Streaming services have more options than ever before, and to complement the options are portable streaming platforms. These tiny devices fit in your hands, plug into your televisions, and open you to a wealth of streaming services, all from a small portable contraption.
While stores sell a multitude of these devices, and there is no shortage of iterations of them coming anytime soon, this article will focus on two main devices. The Apple TV and The FireStick.
To see which one we choose as the winner, keep reading!
Apple TV Vs. FireStick at a Glance
Apple TV advantages
- High storage capacity. Between 32 GB and 64 GB
- Ultra HD in 4K
- Spatial audio
Apple TV disadvantages
- Price- $170-$180
- The box doesn’t have a USB plugin; instead, it resembles a tiny cable box with extra wires
- Only applies to the Apple universe
- HDMI Port
- Slim and easy to transport
- Complicated User interface
- Too much self-promotion
- Cannot broadcast from phone or laptop without downloading extra apps
Winner: Through careful critique and consideration, the Apple TV is the better choice between the two devices.
What’s the Difference Between Them?
Design and Set Up
When you first purchase a streaming device, you’re eager to take it home and try it out. How do you go about setting up the Apple TV and the FireStick?
Let’s dive into the process, starting with the appearance of these platform hosts.
Apple TV has more parts than the FireStick making it more of an effort to navigate setting up. Apple TV comes with a mini cable box where you direct your remote to browse content and watch content.
Because the Apple TV comes with a cable box and a remote, you need to find a good, clear spot to place the box and plug it into the wall and the TV. You need an HDMI connection port and an electric cable for the electric source of the device.
Using all these cords can jumble the appearance and tangle with other cords behind the TV, causing disruptions if you need to move or transport the TV. The remote is sleek and easy to use once you set up the cable box.
The FireStick is a USB port that plugs into the back of the TV. It isn’t as big as the Apple TV, and you never have to look at it again if you don’t want to. Plug the FireStick USB into the back of the TV and switch on the power with the remote.
Plus, it is easier to transport than the Apple TV, and it is more efficient without cords. The remote is also a sleek, easy-to-use clicker.
Verdict: The FireStick has a better design and an easier setup than the Apple TV.
Speaking on the topic of remotes, let’s delve into the differences between the two. The Apple TV remote is an improved version of the touch-sensitive earlier version.
The newer model is thin, silver, and controlled by Siri. Hold down the right side button to activate Siri, or speak into the tiny microphone at the top of the remote and use her assistance to navigate the content offered by Apple TV.
The remote is rather easy to use, with a central circular button used for scrolling, the power button on the top right side of the sleek remote, and a volume pad directly below the airplay button. Adjust the volume on your Apple TV or activate Airplay to stream content from your laptop or phone.
On the left side of the remote, you have a rewind button. Below that is the play and pause button, and below that is the mute button.
The FireStick remote is a black, sleek remote similar to the Apple TV remote but slightly different. The power button for this remote is on the top left side of the device, and the microphone and the Alexa button are on the top center of the remote.
Just speak into the mini hole at the top of the remote to enable Alexa, or push the microphone button just below the little hole. Again, this is an Amazon product, so it uses Alexa instead of Siri for its voice assistant.
The main navigation button is in the same design as the FireStick, just a little higher up on the remote. Below the circular navigator is the home button in the middle, the menu button on the right side, and the back button on the left side.
Another row lies below this one with the play and pause button in the middle, the fast forward button on the right, and the rewind button on the left. In the center, below the play and pause button, is the vertical volume button and below that is the mute button.
Verdict: The Apple TV remote has a better setup and an easier format to use, making it the winner.
One of the main reasons people seek out a platform device is because of the apps they offer.
Apple TV is an Apple product, so it offers Apple TV, iTunes, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, HBO MAX, HBO GO, SHOWTIME, ABC, FOX NOW, ESPN, NFL, FX, History, Lifetime, Disney, PBS, CBS, the Weather Channel, Vimeo, Crunchyroll, and the podcasts app.
These apps come preloaded with the purchase of the Apple TV, but you can download other apps to the device from the apple store, including Amazon Prime Video.
The FireStick serves Amazon’s empire and offers apps such as Netflix, YouTube, tubi, Peacock, ESPN, BET, FX, NBC, Crunchyroll, Paramount +, HBO MAX, pluto tv, noggin, Starz, Disney +, PBS, ABC, A&E, AMC, Facebook, FOX Sports, TBS, MLB, discovery, TNT, NFL.
These apps come preloaded with the purchase of the FireStick, but you can download other apps to the device from the apple store, including Apple TV.
Verdict: Both options offer a great variety of apps, so the winner is up to the viewer’s personal preferences.
We touched on pricing earlier, but let’s see which device offers a better value than the other.
