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Firefox OS-powered Chromecast rival Matchstick exceeds Kickstarter goal on first day

Matchstick, the Firefox OS-powered Chromecast rival, has hit Kickstarter and already smashed its funding goal. 

Normally costing just $25 (£15), Matchstick will be winging its way to developers and early adopters in November. 

On the surface, Matchstick is basically identical to Chromecast. It’s a tiny little HDMI dongle that plugs into a spare port on your TV and acts as a WiFi bridge between your TV and your phone, tablet or laptop. 

Pictures of Matchstick Men: For those who find Chromecast too restrictive
Pictures of Matchstick Men: For those who find Chromecast too restrictive

Both the Matchstick and the device you want to send content from will need to be connected to the same WiFi network. 

Apps like Netflix and Spotify will be supported from launch and devices running iOS, Android and Firefox OS will work with Matchstick. 

So how does it differ? Matchstick is different to Chromecast in that it’ll work with apps and services from outside the iTunes App Store and Google Play. You’ll be able to download apps from Mozilla’s own Matchstick app store (see below) and as it’s an open source device you’ll be able to install and run apps from other sources. 

“More apps will emerge as the developer community continues to grow,” says the Matchstick Kickstarter page. “This is the reason we built an open platform with no walls was to give the steaming community a product that will run any app, for any content, without restrictions.” 

When Chromecast first hit shelves in the US, developers had fun rooting their TV sticks and installing all kinds of services on it before Google rolled out the build 12840 update, remotely disabling the ability to root the device

It should be a simple task for developers to reconfigure any Chromecast-compatible apps for Matchstick, so if this takes off we might see things like BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Now TV heading to Matchstick in the future.  

You’ll also be able to can also mirror any website in Firefox or Chrome from your laptop or PC to the Matchstick, bringing your workspace to the big screen.

You can do this with Chromecast at the moment, but the results are something of a mixed bag. 

On the hardware side of things, Matchstick is a little more powerful than Chromecast. It’s got more memory (1GB) and more storage space (4GB) than what’s under the Chromecast hood (512MB, 2GB) and the dual-core Rockchip 3066 processor promises a faster overall performance than Chromecast’s single-core Marvell 88DE3005 chip. 

Sadly, Matchstick isn’t a dual-band WiFi device. Like Chromecast, it’ll only communicate with your phones and tablets over the already congested 2.4GHz band.

Matchstick’s makers say that dual-band support could happen in version 2 of the device but their goal with the first run of Matchstick was to keep costs low.

Speaking of costs, though the funding ceiling has been broken, early adopters who want to pick up a Matchstick for less have 29 days left in which to do so. 

All of the early bird options which would have let you snap one up for $12 (£7.40) have sadly gone, but you can still get one for $18 (£11), cheaper than the usual price. 

You’ll need to add $5 (£3) for shipping outside the US, so the full price you’ll pay should work out at $23 (£14) if you want to get one sent over here. 

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