Amazon has shrunk its Fire TV down into a small USB dongle-style HDMI stick, ready to take on the Google Chromecast and Roku Streaming stick. It’s called, rather unoriginally, the Fire TV Stick, and it has been available for pre-order since mid-October. Early on, it was priced at just $19 for Amazon Prime members, but quickly reverted to its usual retail cost of $40.
Updated on 11-19-2014 by Andy Boxall: Added in news the Fire Stick has started shipping.
Amazon started shipping the first run of Fire TV Sticks on November 19, calling it the company’s “most successful device launch ever.” Demand has outweighed supply, and although those who have pre-ordered the device are assured of fast delivery, anyone hoping to secure one before Christmas may be out of luck. A check of Amazon’s order page shows it won’t be back in stock until January 15 next year. That date is almost certain to change, and Amazon is recommending orders are placed soon to “reserve a place in line.”
The Fire TV Stick connects in the same way as the Chromecast, by plugging into the HDMI port on your television, and is powered by a dual-core processor backed up by 1GB of RAM. Amazon’s quick to point out this ups the processing power over the Chromecast by 50 percent, and is twice the amount of memory found inside Google’s streaming media stick. A total of 8GB internal storage also beats Google’s efforts by 4GB. It’s capable of streaming 1080p video with Dolby Digital Plus audio, using dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi – another advantage over the Chromecast.The Fire TV Stick is controlled using a free Fire TV Remote App, which is compatible with Android and Amazon’s own Fire Phone for now, although an iOS version is apparently in the works. Like the Fire TV box, it incorporates a voice search feature. Additionally, the package also includes a traditional remote control if messing around on your phone isn’t for you, but it doesn’t have the voice search feature.
What can you watch using your Fire TV Stick? Anything available through Amazon’s own content store, plus movies and TV delivered through other services such as Netflix, Hulu Plus, Showtime, and Twitch, plus music services including Spotify, Vevo, and Pandora. The Fire TV Stick will also mirror content shown on your Android device, including video and games, plus Amazon’s X-Ray music, movie and TV information service will be displayed too.
Related: Amazon Fire TV Stick review