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Fire TV Stick vs Fire TV

Availability: the Fire Stick is available on Amazon for $29.99 while the Fire TV is priced at $49.99.

In the past, the Amazon Fire TV was Amazon’s streaming box while the fire stick was it’s more portable streaming device. However, since their initial launch in 2014, these devices have become closer in size and in price. Furthermore, due to the low price point, these devices are a hot commodity among those looking to “jailbreak a firestick.”

In this article, I’ll explain the major differences between the latest Fire TV and Fire TV Stick and which one is right for you.  I’ve done full reviews of both devices for those looking for a deeper dive:

Review of Fire TV

Review of Fire Stick

Differences Between Fire TV and Fire Stick

The Fire TV and Fire Stick provide all the same apps and streaming services. Any service, TV, or movie you can access with one, you can access with the other. In fact, the following features are the same on both devices

  • Both come with the Alexa Voice Remote which provides all the power of Alexa without buying an Echo or Dot. You can search, pause, rewind and much more using voice commands.
  • Both integrate and can be controlled using any Amazon Echo device
  • Both come with 8GB of internal storage
  • Both support 802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi (backward compatible with n/g/a/b)
  • Both can use Ethernet with the Fire TV Ethernet Dongle

The only differences between the devices are size, processor speed, resolution, and audio.

Video Resolution

I find the video resolution and quality to be the biggest difference between the Fire TV and Fire Stick. While the Fire Stick shows up to 1080p HD at 60 fps (frames per second), the Amazon Fire TV provides 4K Ultra HD at 60 fps. Most importantly, it adds HDR or High Dynamic Range which broadens the range of viewable colors in a video. Check out my article “What is HDR” for more information.

Processor Speed

The Fire Stick provides a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor which is more than enough to handle most streaming needs. The Fire TV provides a bit of an upgrade with a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor. While faster, there is no detectable difference in video streaming.

However, both Fire TV and Fire TV Stick allow you to play games available in Amazon’s digital marketplace. The Fire Stick may not meet the minimum requirements, where the Fire TV would.

Audio

Fire TV Stick – Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1

Fire TV – Supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital Plus, and Dolby Digital.

The major difference here is Fire TV adding support for Dolby Atmos. With the right hardware and content that supports the audio standard, you can duplicate theatre quality sound.

Size

While the size of these devices used to be vastly different, the latest 3rd Gen Fire TV is only twice the size of a Fire Stick. That may seem like a lot, but the Fire Stick is only 3.4” x 1.2” x 0.5”. You can see the size difference in the picture at the top of the article. The Alexa Voice Remote in the picture provides scale.

Fire TV or Fire Stick

The major difference for most will be the video quality. Fire TV offers 4K UHD video with HDR at 60 fps, while the Fire Stick caps resolution at 1080p HD. Audiophiles should opt for the Fire TV due to the addition of Dolby Atmos support. The few folks out there concerned with gaming on their Amazon device should also opt for the Fire TV over the Fire Stick as the formers upgraded processor will meet the minimum device requirements for more games.

If none of those issues are of concern, save yourself some money and purchase the Fire TV Stick. As of the publish date of this article, the Fire Stick is available on Amazon for $29.99 while the Fire TV is priced at $49.99.

Those looking to experiment with cord cutting should look to grab the Fire Stick. The low price makes it an easy investment. Most people have more than one TV, so if you like cord-cutting, you can always pick up the Fire TV for your main TV at a later date.

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Categories: TV Streaming Devices
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (29)

  • I am retiring in two months and realize that my DirecTV bill ($104.00) per month is to much to pay for my retirement income. Also, I need to purchase a new TV (still using my Magnavox which mimics HD). Unfortunately, at my age, I am unable to see as well. My favorite shows are HGTV or DIY shows plus PBS and local shows. I loved your article but did not see my favorite shows listed. What do I need to do to view those types of shows?

    • Hi Barb,

      I would recommend getting a Roku 3 and Sling TV for HGTV and DIY type shows. That is about $20 per month. Then, assuming you have TV signals available, get an antenna for local shows and PBS.

  • Are you aware of any options for Comedy Central and Discovery channels, preferably live streaming? We're essentially paying over $200 a month for Internet and about 5 channels that we watch, and paying that bill makes me sicker and sicker each month.

    • Hulu Premium (formerly Plus) offers many Comedy central shows the day after they air. Discovery is limited to what you can currently watch on their website. Are there any shows in particular that are must watch on Discovery? If so just buy the current season from Amazon or iTunes. It works out to be much cheaper than cable and you own the show. Then you can watch it as much as you want whenever you want.

  • Hi,
    My sister gave us an Amazon Firestick and we have an Amazon Prime membership and Netflix subscription. We live in a rural area, are over 60 yrs old, and not tech savvy at all. We need to stop paying for cable! We watch movies, local news, Jimmy Falon, The Voice, and PBS. We have internet but not unlimited data. What do we need to do to quit paying the cable company?

  • Hey have a xbox one and Internet 20mbs but idk what it's running through my router prolly 5mb or less but streaming through Netflix is no problem unless 4 of us are on the internet Doing things at on time... Def. router hold back but my son loves streaming cartoons he's only 3 but is there anything or way I can have like a DVr to save movies or cartoons and then hook up my burner and burn him a DVD for on the road use I don't have a cell phone service nor cable or satalite service I've cut those out already and have burned a few movies off my dish DVr... Just curious I've heard about the firestick and hacks to get unlimited ppv and stuff but I'm not so much into that as I am a reliable setup such as my Xbox one with Netflix.. But I ran into my first issue with the walking dead it won't be available until the seasons over to buy so I'm gonna get something such as amazon prime or such to buy the season pass... But burning movies for him to watch would be nice or a device I can setup for more than 2 rooms would be nice as well any help with that? For the price of Amazon or Netflix they seem worth it I just don't need a streaming device bc of my Xbox but idk how I could get it to the other rooms without a smart tv please help ASAP

    • Unfortunately there isn't a straightforward way to copy streaming content with a DVR. As for getting content to the other TVs, you would just need to get a streaming device on each one. I recommend the Amazon Fire TV Stick because they are so cheap compared to the other streaming devices.

