NEW: Amazon's Fire TV Stick

Category: Gadgets , Television

When is a tech gadget too popular? When pre-orders placed on November 1 won’t be fulfilled until after Christmas. That is the current state of Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick, a streaming media player on a thumb-sized, HDMI-compatible computer – and steroids. Read on to see what makes the Fire TV Stick almost too good for its own good...

Just Add Fire: Internet on Your TV

The Fire TV Stick joins other TV-on-a-stick offerings such as Google Chromecast, the Roku Streaming Stick and scores of obscure products powered by Google Android or various Linux distributions.

In a nutshell, TV sticks are a convenient way to pipe online video content to your big-screen TV screen, instead of gathering the family around a laptop or tablet with a small screen and tinny speakers. The stick plugs into your TV's HDMI port, and connects via wifi to your Internet service.

All TV-on-a-stick products are miniaturized computers with an operating system, applications such as streaming video players, and pre-programmed Internet connections to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Youtube, and many other online streaming video services. Built-in apps enable management of your favorite channels, shows, schedules, and interactions with other home entertainment devices.
Amazon Fire TV Stick

The important differences between TV sticks lie in three areas:

Bundled content sources: Can you get HBO, Netflix, Youtube, NBC Sports, the Ukrainian national TV station, etc? The mix of bundled sources is the hottest field of competition among TV sticks.

Ease of use: Can you control the stick with a remote, a smartphone app, on your big-screen TV, and via a Web browser on a desktop or laptop? The more “yes” answers to these questions, the better. Of course, it also matters whether the controls are simple, intuitive, and minimize hand motions. And forget buffering; no one wants to watch a spinning circle.

Price: The Roku stick retails for $50; Chromecast goes for $35. Amazon is launching the Fire TV Stick at $39.

Fire TV: Specs and Features

The Fire Stick scores very well on the essentials. Its dual-core 1 GHz processor addresses 8 GB of flash memory – 4 times that of Chromecast and 32x the Roku stick’s RAM. It includes a VideoCore 4 GPU for lightning-quick rendering of 1080p HD signals, plus Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround-sound. ASAP (Advanced Streaming And Prediction) tech minimizes buffering by caching and pre-fetching your favorite content before you request it.

Beware: This is one of those product categories where it’s easy to get ripped off and better to stick to well-known brands. See my article, Free Satellite TV On PC? to learn about scammy software that's sometimes bundled on USB sticks and dishonetly sold as a replacement for satellite or cable TV service.

Over 200,000 movies and TV episodes are available, millions of songs, and hundreds of games. Movies can be rented for just 99 cents. If you have more than one TV, you can easily move the Fire TV Stick from one HDTV to another. Amazon says the ability to use the Fire TV Stick in hotels, college dorms or a friend's house is coming soon.

A dedicated handheld remote control and a smartphone app provide optimal access to the Fire Stick’s functions. And voice search “that actually works,” according to Amazon, helps you locate shows or genres by just speaking to your Fire Stick.

Everything can be displayed everywhere. If you’re watching a YouTube video on a tablet you can mirror it to your wide-screen TV, and vice versa. No need to miss a football play during bathroom breaks, just grab your tab and run. You can also use X-Ray on your tablet or smartphone while watching a show to pull info from IMDb (Internet Movie database) about the characters, trivia, music, and more.

The Fire Stick comes with a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, of course. Prime includes access to all that video content, and free shipping on Amazon purchases. And what's that question from the back of the room? Well of course you can make Amazon purchases through the Fire Stick! What did you think this was all about? :-)

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "NEW: Amazon's Fire TV Stick"

(See all 21 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

03 Nov 2014

I was one of those crazies who pre-ordered the Fire Stick! Because, as a current Prime member, I could pre-order it for $19.00. Now, that's a deal I just couldn't pass!

Posted by:

03 Nov 2014

One of the things that Amazon's Fire TV Stick obviously can do is show Amazon instant video. Google's Chromecast can only do that by showing it on a laptop using the Chrome browser and then casting it. That doesn't work very well. I may go for the Fire TV Stick and see how it works.

EDITOR'S NOTE: That's a really good reason for buying the Fire TV stick. On the flip side, I'll bet the Fire stick doesn't play very nice with Google Play Movies.

Posted by:

Linda Lindley
03 Nov 2014

I would like to see a comparison of all of these types of streaming media sticks. I have a ROKU, and I love it. I can't imagine an improvement on it. I cut the cable TV, put up an HD antenna for local channels, and cut my entertainment bill in half. I like the concept of paying just for those channels I actually watch [Netflix, etc.]. If there is something better than ROKU, I would like to read about it. It's hard to beat.

