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Amazon Fire TV Stick

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Amazon Fire TV Stick was released as one of the cheapest HDMI media sticks to date and after a massive 1 million were sold world wide opinions were divided; some hated it and some loved it. So what exactly does a $39 TV stick running Amazon’s own operating system get you? – And can it be really used as the ultimate media center? Lets find out.

Fire TV Stick


 

The Price

As mentioned above the Amazon Fire TV Stick retails at $39 which is straight away considered a win. Even if after purchasing the stick, only to find it doesn’t suit your needs then its not financially a massive loss. The only device which even comes close to competing with the Fire TV Stick is Google’s own Chromecast (Priced $5 cheaper). However in comparison the Chromecast is at a loss because of its limited features and its low capabilities.

Operating System

The Fire TV Stick comes loaded with Amazon’s own (Android based) operating system called “Fire OS”. It gives you full access to Amazon’s app store, enabling the stick to download various different games, movies and music. Also because Fire OS is Android based it gives users a chance to side-load apps from other sources onto the device, however this process is a bit tricky – something we can come back to a little later.

Device Specs

Considering the device is only $39 the Fire TV Stick comes with some pretty impressive specs. – Who would have thought huh?

  • Processor: Broadcom Capri 28155, dual-core 2xARM A9 up to 1 Ghz
  • GPU: VideoCore4
  • Storage: 8 GB internal
  • Memory: 1 GB
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO); supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks.
  • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0 with support for the following profiles: HID, SPP
  • 1080p video streaming
  • 7.1 Dolby Digital surround sound
Setting The Device Up

Setting the device up is pretty straight forward, the Fire OS is user friendly and does a great job at guiding the user through the process. A brief break down for people wondering is simply plugging the device into an empty HDMI slot in the back (or side) of your TV and powering it on. You will then be asked to connect the device to your home wireless (WiFi) network so it can access the internet.

If you purchased the device directly from Amazon they will preload it with your account details so you can straight away login. If you purchased the device from a third-party retailer then you will have to create an Amazon account and login for yourself.  – After you’re done you can simply start downloading apps and using the device as you wish.

Video Streaming

There are so many options when it comes to streaming video to the device [I mean isn’t this what you purchased the stick for in the first place?]. The Amazon app store offers all the regular legal streaming apps which you can download:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Crackle
  • YouTube
  • HBO GO
  • Fox Sports GO
  • Twitch

and many more…

Unfortunately one of the biggest cons about the Fire TV Stick is that it doesn’t support USB devices or removable storage so you wont be able to watch movies directly unless you share them to your network or download them to the device locally. However this shouldn’t be too much of an issue because any modern TV with HDMI capabilities these days should have its own USB slot for watching movies directly. You have to keep in mind that the Fire TV Stick has a primary use of streaming video and not watching video locally.

If you do want to stream video over your local network you can download and setup a media server, the best software for doing such a thing would be Plex. A brief overview of what Plex does is, it installs on your main PC where you will be able to then select a folder of movies to share across your network. The Fire TV Stick will pick this up and download the cover art allowing you to stream them to the device. This plays a big part for those wanting to setup a media center. There are tonnes of tutorials around the web for setting Plex up on a Fire TV Stick, even a quick search on YouTube will pull up hundreds of users friendly tutorials – Maybe I’ll even make one eventually.

Kodi (XBMC)

Now for the part I’m sure all of you have been waiting for – Can you install Kodi on your Fire TV Stick, the answer is Yes you can! However its not as straight forward as you would have hoped. Kodi isn’t officially supported by Amazon because of all its features, capabilities and Add-ons we all know and love. I mentioned above about “sideloading” apps onto your device, this is what you’ll have to do to get Kodi up and running. This can be done using the “Fire Installer” app found on the Google Play Store. – Once again this is a total process and drifts away from the main review. There are hundreds of tutorials out there showing you how to install Kodi on a Fire TV Stick so let the internet be guide. – I probably will end up making Fire TV Stick tutorials myself soon enough regardless.

Once you have Kodi up and running on your device you are then able to install all your favorite add-ons that you would use on your PC/Mac to stream directly to your TV which is a massive convenience. Could you imagine having Plexus (Acestream), Genesis, SportsDevil and other video streaming add-ons up on the big screen without the hassle of connecting your laptop via HDMI? Or using Operation Robocop Ultimate to watch Premier League matches in HD for free with the pass they offer?

Conclusion

So yes, in conclusion the Amazon Fire TV Stick can be used as the ultimate media streaming device at only $39. The core OS being build off Android gives the device freedom and a tonne of flexibility to do more than other devices such as Google Chomecast and Apple TV (which is double the price). I recommend you pick one up if you’re looking for a cheap, and arguably powerful device to stream your media to the big screen.

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