Amazon Fire TV Stick Review10 minute read

10 minute read

|

Updated for July, 2019

The Amazon Fire TV Stick offers you a more comprehensive way to enjoy movies, television, and other media. Its interactive interface and easy navigation make this stick a viable choice for most people, including seniors learning to use a device like this for the first time.

Last update on 2019-07-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Pros
  • Easy to navigate
  • Fast interface
  • Well-integrated Alexa 
  • Simple design
  • Excellent onscreen keyboard
Cons
  • Blind spots in the content search
  • No HBO Go access
  • Some Fire OS inconsistencie

Our Verdict

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a solid choice for those looking for a way to expand their entertainment selections. The device is easy to use, has a robust interface, and the list of available apps is steadily growing.

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OVERALL RATING
Quality
Ease of Setup
Cost
Usability

Last update on 2019-07-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Amazon Fire Stick is a media-streaming option that is flexible, and it offers diverse entertainment options. Setup is relatively quick and easy, only requiring some general information to ensure the device is ready for use. Using it is easy to learn and the interface is fast.

The design is simple and the performance solid. Overall, this stick is an ideal choice for those who are new to media-streaming devices and those simply looking to make a change from what they are currently using.

Setting up and using the stick is easy. Overall, it does not take much time to learn how to use it.

Setup

There are three primary steps to complete to set up your stick:

  • Plug the device into your television
  • Plug it into the wall for power
  • Connect to the internet

In the box, there is everything you need to start using your Fire Stick:

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Power adapter
  • Alexa Voice Remote
  • HDMI extender
  • Two AAA batteries
  • Quick Start Guide

Usage

Once you set up your device, you can start searching and streaming content. Download the apps you plan to use with your stick, such as Netflix. This keeps all of your streaming media in one place.

Use the search feature to find the content you are seeking. You might also consider the recommended content to try out new programs you might otherwise not watch.

Use the cloud storage for the content you buy from Amazon. This storage keeps it in one convenient place so that you can easily retrieve it later.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is small and simple. Plug it into your television and start using it. This stick is very lightweight, weighing about 1.1 ounces. It measures about 3.4 by 1.2 by 0.5 inches.

HDMI

The connection is HDMI, and a power cable sticks out of the device. Ensure seamless vertical stacking of this device and other HDMI connections with an HMDI extension cable you can choose to use.

Remote

The remote is smooth, simple, and east to hold. There is no need to achieve perfect aim to use it since it uses Bluetooth connectivity. There is a directional circle and button configuration to use the remote.

If you prefer to use an app remote, you can download one on your cell phone. This also gives you a voice search feature. This feature is an excellent choice for people who find it difficult to use a small remote or type out the content they are seeking.

This device offers certain accessibility options to allow you to have the best experience possible. It also has a wide compatibility range.

Accessibility

This device is very accessible for seniors. The majority of the content does have closed captioning, allowing those with a hearing impairment to watch the programs without issue.

For those with visual impairment, this device provides the ability to magnify the screen. This includes the ability to pan around the screen and zoom in and out.

Compatibility

This stick is compatible with most high-definition televisions. They should have HDMI that is capable of 720p or 1080p at 60/50 Hz. The general system requirements include:

  • HD television
  • Wi-Fi internet connection
  • HDMI input on the television
  • A power outlet

The Wi-Fi connectivity is dual-antenna, dual-band Wi-Fi. The Wi-Fi should support 2x2 MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. Most standard internet packages can accommodate this connectivity. Users should ensure their internet speed is enough to support streaming on this device.

Those who prefer Ethernet support can use this too. However, you will need to get the Amazon Ethernet Adapter for this purpose.

Usability Rating

The content and interface are neat and fast. It is relatively simple to find what you are looking for.

Content

There are various categories that break up the content, such as “recent,” “movies,” and “TV.” The graphics are large, so it is easy to see what you are looking for. It appears to prioritize recommendations, allowing you to quickly find movies and shows that you are likely to find interesting.

For all content, there is an IMDB rating to give you some insight into how much other people enjoyed a certain movie or show. Before streaming, you can watch a short trailer so that you get the gist of what it is about before delving in.

The X-ray feature gives you some trivia and information about the actors and the program. You can also identify any music playing or the actors in a particular scene.

