The age of DVD rental is almost over. Streaming video services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube TV are now the easiest way to watch your favorite shows at home. If you do not have a smart TV, – or the interface of your smart TV may be slow and difficult to use – streaming devices such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick may be streaming services to just about every modern TV set.
What is the Fire TV Stick?
The Fire Stick is a small device – slightly larger than a thumb drive ̵
If you are familiar with the Apple TV or Roku, the Fire Stick is very similar to – but it was manufactured by Amazon, with close integrations for Amazon services such as Prime Video. The remote even has built-in Alexa, so you can press a button and ask the virtual assistant to open your favorite program, pause or rewind playback, and find movies with specific actors in it. You can also do this via Alexa on an Amazon Echo, if you are too lazy to get the remote from the other side of the couch. We will not judge it.
The Fire TV Stick is not the only streaming device in the Amazon line-up, but it is popular because of its low costs. The basic Fire TV Stick model costs $ 39, while the 4K-compatible model costs $ 49. If you have a little more to spend, the $ 119 Fire TV cube is a larger device that sits on your media console and acts as a Fire TV streaming device as well as an in-box Amazon Echo. You can also find the Fire TV streaming forces that are built into TVs, soundbars, and other devices, all with the same functionality. The advantage of the Fire TV Stick is that it works with almost any existing setup and is neatly stored behind the TV so that you never have to see it.
In contrast to the Apple TV and Roku, the Fire TV set-up has also become known for the ability to install apps other than those for which Amazon has sanctioned. Under the hood, the Fire TV runs a modified version of Android, the software developed by Google that you find on phones and tablets. Many Android apps work on the Fire TV, even if they are not specifically designed for the TV and do not appear in the Amazon app store. By installing non-sanctioned apps, you can play retro video games, protect your privacy with a VPN, cast video & # 39; s from your phone or search for free movies to watch (some of which – full disclosure – may be less than legal). This freedom, combined with the low cost of the Fire TV Stick, makes it an attractive option for people who want to improve the capabilities of their smart TV.
The Fire TV Stick is of course not without its drawbacks. The interface is a bit more focused on Amazon & # 39; s own services and shows than, for example, the Roku, so it may feel a bit more awkward to handle the remote control. Alexa can help you navigate through the software and you can, for example, jump directly to a specific app without having to click. Some apps are even suitable for Alexa, so you can say something like "Play the right place on Netflix" and it will immediately jump to your show. So if you want a streaming device that doesn't cost much – but has a lot of potential, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great choice.
How to set up your Fire TV Stick  With the Fire TV stick from Amazon you can stream almost anything on your TV and setting up is easy – although a bit annoying. Follow the steps below to start using your new Fire TV Stick.
1. Unpack your Fire TV stick and connect it
Apart from the Fire TV Stick itself. the box contains the Alexa voice remote control, an HDMI extension cable, a microUSB cable and a USB power adapter.
The HDMI extension cable is not required, but may be useful in certain configurations. In most situations you can connect the Fire TV Stick directly to your TV, A / V receiver or soundbar. If your TV is mounted in such a way that you do not have enough free space or if the receiver's HDMI ports are too close to each other for the wide Fire TV stick, you can use the extender. Plug the Fire TV Stick into the HDMI extender, plug the extender into the desired HDMI port and you have much more freedom to place things just right.
You must then supply the Fire TV Stick with power. Plug the microUSB cable into the Fire TV Stick and plug the other end into the wall outlet with the supplied USB power adapter. If your TV has a USB port that can supply enough power, you can also try connecting the microUSB cable to it, but if you encounter problems, use the supplied power adapter for the best results.
The Fire TV Stick must immediately start up when you connect it, so turn on your TV and switch to the correct input to see Amazon's Fire OS interface. For example, if you have connected the Fire TV Stick to the "HDMI1" port, press the Input or Source button on your TV's remote control until it goes to HDMI1. You should then see the Fire TV logo appear.
2. Connect to Wi-Fi and log in to Amazon
When you first start your Fire TV Stick, you will be asked to press a few buttons on your remote control to pair it with your stick. Once you have done this, you can select your language, find your Wi-Fi network in the list, and enter your password using the onscreen keyboard. The Fire TV Stick is designed to work over Wi-Fi, but if your signal is too weak in that part of the house, Amazon sells a microUSB-to-Ethernet adapter for Fire TV devices that you can use to connect an Ethernet connection or router, if you have one nearby. After you have connected the device to the Internet, your Fire TV downloads software updates, if any.
The device then asks you to log in to your Amazon account in the same way. If you purchased the device from Amazon yourself, the Fire TV Stick may already be linked to your account and this step will be skipped. If you have used it or received it as a gift, you may have to log out of the previous owner's account and connect your own account.
Finally, the installation asks if you want to sign up for the Amazon password-saving system, switch to parental controls and perform an audio test to see if your remote control can control the volume on your TV. At the end of the process, your Fire TV Stick will ask you to download some recommended apps. Don't worry if you don't see your favorite services; you can download many others after you have completed the installation wizard.
3. Download some apps and receive streaming
When you are done with the first installation, your Fire TV Stick will dump you to the Fire OS home screen , where you can see some of the recommended apps and shows from Amazon. To view more apps, press the Up button on the remote control to display the navigation bar at the top and move to & # 39; Apps & # 39; to browse. To download an app, highlight it, press the Enter button on your remote control and press Enter again to download.
Some apps, such as Netflix, require that you enter your user name and password using the onscreen keyboard, while other apps can give you a web address to enter on your computer, where you can log in with your mouse and keyboard. If you have a cable subscription, many apps support & # 39; single sign-on & # 39 ;, which means that you only have to sign in once. For example, if you are logged in to CNN Go, you can turn around and watch shows in the US without logging in again. Not all apps support single sign-in, but the list of apps is growing.
The home screen is full of advertisements and recommended Prime shows, but you can hold down the home button on your remote at any time and select "Apps" to see a grid of all your downloaded apps. If you highlight an app and press the Options button, you can move it around the grid or delete it completely.
Frankly, that is all old school. You don't have to click around with the remote if you don't want to, because you have Alexa. Hold down the microphone button on your remote control, say a command and release the button to let the speech assistant do your heavy work. Here are just a few things you can say:
- "Open Netflix"
- "Download HGTV Go"
- "Play Game of Thrones on HBO now"
- "Show me comedies"
- " Show me movies with Ryan Reynolds "
- " Pause "
- " rewind 10 seconds "
If you have an Amazon Echo, you can use the Alexa app on your phone to connect it to your Fire TV and give voice commands even without the remote control.
Those are the basic principles to get started with a Fire TV stick, but there is much more that you can do here. You can install more streaming services, adjust your privacy settings through the Settings app, install a VPN to fake your location or hide your activity, set up Kodi or a similar media management to stream local files and even download video games to play your TV right away .