The Amazon Fire TV Stick will be released in the UK on 15th April.
The streaming device, which is around the size of a USB stick, plugs into the HDMI port on your TV to allow you to connect to the web and streaming films, TV shows, music and games.
The April release follows the launch of an Amazon Fire TV set top box last year – you can read our review of that here. The user interface offered by the stick is the same as its bigger cousin, but at a much smaller price: the Fire TV Stick costs £35, placing it in direct competition with Google Chromecast and the Roku Streaming Stick.
The stick is proudly boasted by Amazon to be the most powerful on the market, with a dual-core processor, 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of storage and dual-band and dual-antenna Wi-Fi.
The higher processing power may sound excessive, but helps to power the fluid navigation of Amazon’s Fire TV interface, as well as provide storage for apps and games, which can be downloaded from Amazon’s app store.
The stick comes with its own remote control for navigation, although a free remote app is also available for Fire phone, Fire tablets, iPhones and Android devices, which allows you to browse content and control playback from your phone. The app also features voice search that, much like the Fire TV, genuinely works (most of the time): you simply say the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director, or genre into your phone.
The Fire TV Stick, though, does not come with a game controller pad: unlike the Fire TV box, you can only play casual games, such as Flappy Birds Family, on the telly – the kind of apps that would be seen on a mobile, rather than a console.
You can “fling” movies and TV shows from your Fire phone or tablet, a la Chromecast, although Fire TV Stick also supports standards like DIAL so you can also fling services like Netflix from your Android phone or iPhone. Those with Fire devices can also mirror their phones and tablets on the TV screen.
Apps for photo and music playback are also available, with Amazon Cloud Drive integrated into the interface, as well as separate apps such as Spotify.
Amazon’s Whispersync technology will also be present, enabling Fire TV Stick users to start watching something on their TV, then continue seamlessly on their tablet, phone or computer. (Some games also support Whispersync.)
To celebrate the launch of the device, Amazon has also come up with its own complex special offer. For two days only – until 26th March – Amazon Prime members can order Fire TV Stick for a discounted £19.
New customers, though, can sign up for Prime and, presuming that they progress from a free trial to a full year’s membership, will later be given a refund of £12, which will bring the cost of the stick down to £7.
Fire TV Sticks will ship from 15th April, when it will also be available from Argos, John Lewis and Tesco stores at the much simpler price of £35.
We will have a review of the Amazon Fire TV Stick when it is released next month. Until then, read our review of the impressive Fire TV set top box, which is very similar.