If you’re looking to cut the cord, there’s no easier way to do it than with Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, or Fire TV Cube. Whether you’re looking to get into live TV streaming with Sling TV, want to add premium channels like HBO or ESPN, or want to stream Hulu or Netflix, Amazon Fire Stick makes it easy.
Here’s everything you need to know before getting started, including what is an Amazon Fire Stick, how much it costs, and how it works.
What is Amazon Fire Stick?
The Amazon Fire Stick is part of Amazon’s Fire TV brand, launched in 2014 with the Fire TV. It is part a series of digital media players that allow you to stream video content to your television via your internet connection. Imagine a DVD player you never had to load and that regularly updates with new content.
Fire currently comes in three different models, including the Amazon Fire Stick, but each one has a couple of key things in common. Each device can access over 15,000 apps and games, including Disney Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime (obviously), Hulu, HBO Now, YouTube, ESPN, and more.
Looking to cut the cord but still watch traditional TV? Fire TV supports live sports and TV programming through services like Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV. Whether you’re looking for the best in on-demand streaming or a replacement for your cable package, Amazon Fire TV has the options you need.
How does Amazon Fire TV work?
Each Amazon Fire Stick product requires an internet connection, which you connect to via Wi-Fi or, in the case of the Amazon Fire TV, an Ethernet cable. The device connects to your TV through its HDMI ports. Once activated, it will walk you through the setup process, logging into your pre-existing services and connecting to your Amazon account.
Any digital video or music you’ve purchased through Amazon will automatically be available to use when you’ve logged on. Also, photos you’ve uploaded to your Amazon Cloud Drive will be available for viewing. During set up you’ll have the opportunity to download your most-used apps and log in. You can always add to services at a later day.
Every Amazon Fire Stick comes with a Bluetooth remote, so you’ll always be able to control your TV even if you’re not in the line of sight. Fire TV’s remote has Alexa Voice built-in, meaning you can launch content simply by saying “Play Game of Thrones” or “Launch Hulu.” You can even order a pizza if you ask. The possibilities are endless. (Here’s our complete guide on how to use Alexa, which includes Alexa’s Flash Briefings for news updates as well as how to manage your smart home products, calendar, and to-do lists.)
For those who struggle to navigate menus, the Alexa remote is something of a godsend. You just have to press the microphone button and start talking. If you insist on using the remote, you’ll be happy to find it’s simple and clutter-free, with clear buttons that make navigating through menus easy. They even include a volume button.
Each model can log into hotel Wi-Fi connections, even if they require you to sign into a unique website. For travelers who want a portable solution to keep up with their favorite shows, it’s a valuable feature.
If you get bored with the standard apps available in the Fire app store, you can even download the infamous Kodi media player. It takes a little bit of work, but it’s possible to download Kodi on Amazon Fire.
How much does Amazon Fire TV cost?
Amazon Fire Stick
The Fire TV Stick is Amazon’s basic model, serving up 1080p HD streaming in a tiny HDMI stick about the size of your standard USB flash drive. Costing just $39.99 and coming with Alexa Voice remote, the Fire Stick is a remarkable bargain. You get access to all of the same apps and channels as the Stick’s more expensive cousin, Fire TV Stick 4K. But there are a few downsides.
First off, if you have a 4K television set, you’ll still only be able to stream 1080p content. Secondly, the Fire Stick only has 8 GB of internal storage and 1 GB of memory. That will limit how much downloadable content and apps you can store on the device without streaming, and it hampers your ability to play some of the more graphically intense games offered in the app store.
And finally, to play games, you’ll need a controller, as the standard remote is not compatible with most titles. Amazon offers its own Bluetooth controller, and the device is compatible with most major third-party Bluetooth game controllers, including the PS4’s DualShock 4 if you already have one of those.
Amazon Fire Stick 4K
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K is a top of the line up 4K streaming experience in a budget package. This $49.99 wonder has all the features of the standard Fire TV Stick, with a few important excpetions. The Fire TV Stick 4K supports Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HLG, and HDR10+, delivering the richest colors and darkest blacks from your Ultra HD content. This device also has Dolby Atmos sound for the most life like experience your sound system can deliver.
Fire TV Stick 4K also comes with faster wi-fi connectivity than its older sibling. While the Fire TV Stick only supports dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi 2×2 MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, the Fire TV Stick 4K offers dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for a richer experience with shorter load times than standard Wi-Fi. It also supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks. This model also supports Bluetooth 5.0.
With a maximum output resolution of 2160p and support for up to 60 frames per second, Fire TV Stick delivers crystal clear Ultra HD at a budget price. Add a voice-activated Alexa remote, that can connect to your TV to control your shows and volume from one remote, and Fire TV Stick 4K is the Amazon product to beat.
Fire TV Cube
If you need to have the highest quality picture and sound for your daily viewing, Fire TV is your best option. The basics are still the same, including access to all of the same apps and channels found on the Fire TV Stick 4K. But you also get some extra features for your $119.99.
Fire TV comes with the ability to output 4K video, 2 GB of memory, 16 GB of internal storage, and a MicroSD slot to store your videos, apps, and games. Also, Fire TV has an Ethernet port that allows you connect it directly to your modem and a USB port to connect an external storage device for streaming your existing music and video content off of a hard drive. When you’re streaming off the internet Fire TV Cube has you covered with its powerful dual-band, dual-antenna with support for Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks.
