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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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Categories: TV Streaming Devices
Dennis Restauro :Dennis is the founder of Grounded Reason. He also hosts the Grounded Reason Podcast. Follow him on Twitter: Follow Dennis on Twitter

View Comments (18)

  • Hi Dennis, can you tell me how the Fire Stick compares with the Roku? If I already have a roku is there any reason to get a fire stick?

    • Not really. If you are happy with the device you have I wouldn't change.

  • Hi Dennis, I'm kind of new to this new tech stuff. I am trying very hard to understand " cut the cord" I have direct tv as we live in three different places., Home, Florida, and a campsite in Ohio that has no internet. I'm not sure if I can use the direct tv now as I do not have AT&T for a cell. It does not work in all of the areas we need. I have been so lost since VHS disappeared. I miss programs that i really wanted to see and it is frustrating. DVR was not a solution as far as I could understand. I am looking for someway to see the programs I missed but am not sure which works. The amazon one I believe you have to be a prime member plus pay for the use of the stick and Alexa. That sounds like a lot and I am on limited funds. This is the first place I have found with info that I could partially understand. I would appreciate any help. Thank you , Anna

    • The stick is a 1 time cost of $40. If you have internet in 2 of the three locations you can watch Direct TV now. However, it's going to be cost prohibitive to stream at the campsite. I recommend checking out this guide to cable TV alternatives to gain a better understanding of cord cutting.

  • if my fire stick remote will not work, is there any other device i can use?

  • What is the difference of purchasing a Fire Stick vs. Apple TV. Can you still stream DirectTV Now on AppleTV?

    • It really comes down to preference. If you already have a lot of Apple products you may want to go with Apple TV. Otherwise I'd go with the Fire TV. While Apple TV has a slightly better UI and feel, Amazon Fire TV is the better value. Both support DirecTV Now.

  • Hey Dennis , we purchased the new fire stick with Alexa voice remote. We cannot get the sound form tv or the surround sound to work . It worked with the older fire stick , it's works with Bluetooth speaker . Can you give us some advice ?
    Thank you .

  • Dennis,
    I am also new to this. We just got a fire stick. My husband wants to watch velocity and noted that it would not let him use the app because we have dish (it asks for cable provider) and is not supported. I don't understand why you have to have anything other than an internet provider. We want to get rid of dish and only use streaming device. Can we do this? And, what is the problem with some apps?

  • Hello. I appreciate all the information that you have provided on your pages. However, it is A LOT of info. Lol

    My home is an age range of 20-50 and the occasional 13 year old. Our taste range from Anime, TCM, Sanford and Son, spongebob, sports, Animal Planet NatGeo etc.

    Everything seems to overlap so I'm confused as to what service goes with what device. I may be leading towards Direct TV Now and getting a Fire Stick. Does that sound right or is it redundant? What is your hypothetical recommendation?

    By the way...I don't even have the Internet yet. I know I want it to be fast and stable. I don't want to overpay for it either. So what do you suggest....hypothetically?

    • I think 25-50 Mbps is perfect for most to cut the cord. Some can even get away with 10 Mbps if they are only streaming to 1 TV. I think DirecTV Now is a solid product. Did you check out my review of DirecTV Now? If you are looking for a good service in your area, check out my page on stand alone internet plans.

  • Sound great i trying get a handle on all info.I have tmobile is there speed good enough or will i need some to boost the sigle.Thanks Don

    • I'd check with T-Mobile. Sometimes if you use their service with a streaming device it counts against your monthly tethering allowance.

  • Sound great i trying get a handle on all info.I have tmobile is there speed good enough or will i need some to boost the sigle.Thanks Don

    • I'd check with T-Mobile. Sometimes if you use their service with a streaming device it counts against your monthly tethering allowance.