Amazon unveils TV stick, challenging Chromecast

[NEW YORK] Amazon on Monday unveiled a new media stick allowing users to stream content to television sets, challenging Google's Chromecast device released last year.

The plug-in Fire TV Stick, a device the size of a pack of gum, provides access to Amazon Instant Video as well as other services including Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN and NBA Game Time.

The dongle is being sold in the US market for US$39, or US$19 for customers who subscribe to Amazon Prime, which gives customers free shipping and access to music, videos and other online content.

The new stick appeared to be a challenge to Chromecast, which has sold in the millions since Google unveiled it a year ago.

Amazon said the Fire TV Stick "has 50 per cent more processing power and twice the memory of Chromecast," adding it also has six times the power of the Roku Streaming Stick, and as a result delivers faster video.

The new device includes Amazon's "Advanced Streaming and Prediction," which anticipates which movies and TV episodes viewers want to watch and buffers them for faster playback.

Like the other devices, Fire TV Stick can "mirror" content on a tablet or smartphone to stream for viewing on a TV set.

"Fire TV Stick is not a gadget - it's a seamlessly integrated service that brings together the features customers expect from Amazon," a statement said.

Microsoft earlier this year introduced its Wireless Display Adaptor, a similar thumb-drive-size gizmo that plugs into HDMI and USB ports in televisions, and then wirelessly connects with tablets, computers or smartphones running Miracast software.

Several companies already make Miracast plug-in devices for televisions.

Amazon this year launched a US$99 Fire TV streaming media box, which offers some additional features for gaming and other services.


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