Hi All, this is Aswin from TechieDrone. After quite some time, I have published this article. I thought that this would be useful to many. This post will be a review of the “Amazon Fire stick”.
Amazon Fire Stick – Explained
So what is a Fire Stick? The Amazon Fire Stick is an internet streaming device. From the Internet’s perspective, streaming is generally a gadget or software that “Streams” or transmits the data in a consistent manner i.e Data is transmitted in a continuous and coherent manner to a particular device.
The major advantage of these streaming devices is that, it can convert a supposedly “dumb” TV into a Smart TV in a relatively inexpensive way. After all, expensive smart TV’s from big players like Samsung, LG and Sony don’t exactly do much more. They just have a custom UI (User Interface) that adapts as per the shows you watch and they stream various content from the net. I too have converted my Sony Bravia 26-inch TV that is almost 7 years old into a Smart TV by using the Fire Stick.
The two things you need to make sure are as follows
- Your TV should have a HDMI port. The Fire Stick works by plugging into the HDMI port. If you have flat screen TV from the past 5 or 7 years, it will most probably have a HDMI port. Just check for it once
- The another major requirement is a High-speed Internet connection with Wi-Fi capability. For Standard Definition(SD) content, 2 MBps speed is required. For High Definition(HD) content, anything above 4 MBps would be ideal. These speed limits are not necessary but it is highly recommended for viewing without any interruptions.
One great point to mention is that, when you purchase your Fire Stick from Amazon, the serial number for that product is registered to the Amazon account from which you are purchasing. So that when you initially set it up, it will mention your name for the account verification. You just need to enter the Amazon password to get started. The on-screen instructions are easy to follow.
The Fire Stick is fully controlled by the included Bluetooth Remote (batteries included). Since it is a Bluetooth remote, it need not maintain a direct sight contact with the Fire Stick. You can even plug the device at the back of the TV and you are good to go. There is also a Control remote app for both Android and Apple devices in their respective app stores. It works just as well as the physical remote.
So we get to the important part. How does the device perform? To sum it up, it is pretty impressive to say the least. When you turn on the Fire Stick, you are greeted to the home interface. It displays the apps and the content you might be interested, arranged neatly in the form of colourful tiles. It has various Tab’s in the top area. Once you start to use it, you will get the hang of it.
To get the most out of Fire Stick, I would strongly recommend to get the Amazon prime membership. It costs Rs.999 per year. Compared to other regions, this is much cheaper. For example in US, it costs about $99 (~ Rs.6500). If you opt for the prime membership, you also get other benefits like free 1 or 2 day delivery when you shop from Amazon, unlimited music streaming in Amazon music app and also access to premium content in Amazon prime video app. In short, when you compare to other services, this is a real bargain. Since the Fire Stick is based on Android platform, it is blessed with Android’s flexibility. You can sideload or externally install apps from other sources. For example you can install a File explorer app and that will work just fine.
The Fire Stick can stream content upto 1080p in quality. It doesn’t support 4K resolution. As for sound, you get Dolby audio which results in crisp and dynamic sound quality. The quality of the content that is streamed is smooth without any stutters or other interruptions, provided you have a high speed internet connection. You can even use the Youtube bookmark to watch your favourite videos in Youtube. All in all, a very good experience.
You are not just limited to Amazon prime videos. You can download Hotstar, Sun NXT, Hungama, Voot, Netflix, NDTV and many others to get the content that suits you the best. Some services may require subscription and some are totally free. It depends upon the content providers. It goes without saying that you have a lot of variety to choose from.
The Bluetooth remote has an integrated voice search button. Like the Google Assistant for Android and Siri for iOS, Amazon has “Alexa” as its voice assistant. You just long press the voice search button and speak the required name of the movie or show, and the voice assistant identifies it. It is better to keep the remote near to you when you speak to it. Since the remote has a microphone integrated at the top portion, it becomes easier to pick up your voice when it is near you. It works fine for the most part.
Besides streaming content, it also has some neat little tricks up its sleeve. For starters, it can also mirror the smartphone screen. This means that whatever you do on your phone, is replicated on the larger screen of the TV. To do this, you need to connect your phone to the same Wi-Fi network. Then you need to activate it in settings. Different phones have different names. It may be named as “Miracast”, “Screen cast” or “Screen mirroring”. You can look up in the net if you are unable to find it. The experience is mostly palatable. There are some frame drops here and there, sync is slightly delayed and some random glitches but for the most part, it is fine. Another option is that you can connect any Bluetooth headset to listen without disturbing others. This works perfectly and the sound quality is great.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is currently priced at Rs.3999. So the question is whether to buy it or not? Well, the price may seem a bit steep for some. But consider this before judging. Rival devices like Google’s Chromecast is priced comparitively cheaper at Rs.3300. But do remember that it is totally dependent on your phone and you always need it to control the device. Also there are no dedicated streaming apps like Amazon Fire TV stick (Atleast upto my knowledge). You just stream the content from your phone to the TV and there is nothing more to it. Now when you consider the Fire TV Stick, you get a multitude of services included in the package. You get Free 1 or 2 day delivery from Amazon, Unlimited Music streaming from Amazon Music (For Google Play Music streaming, you need to pay separately for each month), a variety of shows in Amazon Prime Video and a lot more flexibilty.
For me, the Fire TV Stick has really been a game changer. When weighing various options, I consider it to be a real bargain. So it gets a huge thumbs up from me. See you all later with another interesting post!!