Amazon Lights Up $39 Fire TV Stick

Goes Head-To-Head With Google Chromecast, Roku Streaming Stick
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Amazon, taking competitive aim at similar streaming dongles from Google and Roku, has launched the Fire TV Stick, an HDMI-based media adapter that sells for $39. 

Amazon began to take pre-orders on Monday (October 27), and will begin to ship the new product on November 19.

Undercutting the price of the Google Chromecast temporarily, Amazon said it is selling the Fire TV for $19 each for two days to new and existing Prime members (or $29.99 with the Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote). The Chromcast regularly sells for $35, though Amazon is currently selling Google’s streaming adapter to Prime members for $28.32.

Unlike the Chromecast (but similar to the $49.99 Roku Streaming Stick launched in March), Amazon’s Fire TV Stick comes with an optional separate remote control. Amazon's version also supports a free mobile app that bakes in voice-based search capabilities.

Like the Chromecast, Amazon’s new gadget will also let users fling or mirror content from their phone or tablet to the TV.  Amazon said the Fire TV Stick supports DIAL (Discover and Launch) for YouTube, Spotify and (soon) Netflix for iPhones and Android smartphones, and allows wireless mirroring from Fire tablets, the Fire Phone, and Miracast-enabled devices from Motorola, Samsung, LG and Google without additional apps or software.

When the Fire TV Stick is paired with a Fire tablet or Fire phone, users can also access Amazon “X-Ray” data about a movie or a TV show, such as info about the cast and crew, that’s playing on the television via the new HDMI-based device.

The Fire TV Stick represents a smaller, less expensive complement to the $99 Fire TV box, which recently tripled the number of apps and games offered since the product launched in April. While the Fire TV box also doubles as a gaming console of sorts, capable of running some higher-end titles, Amazon noted that the Fire TV Stick can handle "casual" games such as Monsters University, Ski Safari and Flappy Birds Family.

Amazon said the Fire TV stick comes equipped with a dual-core processor, dual-band/dual-antenna MIMO WiFi, and 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of storage. Amazon claimed that its new streaming stick offers two times the memory and 50% more processing power than the Chromecast, and six times the processing power, two-times the memory and 32 times the storage of the original Roku Streaming Stick.

Like the Fire TV box, the new stick will also support up to 1080p video resolution and a range of apps, including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon’s own Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Vevo, A&E, PBS Kids,  Spotify, Prime Music, and several authenticated TV Everywhere offerings, including Showtime Anytime, WatchESPN, and WATCH Disney.

To help prime the pump, Amazon is also offering eligible customers a free 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime when they purchase the Fire TV Stick.

Amazon is debuting the new product amid some recent struggles. Last Thursday (October 23), Amazon posted an operating loss of $544 million and reported a $170 million charge for unsold Fire Phones and related costs. Amazon also reported revenues of $20.6 billion that missed estimates despite a 20% year-over-year increase.