There are heaps of online streaming services available. As the largest online retailer and one of the largest companies in the world, you know that Amazon isn’t missing out on those potential customers.
The Amazon Fire Stick is Amazon’s streaming service answer, making online video streaming as simple as popping the device into an HDMI port and clicking a button.
Here’s what you need to know about the Amazon Fire Stick and whether it’s the right video streaming device for you.
What Is an Amazon Fire Stick?
The Amazon Fire Stick is a portable streaming device you can plug into the back of any TV or monitor with an HDMI slot. It’s small in stature, only a few inches tall and just over an inch wide, so it doesn’t require much real estate behind your television. The tiny footprint gives it a clear advantage over other streaming boxes that sit underneath your screen, taking up space and looking untidy.
Your Amazon Fire Stick comes with a handy remote for controlling what you watch. There are two remote control variants. The second-generation remote includes an additional Alexa voice control button, which allows you to switch programs, open apps, and more, all from the remote. The first-generation remote control lacks the Alexa integration, although Alexa is present on the first-generation Fire TV Stick.
The most recent version of the Amazon Fire Stick enables 4K Ultra HD video streaming – if your internet connection will allow it.
How Does the Amazon Fire TV Stick Work?
One of the best things about the Amazon Fire Stick is the ease of use. You unwrap it, plug it into your screen, login, and you can start watching programs or downloading apps. You can even take your Amazon Fire Stick around with you, turning any screen into an online video streaming portal.
The Amazon Fire Stick enables you to watch online video content across a range of apps. Of course, Amazon would like you to use Amazon Prime, the Amazon online video streaming service. While you absolutely can watch Amazon Prime using your Amazon Fire TV Stick, it is not obligatory. You can use other online video streaming service apps available instead.
Those other video streaming apps include Netflix, BBC iPlayer, HBO Now, Disney+, and YouTube, amongst many others. There are also apps available for personal streaming services, too, such as Plex or Kodi. Wondering which apps you should install first? Check out our guide to the best Amazon Fire TV Stick apps.
The Amazon Fire Stick has six tabs to choose from: Home, Your Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Apps, and Settings. Each section is fairly self-explanatory and will populate with suggestions and options from the streaming service apps on your device. For example, if you watch a lot of shows on Netflix, your TV Shows section will feature your favorite programs plus a few options it thinks you might like to watch next.
What Else Does the Amazon Fire TV Stick Do?
The Amazon Fire TV Stick isn’t just for streaming online video. It has a few other tricks up its sleeve, too.
As it’s an Android-based device, you can sideload many Android apps onto the device. Not all apps play nicely with the version of Android on the Fire Stick, so not all of your favorites will work. Furthermore, you might have to look into some workarounds for apps that are incompatible with the Amazon Fire Stick controller direction wheel.
The Amazon Fire Stick has a regular internet browser, too. The default option is Mozilla Firefox, but you can find many more options in the app section. And, as above, you can sideload different browsers onto the device if you wish.
There is also a decent range of games available for it, too. Again, as the it’s an Android device, you can download and play a huge number of Android games. The success you have playing them depends on your skill with the controller. However, you can connect several popular game controllers, as well as the official Amazon Fire TV Game Controller.
Is The Amazon Fire Stick Value For Money?
As with any online video streaming service, there are pros and cons. Is the Amazon Fire TV Stick worth your money?
If you subscribe to one or more online video streaming services and want an incredibly simple way to get them all under one roof, the Amazon Fire Stick is a great option. It’s inexpensive, reasonably powerful for what it is, and allows you to control the apps you have on the device.
Furthermore, you’re not locked into using Amazon Prime, so that isn’t an issue. Plus, you can purchase the Ethernet adapter to wire your device to your internet to achieve better speeds.
Overall, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great online video streaming option, especially if you don’t want to go to the extra effort of setting up a Raspberry Pi for video streaming.
Like all devices, it may run into an issue every now and then. When that happens, check out the best Amazon Fire TV Stick troubleshooting tips.