Before we pit the Chromecast with Google TV against the Amazon Fire TV Stick, let’s be honest. The choice of media streaming devices hungry for your TV’s HDMI ports is positively intimidating. In fact, maybe don’t tell your TV as it might make it feel awkward. It’s important to remember though that while streaming sticks come in all shapes and sizes, their main goal is to make your life easier when it comes to watching your favourite services.
As smart as today's TVs are, your model might be missing a key streaming service or feature you really want, or you might find that a budget TV is more sluggish than you like, especially if it's not brand new. A streaming stick or one of the best Chromecast devices could be just what you need to solve the problem. There’s even Alexa or Google Voice Assistant for when you can’t be bothered scrolling that definitely makes it worth adding to your remote control collection.
Chromecast with Google TV doesn't exactly have a catchy name but it was important for Google to specify exactly what this device does differently. Where previously a Chromecast was a dongle used exclusively to stream from your Android devices, the Chromecast with Google TV adds a suite of apps where you can access movies and TV directly. This is a big upgrade.
On the other hand, the 2021 Amazon Fire TV Stick is the not-so-awkward middle child of Amazon’s streaming family. It has full Alexa control, unlike the Lite version, but doesn’t support 4K like the more expensive, imaginatively titled Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. So let’s compare the Chromecast with Google TV with the Amazon Fire TV Stick to find out which one is right for you.
Chromecast with Google TV vs Amazon Fire TV Stick: Features
First off, the all-important features of both streaming sticks. Both devices consist of two main separate parts. A dongle that disappears behind your TV into an HDMI slot and a battery-powered remote control. Both will need to draw power in addition, from a USB port or from the wall.
While the Amazon Fire TV Stick comes in a standard black, you can pick up Google’s offering in three different colours. What that choice of white, blue or pink – sorry, snow, sky, or sunrise – means is that at least your remote will stand out on a coffee table of predominantly black tech. As tempting as it is though, let’s not decide who wins based purely on the colours on offer.
A potential dealbreaker here is the lack of 4K in the Amazon Fire TV Stick. If you have a 4K TV and want to make the most of it, the Chromecast with Google TV would be an easy choice as it deals spectacularly well with 4K imagery. As we say in our Chromecast with Google TV review: “Given the best 4K HDR stuff to work with, the Chromecast with Google TV turns in an authentically impressive performance. Dolby Vision-assisted images are crisp and detailed, with plenty of dark-tone information available and contrasts handled well. Lighting is convincing, the colour palette is extensive and there’s decent three-dimensionality to images too.” You’d have to go up to the slightly more expensive Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K for Ultra HD visuals from Amazon's products.
A big sell for both here is the fact that they work with their respective digital assistants. The Chromecast with Google TV lets you ask Google Assistant for funny films or certain apps while Alexa is ready and waiting to help on the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Handily, as we note in our Amazon Fire TV stick review, Alexa has her full functionality here so if you use the Amazon ecosystem, she’ll be equally happy fast forwarding through ads as turning on and off your smart bulbs or ordering takeaway. Not to be outdone, Google Assistant also has full functionality for your Google Home so if you’re set up that way, you can control all of your connected products.
In terms of mirroring content from your phone, Android owners will find it much easier to connect to both the Chromecast with Google TV and the Fire TV Stick. This is more challenging from iPhones depending on the app you’re using (many do support Casting, but it's not built into the system). If streaming from iPhone to TV is your main goal, we’d suggest the (more expensive) Apple TV 4K.
Chromecast with Google TV vs Amazon Fire TV Stick: App support
If you spend all of your time watching one particular streaming service, you’re going to want to make sure that your streaming stick can support that app. It’s always vital to check as there have been some inexplicable exclusions over the years.
For instance, on release, the Chromecast with Google TV didn’t have the Apple TV app, which has now been remedied. All you need to do is ask Google Assistant to open Apple TV and you can get back to watching Ted Lasso as planned. The Amazon Fire TV Stick has always had Apple TV ready to go, so don’t panic.
Other than the UK's Now TV which is missing from the Chromecast with Google TV, both devices have the majority of the heavy hitters and aim to make it as easy as possible to give you a personalised collection of media. The Amazon Fire TV Stick has Prime, Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Music as direct buttons on its remote, and the Chromecast with Google TV has quick shortcuts for just YouTube and Netflix.
Chromecast with Google TV vs Amazon Fire TV Stick: Price and conclusion
At £59.99/$50.99, the Chromecast with Google TV is a brilliant value 4K streaming stick. Especially so if you’re a part of the Google ecosystem and can make the most of Google Home and Android connectivity.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick on the other hand is significantly cheaper at £39.99/$39.99 and is a tremendous all round package. Again, this also makes perfect sense if your house is full of Alexa-based tech and you don’t mind plugging in the device itself. You could also always upgrade to the 4K version for an extra £10/$10 if you’ve got a 4K TV to make the most of.
The choice then is very much dependent on where you’ve invested most but both offer an excellent suite of features to give you easy access to your favourite streaming services.