Slowly but surely Amazon is shipping the coveted Amazon Fire TV stick. What’s all the commotion about? Well, for starters, it’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to hook your TV up to hundreds of thousands of TV shows and movies, millions of songs, and even hundreds of games. It can easily replace your cable box, and at just $39, Fire TV Stick will have a lot of people rethinking how they watch TV. There’s now a decent amount of competition in the Internet TV/Media provider space. On paper, by pricing and specs, Amazon is one of the most appealing devices, but there’s a lot of important factors that go into an Internet TV device. Most importantly, which streaming services does it support?
- What’s in the box:
Fire TV Stick
11 Button Remote Control + batteries
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is an actual stick that plugs straight into the HDMI port on a TV. Like all of these HDMI internet devices, external power is required. There’s a standard micro-USB input on the Fire Stick and you can either plug the USB port into the TV, or into the wall with the included wall charger. There’s a small 11-button remote that’s included and it has all of the basic media buttons. The remote requires two AAA batteries, but it can be replaced by your smartphone or by an Amazon voice remote (sold separately). The Android and iOS app offer a little more control, plus they enable voice functionality for searching any content.
If you have an Amazon account and WiFi, the setup is a piece of cake. Our device even came pre-logged-in to our Amazon account. The Fire Stick may update to the latest firmware, which only takes a few minutes. Once you’re in, you’ll find the interface is quite snappy and smooth. The software has an intuitive and familiar feel to it. Content is categorized by the media type. Using the included remote or smartphone remote is very easy and comfortable, I was even able to hook up my external Bluetooth keyboard.
It’s incredible how smooth and quick everything is on the Fire Stick. You’ll barely ever see a loading screen or lag. With a decent Internet connection, your media will start streaming in no time, as if it was actually saved to the device. Amazon even has a feature called ASAP that predicts what you’re going to watch, just so it doesn’t have to buffer.
There’s a lot of factors that go into a device like Amazon Fire Stick, and usually the most important is: what media and services does it play?. Well, Amazon Instant Video is a given, and that alone will make it worth it for most people. It’s included with Amazon Prime, which includes tens of thousands of popular movies and TV shows. Amazon also has its own original series’ now. Other popular services/apps include Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go (coming soon), Showtime Anytime, Lifetime, History Channel, A&E, ESPN, YouTube, Vimeo, Twitch, Vevo, Plex, and more. Music apps include the popular Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and Amazon Music. There’s even video game classics like Sonic 2, You Don’t Know Jack, the Game of a Life, Flappy Bird, and Tetris, but some may require a different remote. The beauty of a device like this is Amazon will keep adding new games, apps, and free content.
Even though the Fire Stick is just a small little stick, Amazon managed to pack it with some impressive specs. It has a dual-core 1Ghz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of onboard storage, bluetooth 3.0, and dual band and dual antenna WiFi. It plays 1080P video with Dolby Digital Plus certified surround sound and it’s also Miracast certified.