Posted by:

03 Nov 2014

I'm also a current Prime member and couldn't pass up the $19 price. Delivery is supposed to be Nov 26. One more toy for me! lol It would beat dragging my blu-ray or laptop around for streaming on other TVs if it works. If it doesn't work, it won't take up much room in my junk box. Looking forward to your review if you get one, Bob!

Posted by:

John Moody
03 Nov 2014

Just a warning not to make the mistake I made. About a year ago I got a Chromecast. Plugged it in, connected it to my network, then didn't do anything with it until a few days later when some friends came over and I wanted to show them how it worked. Spent the next few minutes frantically looking all over my living room for the remote. It was a real Homer Simpson DOH! moment.

Posted by:

03 Nov 2014

I'm an Amazon Prime member. Where can i get the $19 deal for the Amazon Fire TV Stick? Will this work with my DVD player on my computer?

Posted by:

04 Nov 2014

One vital feature I use on my WD Live box is streaming content on my computer to my tv via "network share" (videos, music, photos, etc.) feature. Can the Firestick (or any other 'stick' ) also do this?

Posted by:

04 Nov 2014

While, all of this, sounds good ... I guess, I am old fashioned. I want my DirecTV, it's a simple as that.

Now, I do have a Netgear streaming adapter, for my TV in my Living Room. Hubby doesn't want anything to do with "smart" anything, okay? I belong to VUDU, which is a FREE streaming service, but, you do pay for the movies or shows, you want. I have NO problem with that, either. I can easily watch, the movies that I purchased for $5 or less, full length and in HD, if, I want to pay a bit more. So, for now, I have them in SD, because I purchased them for my computer, which doesn't have HD capabilities, so SD is what worked.

Now, that I have the Netgear Streaming Adapter, I can purchase HD movies. I am so happy, about that, too. Must say though, the SD movies have been very, very clear on my HD TV. So far, I am very, very happy, with my set-up. :)

Posted by:

04 Nov 2014

I have a Samsung smart tv and a Amazon Prime subscription. Is there any advantage to the Fire TV Stick. My DL speed stinks so the spinning circle is a big problem.

Advice appreciated by this dum ole guy!

Posted by:

George Lowe
04 Nov 2014

Guess I will hold off now that my Prime membership won't help out and see how the reviews go. Besides the delivery date is now January 15th.

Posted by:

Kenneth D
04 Nov 2014

How fast download speed is needed to use these devices? Would I have to upgrade from 1.5 mps?

EDITOR'S NOTE: For reference, Netflix recommends 1.5 Mb/sec as a minimum; 3.0 for SD quality; 5.0 for HD quality.

Posted by:

11 Nov 2014

When I first saw this article, I knew I had to have one. Followed your link to Amazon, ordered one, and received it Friday (might have shown up Thursday) with free 2-day shipping (I have Prime). No back-order... Just thought I'd let you know :-)

Posted by:

Scott L
14 Dec 2014

Thanks for the info, I bought it after reading your post and love it. I did follow this simple video to side load Firefox in to it and now i have full access even when staying in hotels. This makes it 100% better for travelers.

Posted by:

11 Jan 2015

Is this constant data usage>

Posted by:

20 Jan 2015

I have Direct TV and I'm techinically challanged. How does the Fire Stick work? Does the Direct TV box over ride the Fire stick's ability to connect to the internet?

Posted by:

16 Mar 2015

The Fire stick works great, especially compared to Chromecast's stick. The only draw backthat I encountered is that it pushes Amazon's movies and sales. Voice activation goes to only prime movies ignoring Netflix or other feeds. These sticks work off the HDMI slot that they are plugged into just like your CD player. You have to change your TV setting to the HDMI feed that your stick is connected on. HDMI1, HDMI2 ect.

Posted by:

21 May 2015


EDITOR'S NOTE : is there something special or odd about that router? I'm not sure why it would be dependent on the particular brand of router you have.

Posted by:

Raj Thakkar
04 Jun 2015

I want to display to my Sony smart TV a movie I watch from Popcorn Time on my laptop with windows 8.1 (Upgraded from 8.) It seems Amazon fire TV stick does not show on TV directly from laptop like it does from Android tablet. However it supports Miracast. Windows 8.1 projects to a wireless display using Miracast. On my windows 8.1 I tried to setup, devices, project but it does not show "add wireless display" option I do not know why. Can anyone help?

Posted by:

26 Aug 2015

The apartment I now live in does not allow me to have Direct tv due to satellite dish unable to point in direction needed. Direct tv says I can use direct I do not have a "smart tv"n however I do use Amazon fire stick with prime. Dtv did not know if stick is compatible to stream the Dtv. Can it work?

Posted by:

06 Aug 2016

I have DirecTV and just purchased Amazon Fire Stick. It works occasionally, but is constantly losing the signal stating "broadband connection too slow." I have no problem with other devices - one desktop computer, one laptop, and kindle. Could it be my router? Please help since I am technically challenged by this. Thanks!

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