In this guide we will show you the strengths and weaknesses of both products (Chromecast with Google TV vs Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K), so you can consciously choose which product to buy to make your TV in the living room even more multimedia. We can evaluate the purchase of one of the products even if we already own a Smart TV, since the features offered can make up for the shortcomings of the Smart component of any TV.
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Pros and cons of Chromecast with Google TV
Let's start immediately from the merits of the Chromecast with Google TV, the flagship model among the dongles offered and the maximum evolution of the technology on which Google has invested very well in recent years, to the point of making the presence of a Smart component on modern TVs often useless.
- 4K Ultra HD resolution support: if we have a 4K TV, one of the cheapest devices that we can connect to take advantage of the services that offer 4K UHD content is the Chromecast with Google TV. Thanks to it we will have access to 4K content from Netflix, YouTube and other streaming sites (such as Amazon Prime Video) that provide support for this resolution. If we have a Full HD TV, the choice of Chromecast with Google TV is indifferent, because the maximum resolution will always be 1080p.
- HDR support: Another technology that goes hand in hand with Ultra HD is HDR, which offers a wider range of colors so you can see content in a quality never seen before. Chromecast with Google TV supports HDR content without problems, so you can immediately benefit from the extended color range.
- Smartphone and tablet integration: Chromecast with Google TV integrates well with any smartphone or tablet in circulation, both with an Android operating system and an iOS operating system. We can use the smartphone as a sort of remote control, and write in the search fields directly using the keyboard of the device, without having to go crazy in selecting the letters with an inconvenient remote control. To this we add the numerous apps that integrate Google Cast and that's it!
- Ease of use: once connected to the Wi-Fi network Chromecast with Google TV is the simplest device to use even for novice users. To use it, all we have to do is open the multimedia app we want to use on the phone or tablet, click on the Google Cast icon and send the audio / video stream to the Chromecast: it is difficult to find a faster method currently.
- Support PC browser or full screen broadcast: using the Cast menu of Google Chrome we can send the content of a tab or even the entire PC screen to the TV, without any problem.
- Operating system dedicated to TVs: compared to previous versions of Chromecast, the latest version has an autonomous operating system called Google TV, which allows you to play multimedia contents without the need to transmit them from the phone app. To better manage this new system, the Chromecast with Google TV is equipped with a remote control for navigation and for the quick opening of the most famous apps.
- Voice commands: Chromecast with Google TV also supports the voice commands of the Google Assistant, which can be called up quickly using the dedicated button on the remote control, so that we can immediately open the app or multimedia content we want to see.
If we look for simplicity and speed of use, we will hardly find something faster and more practical than the Chromecast, especially if used with impractical users or novices with this type of devices.
Having seen the merits, we must not overlook the shortcomings of Chromecast with Google TV. We anticipate that the vast majority of the defects disappeared with the latest version of the dongle (the old models had many more defects).
- It doesn't work without the Internet: the operating system inserted in the Chromecast does not allow it to work without constant access to the Internet, limiting its use only in scenarios where there is always network coverage.
- Limited audio codec support: Chromecast supports all major audio codecs used on the web, but does not support direct decoding of DTS and Dolby (also known as AC-3) audio. In this case, most of the MKV downloadable from the Internet will not be able to be played on the dongle, except in cases where the TV supports DTS decoding via passthrough or via transcoding during transmission (we will have to use a powerful server for encoding from PC or NAS , as an example Plex).
- Lack of support for AVI files: even if this multimedia container is slowly disappearing from the web, there are still many films available in this format and not natively managed by the Chromecast. In reality, thanks to Plex or other similar programs it is possible to see any type of movie with the Chromecast, even if all this requires encoding in real time.
- High price: compared to the simple Chromecast the price of the Chromecast with Google TV is decidedly high (€ 69,99), despite the numerous advantages available.
The defects of the Chromecast are practically the same since the first version, dictated by Google's policy in supporting only the formats and queues used for multimedia streams on the Internet. Support for native apps has disappeared from the defects, since with the arrival of Google TV we can install favorite apps inside the Chromecast without having to start streaming from the phone.
Pros and cons of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
After seeing the new Chromecast it is now the turn of the merits of the Fire TV Stick 4K, the most complete model offered among Amazon's dongles, even if it is not currently the most recent.
- Native App Support: we can install the apps directly inside the Fire Stick, which offers a real configurable and customizable operating system (based on Android), with numerous compatible multimedia apps. This value is now also present on Chromecast, so in fact it has become less important than in the past.
- Internal dedicated memory: the Fire Stick includes 8 GB of internal memory, which we can use to save some video or audio files to be able to play on the TV.
- Advanced codec support: thanks to the installation of the Android apps we can easily play any audio and video file, even in AVI format or with new audio codecs such as Dolby Atmos.
- It works without the Internet: if we want to play a video or audio file without Internet access, just load it into the internal memory and use one of the apps dedicated to playback to view them on the TV.
- Dedicated app store: the Fire Stick allows you to install additional apps by taking them from the dedicated Amazon store. We can thus customize the Fire Stick experience to make it suitable for any usage scenario. For the best it is also possible install APK apps not present in the store, so as to add apps that may not be compatible with the Fire Stick.
- Total service support: on the Fire TV we can install the Netflix, Rai Play, DAZN, NOW, Disney Plus, YouTube and Mediaset Infinity Plus apps, thus creating the definitive entertainment center.
- Remote control with voice commands: the new remote has a button to access Alexa voice commands, so you can open an app, a multimedia content or simply stop and resume playback using just your voice! Obviously we will have to be connected to the Internet to be able to take advantage of Alexa's voice commands, otherwise we will have to use the (uncomfortable) buttons to navigate, type text or open apps.
- Competitive price: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K costs less than € 50, definitely a much lower price than the one seen for Chromecast. Obviously we must also take into account the subscription to Amazon Prime Video, but it is optional and linked to Amazon Prime.
After having seen the merits, let's move on to the defects of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, which are still present and must be taken into consideration before purchasing.
- Uncomfortable remote control: the remote control is convenient only when used with voice commands; without it becomes decidedly inconvenient, since we will have to use it to manage most of the apps without being able to use the smartphone in its place (currently only YouTube can be managed with its homonymous app on a smartphone or tablet).
- Closed operating system: Amazon imposes precise limits on the apps that can be installed on the Fire Stick, severely limiting the multimedia possibilities or the expansion of features not present within the operating system.
- Lack of support for Sky Go: currently the Sky Go app is not available in the official store and, even by installing the APKs of these apps, we will not be able to make them work in any way. This is a serious limitation for those who want to use the dongle as a total streaming playback station.
- Difficult for beginners: only with good computer skills it is possible to unlock the device and install other apps via APK (as seen above).
The vast majority of defects are easily overcome with a minimum of practice and knowledge of the device, without forgetting that some of them are also present on Chromecast.
Summing up I can say that there is currently no real winner between the two products, which can be purchased in practically all usage scenarios while fully respecting user requests. If we really need to provide a reason for choosing between the two, we advise you to base yourself on these parameters:
- Use for novice users: better focus on Chromecast with Google TV, being more immediate and easier to understand and use.
- Use for expert users: in this case the Fire TV Stick 4K can take away great satisfaction, especially by learning to use all the tricks to install new apps and to add remote control from a smartphone.
To further explore the comparison between the two devices, we recommend that you read the guide Chromecast with tricks and applications to use it to the fullest.
For the Fire TV Stick, on the other hand, we recommend that you read the guide Amazon Fire TV Stick with hidden tricks, apps and features and how add Netflix, YouTube and apps to the TV).