Amazon has finally launched the Fire TV Stick – its rival to the Google Chromecast – in India priced at Rs. 3,999, making it easier for you to watch Amazon Prime Video content on your TV. If you buy the Fire TV Stick via Amazon.in - it will also be available via physical retailers such as Croma and Reliance Digital starting Thursday - it will ship with your Amazon credentials configured, and it will also net you Rs. 499 cash back via Amazon Pay.
To entice you into buying the device, Amazon has several limited period offers at launch. Every Amazon Fire TV Stick buyer will get 100GB of free data on Airtel broadband and 4G Wi-Fi connection for a period of three months, and 240GB data on You Broadband connection for the same period. There’s also a three-month free premium subscription for Eros Now, six months of ad-free streaming on Gaana, and a month of ad-free streaming on Voot.
Like Google’s Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV Stick plugs in directly into your TV’s HDMI port, though it works a bit differently. Instead of using your phone to cast, the Amazon Fire TV Stick comes with a bunch of apps that can be used to access these services. It ships with a voice remote that you can use to navigate the interface, or search by speaking to it. At the launch event, Amazon said that voice search will also pick up names of Hindi titles, though we’ll only know how well once we’ve spent some with it. The Amazon Fire TV Stick variant launched in India does not come with Alexa, Amazon's digital assistant that's available in the latest variant of the device available in the US.
Also like Google Chromecast, the Fire TV Stick can be used to stream videos from a wide variety of sources like YouTube, Netflix, Hotstar, and of course Amazon's own Prime Video service, which, incidentally, is not supported on Google Chromecast. You can use AirPlay to stream Prime Videos from your iOS device to an Apple TV, but if you only have a Google Chromecast and really want to watch Amazon Prime Video content on the big screen, you might want to consider switching to the Fire TV Stick.
It is better seen as a compact version of its bigger cousin, the Amazon Fire TV, which is not available in India yet. That means you can install more than 3,000 apps, games, and services, though you’ll have to keep its 8GB internal storage in mind. There’s no way to expand the storage, if you’re wondering. On the hardware side, the Amazon Fire TV Stick runs on a quad-core chip, with 1GB RAM, and support for 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Amazon also talked about the various technological innovations that Fire TV Stick is capable of. For one, it has ‘ASAP’ i.e. advanced streaming and prediction, where the device learns what you watch and starts pre-fetching to reduce wait times. Amazon claims this can speed up video playback by 50 percent.
Two, the Amazon Fire TV Stick has support for the more demanding H.265 (HEVC) video codec, which means your movies will use less data and take less time to buffer. Beyond that, you’ve got access to the standard quality controls, check on the apps that are using the most data, and even set monthly quotas in case you’re worried about your Internet connection’s FUP.