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Amazon Fire TV vs. Fire TV Stick: Which One Should You Get?

If you just want to stream movies and TV in 1080p, then the Fire Stick is perfectly adequate. Plus, it's $60 cheaper.
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If you're looking for a device to stream content to your TV from services like Netflix, Amazon Video, or Hulu, then you should really take a look at Amazon's Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. These devices plug into an HDMI port on your TV and connect to your WiFi network to stream all of the content you can handle, and are comparable to other streaming devices like Apple TV and Roku.

If you're uncertain whether the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick is best for you, read on to learn about the different benefits of each.

SEE ALSO: Apple TV vs. Fire TV: Which Streaming Media Player Should You Buy?

Size Matters

The most obvious difference between the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV is size. The Fire TV Stick is a small, unobtrusive device, around 3" long, whereas the Fire TV is a set-top box that measures 4.5" x 4.5" and less than an inch tall.

The Fire TV is perfect for your main TV in the living room; the Fire TV Stick may be enough for a second TV in the bedroom.

Since the Fire TV is bigger, it has more connections and better technology packed inside. The Fire TV is perfect for your main TV in the living room, whereas the Fire TV Stick may be enough for a second TV in the bedroom.

Before we dig into the specs in more detail, also consider what kind of space you have. The Fire TV Stick might work best if your TV is wall-mounted because it plugs directly into the HDMI port. However, both devices also need to be plugged into a wall outlet.

Get the Specs

If we look under the hood of the Fire TV Stick, we find a dual-core processor backed up by 1GB of RAM. The Fire TV boasts a quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. In simple terms, the Fire TV is going to be faster and more responsive.

SEE ALSO: Everything You Need to Know About Streaming Media Players

Both devices support dual-band WiFi, but the Fire TV goes up to the 802.11ac standard, whereas the Fire TV Stick only goes up to 802.11n. The Fire TV is capable of faster download and upload speeds, assuming you have a router that supports the 802.11ac standard and a really fast connection.

You'll find 8GB of storage on both devices, though it's worth noting that the storage in the Fire TV can be expanded thanks to the available ports.

The Importance of Ports

There's no room for extra ports on the Fire TV Stick; you just have the HDMI connector and the USB for the power connection. The Fire TV has a microSD card slot, an Ethernet port, and a USB 2.0 port. If your router is nearby, you can plug it directly into the Fire TV with an Ethernet cable for a fast, stable connection. The microSD and USB ports allow you to plug in cards and flash drives to expand your storage space for offline content. The Fire TV can accommodate microSD cards up to 200GB in size.

Fancy Controls

The Fire TV and Fire TV Stick support Bluetooth for the remote controls. That means you don't need a direct line of sight to use the remote. The cheapest Fire TV Stick comes with a basic remote, but you can pay an extra $10 to get the voice remote that ships with the Fire TV. The remote control is very easy to use, with six buttons and a navigation ring.

The voice remote adds a microphone button that allows you to search for content with your voice, so you can say the title, actor, director, or category and get a page of results showing you relevant content. It's much faster than typing with your remote, though it sadly doesn't search all content providers.

Note that there's also a free Fire TV Remote App for Android or iOS devices that allows you to use your phone or tablet as a remote control. The app also supports voice search.

How Much HD Do You Need?

The Fire TV Stick supports up to 1080p, which is Full HD. The Fire TV supports up to 4K Ultra HD, around four times the resolution of 1080p. That's also part of the reason that the Fire TV supports the faster WiFi standard, but you will also need a really fast and reliable internet connection to stream 4K content.

SEE ALSO: Here's What You Need to Know About the Latest TV Technologies

You won't be able to stream everything in 4K, but both Netflix and Amazon Video already offer a selection of TV shows and movies in 4K, and more 4K content is rolling out all the time. If you've taken the plunge and invested in a 4K TV, or you plan to soon, then you'll definitely want to opt for the Fire TV over the Stick.

