So... you're thinking about buying a set-top box but feel stuck between what Apple and Amazon both have to offer.
We understand. It's a difficult decision to make. Which device provides access to the most amount of movies and TV shows and apps and games? Which one lets you cast content from a smartphone to your TV? Which one is faster or more powerful? The list goes on.
To help you make an informed decision, we've answered all the above questions and more. All you have to do is figure out what kind of media-consumer you are and which features matter most to you. Easy peasy.
This comparison is for the latest versions of the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.
Both Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV are black set-top boxes, with equally-dark brand stamps on top. Apple TV has more of a rounded-edge design however, while Amazon Fire TV is square with angular edges.
They also come with their own wireless remote controls: Apple TV has a black remote control with a black navigational wheel and other buttons. Amazon Fire TV also has a black remote control but with a black navigational wheel, microphone button, and other buttons plus a microSD port.
Amazon Fire TV comes with an optional game £40 controller, too. It might cost a bit more but for gaming it should offer more natural controls as it is Wi-Fi and therefore has lower latency.
Apple TV weighs about 425g and has the following dimensions: 98mm x 98mm x 35mm.
Amazon Fire TV weighs about 281g and has the following dimensions: 115 × 115 × 17.5 mm.
Apple TV is smaller on a table in terms of room taken up, but it's thicker and far heavier. The Amazon Fire TV is slim but takes up more room. It really depends what you're looking for but both are small in the grand scheme of a home entertainment system.
Apple TV is capable of HDMI video output in 1080p or 720p.
Amazon Fire TV is, as the name shows, capable of 4K video playback at 2160p. This tops out at 30fps while 1080p playback can reach up to 60fps.
Under the hood
Apple TV features Apple's own 64-bit A8 processor and 32GB of storage, while Amazon Fire TV has a 2GHz quad-core MediaTek processor plus Power VR GX6250 600MHz graphics and 8GB of internal storage with microSD expansion to 128GB.
Obviously, Amazon Fire TV is the brawnier device on paper. In real-world testing however, you won't notice too much of a difference when just navigating interfaces and trying to select an app to load or movie to watch. Both set-top boxes operate plenty snappy.
Amazon Fire TV offers more in the spec arena likely because it also offers 4K, whereas Apple TV doesn't. In order to play higher resolution content, you need more power and RAM, which the Fire TV features. In other words, you can't compare apples to oranges.
Apple TV supports 802.11ac Wi‑Fi with MIMO and Bluetooth 4.0. It also has a selection of ports including power in, HDMI 1.43 out, Ethernet, and USB‑C for service and support.
Amazon Fire TV supports 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. Thanks to the need to pipe 4K to your TV the box now has a HDCP 2.2-compatible HDMI port - your TV will need the same for it to work.
Apple TV runs Apple tvOS which now, for the first time, features an app store for TV content. The background is now white and Siri voice control is used as the primary way to interact. Apple TV offers screen savers for day or night. Sports fans can get game alerts or watch more than one with split-screen viewing.
Amazon Fire TV runs Amazon FireOS 5.0 Bellini. This now has a movie and TV section for 4K only content so it's easily found and navigated.
We can't blanket-declare one operating system as a winner, because that depends on you and the platform you're hooked into or prefer.
Apple TV offers a variety of apps that are available, especially now it has its own App Store. Examples include Beats Music, Crackle, Disney Channel, Flickr, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, iTunes Radio, Netflix, Sky News, Vimeo, WatchESPN, and YouTube.
Now that Apple TV has its own App Store it's only a matter of time before countless big screen specific apps start appearing on the service.
As for the Amazon Fire TV, the main screen's user-interface has categories for Search, Home, Movies, TV, Watchlist, Video Library, Games, Apps, Music, Photos, Settings, and FreeTime for the US. A Prime Video menu option is also available for subscribers.
A few of the more notable apps currently available include Hulu Plus, Watch ESPN, Crackle, Bloomberg TV, Vevo, and iHeart Radio in the US (and BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, BBC News, and BBC Sport in the UK). These apps function much like their counterparts on the Apple TV.
Apple TV supports AirPlay, a notable feature from Apple that lets you wirelessly stream what’s on your iOS devices to your HDTV via Apple TV.
Apple TV also works with iCloud, so you can buy movies and TV shows on your iPhone and watch them on your Apple TV. And vice versa. Apple's iCloud cloud-storage service even stores your photos/videos and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices (such as your HDTV via Apple TV).
Apple TV offers Siri voice search which means an easy way to access content you know, directly without navigating menus to find it.
Amazon Fire TV
Similar to Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV lets you cast content from your smartphone to the Fire TV. The app you're using just has to support Amazon Fire TV. You can, for instance, fling a YouTube video playing on your iPhone or Android phone to Amazon Fire TV.
Amazon Fire TV also gives access to your photos and videos stored in Amazon's cloud-storage service, called Amazon Cloud Drive. With access to your photos, you can also start a photo slideshow, for instance, or even set individual pics as screen savers on your Amazon Fire TV.
Probably the coolest Fire TV feature is voice search, which requires the Fire TV remote to operate. The remote has a built-in mic, and you can use that mic to voice-sift through Prime Instant Video and supported apps. Just press and hold the microphone button on the Fire TV remote.
And finally Amazon Fire TV is kid-friendly. It has a feature called FreeTime, though only in the US. FreeTime is like a dedicated spot for children and looks completely different from the main screen interface.
Price and availability
Apple TV (2015) is £129 with 32GB storage while the Amazon Fire TV is £80 - and you can get them in the UK and the US.
This is a tricky one. We think Apple's movie and TV show catalogue is more robust than Amazon Fire TV's. If you're looking for access to the most video and media content, Apple TV is probably your best bet.
If you're a gamer, you'll likely want Amazon Fire TV instead. Amazon Fire TV is also cool because it lets you cast content from your smartphone to your HDTV, access your stuff on Amazon Cloud Drive, and voice search. But Apple also offers voice search and will likely have even more gaming options thanks to the new App Store.
But that's not all for Amazon: if you're in the US, you can make your Amazon Fire TV kid-friendly. In other words, Amazon Fire TV is not only good for gamers but also movie-watchers who are looking for better input functionality and ways to watch their content.
The other thing to remember is that Amazon Fire TV is a more powerful device on paper. But the Apple often runs faster than gadgets with better specs because of that seamless OS and hardware blend it offers.
The price of the Amazon Fire TV is a good chunk less than Apple TV, and you get 4K for that saving. Which you go for really is down to what you're looking for.