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Amazon just announced the Fire TV Stick for India. The device will sell on Amazon and certain retail chains for Rs 3,999 and primarily offers access to Amazon’s Prime Video service.
The Fire TV Stick will, however, face some competition from Google’s Chromecast 2, which has been available in India for a while and is almost 30 percent cheaper than the Fire Stick.
While both devices are streaming sticks that are designed to stream video to your TV, they’re fundamentally different in functionality. So which is the right one for you?
Both devices can stream from a number of services, including Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, etc.
Since the Amazon Fire TV is based on Android, it does support a number of India-centric streaming apps like Gaana, Hotstar, Eros Now and others. These are not all available on the Chromecast.
If you don’t care about Prime Video or Indian streaming services, the Chromecast is the cheaper option. If you do care, the Fire TV stick is the only option.
The Fire TV Stick runs a custom version of Android and thus, runs on decent hardware. The Chromecast doesn’t actually need apps as it’s more like a hub between you and your TV.
You can think of the Chromecast as a web browser with a TV UI that you control with your smartphone. It’s not an accurate description of the device, but it will suffice.
Now we haven’t pitted the two against each other ourselves, but reports suggest that the Fire TV stick is indeed the more powerful option and that content just streams quicker and more smoothly on the device.
The Fire TV also includes 8 GB of onboard storage, which is necessary for installing apps.
The Chromecast lacks any interface. You simply open a Chromecast compatible app on your device (phone, tablet or PC) and hit cast. The lack of a UI isn’t really an issue because your smartphone is the remote. And to clear up a misconception about the Chromecast, it doesn’t actually stream content from your phone to the TV unless explicitly instructed to do so. The Chromecast simply connects to the internet to stream the content that you want streamed.
Of course, you can still stream your device’s screen if you want to, but that’s just an added bonus.
The Fire TV, on the other hand, offers an interface that you can navigate either with the bundled remote or via a smartphone app. Apparently, voice control is also included, though it’s not clear if voice controls extend to non-Amazon apps like Netflix and Spotify.
With Google Home and Assistant, you can simply ask your phone to play a video of your choice on your TV.
So which should you buy?
The choice is an easy one. If you stream a lot of video from online services, the Fire TV Stick is definitely the better, more powerful option.
However, if you don’t do much streaming or simply don’t care for Prime Video, the Chromecast is better. It’s cheaper, for a start, and it also supports audio streaming from your device. The Chromecast also makes it very easy to stream your device’ display to a TV, making the sharing of images and video a breeze.
Of course, you could simply dump the two and get an Android TV-compatible device. It’ll cost a little more, but will be more functional than either the Chromecast or the Fire TV stick.