The Gamer's Choice

If you consider yourself a gamer, then you may be tempted by the 1,200-plus titles available on the Fire TV. There's no doubt that a combination of the extra power, potential storage space, and faster WiFi makes the Fire TV a better choice for gaming. However, casual gamers can still engage their habit on the Fire TV Stick; it just can't handle the more demanding games.

The combination of extra power, potential storage space, and faster WiFi makes the Fire TV a better choice for gaming.

For an extra $50, Amazon offers a game controller with voice search that works with both devices. You can also buy third-party controllers, but they may not work as well as the official one.

Let's Talk Price

The Fire TV costs $100 and comes with the voice search remote. The basic Fire TV Stick will set you back $40, and comes with the basic remote. You can splurge and get the voice remote for an extra $10 if you want it.

For gamers, there's also the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition at $140, which comes with the official game controller with voice support, two games, and a 32GB microSD card. However, you don't get the normal remote with it.

Which One Should I Buy?

If you just want something to stream movies and TV shows and you only have a 1080p TV, then the Fire Stick is perfectly adequate. Plus, it's $60 cheaper.

The Fire TV is the only option if you want 4K content, would like to play the latest games, or want to future-proof a little bit. The Fire TV also makes more sense if you have the option to plug into your router, or if you want to have a library of offline content.

Both devices work beautifully and they're competitively priced, so it all comes down to your needs.

Readers, do you own the Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick? How did you decide which one to buy — or did you buy both? Let us know in the comments below!


Contributing Writer

Simon is a technology journalist with a background in games development. He is fascinated by all things tech, particularly mobile and videogames, and he loves to share that passion with other tech fans.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Unless marked as a "Sponsored Deal," the opinions expressed here are those of the author and have not been reviewed or endorsed by the companies mentioned. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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19 comments
Luke
I have both the Fire TV and Fire TV stick they both work great and Amazon does update / support their products very good. We use Fire TV on the big screen and the Fire TV stick on our smaller TV. The Fire TV stick is great for travel because of hotel WiFi. The games are getting better for the Fire TV most are the same games on your phone but playing with a game controller on the big screen is fun for the casual games.
Ardbeg
I own a Fire Stick, a Fire TV, and a Roku 3. All work well. The Fire TV/stick is better if you are a power user (that is, want to install Kodi, Mobdro, or other Android apps that can be easily "sideloaded") or play games. I originally preferred the Roku 3 for the bedroom because of the headphone jack on the remote, but became annoyed we couldn't see certain content in the bedroom, so now we have both and I bought a bluetooth receiver to pair with the Fire stick (cheap, easy). I haven't used the Roku3 in months (need to sell it).

One big advantage of the Fire TV is the network jack. Our living room TV didn't have good wifi reception (especially with the stick signal having to pass "through" the TV) so we had stability issues. With the Fire TV, I was able to use a powerline ethernet adapter, and now everything is blazing fast. I also bought a small bluetooth keyboard/mouse that is great for navigating some apps or typing and doubles as a decent game controller.
from50613
I owned both the Roku 3 and Fire Stick. The Fire Stick burned up about 10 months in and would not turn on. In every regard, the Roku is superior.
piewakit
This is for Dice Royal, if you're a Prime member, just send it back for FREE! If you don't trust the review, if you hate it, if it doesn't work right. All reviews everywhere are slanted and should be just a suggestion. I've purchased things that were much better then the reviews and much worse. Try what you want and if it's not for you, send it back. For the others who love ROKU, this article was comparing the Fire Stick and Fire TV. NOT Fire TV and Roku. I have the Fire stick which works fine for what I wanted. I never expected it to be Roku.
jake2011
I have tried all the devices, and by far the Fire tv is the best. It replaces my cable box, running ota and Playstation Vue saves me a ton of money. Also,I am not even a Prime subscriber.
Dice Royal
"DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article." Now these articles mean nothing and will go in the trash. Which is Amazon's now corrupt rating system works in a similar way. It's amazing the number of 5 star reviews that were given the product free. Then Amazon prints above the review that it is a verified purchase. How is that Legit. These companies are forcing me back into brick and mortar stores with lenient return policies. I am not the only one noticing this and at some juncture it's going to affect their bottom line. Recently I purchased 2 items with 5 Stars that were total junk or did not have the features that were advertised. Unfortunate since Amazon's review system was second to none.
dealnews-bglaser (DealNews)
@schulzey

