV vs Fire Stick, size is barely the factor I consider. Both are plugged into and dangle from HDMI port of the TV. Yes! Fire TV is not a box and doesn’t have to be kept on the table or something. Just leave it hanging behind your TV set.
So, to sum it up, Fire TV might be a bit bigger in size, given that it offers better performance and higher resolution, I will always choose it over FireStick.
Operating System – Fire Stick vs. Fire TV
Fire TV runs on the Android-based Fire OS 6, which is further based on the design of Nougat OS for Android smartphones and tablets. Fire Stick, on the other hand, operates on the older Fire OS 5 version.
Fire OS 6 brings several patches and bug fixes. But, overall, I don’t see a lot of difference between the two. As a layperson, I haven’t found any remarkable distinctions based on which I can unambiguously tell one better from the other.
When you are evaluating Fire Stick vs Fire TV over various parameters, the operating system wouldn’t really be the one put into perspective.
Channels and Games
Again, there isn’t a lot to choose between Fire TV and Fire Stick as far as the channels and games are concerned. Fire TV has slightly more channels and games than Fire Stick, but the difference isn’t that great. Both offer more than 5000 channels and over 1000 games. Unless you are looking for something specific and whose absence would be a deal breaker, both are much the same.
Price – Fire TV vs. Fire Stick
Of course, the price! At $70, Fire TV is clearly costlier than Fire Stick, which is priced at $40. The difference of $30 could be a deal breaker for many. But, we have also established that Fire TV offers better performance and higher resolution. I am not saying that $30 has no value. But, Fire TV is certainly more value for money, especially if you are looking for a better entertainment experience.
The Verdict – Fire Stick vs. Fire TV
In the Fire TV vs Fire Stick playdown, Fire TV clearly emerges as the winner. Fire TV is faster and supports 4K (UHD) and HDR. But, it also costs $30 more. What’s also noteworthy is that for Fire TV you need a TV that supports 4K and HDR. If you don’t have that TV, Fire TV will be just as good as FireStick, only you would have paid more money. Weigh your options and make a choice accordingly.
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