Streaming War: Amazon Fire TV vs. Apple TV vs. Roku vs. Google Chromecast
By Pavithra Rathinavel | April 6, 2014 10:20 AM EST
With the brand new Fire TV, Amazon is entering the streaming video player market with Google Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV as prime competitors.
Amazon Fire TV is a set-top box which doubles as a gaming console. Apart from the aforementioned competitors, Amazon has rivals in gaming consoles arena from the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, according to Mashable.
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Apple TV at the Macworld 2007
The prominent competitor Apple TV generated $1 billion in sales last year, as reported by Forbes. While Roku is the pioneer in this arena and it supports lot of channels, which includes Amazon Instant Video. And the budgeted Chromecast has been the top seller in Amazon's site owing to its price range.
All the aforementioned devices let users watch on-demand video content on TV (full HD mode) but there are some peculiar features which can be a deal breaker, if you are planning on buying one.
However, users can watch Netflix, Youtube, Hulu Plus and pro sports leagues like ESPN on all the devices.
The impediment in Apple TV comes in the form of not having access to Amazon Instant Video library. However users can access iTunes Store, which again is not available on non-Apple set-top boxes.
Google dongle is cheaper and quite smaller when compared to its rivals, but it does not provide support to wired Ethernet and other ports. While the latest Roku 3 supports USB port. The set-top box versions from Fire TV and Apple TV offer optical connections for audio devices.
Amazon Fire TV Specialties & Comparisons
The striking feature of Amazon Fire TV got to be its 'Voice Search Support', in which the users can speak to the remote's built-in microphone to search for a movie and could get a list of matching options.
Amazon Fire TV's home screen houses a list of movies and TV shows. Upon selecting a movie, the user is presented with all the available options for watching that movie. Depending on your subscription & preference you can select the suitable option from the list.
The Fire TV is powered by quad-core processor hence, it is very responsive. While Apple TV and Google Chromecast are powered by single-core processors, and Roku 3 on the other hand houses a double-core processor.
Fire TV set-top box offers a whopping 2GB of RAM, whereas the other three offers a modest 512 MB of RAM. The quad-core processor and RAM combination helps eliminate the buffering at the start of streaming movies/videos.
Although Fire TV is not tuned outright to compete with Xbox and PS4, it still provides access to a budgeted set of games.
In addition, Amazon has a "FreeTime" option that allows parents to keep control of what their kids should watch, and there is also an option to set daily time limits.
When it comes to the final and the deal breaking aspect i.e. the price, Fire TV wins hands down with its overall package which includes a memory of 2GB, quad-core processor, support to various streaming libraries, the extended support to family/kids oriented "FreeTime" option and the gaming support for just $99. The Apple TV and Roku 3 can be purchased at the same $99 price range while Chromecast dongle is the cheapest of all and it costs only $35.
However, the gaming controller for Fire TV should be purchased separately for $39.99. Also the users of Amazon Fire TV will not be able to access HBO Go, while the same is available for streaming in other three devices.
Overall, the Amazon Fire TV does pack value and power in the set-top box and fares better than its competitors.
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