All You Need to Know about Amazon Fire Stick

by November 4, 2017

[Image credits – factordaily.com]

For those looking at streaming video content from online directly to their TV, the Amazon Fire Stick is a popular way to do it. Launched in April 2017, the Fire Stick is Amazon’s answer to Google’s Chromecast and Airtel’s Internet TV. If you are interested to go for this product, then make sure to take out 3-4 minutes of your time to get all-round comprehensive information on this interesting new product from Amazon.

What does it do?
The Fire Stick is an HDMI device that lets you stream content from the Internet to your TV. By connecting the device to an HDMI port, you traditional TV is transformed to a smart TV and allows wireless streaming of content. While it plays HD content, Amazon has another device, the Fire TV, which goes a notch higher and supports 4K playback. This can be a limitation considering that Google’s Chromecast Ultra already supports UHD content.

The Design
At 86 x 30 x 12.6mm, the device is pretty nifty to hold and plug into the TV’s HDMI port. It has a micro USB port for charging the device. A power adapter is shipped with the box for charging purposes. Its Wi-Fi features a more powerful 802.11ac that allows faster content streaming. It is powered by 1 GB RAM, 1.3 GHz Quad Core processor and a Graphics card.

It comes with a remote that has six buttons with a four-way navigation pad for controlling the menu options. A new addition to the Fire Stick is the integration of voice control. The remote has a voice control button that you can use to connect to Alexa and speak out the show you want to watch.

How do you use it?
• First, you need to have an Amazon registration to the device.
• Now switch to HDMI input after connecting the device to the HDM port at the back of your TV.
• Insert battery into your Fire Stick remote and pair it with the TV
• The setup will let you register on Amazon (in case you haven’t already registered) and take you through the entire configuration process.

Super features worth checking out

Some of the cool features that you definitely need to try out include:
• Voice search – Be it to search movies, TV shows, or other Amazon-connected content, the voice search will let you speak out the content you want to watch. The Alexa backed voice search is pretty nifty and accurate to a great extent. Instead of typing the show name on the on-screen keyboard, users can easily call out the show/ movie name and switch to it.
• Intuitive interface – Working with the interface won’t be difficult, even for first-timers. Its simple layout lets you access recent shows and content. The remote too works well to let you access navigation menus. It offers great support with platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. For these platforms, you can search content either by typing or by voice search.
• Parental control – The Fire Stick provides PIN-based content access for mature content. This way you can browse through the shows which have predefined maturity ratings by age segmentation. This lets you set the controls on Fire Stick content.
• Content diversity – As per the advertised message, the Fire Stick brings to users thousands of movies, TV shows, games, and news. It can also be connected to popular apps like Amazon Prime, YouTube, Gaana, and Hotstar in India.

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Advantages
1 – Better processing than the competition
As compared to Chromecast (where you need to first obtain the content from a laptop or mobile and then cast it on the TV screen), the Fire Stick comes with its own preloaded apps and acts as a media player on its own. Also while Chromecast comes with 256 MB memory, the Fire Stick packs in an impressive 8 GB memory.

2 – Top rate Amazon Prime integration
Coming from the same stable, Fire Stick proves to be a great streaming partner for the Amazon Prime platform. With your Amazon Prime membership, you can watch unlimited content from Amazon Prime Instant Video.

3 – Great compatibility with some of the most popular streaming content
Be it Hotstar, Voot, Amazon Prime, Gaana, YouTube or Netflix, the best content channels in India offer a great compatibility with this streaming service media player. Since it is not limited to just Amazon Prime content, you get total freedom to utilize any channel to stream content from. So, if a particular TV show attracts your attention, then you can stream it from Hulu. If you need to watch a new movie, then you can use Netflix.

Drawbacks
1 – Limitation of voice search
While voice search has been touted as one of the standout points, the unfortunate fact is that there remain some limitations. It is not able to search all the content with 100% accuracy. As a result, the user may not get back any content as a result of the voice search, and then he may have to use the on-screen keyboard to type the query.

2 – No UHD support
While Fire Stick supports full HD, it is yet to roll out support to UHD (4K) content. If you want to stick with Amazon products while still looking for UHD support, then you need to go for a Fire TV. In India, since the penetration of UHD is not that substantial, the device can find compatible support on quite a few traditional SD/HD TV sets.

3 – Performance not at par with the best
In addition to lack of UHD support, it offers a below-par performance for hardcore gamers or film buffs when it compares with Fire TV. Another point is that while Fire Stick is Wi-Fi only, Fire TV provides the option of Ethernet plug in as well. This significantly boosts the streaming performance and provides a better overall experience to users as compared to the Fire Stick.

The bottom line
If you are addicted to Netflix or Amazon content, then this device works like a charm. It can quickly figure out the content you want to watch, with the help of its intuitive interface and Alexa-based voice search facility. However, if you are looking at other third-party apps, then it leaves a lot to be desired. The bottom line is that if you get a majority of your content consumption carried out through popular services like Netflix or Amazon Prime, then the Fire Stick is definitely for you.

The Amazon Fire Stick retails for Rs. 3,999 on the Amazon website.