Listener Terry in Carthage, Missouri asked us about the best streaming stick on the market, he asked:
Chromecast and Fire stick: Which one do you think is better? Can I throw movies that I have on my computer or my tablet up onto the big screen without having to use my data?
In terms of which is actually better– there is no definitive answer and it’d be unfair for us to tell you one is better without you being aware of what each has to offer. That decision is completely up to you, but we can help guide you by telling you the specs of the Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Price is not a big factor when considering which to buy, because the Chromecast and Fire stick are very close in range. The Chromecast will be a few dollars cheaper, usually found at about $35 while the Fire stick is about $39– which would surely confuse any average consumer because usually a product that has more to offer would cost more, but at only a $4 difference, it isn’t really the case here.
You did ask if you can just throw movies you have stored on your computer or tablet onto your screen, and yes you can, by using screen mirroring. On Chromecast, you can do so using a Chrome browser or an Android device. On the Amazon Fire TV stick, you can do so by using your Amazon Kindle or, “soon” by using your Android device.
If you’d like to use other internet-based apps for whichever streaming stick you choose, you’d need to take the Wi-Fi capabilities of the device into consideration and in that area– the Fire stick is much better. The Chromecast uses a single-band Wi-Fi antenna and the Fire TV stick uses a Dual-band, Dual-Antenna MIMO (my-moh or me-moh) which could significantly improve the performance of the Fire TV stick over the Chromecast.
Both also have gaming capabilities, but the Fire TV Stick does have a leg up over it’s competition because for about $40, you can purchase a gaming controller separate from it’s normal controller. Also, when taking the two devices into consideration– keep in mind that Chromecast performs without using a control whatsoever. You must actually stream anything straight from your device to the Chromecast in order to view it, which is either a big upside or downside, depending on your personal preference. Understandably so, there are some people who would like the nostalgic feeling of a handheld control while others would rather not have the liability of keeping track of where they left another remote.
There are certain apps that work on the Chromecast that don’t work on the Amazon Fire TV stick and vice versa, so if you are concerned a favorite app of yours might not be available– take a more in-depth look by verifying it for both, but most staple apps work for both.
What you didn’t ask was about the Roku Stick, which at $49 is only a few dollars more, and offers more streaming services than either of the other two. Quite frankly, it might be the best of the “sticks,” so perhaps you should give that one a look also. And IF your tablet happens to start with an “i” don’t forget that Apple has lowered the price of Apple TV to $69, although that’s not a stick.