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'What is an Amazon Fire TV Stick?': Amazon's portable but powerful streaming device, explained

  • The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a portable streaming device that can give you access to thousands of movies and TV shows.
  • Most Amazon Fire TV models are currently on sale on Amazon with Black Friday discounts.
  • Much like other streaming devices, the Amazon Fire TV Stick lets you watch Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and other streaming services — as long as you have subscriptions to them.
  • All you need to do to use an Amazon Fire Stick is plug it into your TV, connect it to the internet, and get watching.
  • Visit Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a streaming video player sold by Amazon. Similar in many ways to the Roku Streaming Stick, the Fire TV stick is the entry-level product in Amazon’s streaming media player family, typically priced at about $40.

The Fire TV Stick is shaped like an oversized USB flash drive, and plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI video input. Rather than storing files, though, it’s a full-featured streaming player, able to turn any television with an HDMI port into a Smart TV.

The Fire TV Stick is free to use and set up, and it’s free to download nearly every major app. However, to watch subscription-based apps like Netflix or Hulu , you’ll need to pay for them separately.

You can purchase the Amazon Fire TV Stick in both a basic version, and 4K version. The only difference between the two is that the 4K version can stream — as the name implies — in 4K resolution.

What you can do with the Amazon Fire TV Stick

You can access “tens of thousands” of streaming channels through a Fire TV Stick.

Amazon says that the Fire TV Stick adds “tens of thousands” of channels to your TV. That includes all the streaming services you are most familiar with, including Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, and HBO Now, along with network TV apps, sports, and, of course, thousands of less common niche channels you may not be familiar with.

The stick comes with a remote control that has a built-in microphone for voice control. Because this is an Amazon product, you might expect that it has Alexa support, and you would be right — you can give commands to the Fire TV Stick using Alexa, and control all your home automation products (like the Ring doorbell, Philips Hue lights, and ecobee thermostat, among others) just as if you were talking to an Amazon Echo speaker.

What Amazon Fire TV Sticks cost

The Fire TV family includes the Fire TV Stick ($39.99; $19.99 with a Black Friday discount) and the Fire TV Stick 4K ($49.99; $24.99 with a Black Friday discount). The 4K version costs a little more and is identical to the Fire TV Stick except that it (as the name implies) works with 4K video. The original Fire TV Stick sends standard 1080p high definition video instead.

Amazon also sells the Fire TV Cube. Priced at $119.99 ($89.99 with a Black Friday discount), this media player includes a built-in speaker and a microphone that listens for voice commands from across the room – you don’t need to talk into a remote control. While the two versions of the Fire TV Stick require Wi-Fi, the Cube is able to connect to Ethernet for faster, more reliable internet access. (It’s possible to connect the Fire TV sticks to Ethernet with an optional Ethernet adapter.)

How to set up an Amazon Fire TV Stick

Setting up an Amazon Fire Stick is little more than a three step process.

You simply need to plug the Fire TV stick into its supplied power adapter and then plug the stick into your TV’s HDMI video input. Then, turn on your TV and make sure it’s set to the correct HDMI input.

The Fire TV Stick plugs into a TV’s HDMI port and needs to be powered through the micro-USB port on its side.

Finally, using the remote control, step through the welcome and setup instructions on the TV screen.  You’ll need to enter your Wi-Fi password and log into your Amazon account. You don’t need a VPN or anything of the sort.

After that, setup is largely complete; you’ll just need to add and log into any streaming channels you use (like Netflix, Hulu, and so on).

For more information, check out our article, “How to set up an Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon’s portable media streaming device, for the first time.”

Amazon Fire TV Stick
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
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Amazon Fire TV Cube

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

  • All the ways you can watch Amazon Prime Video on your TV

  • How to reset an Amazon Fire TV Stick to its factory settings, whether it’s malfunctioning or you want a fresh start

  • How to set up any Amazon Echo device and customize its settings

  • How to make Alexa work on your iPhone, and use it with or without an Amazon Echo

  • ‘What can the Amazon Echo do?’: Everything you need to know about Amazon’s smart speakers