As Lindsay pointed out two comments below yours, this particular article focused on Amazon. We've written positively about the strengths of Roku devices many times before. Here are few:

http://dealnews.com/...eive-High-Marks/679502.html

http://dealnews.com/...ck-Set-Top-Box/1025778.html

http://dealnews.com/...ayers/?tag=vacuumrevie0e-20
schulzey
If this wasn't a paid advertisement, shouldn't it contain a comment somewhere that the overwhelming critical analysis is that the Roku 4 or Roku stick is superior to comparable Fire TV or the Fire Stick unless you're completely invested in the Amazon universe. I love Amazon, but not enough to choose a Fire TV box over a Roku.
mattman770
I will say that I was excited to try out Sony's Playstation Vue on the Amazon Fire Stick. Their channel has video run in the background of the menus which made the stick so slow it was unusable.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
@Mmaengine Hi there, it was our intention to point out the differences between specifically the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick. A lot of people don't "get" the point of the stick vs a set top box, and we wanted to gear this towards people who are specifically interested in Amazon products. We've written about the Roku many times before as well.
Mmaengine
Haha, is this a trick question? Obviously the correct an that you should buy a Roku?

Seriously, how much did the boys over at Amazon pay you to write this garbage? Shame on you.
mr3Putt
Cilvre, How did you get Kodi to run on a Roku? I looked for clues before I bought a Firestick as I had a Roku I would have rather just loaded the Roku with Kodi.

I had no issues loading Kodi onto the Firestick, lots of youtube videos showing how.

Does your Roku have Kodi installed? I still have the Roku and would love to add Kodi.

Thanks.
good2014
Lindsay Sakraida, the voice remote on the FTV works really well. I was pleasantly shocked.
The other nice thing about the FTV is u can add a usb hub via the back usb port, have a memory stick for your own content and ADD a keyboard & mouse or a mini like this https://www.amazon.com/...1-spell&keywords=di+novo
BfloGeno
fire tv is fantastic for many reason, some of which have already been said here, it's much faster and more stable than the stick and i love that i can hardwire it to my router. anyone who tells you the firetv isn't worth it does not know how to use it to its fullest potential.
good2014
The author is wrong, the stick is not fine. You can get the fire TV on sale for $70, I did. Even when it is not, it is still the better deal because it has more memory, is faster and what that really means is no lags when u stream. The stick does lag. The FTV is also easy to root and runs Kodi Great.
Cilvre
@ski522 roku works with kodi if you open the files as a network share. Also consider running plex just for sharing to the network as it is more stable.

I use a roku 2, chromecasts, and a nexus player, I won't pay the amazon tax called prime.
Lindsay Sakraida (DealNews)
I'm also a diehard Roku person, but recently when I added a super tiny TV to my bedroom, I decided to give the Fire TV stick a try. I'm liking it so far, although I'm still in the phase where I click the wrong thing because nothing is quite like I expect it to be. Meaning, it's not a Roku, haha. I cheaped out and got the stick without the voice remote, I'm curious what people think of that...
ski522
Roku doesn't work with Kodi, so keep that in mind. Amazon does. I gave up on the Roku for that exact reason.
cmeyerhbg
Take it from someone who has owned both, don't buy either. Buy a Roku. The Roku 3 and the newest version of the stick are far better than any Amazon device. I have tried many android based devices, the Amazon devices and even played around with a raspberry pi. I always return to the Roku. I still have yet to try the Apple device, so no opinion there.
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