Amazon Fire TV Stick ReviewBy Jeremy Evans / June 28, 2017 / Tags: Amazon Fire TV, Cut Cable, Reviews
See the pros and cons of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and how to easily decide if it’s the right streaming device for you.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is the smaller, stick-version of the Amazon Fire TV.
Quick note–if you’re not familiar with what a streaming device is, or the differences between streaming sticks and streaming boxes, you’ll want to read this Streaming Device Overview first. As I state in that guide, if you want 4k picture quality, a direct connection between your computer and TV, or gaming options, then you’ll want to get a streaming box, not a stick. If you don’t care about those features, then go with a more affordable streaming stick. You’ll get access to all the same content, for about half the price.
If you think you want a streaming stick, you have two main options: the Amazon Fire TV Stick and the Roku Stick. While each of these has its strengths and weaknesses, their overall performance is about even. Money-wise, the Amazon Fire TV Stick tends to be about $10 cheaper. In making a final decision, it comes down to a few key considerations. I highlight these in this Amazon Fire TV Stick review.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Pros
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is an excellent streaming device that performs its job admirably. It’s extremely affordable at only $39 (about $10 cheaper than Roku’s stick).
Like the Roku Stick, Fire TV Stick is super easy to use, and setting it up takes less than five minutes. The latest version of the Fire Stick comes with improved speed, and has excellent remote control features you won’t find with most of the other streaming stick devices.
⊕ The Fire TV Stick is fast, affordable, and easy to use.
For example, the Fire TV Stick remote comes with Amazon’s Alexa voice search assistant built-in. Alexa allows users to speak into the Fire Stick remote’s mic to search TV shows and movies from more than 90 Amazon associates, including heavy hitters Netflix, Hulu, HBO Go, Showtime Anytime, FX Now and NBC, along with the native Amazon content. Additionally, Fire Stick and Alexa make it possible for you to say “Skip ahead three minutes” (or whatever) and also the stick will comply, although this only works with Amazon content.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Vs. Roku Stick
For those who want a streaming stick, I feel the Fire TV Stick is a better choice than the Roku Stick for two categories of customers: 1) Heavy users of Amazon products and services, and 2) Kodi users. If you meet one of these conditions, then the Amazon Fire Stick isn’t merely a good choice, it’s a much better choice than the Roku Stick.
⊕ If you’re an ‘Amazon person’ or use Kodi, the Fire TV Stick is a better choice than the Roku Stick.
If you don’t fall into one of those two categories you’re better off with the Roku Stick. My reason for saying this is that the Fire TV Stick promotes Amazon content above all other content. Obviously, an Amazon streaming device is going to push Amazon Video content, but the result is a streaming device with fewer content options. Amazon, for example, doesn’t allow competitor video stores like Vudu or Google Play onto the Fire TV Stick or box. These stores often have new releases that aren’t yet available on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video. If you want to rent or buy a movie, TV show, or TV season on Fire TV, you have to buy it from Amazon. If Amazon doesn’t have it, you can’t get it.
Roku, on the other hand, isn’t tied to any particular streaming service, so it does a better job of developing apps which bring a wider selection of content, including CinemaNow and Fandango Now.
Amazon Fire TV Stick + Amazon Prime Video = Streamer’s Paradise
Fortunately for Amazon enthusiasts, there’s more to the story than simply buying the Roku Stick because Roku has more content options. For starters, you’ll still get a ton of content options with Amazon’s Fire Stick. And if you also have Amazon Prime Video the duo threatens to best all the competition.
As I explain in my Streaming Services Guide, Amazon Prime Video is an excellent service. Every credible reviewer puts Amazon Prime Video right up there with Netflix and Hulu as among the best streaming services on the market. In fact, many people prefer Amazon Prime Video over its competitors because of selection of popular Amazon Originals like Transparent and Sneaky Pete. So it’s not as if Amazon is using the Fire TV devices to sell some junky streaming service. Far from it. If you already prefer Amazon Prime Video then you’re going to appreciate how the Fire TV Stick and box serve up Amazon Video content.
⊕ Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great choice for users of Amazon products and services–and especially for Amazon Prime members.
Also, if you’re already an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Prime Video is included in your membership. So if you originally signed up for Amazon Prime for the shopping deals and freebies, it’s as if you’re getting one of the best streaming services on the market for free. For you, the Fire TV Stick makes a lot of sense.
What about you people in the middle? You’re someone who likes Amazon, but you never got one of those Prime Memberships Amazon is always hawking. Also, you’re new to streaming (or cutting the cord), and you’re here because you just want a streaming device. For you, the answer is trickier–and it reveals diabolical wizardry behind the Amazon business model.
In your case, you may find that getting Amazon Prime Membership, including Amazon Prime Video, for the same price as Netflix is just too good a deal to pass up. Think about it: For the same price as a Netflix or Hulu subscription, you get a comparable streaming service in Amazon Prime Video PLUS all the other benefits of Amazon Prime. Yes, Amazon is nudging you towards buying a Prime Membership–but it’s a friendly nudge because this is a heckuva deal.
⊕ Are you an Amazon Prime member? If not, read this. You may find Amazon Prime is too good a deal to pass up.
In short, Amazon Fire Stick is an excellent choice for frequent users of Amazon products and services. The huge range of benefits, deals, and freebies that you get with Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Video provides fantastic value. Amazon Fire Stick, with its enhanced search capabilities, works exceptionally well in this Amazon ecosystem.
Kodi & Amazon Fire TV Stick
The second reason for choosing the Fire Stick over the Roku Stick is if you use Kodi. (What is Kodi?) The Amazon Fire Stick runs on the Android operating system, which works great with Kodi, and you can easily install Kodi on the Fire devices. Roku and Apple, on the other hand, do not support Kodi, and it doesn’t appear this will change anytime soon.
For those who don’t know much about Kodi, it’s a free media player application that represents the wild, exciting, and untamed streaming frontier. If you’re a tech-geek, or have ambitions about watching all your TV, sports, and movies for free, you’ll want to learn more about Kodi. You can do so in this beginner’s guide to how to use Kodi.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Bottom Line
The quick, affordable Fire TV Stick is a great value at only around $39. Its speed and performance are comparable to the $49 Roku Stick. Like the Roku Stick, the Fire Stick is very easy to set up and use. Heavy users of Amazon will love the Fire Stick’s search capabilities, which include voice search and the Alexa Digital Assistant.
Unfortunately, Amazon does limit some of Fire Stick’s content options, excluding a-la-carte video competitors like Vudu and Google Play. If you’re an Amazon enthusiast, combining Amazon Prime membership with the Fire TV Stick and Alexa voice integration will more than makeup for any content deficit. If you don’t care so much about shopping on Amazon–or you don’t want to use Kodi–then the Roku Stick might be your best option as it has more apps and more content options.
The following videos do a good job of showing how easy it is to use the Amazon Fire TV Stick. along with some useful tips.