Apple TVs range between $170 and $180 and come with a cable box setup and cords to connect to the TV. For sound, it offers Dolby 5.1, Dolby 7.1, and spatial audio for those who really enjoy being in live movie theaters.
Apple TV broadcasts in HD 4K with clear, resolute pictures and offers storage of 32 GB or 64 GB which is a ton of storage. The dimensions of this device come through in 3.9 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches, further enhancing the picture.
FireSticks cost $40 with a USB plugin and no cords used for setup. For sound, it offers Dolby 5.1, Dolby 7.1, and Dolby Atmos. FireSticks broadcast in 3.9 x 1.2 x 0.6 inches for its pictures and offers 1080p resolution. FireSticks have a storage space of 8 GB.
Verdict: Again, the winner is up to the viewer’s personal preference.
Apple TV comes with AirPlay which allows Apple users to play content from their phones and laptops. Just connect your Apple TV and device to the same wifi network, open airplay, and connect the devices.
The TV will ask for an airplay passcode, and then you can charge your laptop in your bedroom while your favorite movie plays in the living room. Airplay is better than Bluetooth because it connects over much larger distances than Bluetooth reaches.
Airplay comes preloaded to the Apple TV, so you don’t have to download any extra apps or use any extra cables to broadcast your favorite shows or movies.
If you do not have any other Apple devices, you won’t be able to use airplay on the pre-downloaded program.
In addition to Airplay, Apple TV invites users to use its Bluetooth options as well. If you want to listen to music on your TV but need your phone for something else, don’t worry! Use your remote to click on settings, click on remotes and devices, and Bluetooth.
Wait for your Apple TV to load the Bluetooth device you wish to connect to. Once it loads, connect the two and listen to iTunes, Spotify, or whichever music platform you prefer.
FireStick does not come with a preloaded airplay app, but you can download one from the Amazon app on your phone or laptop. To do this:
- Log in to your Amazon account on your phone or laptop and type in AirReceiver. This app is a highly-rated video broadcasting and screen-sharing app for non-Apple TV users.
- Download the app on both devices.
- On your phone, a button should arise that says deliver. Pushing that button sends the information to the FireStick.
- Go to Settings on your TV and scroll down to ‘My Account,’ click on it.
- Once that loads, then scroll down to ‘Sync Amazon Content.’
- Wait for all the information and files to transfer between the devices.
- Once they do, click out of settings and scroll to AirReceiver.
- Open the app and toggle on Airplay.
- On your phone, click over to the control center.
- Click AirPlay, and input the correct device you want to broadcast to.
For Bluetooth, Amazon FireStick also offers the service.
- Toggle over to settings, controller and Bluetooth device, another Bluetooth device.
- Click on ‘add a Bluetooth device.’
- Select OK.
- Wait for your headphones or whichever other device you want to connect to pop up.
- Once it does, select connect and stream the media you want.
Verdict: Both platforms offer airplay and Bluetooth capabilities, but Apple TV wins as it comes pre-downloaded with Airplay which is much easier to navigate than the option the FireStick offers its users.
Ads and User-Interfaces
We’re all familiar with ads. Companies promote their brand with kitschy commercials or written text that has good intentions but annoys customers.
Let’s speak about the prevalence of ads on these streaming devices.
Apple TV has an ad-free interface. A user interface references the relationship between the human user and the computer or the digital interface measuring the layout, the navigation, and the content suggestions.
Apple TV’s interface is easy to use. It places every app on the home screen for easy navigation, and it doesn’t bombard the audience with advertisements for products they are not interested in.
The pictures are clear, and you can customize the layout based on personal preferences. If you have difficulties with the interface, call up Siri to assist you.
FireStick is full of ads on its interface. In fact, it is the main component of the platform that FireStick users complain about. Amazon is a booming industry, and they want everyone to know it. Because of this, they overload the interface with ads about unwanted products or services, so the users know they exist.
The FireStick recently updated its interface to make it more user-friendly, but it still could use improvements. The apps are smushed toward the middle of the interface as the ads take up most of the top portion of the screen. It is easier to scroll through the ads than the actual apps.
Just like Apple TV, if you have difficulty with the interface, call upon Alexa using your remote. She can point you in the direction of the desired app.
Verdict: Apple TV does not shove free advertising in its users’ faces, and it offers a more manageable interface making it the winner of this category.
As the technology industry evolves daily, more and more products emerge for users. With the streaming revolution, platform devices have increased in popularity. Two of the most popular today include the Apple TV and the FireStick. Both options allow users to download streaming apps and watch their favorite programs on their TVs.
These devices have their advantages and disadvantages, the Apple TV is more expensive than the FireStick and has an awkward design, but in terms of audio quality, visual quality, and a user-friendly interface, the Apple TV is the better pick between the two.