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Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire TV stick: Which one should you buy?

Smart TVs today are more than cable television. They are your access points to a whole world of streaming services. Between the Google Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV stick, which should you pick?

Fire TV stick and the Chromecast are devices that can be plugged into the TV and essentially turn it into a smart television. They both offer the same array of services so it is hard to decide which one to pick.
Fire TV stick and the Chromecast are devices that can be plugged into the TV and essentially turn it into a smart television. They both offer the same array of services so it is hard to decide which one to pick. (Amazon)

In today's day and age, having a television is not enough. Who wants to spend their precious moments surfing through the hundreds of channels available manually to view what they want to see? Instead, people would rather have their television turn itself on and play their favourite shows all by themselves as they sit back and relax after a tiring day at work.

Google and Amazon are two tech giants who have made enormous strides in this direction. For the unversed, the Fire TV stick and the Chromecast are devices that can be plugged into the TV and essentially turn it into a smart television.

Initially created just to turn the humble television into a smart TV, the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) enriched smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo, saw Chromecast and Fire TV adopt far more smart features, turning them into must-haves for the modern home.

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Google Chromecast

A small circular device dangling from a short HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cable, the Chromecast can be plugged into the back of the television set and requires a power cord. Chromecast supports apps like Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and Pandora and was originally designed to be controlled by a smartphone via a feature called casting.

One has to open the Casting app that they want to play on their app and then tap the icon on the top right of the screen for it to be telecast on the television.

It fits discreetly behind TV sets and can be communicated with via voice through Google smart speakers.

To activate the Chromecast, one simply has to plug it into the TV, which will prompt users to download and open the Google Home app as well as a display code for verification.

The Chromecast not only offers seamless control with smartphones, but also allows users to turn the TV as a monitor for laptops and desktops.

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Since Chromecast is voice enabled when connected with Google Home, giving a command to Google Home -- say for a certain series -- will see the TV switching on and playing the desired show. Users can control the sound with voice commands as well.

However, even though the Chromecast seems too good to be true, it is not bereft of faults. For starters, even though the Chromecast is small, it is pretty big for a device which should go behind the television set.

Since it has an in-built cable, there is always the fear of having to change the entire device if the cable starts malfunctioning. Also, for people who are not tech-savvy, it could be a learning curve to understand how to watch TV via a smartphone connected to the device.

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Much like the Chromecast, the Amazon Fire TV Stick too needs to be plugged in to the HDMI port on the back of TV sets, making it way smarter.The Firestick too can be connected to the rest of the smart home for added voice functionality. The Alexa voice remote can act both as a standard remote and can be used to give commands too.

For starters, unlike the Chromecast, the setup of the Amazon Firestick is far easier. One has to insert the batteries into the device and connect it with the Wi-Fi and log into an Amazon account for them to be introduced to the user interface (UI) and for the device to be ready for use.

The inbuilt remote on the Firestick means that those who are not used to the technology have less of a learning curve. The remote also has an inbuilt Alexa voice assistant which allows one to ask her to open apps and play shows.

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The Firestick can be connected to a smart home, which allows turning the TV into a security camera as well.

The Firestick restricts the operating system and thus one is locked into Amazon apps and will not find several Android features like the Play Store.

Unlike the Chromecast interface, Firestick is slow and confusing and is not very customisable.

Conclusion

The Chromecast has a host of features, even without Google Home, making it a simple device for users. However, it does not have an in-built remote. The Amazon Firestick, on the other hand, has an in-built Alexa but does not have a lot of features overall, like Chromecast.

For people who do not have an Amazon Echo smart speaker, the Chromecast creates a good ecosystem to venture into. However, if one primarily wants to use voice commands, the Firestick provides a better experience.

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