Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Battle of the premium streaming dongles

By Sameer Mitha | Published on 01 Oct 2020
HIGHLIGHTS

Google has announced an updated Chromecast with a new UI.

It also comes with a new remote control.

Google also showed off the new Google TV UI.

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Battle of the premium streaming dongles

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While almost all the new TV available in India, even in the budget segment, are smart TVs, not all of them offer a great smart TV experience. And if you are one that has a TV from 4 or 5 years ago that’s still working well, then investing in a streaming dongle makes more sense than buying a new TV. And, with that in mind, Google has finally launched a new Chromecast. The biggest change this time around, apart from the design of the dongle itself, is the introduction of a new UI and remote control. This makes the new Chromecast more in line with a device like the Fire TV Stick. While Amazon has three Fire TV sticks available in India, there is still no information when the new Chromecast with Google TV will launch in the country.
 
However, considering the success of streaming dongles in the country, we can expect Google to bring the new Chromecast to India soon. Considering it will compete with the Fire TV Stick 4K directly, we thought we’d compare the two streaming sticks and tell you which one is ideal for you. Since we haven’t seen or used the new Chromecast, but have spent considerable time with the Fire TV Stick 4K, this comparison is purely based on the specifications and features the 2 devices bring. 

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Price

Let’s get the most important information out of the way first. How much do these devices cost? The Fire TV Stick 4K is officially available in India and it is priced at Rs 5,999. The new Google Chromecast isn’t officially available in India, but we think Google will bring it to India in the coming months. In the US, the device is priced at $49.99 which translates to roughly Rs 3,700 approximately, when directly converted. We do however think the device could be slightly more expensive in India but will be priced competitively when compared to the Fire TV Stick 4K. Let’s move on and see how the two devices compare in other departments.  

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Specifications

While the official specifications of the new Chromecast are not known, those that have got their hands on the device suggest that it has a 1.9GHz quad-core Amlogic CPU coupled with 2GB RAM and 8GB storage, of which 4.4GB is available to the user. 

The Fire TV Stick 4K, on the other hand, has a Quad-Core 1.7GHz CPU and 8GB storage. There is no mention of RAM on the official website but information circulating the internet suggests that the Fire TV Stick has 1.5GB of RAM. The Fire TV Stick also comes with Bluetooth 5.0 + LE. 

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: App Support

The Google Chromecast has access to the Google Play Store while the Fire TV Stick has access to its own app store. Both the streaming sticks have all the popular OTT platforms including Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, Prime Video, Voot, ZEE5 and many more. For the popular OTT platforms, it is clear that they are at par. However, it is the UI in the Chromecast which has changed, and this topic deserves its own section.

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick: UI

With the new Chromecast, Google has also unveiled the Google TV UI, which is a lot different from what we have come to expect on devices like the Mi Box 4K (review) or the Nokia Media Streamer. In fact, it is now comparable to the Fire TV Stick UI and even adds some features the Fire TV lacks.

Speaking of the UI on the new Chromecast, it has tabs on the top which include Search, For You, Live, Movies, Shows, Apps and Library. There is also a profile picture in the top right corner indicating which account is currently using the device. The Fire TV stick also has a similar layout with fields like Home, Movies, TV Shows, Apps and settings, but there are no profile options on the Fire TV Stick. 

The home page on the Fire TV stick is a mix of content from OTT platforms and Prime Videos and you also have access to your most commonly used apps on the home screen. The new Google TV UI aims to bring content first to the user by letting you add shows from different streaming services to “your library” in an attempt to unify your watch list. How this works practically is something we will only know when we get our hands on the device. 

Considering we love the Fire TV UI for what it does, we are intrigued by what the new Google UI brings to the table, and are going to go out on a limb and say that the Google UI looks promising enough to give the Fire TV UI a run for its money.

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Smart Assistant

The new Google Chromecast comes with a voice-enabled remote control and so does the Fire TV Stick 4K. The Google Chromecast supports the Google Assistant and the Fire TV Stick supports Alexa. You can also control compatible smart home devices from the comfort of these devices. 

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Remote control

A big addition to the new Chromecast is the remote control. All the leaks were true, and we have a remote control that has hotkeys to Netflix and YouTube along with a dedicated assistant button, power, input and more. The design of the remote control is reminiscent to the controller found on the Google Daydream and how it feels in the hand is something we will tell you when we get our hands on it. The remote has volume controls and a power button and can be used to control the volume and power of the TV. 

The Fire TV Stick 4K has a remote control that’s we’ve grown to love. It has a mute button, volume rocker and can also work as a universal remote control to switch on your TV and soundbar. It lacks any OTT hotkeys but comes with a button to bring up Alexa. 

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: 4K, HDR formats and Audio formats

In this regard, both the devices seem to be almost at par. Both the devices support 4K, HDR 10, HDR 10+ and Dolby Vision in addition to Dolby Atmos. Both the devices can output at 60Hz as well. 

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Form factor and connectivity

The new Google Chromecast has retained the design of the Chromecast even though the puck itself has become slightly more oval and bigger. We still have an HDMI cable hanging from one side and a USB-C port for power. The hanging cable design ensures you can connect other devices to adjacent HDMI ports. The Fire TV Stick, on the other hand, is the size of a USB internet dongle. It is still quite thick hindering the adjacent HDMI port behind your TV, but it does come with an HDMI extender to aid with this issue.

While the Google Chromecast has a USB-C port for power, the Fire TV Stick 4K has a Micro USB port. The devices do not have any other ports.  

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Casting

With the Google Chromecast comes with built-in Chromecast ability (duh!) to let you cast content from your smartphone to the TV. The Fire TV Stick supports screen mirroring. 

Google Chromecast vs Fire TV Stick 4K: Conclusion

On the specifications and formats supported front, both the devices are at a tie. Both support 4K HDR and Dolby Vision along with Dolby Atmos. Their form factor is small and compact too. While we have used the Fire TV Stick 4K and find its UI to be easy to navigate, the new Google TV UI has us intrigued and shows the potential to give the Fire TV Stick a run for its money.

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Sameer Mitha

Sameer Mitha lives for gaming and technology is his muse. When he isn’t busy playing with gadgets or video games he delves into the world of fantasy novels.

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