Amazon Announces Fire TV Stick To Rival Chromecast

Chris CrumTechnology

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Amazon just announced its own competitor to Google's Chromecast, which is more expensive and includes a separate remote. It's called the Fire TV Stick, maintaining the brand of its previously released streaming device.

The Fire TV Stick connects to the HDMI port on an HDTV just like the Chromecast. While it's only $19 for Prime members for two days only, its regular price is $39. Chromecast is typically $35, but can be found for less from some retailers. Walmart is selling it for $28.32 with 2 months of Hulu Plus for free at the moment. In fact, you can even get it for the same price on Amazon itself.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says, "Fire TV Stick is the most powerful streaming media stick available—a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage, dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi, included remote control, voice search with our free mobile app, easy set-up, an open ecosystem, and exclusive features like ASAP for instant streaming. The team has packed an unbelievable amount of power and selection into an incredible price point—Fire TV Stick is just $39.”

While it comes with a remote control (unlike the Chromecast which you can simply use with your phone, tablet, or computer), you can still download the Fire TV Remote app to use your phone as a remote. Some additional features include:

Instant streaming with ASAP—No more waiting for your movies and TV shows to buffer—ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) predicts which movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and buffers them for playback before you even hit play so videos start instantly.

Fling movies and TV shows from your phone or tablet—Fling movies and TV shows from your Fire tablet or Fire phone to Fire TV Stick, turning your TV into the primary screen and freeing up your phone or tablet to provide playback controls, a customized display for X-Ray, or simply a place to email, browse the web, and more, while you watch a movie. Fire TV Stick supports standards like DIAL so you can also fling services like YouTube, Spotify, and coming soon, Netflix, from your Android phone or iPhone.

Mirror your phone or tablet display—Wirelessly mirror your tablet display to your Fire TV Stick from Fire tablets, Fire phone, and Miracast-enabled phones or tablets including devices from Motorola, Samsung, LG, and Google without any additional apps or software.

X-Ray for movies and TV shows—Using Second Screen on your Fire tablet or Fire phone, you can see X-Ray information as your movie or TV show plays on your TV via Fire TV Stick. See information about cast and crew, the names of songs as they play, as well as a list of music in the movie or TV show, trivia items in context with the action on the screen, and character backstories so you can easily remind yourself of the character’s history. X-Ray is exclusive to Amazon and is powered by IMDb.

X-Ray for music—Lyrics display and scroll line-by-line automatically as the song plays, so you can follow along with songs.

Great for casual gaming—Play your favorite casual games like Monsters University, Ski Safari, and Flappy Birds Family.

Personal photos and videos—Play slide shows and choose your favorite album for the screen-saver on Fire TV Stick. Photos or videos you take on your phone or tablet can be automatically uploaded to Amazon Cloud Drive, so they appear on your Fire TV Stick.

There's also an Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote, which you can get for an additional $30.

Amazon boasts about all the services and content you can access with the Fire TV Stick, including Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Twitch, SHOWTIME ANYTIME, Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, Vevo, Plex, A&E, PBS, PBS KIDS, WATCH Disney Channel, and YouTube.com.

One of the services people care about the most, however, is missing in action, just as it was at the launch of Fire TV itself. While Amazon touts the fact that you can watch shows like Game of Thrones and The Wire, there's no mention of HBO GO. Amazon struck a deal with HBO earlier this year to license old HBO content, but that doesn't include current seasons of its shows, which you need HBO Go to stream. There were reports earlier this year that the service would be coming to Fire TV, but we're still waiting on that one.

It's going to be even more important for devices to get HBO Go if they want to stay competitive in the future, as HBO is talking about turning it into a standalone service for those who don't subscribe to any cable television packages.

Amazon launched Fire TV in April. Last week, the company gave an update on it, saying that it has tripled the amount of available apps. There are over 600 available now.

As you might expect, Amazon is giving away a free 30-day Amazon Prime trial with Fire TV Stick purchases.

Image via Amazon

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.