NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN) has begun shipping its new streaming media device called the Fire TV Stick, which is a miniature version of its Fire TV media player. At its $39 price point, it's Amazon's answer to Google's (GOOG) wildly successful $35 Chromecast and Roku's $50 Streaming Stick -- and a terrific answer at that.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is very similar to Amazon's $99 Fire TV box. It provides 1080p and 720p resolution video, has 8 GB of internal storage, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi and runs Fire OS 3.0 (the Amazon-branded version of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean). As for family differences, the Stick runs on a non-descript, dual-core, 1 GHz Cortex A9 processor versus the TV box's quad-core Qualcomm (QCOM) Kraft 300 chip, 1 GB of RAM (512 KB for the system and 512 KB for video) versus 2 GB in the Box and Bluetooth 3.0 instead of 4.0 in the more expensive unit. The box also offers Ethernet connectivity.
Streaming media dongles are all the rage for this holiday season and for good reason -- they're inexpensive, they provide high-definition video, great sounding audio and offer amazingly simple set-up, attaching them to an AC outlet, connecting to a TV and following the instructions. All three devices provide a number of similar features but each is pretty much tied to a different corporate ecosystem. All are slightly larger in size than a USB flash memory stick but actually plug into your monitor/HDTV's via a HDMI port and they're all powered by a separate A/C adapter.