Amazon launches $39 Chromecast competitor

Amazon is claiming back orders have delayed delivery until 2015

firetvstick remote landscape

Amazon this week began taking pre-orders for its Fire TV Stick, an HDMI dongle that streams content. But if you order the $39 stick today, you won't get it by Christmas.

That's because Amazon is claiming that "popular demand" has set back orders to after Jan. 1. The company is also limiting orders to one per customer.

The Fire TV Stick connects your HDTV via its HDMI port to stream online entertainment and other content, both for Amazon Prime and non-Prime members. The stick comes with a remote control, which does not include voice search capabilities. However, the stick can use Amazon's Fire remote control with voice-activated search, just like Amazon's Fire set-top box released last April.

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The Fire TV voice-enabled remote is sold separately or comes free with the Fire TV Remote App, which enables smartphones to be used as a remote control. The Fire TV Remote App is available for download on Fire or Android OS. An iOS-compatible version is coming soon, Amazon said.

The Fire TV Remote app also features voice search powered by the same voice search engine as Amazon Fire TV, allowing users to speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director, or genre into your phone, and it will bring up the content on the menu.

The Fire TV Stick's $39 price is comparable to the Chromecast, which sells for $35, and Roku's Streaming Stick, priced at $49.

Amazon highlights the fact that its dongle has twice the internal storage (8GB) of Chromecast and 1GB of RAM.

"It has 6x the processing power, 2x the memory, and 32x the storage of Roku Streaming Stick," Amazon states in its marketing material. "This results in faster and more fluid navigation, plus more storage for apps and games."

The Fire TV stick is 3.3-in. x 1 in. x 0.5 in. in size and is powered by a Broadcom Capri 28155, dual-core 2x ARM A9 processor. It also has a GPU VideoCore4 card.

For Wi-Fi connectivity, the Fire TV stick uses a dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) that supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks. The devices uses Bluetooth 3.0.

The stick supports 720p by 1080p resolution up to 60fps video streaming. It also features ASAP, which predicts what you might watch based on previously viewed content and loads it ahead of time.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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