Should You Buy a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick?

Should You Buy a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick?

There are plenty of reasons to choose Amazon’s streaming devices for your home. Amazon’s Fire TV OS is sleek and easy to use, and it does a great job of surfacing your Amazon library and perks from Amazon Prime. Plus, Amazon’s app library has way more games than competitors like Roku, and the Fire TV devices can be used with gaming controllers. But even if you know that you want a Fire TV device, you may not yet know which one you’d prefer. Should you get a Fire TV or a Fire TV Stick? Here are a few things to consider before you make your choice.

 

These Devices Have a Lot in Common

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Back in the first generation of the Fire TV Stick, the Stick was missing a huge part of the Fire TV experience: the Alexa-enabled voice remote, which allows you to search, ask questions, and even order Domino’s just by using your voice. But the second-generation Fire TV Stick includes the voice remote, so that full functionality is now available on both devices.

The Fire TV OS looks the same on both devices.

In fact, these two devices have a ton in common. Both use the same operating system. Both support Dolby 5.1 surround sound. You can get the same apps on both – with the exception of some games, which I’ll talk a bit about later. The remote control is the same. There are a really only a few differences between the devices, and they’re all about the hardware.

 

Wi-Fi vs. Wired

Amazon Fire TV

Do you have a decent router? Whether or not you do can make a big difference to your Fire TV Stick experience. The Fire TV Stick has to run on Wi-Fi – there’s no Ethernet jack on it, like there is with the full-size Fire TV.

Of course, you should also think about whether or not you can reach your device with an Ethernet cable. If your device is going to be far from your modem or router, you’ll end up having to run the Fire TV on Wi-Fi anyway, eliminating this advantage. If you can plug it in, however, the Fire TV will stream a little more smoothly when hooked up with an Ethernet cable.

 

4K Ultra HD

4K Ultra HD

Do you have a 4K TV? If so, you’re going to want to spring for the full-sized Fire TV. The Fire TV is 4K-capable, but the Fire TV Stick is not. The Fire TV Stick tops out at 1080p – good enough for your regular HD TV, but not 4K.

 

Apps

Almost all the same apps run on both devices. However, the weaker Fire TV Stick isn’t able to handle some of the games that the full-size Fire TV can. If you want your Fire TV to be a gaming device as well as a streaming one, consider passing on the Stick and going for the top-of-the-line model.

 

Ports

The Fire TV has a few extra ports that the Fire TV Stick doesn’t have. These include a USB port and a microSD slot, which can be used as extra storage for local content or even sideloading Android apps.

 

Price

If any of the points above really grabbed you, you’ve probably already decided to go with the full-size Fire TV. If none of them did, though, you’re going to want to just roll with the Fire TV Stick. Here’s why: the Fire TV Stick retails for just $39.99, while the full-size Fire TV will set you back $89.99 (or more for the gaming edition).

 

Verdict

There are a few reasons to go for the full-size Fire TV. If you have spotty Wi-Fi, want more storage for local content, have a 4K TV (or plan to get one soon), or want to use your device for gaming, definitely go with the Fire TV.

Otherwise? Save some cash! Grab the Fire TV Stick instead.

See also:

Amazon Fire TV Stick Review

Review of Amazon Fire TV

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About the Author

Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely
Stephen Lovely is a freelance writer and a longtime cord cutter with a passion for technology and entertainment. You can find his work on Cordcutting.com and his tweets at @stephenlovely.

3 Comments on "Should You Buy a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick?"

  1. Darrell Patterson | April 6, 2017 at 5:37 am | Reply

    I’ve used both and if you want to subscribe to PlayStation Vue, you need the Fire TV. The Fire Stick is way too underpowered to run the guide, it drips like molasses. The Fire TV runs fast and smooth and also pulls the picture up instantly.

  2. Rowland Wafford | April 6, 2017 at 6:55 am | Reply

    The second generation Fire TV Stick does support Ethernet with some adapters. It’s a hidden feature, but it does work.

    http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-fire-tv-stick-2-supports-usb-storage-keyboardsmice-and-ethernet-adapters-via-usb-otg-without-root/

  3. If you’re penny pincher or if you want portability, buy the Stick.

    For any other reason, shell out a few extra bucks for Fire TV, which is faster, can be wired in for even better performance, has a port for other media, and comes with an SD card expansion slot so you can install as many apps as you like. I have well over 100 on mine.

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