The Amazon Fire Stick is like a mini set-top box. It plugs directly into a socket on the back of your TV, so it takes up no space and it doesn’t require trailing cables. For everything you need to know about the gadget (and how to set up Fire Stick) before committing to buying one, read this beginner’s guide.
What is an Amazon Fire Stick?
The Amazon Fire Stick is a TV decoder. TV signals travel in a digital format and so can easily be encoded both to block unauthorized access and to speed up transmissions through compression. Anyone who has cable or satellite TV is familiar with the set-top box. The Amazon Fire TV system started out as a box but then Amazon worked out how to reduce the hardware of the streaming device down to just a small device that looks a bit like a thumb drive. This format has been widely used before to provide mobile internet for laptop computers some software and IT security systems also use dongles, so the gadget’s shape and appearance is not new. Your home or car stereo system probably has a socket for a USB stick. The Amazon Fire TV Stick is the same thing, but for TVs. Rather than storing files, this device is a little computer that interprets encoded digital TV signals so that they can become TV shows on the screen.
Amazon Firestick or Amazon Fire Stick?
The Amazon Firestick has many names. It is officially called the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It is a miniaturized advancement on the original Amazon Fire TV box. No one else makes a Fire TV dongle, so many people drop the Amazon and just call it the Fire TV stick or sometimes it is written as Fire-TV stick. Well, there isn’t a stick version of any other Amazon Fire product, so it is just as easy to drop the “TV” and so it is also known as the Fire Stick. Over time, writers have tended to remove the space and just call it Firestick. So, Firestick, Fire Stick, Fire TV Stick, Fire-TV Stick, Amazon Firestick, and Amazon Fire Stick are all the same thing. They are all ways to describe the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Why Fire? Fire OS is an operating system that Amazon created for its mobile devices, such as the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, the Amazon Fire tablet and the now-defunct Amazon Fire Phone. Fire OS is a proprietary adaptation of the Android operating system, which was created by Google. There are many Android TV boxes on the market. These are set-top boxes that use Android for an operating system. As Fire OS is a version of Android and the Firestick is a TV decoder, it could be said that the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a type of Android TV box.
Beginner’s guide to streaming devices
TV set-top boxes have evolved over the years. They were first used by cable TV companies as part of an encryption system that prevented people from just plugging the cable for the service into the TV and getting entertainment without paying for it. Another use for a set-top box is as a base-station for a remote control device. The set-top box interprets the commands that come in from the remote control and implements them on the TV.
How does Amazon Fire Stick work?
Once the internet started to be popular, entertainment distributors realized that this medium could carry digitized TV signals, making everyone’s telephone service into pre-laid cable TV wires. However, these services still needed a set-top box to convert the signals from the internet connection into the input format that TVs understand. This is how IPTV boxes came about. This includes Apple TV boxes and Android boxes. The Amazon Fire TV box became part of this trend and it eventually got boiled down into a dongle. Newer versions of the Amazon Fire TV Stick have the voice-controlled Alex integrated into them and that removes the need to use a remote control unit. Chromecast is an alternative method to get input from online streaming services, such as Netflix, HBO Go, Amazon Prime, or live TV from station websites onto your TV screen.
Does Fire Stick have a guide?
There are a few different versions of the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Amazon does produce an official Amazon Fire TV Stick User Guide for each. Here is a list of links to the help guides for each type of Fire Stick. These links each lead to a PDF file.
Where do I buy an Amazon Fire Stick?
Amazon has a world-leading product sales platform, so that is the obvious first port of call when looking for a new Amazon Fire TV Stick. Unsurprisingly, these streaming devices are among Amazon’s best sellers in the United States and around the world. Check out the big discount deals that the site offers. Before you Buy Now with 1-click, shop around because Amazon also distributes its devices through all of the consumer electronics retailers both online and real-world. Check out Best Buy, Target, and Staples in the USA and Canada and Currys, Argos, and Tesco in the UK. Added to that, it is also possible to buy secondhand Amazon Fire TV devices in places such as eBay.
How to set up the Amazon Fire Stick
To master your Amazon Fire Stick, you first need to get it working. Here is a step-by-step guide to an Amazon Fire Stick setup.
Plug the power cable into the Amazon Fire Stick. The slot for this cable is on the side of the Fire Stick. Stick the small socket of the power cable into it. You have two options for where to get a power source. The other end of the power cord is a full-size USB connector. If your TV has a USB socket, you can plug it into that or you can plug it into the power plug that comes with the Amazon Fire Stick and plug that into an electric socket near the TV. Amazon recommends that you use the power socket rather than a USB port on the TV.
Stick the plug the protrudes from one end of the Amazon Fire Stick into an HDMI port on the back or the side of your TV. This is how to connect Amazon Fire Stick to TV sets – there is no other way. Some people struggle to find the right socket. However, don’t give up because there is no other way to connect your Fire TV Stick to your TV. An HDMI port looks like a USB socket, but the top corners are slanted off.
Put two AAA batteries into the Amazon Fire TV Stick’s remote control unit. Both the unit and the batteries are in the box with the Amazon Fire Stick. The back of the control unit slides up to reveal the battery box.
Make sure your TV is plugged in. Turn it on. Use the remote control of your TV to get to the Source options. Select the HDMI port that you plugged the Amazon Fire Stick into. If you chose the right one, the logo for the Fire TV Stick will appear on the screen.
Wait for the Amazon Fire TV Stick to boot up. You will be prompted to pair your remote control unit with the Amazon Fire Stick. The TV will show a message that the Fire Stick is searching for a nearby remote. Press the Home button on the remote. This has an icon of a little house on it. The TV display will change back to the Fire Stick logo once pairing has completed successfully.
Wait for the display on the TV to settle down. It is not unusual for the software to go through an update procedure after pairing with the remote. You can’t speed that up; just let it complete. The display will tell you to press the play button on the remote. Do that.
Select your preferred language from the presented options. Use the top and bottom edges of the navigation dial at the top of the remote to move between options. Press the center of the circle when you arrive at the right language option.
If you chose to plug the power cord into the TV, you will probably get a warning message that the power source is no good. If this worries you, switch to the electric socket option instead. However, many people have no problems when using the TV USB port as a power source. Dismiss the message by clicking on the big round select button on the remote if you are happy to continue as is.
Connect the Fire Stick to your home wifi network. The system will detect your wifi box and display it as an option on the TV screen. Press the select button on the remote and enter the wifi password into the screen. Navigate to the Connect button on the screen and press the select button on the remote.
The Amazon Fire Stick will register your home network to your Amazon Fire account. The account should be generated automatically and associated with the Fire Stick before it is shipped. If you bought the Fire Stick secondhand, you should opt to create Amazon account for Fire Stick through the Change Account button in this screen. Once these steps have been completed, the Amazon Fire Stick will check your connection speed and then show you a cartoon on how to use the system.
Choose whether to enable parental controls. The Amazon Fire Stick will then explain to you about Alexa if it is part of the Fire Stick version that you chose. Dismiss this screen to get to the home screen of the Fire Stick.
How to watch free movies on Fire Stick
Be very careful about channels that promise you all of the latest movies for free. They are probably illegal and could get you into trouble. However, you can watch the main terrestrial channels through your Amazon Fire TV stick and those video streaming services regularly include movies in the schedule.
Best free movie apps for Fire Stick
In the USA, check out Tubi TV — this is not available in Europe. Another good option for free movies is Vudu but not all content on that app is free.
Best TV app for Fire Stick
Check out the TV Player App. USTVNow, UKTV, and LiveNetTV. All of these can be accessed through the app screen of your Fire Stick menu.