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Hands on: Amazon’s Fire TV stick is slick, speedy and super-affordable

Amazon’s Fire TV stick starts shipping on November 19, and we got our hands on one for an early look at what promises to be one of the hottest gift items this holiday season. At just $40, the Fire TV Stick undercuts the Roku Streaming Stick in price, but puts it to shame when it comes to hardware specs. Frankly, when the Fire TV Stick was first announced, we thought it sounded a little too good to be true, but we’re happy to report now that we were wrong about that. Check out the video below to see it in action.

Unlike the Roku Streaming Stick, which is a bit sluggish compared to its full-sized streaming set-top box brethren, the Amazon Fire TV stick is quick to respond to commands, and any differences in app/content loading times are so minute, we’ll need a stopwatch to chart them. Its interface is identical to the Fire TV Box, and its functionality is very similar, too. At this point, it seems the only real advantage to using an Amazon Fire TV box would be its Ethernet connection for faster HD video throughput, and its faster processor for smoother gaming.

We’ll be pitting the Fire TV Stick against the Fire TV box and, separately, the Roku Streaming Stick and Chromecast soon. We’ll also have our full review of the Fire TV Stick shortly, so visit back tomorrow for a more in-depth look at Amazon’s latest effort to garner your affection for its special brand of streaming movies, TV shows, games, and music.

You can order an Amazon Fire TV Stick now, but it is not expected to ship until January 15 2015.

Related: Amazon Fire TV Stick review