The extra 2 GB of memory and its Quad-core (at up to 2.2GHz) processer comes in handy when you want to play the more advanced games offered in Amazon’s app store. Titles like Shovel Knight and Ducktails HD have made the journey from consoles, along with Lego Star Wars, Telltale Game’s The Walking Dead, and racing games like Drift Mania. Fire TV doesn’t come close to rivaling the power of the Xbox One or PS4. However, it’s also several hundred dollars less expensive. Once again, you will need a separate Bluetooth controller to play games.
The Fire TV Cube also has a built-in microphone and speaker, allowing it to work as an Alexa home hub. Control your smart devices, pull up your favorite show or music without your remote, or even call a friend. Of course if you’re privacy-minded, this might be a deal-breaker. After all, not everyone wants an always online microphone in their home. While the Fire TV Cube is pricey, its mix of power and features make it a great choice for streamers looking to build a smarthome media center.
How much does it cost to use Amazon Fire Stick TV per month?
There are no monthly fees associated with either the Amazon Fire Stick or Fire TV. All you need to buy is the device itself and you’re good to go. Where things can get expensive is when you start adding various channels (like HBO) or subscription services like Netflix. Your Amazon Prime subscription, which costs $119 per year and comes with a host of benefits, is a separate expense.
In other words, Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV give you a way to stream your favorite content. But you’ll still have to pay for subscriptions and other costs associated with the services you want to access using your Amazon Fire Stick.
Best channels on Amazon Fire Stick
There are countless free channels and apps available via Amazon Fire Stick and Amazon Fire TV, but many of them require additional subscriptions. Here our five favorites. If you’d like to explore further you can find the best of the rest here.
Whether you choose Hulu with Limited Commercials, upgrade for Hulu with No Commercials, or sign up for the Disney+/Hulu/Espn+ bundle, all options offer a wealth of great movies, shows, documentaries, anime, and the must-see Hulu originals. Hulu with Live TV is also a popular way of watching live TV online.
This free service allows you to watch a fun list of movies and TV shows that rotate monthly, but you’ll have to sit through some ads.
Live TV streaming on Amazon Fire TV
With it’s affordable, flexible pricing starting at $30 per month, Sling TV has set itself apart from the pack in the streaming TV wars. While everyone else races to cost as much as cable used to, Sling TV remains an affordable and feature-packed service.
While its recent price hike to $64.99 has made it one of the most expensive streaming TV services YouTube TV still has plenty of value to offer. With 85+ major channels, including ESPN, Comedy Central, and the big three news networks, YouTube TV has all your favorites waiting. Add to that unlimited cloud-DVR for up to six users and it’s a tempting package for big TV-loving families.
Sitting between Sling TV and YouTube TV in the price wars is Hulu Live TV. This $54.99 per month package delivers 60+ channels, including the big three news networks, Bravo, ESPN, and more. Subscribers also get access to the basic streaming Hulu package, giving Hulu the largest on-demand library of any streaming TV service.
How Amazon Fire Stick and Fire TV stack up against the competition?
At $40, Amazon Fire TV Stick costs exactly as much as Roku’s $39.99 Roku Premiere. On paper that’s not a problem, but Roku Premiere has a hidden trick; 4K for the same price as Amazon’s limited to HD Fire TV Stick. Roku currently offers more streaming channels than Amazon, 30,000 to Amazon’s 15,000, but how much mileage you will get out of those channels depends. A large chunk of them are are niche channels focused at genre movies. Users looking for a more organized user experience will enjoy how easy Fire Stick is. One important thing to consider is voice remotes. If you want a voice remote with Roku you’ll need to cough up for the $49.99 Roku Streaming Stick+, the same price as the Fire TV 4K. This is a close call. If money is tight, get the Roku Premiere, otherwise, give the Fire TV Stick 4K a serious look.
At $29.99, Chromecast is among the cheapest streaming options on the market, but it lacks important features like a remote or the ability to work if your phone is dead. For just $10 more, you can get the Amazon Fire Stick and a voice remote. At the risk of sounding harsh, the Chromecast is an awful system to buy right now. Its highly niche functionality make it deal for a handful of people, but basically useless for your average user. We still commend Google for a creative product, but when you just want to stream TV Chromecast is an unwieldy pain. Even on the tightest budget, go with the Fire TV Stick over Chromecast.
Fire Stick vs. Apple TV
Apple TV’s cheapest model will set you back $149, and it doesn’t even offer you the ability to play video in 4K. Getting the 4K model starts at $170 for a 32GB version and tops out at $199 for the 64GB edition. Unless you’ve already invested lots of money into your iTunes movie collection and simply must have an app that can stream it, Apple TV is simply too expensive to compete with Amazon Fire TV or Roku’s collection.
Amazon Fire TV is Amazon’s line of digital media player consoles, which cover whatever your streaming needs may be. Not only are these devices one of the easiest ways to stream Amazon’s massive Prime Video library, but it hosts a large number of channel apps including Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Now, Crackle, Showtime, YouTube, iHeartRadio, and many more. Fire TV comes with an easy-to-use remote complete with voice commands. It’s a great first-time cord-cutter’s must-have.
Streaming Device Guides
Live TV Service Guides
Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. The Daily Dot may receive a payment in connection with purchases of products or services featured in this article. Click here to learn more.