There are a few Amazon Fire TV devices, including a $40 dongle and a $140 gaming-focused box. If you’re considering the dongle, you should probably just get the Roku Stick, and if you’re considering the gaming version, you should probably just get a console. The $100 Fire TV, though? That might be just right.
Fire TV has a lot of things that other streaming devices offer, including voice search and thousands of sources to pull from. Like the Apple TV, it has lots of games, and like Chromecast, it lets you mirror some content from certain smartphones to your display. It also has two things that neither of those devices can offer: 4K, and Amazon Video.
Being able to stream 4K video right now doesn’t matter much, unless you have a 4K TV set, and even if you do, there’s not a ton of 4K content out there. In terms of future-proofing, though, the Fire TV is ready for the next resolution revolution. The bigger prize, though, might be Amazon Video, which, in addition to hit series like Transparent, offers a surprisingly solid range of movies and TV shows to choose from. You know how Netflix doesn’t have nearly as big a selection as it used to? A lot of that stuff is on Amazon now.
Basically, if 4K and Amazon Video matter at all, you’ll be deciding between a Roku 4 and a Fire TV. If you’re deeply committed to Amazon, don’t mind a slightly clunky interface, like playing the occasional casual game on your TV, and want to save $20, go with the Fire. Otherwise, you won’t regret bringing home the underdog.
Amazon Fire TV, $99.99 at Amazon
Best for: Amazon junkies, 4K faithful, the gaming-curious.
Not for: Interface obsessives, Apple devotees, splurgers.