Amazon Fire TV vs. Chromecast vs. Roku vs. Apple TV

Amazon just launched its new Fire TV. Here's how it compares to the other three biggest streaming device platforms in terms of features, apps, form factor, remotes, and pricing.

firetvimage.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

Today Amazon launched the Fire TV streaming media box.

Its standout features include an extensive library of games, an optional game controller ($40), voice search via a mic on the remote, an "ASAP" function that's said to launch certain videos immediately, and a "Free Time" function that allows parents to limit their kids' media consumption, much like on Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets.

It also offers a lot of content options.

So without further ado, here's a comparison of the four major streaming devices as they stand today.

Amazon Fire TV Chromecast Roku Apple TV
Price $99 $35 $49 - $99 $93
Form factor Box Stick Stick or box Box
Video apps Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Showtime Anytime, Crackle, Vimeo, more Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Vudu, Crackle, more Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, Showtime Anytime, Vudu, Crackle, M-Go, Vimeo, PBS, PBS Kids, Disney Channel, Redbox Instant, Time Warner Cable, Slingplayer, more Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Vimeo, PBS, Disney Channel, more via AirPlay
Audio apps Pandora, Vevo, Qello, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, more Pandora, Rdio, Vevo, Songza, more Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Mog, Amazon CloudPlayer, Vevo, Qello, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, Slacker, more Vevo, Qello, "radio"
Major proprietary apps None Google Play Movies & TV, Google Play Music None iTunes Movies and TV shows, iTunes Music, iTunes Radio
Sports apps Watch ESPN, NBA League Pass, "many more" None Watch ESPN, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Gamecenter, more Watch ESPN, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, NHL Gamecenter, more
Games Yes, playable via remote, tablet/phone, or optional controller ($40) Yes, playable via tablet/phone Yes, playable via remote No
Control Voice search, physical remote, app App only (no physical remote) Physical remote, app Physical remote, app
Screen mirroring via Kindle Fire HDX only via Chrome browser No via AirPlay
Photo, video and music files via Plex, Amazon Cloud via Plex, other apps via Plex, other apps via AirPlay, native Mac and iOS support, iCloud
Cross-platform search No No Yes No
Parental Controls Free Time (app- and time-based restrictions + walled garden) No No Basic per-app passcode restrictions

Note that the apps for Amazon's Fire TV come via the official product page, which says "many more" are coming. Major missing services at launch include HBO Go, Vudu, and most subscription music services like Spotify.

Update April 03: Updated Chromecast section to include additional apps.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

 

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