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Amazon Fire Stick Review: Alexa Helps Cut the Cord

I used to say that the Amazon Fire TV Stick was the cheapest way to stream video to your TV and cut the cord. With the addition of Alexa to the latest fire stick, it is now the cheapest way to have yourself a digital assistant.

With the Echo costing $179.99, a fire stick will give you the same function for just $39.99. You can play music, order a pizza, and play guessing games at one-third of the price. Granted, you have to press a button on the remote where the Echo will automatically respond when you say “Alexa.”

Furthermore, the Fire Stick is also an easy way to install the popular media center KODI. By the way, that’s exactly what people are installing when they say they can “jailbreak a Fire Stick.” However, all this functionality is secondary to the Fire Sticks primary purpose . . . streaming.

Setting Up Amazon Fire TV Stick

The Fire Stick plugs into the HDMI port on your television. Then, simply attach the included power adapter to your Fire Stick to provide power to the device. The Fire TV Stick comes with an HDMI extender dongle in case the Fire Stick juts out of your TV at an odd angle. From there, stick the included AAA batteries into the remote. Once the Fire Stick automatically pairs with the remote, follow the following steps.

  • The Fire Stick should locate a list of WiFi networks. Chose yours and enter the password.
  • The Fire Stick will then install any updates
  • Next, supply your Amazon account login information. If you purchased the device through Amazon, this is already configured.
  • A Short tutorial should begin. After that, you are free to use your Fire Stick

Fire Stick Features

Amazon offers a ton of apps. HBO Now, Showtime, Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Amazon Instant Video, and more install through the Amazon App Store. Check out the device on Amazon to get a sense of all the available apps. There are over 7000 apps and games available.

As previously mentioned, Alexa provides voice control for the app. Simply press the microphone button on the remote and say “Find The Walking Dead” and Alexa will search for the title on apps like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Amazon Video. While an Amazon Prime isn’t required to use the Fire Stick, it adds a ton of content. Check out my post on the benefits of Amazon Prime for more information.

You can also ask Alexa to play songs or music from an artist. Alexa will then look through your available music services. Amazon Fire Stick works with Spotify, Pandora, Vevo, and of course Amazon Prime Music. For example, just say, “Play “Where is My Mind” by “Pixies” and if it’s available it will play on your TV.

Alexa will also accept voice commands like “play next episode”, “Launch an app”, and more.

Amazon Fire TV Stick Specs

  • Size –  3.4″ x 1.2″ x 0.5″ (85.9 mm x 30.0 mm x 12.6 mm)
  • Weight  – 1.1 oz. (32.0 g)
  • Processor –  MediaTek Quad-core ARM 1.3 GHz
  • GPU – Mali450 MP4
  • Storage  – 8 GB internal
  • Memory – 1 GB
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity – Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi supports 2×2 MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Bluetooth – Bluetooth 4.1
  • Voice Support –  Yes, with Alexa Voice Remote (included) or free Fire TV Remote App (available for download on Fire, Android, and iOS)
  • Game Controller Support –  Yes, optimized for Amazon Fire TV Game Controller and most games are compatible with other Bluetooth controllers
  • Cloud Storage – Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
  • Ports – HDMI output, Micro USB (for power only)
  • Audio Support – Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1
  • Supported Video: H.264 1080p30H.265 1080p30,
  • Audio:  AAC-LC, HE-AACv1 (AAC+), HE-AACv2 (eAAC+), AC3 (Dolby Digital), eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MIDI, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, AMR-NB, AMR-WB
  • Supported Photo Type: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
  • Output Resolution Supported:  720p and 1080p up to 60fps

Bottom Line

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a great device to cut the cord on the cheap. The addition of Alexa makes it a great value option. There is a lot here for only $39.99.

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