Devices like Google Chromecast and Amazon Firestick are completely changing the way everyone sees and uses their TV. If you want to get one of these streaming devices to watch movies and turn your TV into a smart TV, this article will tell you everything you need to know to make the right choice.
Let's take a closer look at what Chromecast and Fire TV Stick/Cube have to offer, highlighting the pros and cons of both sets of devices. This way, you can determine which one best suits your needs. Both Chromecast and Firestick are great for TV streaming, but there are some differences you should know before making your choice.
Chromecast is a small device that connects to your TV with an HDMI cord. You'll need to plug it into your TV's USB port as it requires power, although you can use the supplied AC adapter for maximum performance. The original idea behind Chromecast was to let you turn any TV into a smart TV and use your smartphone as a controller. You can also stream apps and websites like YouTube, Hulu, Netflix and others from your phone to your TV.
Benefits of Google Chromecast
Google developed Chromecast, and as such it works great and is simple to use. You can hide it behind your TV and you don't need a remote to control it (but you do need a smartphone). Chromecast can also work in sync with Google Home devices, meaning you can use voice command to tell it what to do.
Setting up the Google Home app only takes a few minutes. All you have to do is plug the device into your TV, download the Google Home app, verify the process with a code you'll receive, and you're good to go.
2. Use your smartphone as a controller
You can cast any video or website from your smartphone to your TV by tapping the cast icon. The feature is perfect for watching Netflix, reading articles, and playing games. You can even use Chromecast for work. The possibilities are almost endless.
3. Voice command
Since Chromecast is compatible with Google Home, you can pair the two and get even more valuable features. First, if you have an HDMI CEC TV, you can control it through Google Home. You can turn the TV on and off and change the volume using your voice. You can also ask Google Home to cast your favorite TV show, and the TV will automatically turn on and play it for you.
Disadvantages of Google Chromecast
If you already use Google Home to control various devices, Chromecast is the best choice for you. However, there are a few downsides to understand.
1. Feed Sources
Chromecast is a great device, but it relies on other devices to mirror apps and services. Chromecast doesn't have built-in apps for services like Netflix, Hulu, Paramount+, etc. You use your smartphone to cast to your Chromecast, which often restricts other uses of your phone while you watch your favorite TV show or movie.
Chromecast is tiny compared to other electronic devices, but sometimes it's not small enough to fit behind any TV. If you don't have enough space behind your TV or around the HDMI port, you might have trouble connecting it. A free USB port on your TV is also needed to power the Chromecast, unless you're using a long USB cable with the supplied power adapter.
3. No optional remote control
If you want to use Chromecast as your main TV source, you'll have to use your smartphone to control it, which some users find annoying. By comparison, the Firestick comes with a remote control, so you don't need your phone to change channels.
About Chromecast with Google TV
Besides the standard Chromecast models, you also have Chromecast with Google TV as a device choice which adds Google TV functionality to the Chromecast.
From afar, Chromecast with Google TV device compares better to Fire TV Stick/Cube line than Chromecast, mainly because it offers apps on the device and runs on the Google TV operating system instead of an Android variant.
Chromecast with Google TV Pros
1. Abundant streaming app sources
Since the Chromecast with Google TV offers Google/Play Store apps, you get most streaming apps right on the device rather than using your smartphone to mirror or cast them. This advantage means that you can freely use your phone while enjoying the latest TV series or your favorite action movie.
2. Frequent updates
The Chromecast with Google TV runs on the Google TV operating system. Hence, you get lots of regular updates and security patches for the device. If new streaming apps or games are developed, this device will indeed have them.
Update: As of February 18, 2022, the much-requested Apple TV+ app has become available on the Chromecast with Google TV device, matching the availability of Fire TV Stick and Fire Cube devices.
3. Remote functionality
Like the Amazon Fire TV Stick models and Fire TV Cube devices, Chromecast with Google TV includes a remote for navigating the system, which regular Chromecast devices don't have. The remote's small, compact size is packed with features, including Google voice control, HDMI CEC and input power/volume buttons for your TV, Netflix and YouTube quick access buttons, and more. Yes, this remote has a TV input button!
Chromecast with Google TV Cons
While the features and functionality of Chromecast with Google TV are impressive, the setup is a bit more complex than the Firestick and Fire TV Cube devices. Most of the setup process requires your smartphone, and connecting Wi-Fi and devices can be tricky.
2. No Apple TV+ streaming from iPhone
Even though the Chromecast with Google TV offers the most popular streaming apps and gets new ones fairly quickly compared to its competitors, it doesn't stream Apple TV+ or any Apple Music or Apple TV content purchased from a iPhone. However, it lets you stream from the Apple TV+ app on the device.
Amazon Fire TV Key
The Amazon Firestick is very similar to the Chromecast, as it also plugs into your TV's HDMI port and turns your TV into a smart device. You can also use your voice to control it, but it comes with an additional remote. Instead of Google Home, you'll need Alexa voice control to be able to change channels.
Fire TV Stick Pros
Firestick is Chromecast's only real competitor, as it offers similar features designed for smart homes. It's easy to set up and you can use voice command to control your TV and security cameras.
You can set up the Firestick in minutes. Just plug it into your TV's HDMI TV, put batteries in the Alexa remote, connect it to your Wi-Fi, and complete the setup on your TV screen.
2. Alexa Remote
The Firestick Remote changes the way we see remote functionality. It has just a few buttons that you can use for basic commands, plus a built-in voice assistant that lets you do so much more using your voice. It is ideal for the elderly because it is simple to use.
3. Stream from your phone
Just like Chromecast, Firestick also comes with something like a casting feature – it lets you mirror your phone screen to your TV. It's not as good as Google Chromecast's casting feature, but it gets the job done.
Fire TV Stick Cons
Firestick is a handy device, but its Achilles heel is in the software.
1. Works natively only with Amazon App Store
Since Firestick is a direct competitor to Google's Chromecast, you can only use it for Amazon apps unless you're tech savvy enough to get around the restrictions. That means no Play Store, no extra Android features, and a clunky user interface. The software is sometimes slow and confusing.
In conclusion, the Chromecast/Chromecast with Google TV and Amazon Fire Stick/Fire Cube easily integrate your TV with your Android or iPhone device and provide functionality to many other smart home products. They have similar features and functions, but Chromecast provides more apps and services as it is a popular operating system targeted by many developers. Firestick, by comparison, is limited to Amazon's ecosystem, so you won't be able to use some of Google's features. On the other hand, many find the Firestick more convenient to use.