Black Friday will be here before you know it, and the Christmas season will not be far behind. If you have loved ones who are ready to try products produced by Amazon, they may have an Amazon Fire TV on their wish list. The hard part is to decide if you should go with a Fire TV or a Fire Stick.
We took a closer look at both options and we were generally very pleased with what we saw. While they are very much alike, there are a few details in which they differ. For an even more in-depth review and how the Fire TV stacks up against other media streamers, take a look here.
Purchasing the stick for someone who is an avid gamer would not be a wise choice, yet buying the box for someone with no interest in voice search would be pointless.
If you decide to get an Amazon Fire TV stick, one end goes into a USB port while the other connects to an HDMI port. You also have the option of using an outlet instead of a USB port (we discovered that this is far more reliable).
That is pretty much all you need to know as far as ports go. Audio and video both come via HDMI. Bluetooth is used for the remote and the optional controller and Wi-Fi is used to connect to the World Wide Web.
The Fire TV box is a bit more versatile. In addition to the ports that were mentioned above, it has an Ethernet port, a USB port (which is only used for developers) and an optical audio out port.
If the user does not have any use for Wi-Fi or a very powerful speaker system, the Fire TV box is clearly the better choice.
Voice Search and Remote
One of the most popular features of Fire TV is the voice search. This allow people to search for TV shows, music, games and films by speaking into their smartphones or the remote control. While our reviewers had mixed feedback about this feature, it still means that Amazon Fire TV had an edge over competitors like Roku stick and Chromecast.
The Fire TV box includes a remote control that will allow the user to access the voice search feature. The remote control that comes with the Fire TV stick is not as sturdy and this feature is not supported. While it is possible for an owner of the Fire TV stick to invest $30 and get a voice search remote, it would be more practical to get the Fire TV box in the first place.
Keep in mind that you can use voice search on either platform if you download a free smartphone app, which is not available for Android users and coming soon to iOS users. If voice search is very important and the recipient doesn't own a smartphone, it would be best to purchase the Fire TV box. Otherwise, the stick will do.
Gaming is the area where these two devices are very different. While both of them use the same operating system, the stick does not have as much power as the box. Basically, it can not store the same number of games, particularly those that are very technically demanding.
The Fire TV box can support all of your favorites, like Max Payne, The Walking Dead, Grand Theft Auto and The Wolf Among Us. You can not do all of that with the stick, but you can use light, casual games, like Wind-Up Knight.
If gaming is one of the main reasons for making the purchase, buy the Fire TV box and think about getting the optional controller, which is around $40. Otherwise, the stick should be fine, and gaming will have to be just an afterthought.
Value and Price
One of the largest differences between the two is the price. The Fire TV box costs $99, yet you can get the Fire TV stick for only $39. There is no magic ball that can tell you which one will be best able to fit your needs. Even so, I can say that the stick is a decent product that works well without all the extras that come with the box.
If you need top-notch audio, core gaming capabilities, voice search capability and an Ethernet connection, the box would be the best option for you. Otherwise, you can keep some of your money in your pocket and buy the less expensive sister product.
Now since you've made your pick: can you jailbreak the Amazon Fire TV to get even more out of your media streamer? Yes you can! Learn everything about it here in our massive media streamer comparison.