  • Thank you for this wonderful article! We would like to get rid of cable. We currently have Netflix and Amazon Prime with 1 Fire Stick in addition to cable. The reasons for not cutting the cord yet is we rarely catch shows live so use our DVR for everything, we watch a lot of major networks (NBC, ABC, etc), we watch sports, and we have multiple TVs and only 1 firestick. If we get a firestick for every TV plus Sling TV, will that allow us to watch shows on cable and major networks a day after they are aired as well as live sports? We would love your recommendation!

    • Sling is Live TV. Have you looked into the new TiVo Roamio OTA? The solution that is right for you really depends on the shows you want to watch. You can take a look at my guide on Cable TV Alternatives. It covers just about everything your need to know.

  • Hi dennis...I recently purchased a fire tv stick w/Alexa voice remote and I have a question....do I need to register my fire stick threw Amazon.com since I purchased it there....also I want to jailbreak the device...what r the pros n cons?

    • I don't think you have to, but it will integrate your Amazon Account. As for jailbreaking, that is a bit of a misnomer.

  • I bought a FireTv. I followed the video to jailbreak. I have an Amazon account. When I got to the part after ES Explore and back to search and download it stopped and ask for a credit card on my Amazon account. Can I get around this?? If not and I but one on my account will I be charged for anything I watch?

  • I have a smart TV that is does not have wifi capability. I do have wifi internet via my ISP. How can I use Fire stick in this situation?

    • The Fire Stick Wifi will connect to your in-home wifi and work just fine with your smart TV.

  • FYI the $40 fire stick now comes with Alexa voice remote by default. Just got mine last week!

    Been reading through your cord cutting articles this morning- very informative, thanks for putting such great info all in one spot!

  • I cut the cable once but my wife loves the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball broadcast on AT&T sports channel contacting them they say right now only streaming on cable, wife wants only local announcers not MLB I got the impression that they might be streaming on something in near future do you have any ideas on what, thanks, love the podcast and site

  • We have 6 TVs in our house. Do I need to buy 6 Fire Sticks and if so what happens to the quality of streaming when 2 TVs are streaming and someone else is using their iPhone at the same time?

    • You will need a streaming device on each TV you want to stream. An HD stream takes roughly 5-7 Mbps of bandwidth so 6 streams at once would take around 40 Mbps. You'd likely want a bit of room so I'd say about 75 Mbps would be ideal to run 6 at once. However, how often would you run all 6? If 2 is the norm then 25 Mbps should be more than enough.

  • Thanks for your response Dennis. I appreciate all of the help you can give us as we are "newbies" to the cord cutting culture. We had our bill go up again with Spectrum, this time $25.00 and lost some channels in our package. Just not going to do the cable thing anymore. I was thinking of buying 3 devices, one each for the family room, living room and master bedroom. But, you are correct, we only watch at most 2 TVs at a time. Is there a way to put up a Mohu multi-directional antenna and toggle back and forth from a streaming device and the antenna on 3 of the TVs and just hook the other TVs(kitchen, and 2 spare bedrooms) to the antenna? Also, if we run a splitter to all 6 TVs, in order to get local channels, is the signal diminished? Thanks again for your help and keep up the GREAT work.

    • Thank you Vic. Yes, your Antenna and Streaming device are on different inputs so you can easily switch between the two. Splitting the antenna will diminish the signal. Check out this guide on using an antenna on multiple TVs for some more info.

      • Thanks again Dennis for the quick reply. I read your article "using an antenna on multiple TVs". The info you provided in the article was easy to understand. I think I am going to attempt installing a Mohu multi-directional since we live approximately 40 miles from Toledo, Ohio, 60-70 miles from Detroit, Mich. and about 80 miles from Cleveland , Ohio. Maybe I should check the transmitting tower locations of those cities to see if it is possible to pick up their signals? In the old days(I am 68 years old), we had a rotor which allowed us to move the antenna towards the above mentioned cities. We could pull in Toledo with a clear picture. Detroit and Cleveland, when we could pick up the signal always had some "snow" in the picture quality. Since technology has changed over the years, should we bother purchasing a multi directional antenna? Thanks.

        • A directional with a Rotor is almost always going to do a better job than a multidirectional.

          • Thanks Dennis. Can you recommend a Rotor and Directional setup if you were do go that route? Thanks, Vic

          • Unfortunately, I haven't put a rotor in in quite some time. I'm not comfortable on recommending one.

  • I just bought FireStick #5. I also have 5 Raspberry Pi's and put LibreElec/Kodi on them. There is one of each on every TV.

    I use them strictly for streaming and playing media files. The FireStick and Kodi have a lot of the same apps- but TBH a lot of the streaming apps just work better on the FireStick. I'm talking *legal* addons here BTW- like YouTube, which is always broken in Kodi.

    The FireStick works great. I usually stream in 720p and it's good enough for me. I don't usually have any buffering issues either. Netflix streams just fine. The one advantage The Pi's and Kodi have over the FireStick is the ability to play files directly from attached USB drives. Neither the FireTV nor the FireStick do this.

    You can't go wrong with the FireStick, especially when you can pick them up on sale for $30. I just got #5 and when they go on sale again I'll pick up another for a spare... great little device.