Amazon Fire TV Stick review

Amazon Fire TV Stick is one of the best USB-sized devices in 2016

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Our Verdict

If you've already bought into Amazon's ecosphere, the Fire TV Stick will be the proverbial rug that ties the room together – it's fast, responsive and works flawlessly with Amazon's infrastructure. If you aren't an Amazon insider, however, consider the other streaming options before you buy.

For

  • Uncompromising specs
  • Includes remote
  • really cheap
  • good selection of apps

Against

  • Caters to Prime members
  • No voice control
  • Few AAA games

Amazon's Fire TV Stick is one of the most convenient ways of equipping your television with a host of great streaming services.

At around the same size as a USB stick, the HDMI dongle fits neatly behind your television, but manages to pack a lot of power into its diminutive size.

Previously getting streaming services onto your TV required you to invest in a full set-top box such as the Roku 3, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV, but with the release of Google's Chromecast, that all changed, as companies realised it made much more sense to tuck its hardware neatly behind your television, rather than requiring it to have a shelf of its own.

The Fire Stick is Amazon's answer to Google's device and what an answer it is.

The Fire TV Stick is petite and powerful. It fits flush with most TV's HDMI ports and, unlike its main competitor Chromecast, comes with a fairly decent remote. In terms of content, you'll find just about everything here: Netflix, YouTube and Spotify, while Amazon's Prime Instant Video basically sits at the head of the proverbial table.

Amazon Fire TV Stick review

Almost everything feels right about the Amazon Fire TV Stick, but most of all is its £35 price tag. It's £5 more than Chromecast, but £15 less than the Roku Streaming Stick; it feels like a supremely good value for what you get in the box.

Where Amazon Fire TV Stick slightly stumbles, however, is its deep-rooted attachment to its mother service, Amazon Prime. Without Prime, the set-top stick feels devoid of personality.

fire TV Stick

Yes, you can still get those great aforementioned apps, yes you'll zip around from one section of the interface to the next thanks to its powerful components, and yes you'll even get a 30-day trial for free just for buying the streaming stick – but, after the trial runs out or you choose not to commit to Amazon's service, the whole experience feels sterile without Prime.

Design, setup and performance

At this point in the game, a streaming stick is nothing new. It's a plastic, thumb drive-sized device that plugs into any HDMI port (not just MHL-equipped ports) and draws power from a USB port on the TV or from a wall outlet via the included converter. The exterior itself isn't all that exciting – it's 84.9 x 25.0 x 11.5mm and has the Amazon logo on one side – but it's the lack of any distinct features that help the Fire TV Stick blend into the back of any TV. It even comes with an HDMI extender cable in case you've got a wall-mounted setup and no additional space to spare in the back.

Amazon Fire TV Stick review

While these extras are something the Chromecast comes standard with, the more expensive Roku Streaming Stick does not. Sometimes, it's the simple things in life that really count, and Amazon scores major points for putting the consumer first.

After you've got the stick firmly seated in an HDMI port you've got to provide a power solution. You'll need to connect the micro-USB powered stick to either a USB port on the TV or, attach the adapter and plug it into the wall. If you choose the former, you'll get a warning when you boot the system up for the first time. It'll tell you that it can't draw enough power from the USB port to provide the ideal experience. I opted for the power via a wall socket.

Stick

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Global Managing Editor

Marc (Twitter, Google+) is one of the founding members of TechRadar, and has had the pleasure of seeing it change from a tiny reviews site, to the tech behemoth it is today. As well as working on TechRadar, Marc has headed up editorial content for T3 magazine and T3.com, had a 10-month stint editing a weekly iPad mag, written film reviews for a whole host of publications and has been an integral part of many magazines that are no longer with us.