The sheer number of choices in brands and models can be daunting. After a lot of research and personal testing of many devices, I am going to explain why the new Amazon Fire TV Stick is a very good option and not just another streaming device, but in fact one that I would urge you to seriously consider.
App selection – 9/10
The Amazon Fire TV Stick offers many apps, including the most-often used services like Hulu and Netflix, but also offers hundreds more. Do you have Amazon prime as well? Well the Stick works perfectly with Prime, giving you access to lots of shows and movies. So far I have not had any issues finding an app that I needed.
Wifi and Ethernet – 8/10
I have personally designed and installed a Luxul network at my home which makes a great test bed for many Internet-connected devices. I have used Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV Stick on my network and have been very impressed with the Wi-Fi streaming (HD only) on my two Amazon Fire TV Sticks, even when using both them at the same time. It was smart of Amazon to design the Stick to use dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity. I have yet to see any loss in frame rate or failure to play videos. However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that an Ethernet port be included on the Stick, as I prefer to hardwire whenever I can. However, if you opt for the slightly more expensive Fire TV it does in fact have an Ethernet port and 4K streaming, but it is a bit bigger and harder to hide behind your TV. That can be a big issue for some (like me), but if you have the extra space and cash, go for it!
Value – 8/10
The streaming market is already quite saturated with devices and on top of that, a lot of new HDTVs have it built in. So value has become somewhat important when considering peripherals. The regular cost of a Fire stick was $49.99, but at this writing, it’s only $39.99. The regular cost of the Fire TV is $89.99, but is often on sale for $10-15 less. Compared to others like the Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV, I feel the Fire Stick is priced just right. However, the Chromecast is cheaper and with the Amazon Fire TV Stick often on sale, I am giving it an 8/10.
Control – 10/10
There is no IR or RF control to be found on the Amazon Fire TVs and I am actually loving it. As an AV integrator, why would I love that? After using the Fire Stick remote for months now and not ever having it miss a button press once, IR/RF remotes seem like a sending a telegram by comparison. You can also control the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick via smartphone app, which I found works quite well. I was even able to successfully integrate my Fire TV Sticks with Control4 over IP. However, I often use the remote, because it just works so well, almost too well! No delays or battery issues so far. As if the remote couldn’t get any better, you can use a watered down version of Amazon Alexa with the Fire TV remotes to help you find TV shows or even show you the weather. That’s just plain awesome…
Over the past three years, I’ve had four (yes four) Apple TVs fail on me and many, many hard resets to get them to work again. No issues with my Fire TV Sticks though, never even had to do a reset. But I’m only at 6 months with my Fire Sticks, so time will tell.
Overall, the Amazon Fire TV Stick just works when you want it to and in the unlikely event it doesn’t, there’s Amazon’s excellent customer service to back you up. Wi-Fi image quality was better than I had expected with HD-only streaming. Price-wise, it could be a bit cheaper, maybe even free with an Amazon Prime account, that would be nice! But it’s definitely not the most expensive streaming device out there. If you want 4K streaming remember that you will need the Fire TV (not the Stick) and make sure you have access to Ethernet where you plan to install it. If you aren’t using 4K just yet, you can get away with the Fire TV Stick at this point and get a really good value and tons of content for just $40 (I did!). Don’t forget, you also get a unique version of Amazon’s Alexa, that is a bit watered down, but it can use your TV to deliver information like weather forecasts. Overall I give the Fire TV and more specifically the Amazon Fire TV Stick a solid 8.8/10.