What is the Amazon TV FireStick?
The Amazon Fire Stick is growing in both use and features and the currently low price means it makes an excellent gift for Christmas or any time of year. If you find yourself interested in the Amazon Fire Stick and want to know more, this primer on the device is exactly what you’re looking for. I’m going to cover what it is, how much it costs and lost of other useful information too.
Amazon Fire Stick
The Amazon Fire Stick is a small device that looks like a USB dongle. It connects to an HDMI port on your TV and to your home WiFi network and streams content directly to your TV. You can view Amazon content or install apps to access other types of content. What you can view depends on what apps you use. Some a free while others are subscription-based.
The device has been around for almost five years and is regularly updated with apps and features. The Fire Stick is different from the Fire TV but works in much the same way. It has less memory and less capable hardware but can stream content will enough.
At the moment, the Amazon Fire Stick with Alexa Voice Control is $24.99 directly from Amazon. There are other versions but voice control is a neat feature and will integrate with other Alexa devices if you have them. A new 4K-capable Fire Stick is also available at $34.99 right now which is a steal as it also has Alexa voice control.
Amazon Fire Stick costs and subscriptions
If you buy an Amazon Fire Stick, you have two options. You can buy the stick and use the free apps to access free TV and movies or pay subscriptions to access premium content. It is entirely possible to use the Amazon Fire Stick without paying a dime more than the purchase price and not feel as if you’re losing out. This page keeps a regularly updated list of free channels available for Fire TV.
If you do want more, you have more options. Amazon Prime is a subscription package that allows you to access a ton of new content. It’s like Netflix and offers a lot of content for around $110 a year. Ironically, you can access Netflix through your Amazon Fire Stick but will still need to subscribe to Netflix to watch.
You can also access channels such as HBO, CBS All Access, Showtime, CBS News and others using the Amazon Fire Stick. If a service has a subscription model like HBO or CBS All Access, you have to pay that service to access content rather than pay through Amazon. It sounds complicated but is easy to manage from within your Amazon account or from the app itself.
Setting up and using the Amazon Fire Stick
One of the great things about the Amazon Fire Stick is how easy it is to use. Like other devices of its ilk Roku, Chromecast and the like, ease of use was built into them from the outset.
To set up and use an Amazon Fire Stick you will need the Firestick itself, a TV with spare HDMI port and a wireless network.
- Unbox everything and make sure your wireless network is accessible.
- Attach your Firestick to your TVs HDMI port.
- Plug the lead into a wall outlet and into the Amazon Fire Stick.
- Change your TV source to HDMI until you see the welcome screen.
- Add batteries to your remote and wait for it to pair. This should happen automatically. If it doesn’t, hold down the Home button for 10 seconds and pair it manually.
- Follow the setup wizard on your TV screen to add your Amazon Fire Stick to your WiFi network.
- Register the Amazon Fire Stick with your Amazon account. This is a mandatory step to get everything working.
- Download the Alexa app to your smartphone so you can use the phone as a remote. This is optional but useful.
Once installed and set up you can add apps or explore as you see fit. Any apps that require a subscription will clearly state the fact and will require a login before you can access them. Other apps allow free access to any content and should simply load once you open them.
You can now watch YouTube or stream free TV or movies, listen to music, play some basic games and explore your new device.
The Amazon Fire Stick is a neat device for accessing streamed content on your TV. Unless you are planning to use Amazon Prime or Prime Video, it doesn’t do much that a smart TV cannot do. The apps it features are also available for most smart TVs and works in the same way. If you do plan to use Amazon Prime or integrate the Amazon Fire Stick into an Alexa-enabled home, your options are almost limitless.