Content loads quickly as long as your internet meets the requirements. You can also cast quickly from your mobile device.

This stick supports a variety of content formats. The supported video formats include H.264 1080p30H.265 1080p30. The supported photo formats include JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP. The supported audio formats include:

  • AAC-LC
  • HE-AACv2 (eAAC+)
  • eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus)
  • MIDI
  • PCM/Wave
  • AMR-NB
  • HE-AACv1 (AAC+)
  • AC3 (Dolby Digital)
  • FLAC
  • MP3
  • Vorbis
  • AMR-WB

Interface

The interface is visually impressive and smooth. If you play mobile games on your stick, the controls are simple, and the remote works well. In most cases, you do not need an additional controller for games. However, if you prefer something else, the Amazon Fire controller is compatible with this device.

You can browse the internet on the interface. Check your social media accounts or research topics that interest you. There are different browser options to choose from, such as Firefox and Silk.

The rectangle icons are in rows on the right side of the screen. On the left side are vertically stacked categories. This organization is simple, making it ideal for those who want to retrieve the content quickly that they are looking for. The content that Amazon hosts is given priority on the interface.

Extras

In addition to the content and interface basics, there are some extras you might take advantage of. For example, there are various apps, games, and Amazon cloud service access. Upload your videos and photos from your smartphone to view them on your television via this stick.

You can connect your different streaming accounts, such as Netflix and Spotify, and services like YouTube, so everything is in one convenient place.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick hardware and software is solid. Knowing the specifications ensures that it meets your requirements.

Hardware

The hardware that comes with this device ensures strong performance. The specifications include:

  • Processor: Quad-core ARM 1.3 GHz
  • Storage: 8 GB internal
  • GPU: Mali450 MP4
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1
  • Memory: 1 GB

The hardware specifications ensure that the stick operates fast. Quickly scroll through menus and program choices, and once you choose one, it loads quickly as long as you are using an adequate internet connection.

The audio support includes Dolby Audio, 2ch stereo, 5.1 surround sound, and HDMI. These all pass through up to 7.1.

Software

The polished software makes it easy to use this stick. The carousel keyboard is not a factor with this device. Instead, this stick uses the simpler ABC or QWERTY keyword options. This keyboard makes it easier to type in what you are searching for. Depending on where you are on the interface, you will find an ABC or QWERTY, as both are present in different areas.

To fully use your Amazon Fire TV Stick, it is a good idea to have an Amazon Prime subscription. This service gives you full access to the Amazon media library, including both free and paid content.

To get a subscription, go to the Amazon website and signup for the service. If you already have a standard Amazon account, it imports most of this information making the signup process simple. You will also have to choose your subscription and input your credit card information. You can pay for a full year at once or choose the monthly option.

The free content is relatively extensive, and there are even Amazon exclusives for you to explore. However, if you want to see the bigger television shows and blockbuster films, these typically come with an extra fee.

When you are looking at the available content, it will tell you if it comes with Prime or not. Once you click on the content, if there is an extra fee, you will see what the price is going to be. This element can be a bit ambiguous at times, so it is important to confirm what comes with Prime before agreeing to watch a program to avoid unexpected fees.

The shows that cost money typically have a fee for each episode. However, many also have the option for a season pass. This can reduce the total cost of watching a full season of a show.

There is a section that lets you look only at the videos that Prime is offering for free. This feature eliminates some of the guesswork and makes it easier to find some of the free content.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is small and easily plugs into the USB port on your television. Once in place, follow the onscreen directions to set it up. From here, you can see the interface which is fast and relatively simple to learn and navigate.

The content selection is fast with this stick, ensuring there is something for everyone. With Amazon Prime, there are many books, movies, shows, and other media options that come with this service without an extra charge. The apps you can choose from continues to grow.

This stick performs well and has the hardware to back it up. There are a few rough edges, but it is possible to work around these when taking full advantage of the stick’s features.

The software experience is generally good, and there are options to further enhance user experience. There are a few kinks to work out, but updates could work to solve these. The keyboard is easy to use, and this stick does not use the carousel keyboard that was available on the Amazon TV. Instead, there is an ABC keyboard and QWERTY keyboard, depending on where you are on the interface.

Overall, this device is a solid media streamer with little fuss. It is a good choice for those who already use the Amazon ecosystem and those looking to give it a try for the first time.