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Chromecast is still the all-around winner when it comes to streaming sticks. It's not as fast as Amazon's Fire TV Stick, nor is it as feature-packed as the Roku Streaming Stick, but it's reliable, plays nicely with Android devices (as does the Fire Stick) and costs less than a night on the town.
The Roku Streaming Stick is the agnostic brother to the other two. If you can't decide which e-tailer to give your money to, and would rather give it to the services themselves, this is the streamer for you. It also has the most content than any other platform. However just be prepared to wait a bit longer for it to load, speed really isn't Roku's strong suit.
Regarding the contender at hand, the Fire TV Stick is best suited for those people who have really sunk their teeth into the Amazon ecosphere. When you strip everything else away, it feels like a device specifically engineered for Amazon Prime subscribers and generally compulsive Amazon shoppers.
If you're using Amazon's Cloud Drive to store photos, you'll be able to display them with two clicks on the remote. And if your watchlists get longer than your shopping list.
I do wish it was a little easier to differentiate premium content with free - a few times I nearly played a movie that would have cost cold-hard cash - but Amazon does do a fantastic job of making all of the content available seamless, much like its shopping website.
The Amazon Fire Stick is dead simple to setup and, once it's going, you'll be impressed with just how much there is to see and do with the system. Menu screens populate in a fraction of a second and some smart on-board technology gets videos started faster than the competition.
If you've bought into Amazon's tablet and media ecosystem, you'll almost definitely want the low-cost addition to add to your collection. It'll sync up seamlessly with these devices but, unlike Chromecast, doesn't require them in lieu of a remote.
If you haven't already bought into Prime you'll find less here than on other systems but, at worst, you'll still have access to services like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Sky News and a few other key players.
The remote isn't as good as the one you get with the Amazon Fire TV but it works just as well.
You also won't find the same kind of niche content on Amazon's storefront as you would on the Roku 3 or Roku Streaming Stick. There may not be a major clamor for that one Korean channel you've never heard of, but someone, somewhere will be slightly broken-hearted when they can't find it here.
Content, as a whole, is also largely dependent on the Amazon Store. It makes sense why search results only display Amazon Video links, but there's nothing worse than paying for a movie only to find out it was available on Netflix for free.
Lastly, there just isn't a great selection of triple-A games. There's enough casual games for a lifetime, but if you're looking to play the highest-end games that Android has to offer, you'll need to upgrade to a full-size box.
It's easy to dismiss the Fire TV Stick as a cash-in on the streaming stick fad, but doing so would be a real disservice to the work and innovation Amazon packed into its pint-sized product. It's a step forward for streaming sticks and sets a new standard of what is and is not acceptable from here on out. Namely, it provides a remote, a good interface and 99% of the key services for a very reasonable price tag.
The only real faux-pas here is intentional, and that's the stick's almost unreasonable dependence on Amazon Prime to function in full. It's by far the least impartial of the three major streaming sticks – the other two being Chromecast and Roku – and around every corner is trying to sell you on a movie, game or TV show you didn't necessarily know you wanted until right then.
It's not the best game console hybrid either. Though that's to be forgiven as its full-size sibling, the Amazon Fire TV and optional accompanying controller, are there to pick up the slack.
The Fire TV Stick is a present from the ecommerce giant to media lovers everywhere. While it has its flaws, by and large the final product is one any TV or movie enthusiast will be happy with – as long as they have an Amazon Prime account.
Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, Shortlist.com at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.