Since its launch in the mid-1960s, color television has been a staple for American households , and a study from The Nielsen Company showed that in 2011, 96.7% of Americans owned at least one TV.

In recent news, you may have heard or seen articles telling consumers how to “cut the cord” to their satellite and cable TV subscriptions. With monopolies like AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, and Charter slowly increasing the costs of television subscriptions, consumers are seeking out better alternatives to the expensive, and slowly becoming outdated, television subscription/set-top boxes.

It was in 2007 when the world took interest in one of these alternatives, a single payment TV set-top box offered by Apple, and while the applications on the device were limited to iTunes content, it paved the way to what has become a popular sensation.

In the past few years, companies like Apple, Roku, and Google, have released their versions of the original Apple TV set-top box by offering new services for the low cost of only one single payment. Last year, Amazon jumped into this market with their highly spoken of Fire TV box that I reviewed here .

This year, Amazon has begun grabbing a large portion of the set-top box market and giving people a cheaper alternative to the satellite and cable companies. Being the size of a USB thumb drive, this small device has the power of its bigger brother as well as all of its features, but at a much better cost.

Welcome to my review of the Amazon Fire TV Stick. Throughout this review, I’ll be taking a look at the following topics: the design, functionality, and my final thoughts. A special thank you to Amazon for providing me with this device.


The design of the Amazon Fire TV Stick is essentially as the name suggests, a stick that holds all of the hardware to provide you with the utmost entertainment.

Inside the packaging of the Fire TV Stick, Amazon provides a quick start guide, USB wall port adapter, USB power cable and the Fire TV Stick.

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick uses the same matte black finish found on the bigger brother Fire TV box. Its exterior shell is constructed from plastic and contains only an Amazon logo, a microUSB-in for power, and the HDMI connector on the end. Inside it contains the hardware for entertainment and 802.11n & Bluetooth wireless communication.

Setup begins by either connecting the included USB power cable into your TV’s USB port or the included USB wall adapter then to the Fire TV stick. On the end of the Fire TV stick is an HDMI 1.4 connector that will plug into any open HDMI port on your TV.

Since my TV is wall mounted, many of the HDMI cables are blocked by the wall it hangs on and are only accessible by 90 degree adapters. Since the Fire TV Stick has a length of 3.3 inches, I had the option of using the included HDMI extender or connecting it to the side HDMI 3 input which as shown in the next photo, allows the device to be perfectly concealed.

As the Fire TV Stick lacks any physical buttons or indication LEDs, once setup is completed, it will immediately show on your TV and begin playing a one-time Amazon video guide that gives you a quick overview of how to use the device.

If you purchase your Fire TV Stick through Amazon, your device will come pre-programmed and be already setup with your Amazon account so you can quickly get to watching and listening to Prime content (if you’re a Prime customer).

Once connected to your home internet network, the Fire TV Stick will be ready to go as the Bluetooth remote is pre-programmed.


Amazon’s Fire TV Stick uses an identical user-interface to that found on the Fire TV to a point where you would be unsure of what device you’re using. A clear giveaway would be the remote in your hand.

Amazon’s Fire TV devices use a Bluetooth enabled remote meaning it does not need to have a direct line of sight to the Fire device like an IR remote. The Fire TV uses a sleek remote that is smooth and well-shaped and even includes a built-in voice search function that as mentioned in my previous review, worked flawlessly. Included with your Fire TV Stick, however, is a smaller remote that has all of the same buttons and design, but lacks the voice-search.

Don’t let the lack of voice searching affect your choice as even after over a year of owning the original Fire TV, I have only used the voice search once or twice and if the searching feature is crucial, Amazon offers it free when you use your smartphone as a remote instead.

There are over 3,000 channels, apps and games that are available for the Fire TV Stick and no matter if you’re an Amazon Prime, Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu, Twitch, or YouTube watcher, the Fire TV Stick has you covered.

The Fire TV Stick’s user-interface functionality is fundamentally the same as the Fire TV and to not sound like a broken record, I would highly recommend reading the functionality section of that review here .

In terms of using the Fire TV Stick, I pondered on whether or not it would connect to my Logitech Harmony remote and sure enough it did and even connects with a Bluetooth connection. When connected to a strong 802.11n wireless connection and using the Logitech remote, the Fire TV Stick performed flawlessly without lag or any stuttering.

Video playback was perfect with videos showing in full 1080p HD and sound being output as Dolby Digital to my entertainment sound bar. Even though it internal dual-core with 1GB of RAM, the performance of the device was smooth when moving between apps. As for gaming, I stayed out of that section and left that up to the Fire TV.

Finally, Amazon has recently incorporated their Alexa voice assistant into the Fire TV Stick. By asking her about sports, weather, news and other topics, Alexa can provide you with full details and information right on your screen. This feature, however, is only available for the more expensive voice-active remote.

My Final Thoughts

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is the ideal device for those who want to cut the cord or are looking to get TV into a different room. With this device I was able to cancel my cable box for the living room and got to still enjoy all of the benefits of cable TV through services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO and Prime; let alone all of the other apps I've downloaded like Twitch, Fox, and others. With a cost of $39.99 I highly recommend the Fire TV Stick over any other set-top box and TV stick; even Amazon’s original Fire TV and Google's Chromecast.

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© 2015 Justin Vendette