The number of streaming media devices on the market continues to grow as consumers flock to popular services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. But if you’re new to the technology, it can be difficult to find the best streaming device for you.
One of the best options currently on the market is the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Along with the low cost, the streaming device plugs directly into an HDMI port, making it a strong choice for anyone with limited space near their TV.
In this article we take a closer look at the streaming device, explaining how the Amazon Fire TV works and telling potential buyers what they need to know before buying one.
How Does the Amazon Fire TV Stick Work
The real draw of the Fire TV Stick is video content, especially if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
Since the device is from Amazon, you can view movies and television shows on Amazon Prime Video. Here are the best Amazon Prime movies to get you started.
And that’s far from all. You can access a wide range of other subscription services including Netflix, HBO Now, Disney+, and many others. Cord cutters will be happy to hear that streaming TV services like Hulu, Sling TV, or DirecTV Now are also available on the device. It’s also the place to go to access any content purchased from Amazon like movies, TV shows, and even music.
If you purchase a Fire TV Stick directly from Amazon, the device will come pre-registered with your account information. If it is a gift or from another retailer, you’ll first need to enter your Amazon account information and pair the remote via Bluetooth. Thankfully, Amazon provides two AAA batteries to use with the remote.
There are six major sections to explore in the Fire TV interface: Search, Home, Movies, TV Shows, Apps, and Settings. Users will always start in the Home section. To move across the different sections and content, you’ll use the navigation trackpad on the remote. The center of the trackpad is used as the select button.
Instead of needing to use the different buttons on the remote itself, you can accomplish a large number of tasks by pressing the microphone button and speaking to Alexa. You can use voice commands to play a movie or TV show, search for content, search within apps, control playback, launch apps, control live TV apps, and more.
Because of its design, the Fire TV Stick is easy to move between televisions in your home or even take while traveling. You’ll always have entertainment ready to go.
What Is the Amazon Fire TV Stick?
Most of today’s streaming video options are small boxes that sit near the television and attach via an HDMI cable. But the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a little different.
As its name suggests, the device is a small, stick-like dongle that’s a bit larger than a USB flash drive. It’s 3.4 inches tall and 1.2 inches wide. On the end of the device is a standard HDMI plug designed to be placed into an open HDMI port on a television.
As long as your TV has an HDCP-compatible HDMI port, which is found on any modern set, you’ll be good to go once you have connected a micro-USB power cable and chosen a Wi-Fi network.
Amazon also includes a small Alexa Voice Remote with the Fire TV Stick. This allows users to navigate the Fire TV Stick interface and even interact with Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa.
Alexa support opens up a vast amount of different skills and other commands. One of the best is the ability to play music with just a simple press of the microphone button voice command.
What Does an Amazon Fire TV Stick Do?
Here are even more facts you need to know about what the Fire TV Stick does.
Amazon provides access to a wide variety of different apps to download. But something you may not know is that the device runs the Android. So it’s possible to sideload Android apps onto the Fire TV Stick. The best way is using an Android phone, but it can also be done on a Mac, PC, or Linux machine.
One type of app you won’t have to worry about sideloading is a web browser. We’ve previously compared two of the best Amazon Fire TV Stick browsers: Firefox and Silk.
Just like other Amazon hardware products, the Fire TV Stick features parental controls. During setup, parents can set a 5-digit PIN password. The PIN will be required to play content rated Teen or above, or to make a purchase.
You don’t need the Alexa Voice Remote to control the Fire TV Stick. Make sure to download the Amazon Fire TV Remote app for Android or iOS. Along with navigation through on-screen navigation, the app also supports voice search.
If you already own an Amazon Echo device, you can link the Fire TV Stick and control the streaming device using a simple Alexa command.
Where to Buy the Amazon Fire TV Stick
There are two versions of the Amazon Fire TV Stick to choose from. The best place to purchase both options is from Amazon itself. The streaming devices are also available at a large number of other retailers including Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and Newegg.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K brings Ultra HD content to any compatible 4K television. You can stream 4K content at up to 60fps. The device also supports many different content formats like Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HLG, and HDR10+ for the greatest visual detail. The Fire TV Stick 4K also supports the Dolby Atmos sound format for great, room-filling sound with a compatible sound system.
You’ll be able to control the experience with a second-generation Alexa Voice Remote that offers a physical power button and volume controls.
For anyone with just a 1080p HD set, the standard Amazon Fire TV Stick is less expensive and offers access to all of the same content and apps. You’ll also receive the same Alexa Voice Remote as the more expensive version. Be sure you take a look at our list of essential apps for the Amazon Fire TV Stick.
In the box of both options, buyers will find the Fire TV Stick, the Alexa Voice Remote, two AAA batteries, a power adapter, and an HDMI extender. The extender provides better Wi-Fi reception to the device and will allow users to not crowd out any nearby HDMI ports. That’s especially important if you have a limited amount of free HDMI ports on your television.
Stream Media With an Amazon Fire TV Stick
As you can see, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is the perfect way to bring all the advantages of a streaming media device to your TV. The inexpensive price, small size, and access to a huge amount of different services makes the Fire TV Stick a great choice for most users.
And if you decide to take the plunge and make the purchase, be sure you know how to set up and use the Amazon Fire TV Stick first.