Chromecast vs. Firestick—Which Should You Buy?
Devices like Google Chromecast and Amazon Firestick completely change how everyone sees and uses their TVs. Given the many streaming devices now, it can be hard to determine which one to buy. You’re not alone in this feeling. While Chromecast uses your smartphone to stream apps, Chromecast with Google TV has become the new Google option because it has built-in streaming. On the Amazon side of the bridge, the Fire TV Stick 4K also holds a vast audience.
If you are keen on getting one of these streaming devices to watch movies and turn your TV into a smart TV, this article will tell you everything you need to know to make the right choice.
Let’s take a closer look into what Chromecast with Google TV and Fire TV Stick offers, pointing out the pros and cons of both series of devices. That way, you can figure out which one best suits your needs. Both Chromecast with Google TV and Firestick are great for TV streaming, but there are some differences you should know about before making your choice.
Google Chromecast with Google TV
The Chromecast with Google TV is a small device connecting to your TV with an HDMI cord. You must plug it into your TV’s USB port because it requires power, although you can use the supplied power adapter for maximum performance.
The original idea behind Chromecast was to enable you to turn any TV set into a smart TV and use your smartphone as a controller. However, you now have a Chromecast with Google TV built into it. Unlike the typical upgrades that brands provide, Google went backward by offering a 1080p model after the release of the 4K version. The most likely reason was to offer a lower price point for those that don’t need 4K resolution. Both releases look identical, except the 4K series offers three colors instead of one.
Chromecast with Google TV Pros
The Google TV Chromecast versions (HD and 4K) deliver smooth performance and navigation, and the body’s design is easier to manage and less bulky than the original Chromecast models. Chromecast can also work in sync with Google Home devices, meaning you can use voice control to tell it what to do. Here are the top pros of the Chromecast with Google TV.
1. Abundant Streaming App Sources
Since the Chromecast with Google TV features Google/Play Store apps, you get most streaming apps directly on the device rather than using your smartphone to mirror or cast them. This benefit means you can freely use your phone while you enjoy the latest TV series or favorite action movies.
2. Frequent Updates
The Chromecast with Google TV runs on the Google TV Operating System. Therefore, you get plenty of regular updates and security fixes for the device. If any new streaming apps or games get developed, this device will indeed have them.
Update: As of Feb. 18, 2021, the highly demanded Apple TV+ app became available on the Chromecast with Google TV device, matching Fire TV Stick and Fire Cube device availability.
3. Remote Functionality
Like Amazon Fire TV Stick models and Fire TV Cube devices, Chromecast with Google TV includes a remote to navigate the system, which the regular Chromecast devices don’t have. The remote’s small, compact size is full of functionality, including Google voice control, HDMI CEC power/volume and input buttons for your TV, and Netflix and YouTube quick access buttons. Yes, this remote has a TV input button!
Chromecast for Google TV Cons
If you already use Google Home to control various devices, Chromecast is your best choice. However, there are some downsides to understand.
1. Complex Setup Process
Since Chromecast with Google TV offers access to popular streaming sources and links/interacts with other Google Home devices, it requires more setup steps that could lead to confusion. In addition, you must have an Android or iOS smartphone, and the Google Home app must be installed on it to set it the Chromecast with Google TV.
2. The Remote’s Design
Google strived to deliver a simplistic remote that could handle all sorts of tasks, but the ergonomics are something to scream about. The design makes it challenging to press specific buttons, especially those on the side of the remote. You may accidentally hit another button while trying to push a specific one. Even the top buttons can be a challenge for those with thick fingers. The ultra-lightweight properties, short length, and rounded bottom are part of the issue that makes it slip around.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
The Amazon Firestick product line includes the 4K (Gen. 1, 2018) and 4K Max (Gen. 1, 2022) models. The installation process is very similar to Chromecast with Google TV as it plugs into your TV’s HDMI port and turns your TV set into a smart device. You can also use your voice to control it, but it comes with Alexa controls rather than Google Home.
Fire TV Stick 4K Max Pros
Firestick is the only real competitor to Chromecast as it offers similar features designed for smart homes. It’s easy to set up, and you can use voice control to operate your TV set and other devices using Alexa. Here are the top pros for the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
1. Easy, Fast Setup
You can set up the Firestick in minutes. Just plug it into your TV’s HDMI set, put some batteries into the Alexa remote, connect it to your Wi-Fi, and finish the setup on your TV screen.
2. Alexa Remote Functionality and Design
Firestick’s remote control changes how we see remote functionality. It has only a few buttons for basic commands and a built-in voice assistant that allows you to do much more by using your voice. It’s ideal for people who have trouble using remotes.
The design of the Firestick remote is undoubtedly better than the Chromecast with Google TV one. It’s longer, so it stays in the hand better, making it easier to push buttons without slipping or bumping another one.
3. Cast from Your Phone
Like Chromecast, Firestick also comes with a casting feature; it allows you to mirror your phone’s screen onto your TV. It’s not as good as Google Chromecast’s cast feature, but it does the job.
4. Fast Processor and Increased Wi-Fi Compatibility
With its Quad-core 1.8GHz MT8696, it the Fire TV Stick 4K Max delivers faster processing speed than its predecessor, the Fire TV Stick 4K. This feature makes browsing and selecting a quicker experience and provides smooth video streaming.
It’s worth mentioning that the Fire TV Stick 4k Max has Wi-Fi 6 support (the 6 GHz Wi-Fi band), which is excellent for those that have a network to support it. You need a router with “802.11 ax” capabilities to use Wi-Fi 6.
Fire TV Stick Cons
The Firestick is handy, but its Achilles heel is in the software.
1. Natively Only Works with Amazon App Store
Since Firestick is a direct competitor to Google’s Chromecast, you can only use it for Amazon apps unless you are tech-savvy enough to get around the restrictions. That means no Play Store and no extra Android features.
Overall, the Chromecast with Google TV and the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max are solid solutions for your streaming needs. However, each carries unique features and compatibilities while having different drawbacks. When thinking about negative aspects, remember that no device is without them.
If you take anything from the above information, remember that the Fire TV Stick 4K Max easily integrates with Alexa devices, has a fast processing speed, and has a decent remote design. On the other hand, Firestick is limited regarding app choices since it competes with Google and only accepts Amazon apps. The Chromecast with Google TV features many apps and games because it runs with the Google Play Store. Regardless, some found the Chromecast easier to navigate, but others like the Fire OS organization and category count.