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Courtesy of the good people at www.broadbandchoices.co.uk, Advanced-Television has taken the Amazon Fire TV Stick for a test drive.
Amazon are very proud of their Fire TV Stick, with press releases aplenty constantly reminding those who value sales numbers that the device is one of the retails giant’s best selling products ever. And in truth, they fully deserve to be a little smug about it, because it is indeed a rather splendid device. And the Kodi compatibility certainly hasn’t hampered sales, but we shouldn’t talk about that…
The Fire TV Stick is tiny, about the same size as your average USB memory stick, and can thus be hidden behind a TV set (in the HDMI port) with ease – and its size also lends to it being wonderfully portable. But heed note that, unlike a USB stick, the Fire TV Stick needs to be connected to electricity at all times. It is essentially as STB after all. Thankfully a short extension cord is included if your TV (or other desired viewing device) is positioned awkwardly from a power supply. The device boasts a dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and 8GB of internal storage. That’s twice the memory and four times the storage than that of Google’s Chromecast, stats fans.
The remote is almost as small as the device. A small array of buttons (seven) ensures even the most discombobulated of tech users won’t feel out of depth. and each button press is accompanied by a reassuring click.
Set-up is very simple indeed. Like all good software, you feel as if you know how to use it already (I feel like I might be paraphrasing an old Apple slogan there). All users need to do is enter their WiFi password, using a simple on-screen prompt. There’s thankfully no need to go hunting for obscure settings or toggle any sort of compatibility settings. The device also features a dual-band Wi-Fi antenna which should ensure a stable and reliable connection. After a short introductory video (which I admittedly skipped after about 40 seconds) everything is ready to go.
The interface really is a piece of cake to navigate. A list on the left allows the user to select Movies, TV Shows, Apps, Music or Photos. The music tab allows users to play anything users have purchased from the Amazon mp3 store, whilst similarly the Photos tab allows you to view any images uploaded to Amazon Cloud drive. The rest of the home screen is given away to displaying recently added content.
But, of course, content is king – and what folk really want to know is this: How much content does the Fire TV Stick offer? Happily, an abundance.
The built-in App Store has literally hundreds of Apps that can be downloaded directly. Of course, the device seeks to point you in the direction of content available via Amazon – but there are plenty of decent freebies (although admittedly ones that you’d fully expect) such as iPlayer and YouTube. There are also a plethora of content Apps tailor-made for the device, providing deep portals of content from the likes of UKTV, Vevo, Curzon and Vimeo. And all the usual subscription app suspects are of course present – such as Netflix and the WWE Network. There’s also plenty of free (and not free) games available for download to be played on the TV screen via the remote if that’s your thing.
To truly get the most out of the device, it is certainly more geared towards Amazon Prime subscribers for whom the benefits are many. As well as the aforementioned music and photo services, there is also the obvious benefit of receving Amazon Prime Video which has a coloosal library of movie and TV content (and, importantly, as increasing amount of “exclusive” in-house content such as the hugely popular The Man In The High Castle). And heck, with Amazon Prime, you’ll even get the Fire TV Stick delivered pronto for free.
The Fire TV Stick essentially turns any TV into a Smart TV, and for a mere £35, that’s an impressive enhancement. There are perhaps cheaper alternatives for non-Amazon subscribers, but for the ease of use, memory size, durability and portability you get here, is it really worth seeking out something cheaper?