Amazon Fire Stick: What You Need to Know

Use Amazon’s Fire Stick to stream media to your TV

Amazon's Fire TV, aka Fire Stick, is a series of devices from Amazon that physically connect to your television and uses your home network to stream digital audio and video from media providers, such as HBO and Netflix, directly to you.

Setting Up and Using Fire TV Devices

Amazon sells different devices under the Fire TV name: Fire Stick, Fire TV and Fire TV Cube. The Fire Stick is a small device that plugs into your TV and sticks out of your TV's HDMI port. The Fire TV and Fire TV Cube are small boxes that plugs into an HDMI port on your TV; it also tends to hang off the back of your TV.

Once the devices are attached to your TV, you navigate to the show or movie content you’d like to view using the Amazon Fire user interface. Once selected, the device accesses your chosen content over the internet and plays it on your TV.

Some Amazon Fire content is available at no cost, and apps are available that allow you to access premium content on YouTube Red; subscription cable channels like Showtime, Starz, and HBO; and cable alternatives such as Hulu, Sling TV, Netflix, and Vudu on Amazon Fire TV, among others.

Most premium content channels like HBO, Showtime, and Netflix require you to have a subscription to that service; however, in many cases, these subscriptions can be set up on the spot through the Amazon device. Your subscription fee for each is billed through your Amazon account.

Amazon Fire TV

You can also use fire devices to play games, view your photos, and access other media saved on your local network devices. You can even browse Facebook. Amazon Prime content available to subscribers is also accessible through Amazon Fire TV; if you are a subscriber to Amazon Prime, that is. In some models, you can use the Fire TV remote to locate content using voice commands with Alexa or an Echo device.

Amazon’s Fire TV devices and Amazon Fire Sticks are often called, generically, firesticks. You may also see them referred to as, among other terms, the Amazon Prime stick, Amazon TV box, and the streaming media stick.

Amazon Fire TV With 4K Ultra HD

The Fire TV model released in October 2017 includes the following major changes and improvements over previous versions:

  • Enhanced 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) support
  • HDR (high dynamic range) image support (for clearer pictures)
  • Additional TV channels and apps
  • More movies, games, and other content
  • Smaller form factor
  • Improved Bluetooth functionality and Wi-Fi support
  • Improved support for Alexa and Echo devices to find, launch, and control content with your voice

The latest Fire TV also offers the same features from past generations of devices, including screen mirroring and content sharing and support for physical HD antennas, among others that long-time users already know.

Fire TV Stick

The Fire TV Stick comes in different versions. Earlier versions offer a basic remote control; later versions offer remote controls with volume, mute, and power buttons. All look like a USB stick or flash drive and connect to your TV’s HDMI port. The Fire TV Stick offers these features, which have improved in newer generations:

  • Up to 1080p HD resolution at 60 fps
  • Voice-controlled remote, and Alexa and Echo device support
  • Screen mirroring
  • Content sharing
  • Access to thousands of apps, media providers, games, etc.

Make sure to keep your Fire Stick updated with the latest software.

Previous Versions of Fire TV

The older generation of Fire TV is physically larger than newer models. It is now officially called Fire TV (Previous Version) but is also referred to as the Fire TV Box or Fire TV Player because the device looks more like a cable box than a USB stick. Fire TV (Previous Version) isn’t available from Amazon anymore, but you might have one at home or be able to find one from a third-party seller.

There was a Fire TV device prior to Fire TV (previous version) that was also a box-type device. It offered features similar to those listed here.

  • How do you set up a Fire TV Stick?

    Connect your Fire Stick to your TV to an open HDMI port. Then, tune your TV to that input and follow the onscreen instructions. Read our Fire TV Stick setup guide if you want more info!

  • What is the newest generation of Fire Stick?

    Launched in April of 2021, the third-generation Amazon Fire Stick is currently the latest model of the Fire Stick. The third-gen Fire Stick supports 1080p video, Alexa, and Dolby Atmos audio.

  • Which generation Fire Stick is the best?

    The latest one. Each new generation of the Fire Stick comes with more powerful internals and supports more features. Whichever model is currently the latest version will be the best. Currently, the third-generation Fire Stick is the best Fire Stick.

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