Amazon Fire TV Stick: What is a Fire Stick (and Why You Need One)

If you’re wondering what is a Fire Stick and why should you invest in one, you’ve come to the right place.

The Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick are some of the online retailers most popular products. These compact streaming media players offer impressive bang for your buck, with the Amazon Fire TV stick offering particularly good value given its wallet-friendly price tag.

In this guide, I’ll look at what is a Fire Stick, why you need to buy one and answer some of the questions I regularly get.

Editor’s Tip: Before using the Amazon Fire TV for Kodi, we recommend protecting yourself using a VPN.

Click here to learn more.

What is a Fire Stick?

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a USB-sized streaming media player that plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port. It allows you to stream movies from services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, play games and more. You can buy it directly from Amazon.

What is a Fire Stick: Amazon Fire Stick 03

The Amazon Fire Stick is an excellent and economical way to transform your ordinary TV into a smart TV.

The unit itself is capable of outputting 1080p with 7.1 audio. It also runs FireOS, Amazon’s Android-based operating system. FireOS 5 based on Android 5.0 Lollipop.

Fire TV Stick Gen 1 vs Fire Stick Gen 2

There are actually two generations of the Fire TV stick:

  • Fire TV Stick (1st Generation)
  • Fire TV Stick With Voice Remote (2nd Generation)

The original Amazon Fire TV Stick used a dual-core Broadcom BCM28145 1.2 GHz Cortex-A9 processor with a Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU. It’s also got 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, dual band b/g/n wifi with 2×2 MIMO and Bluetooth 3.0.

The 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV Stick got a significant upgrade in 2016, with a quadcore Mediatek 8127D with a Mali-450 MP4 GPU, wireless AC with 2×2 MIMO and Bluetooth 4.1. Storage and RAM remain unchanged.

What is a Fire Stick: Amazon Fire Stick 01

The 2nd generation Fire Stick also comes with the Alexa Voice Remote that allows you to access Amazon Alexa, the company’s virtual assistant.

This lets you search for movies, check sports results ask questions and even order pizza – all from the comfort of your couch.

Fire TV Stick vs Fire TV Box

Of course, it’s only natural to compare the Amazon Fire TV Stick vs the Fire TV Box.

The Amazon Fire TV Box features a more powerful MediaTek 8173C chipset. This allows it to output 4K video output against the 1080p output of the Firestick, as well as offering improved gaming performance.

What can you do with the Amazon Firestick?

There’s plenty you can do with the Amazon Fire TV stick:

  • Stream media from a variety of services like Netflix and Amazon Prime
  • Stream music from services like Spotify and Pandora
  • Install Kodi on your Firestick to play your movies and stream movies online
  • Play Games from the Amazon App Store
  • Ask questions and use home automation using Amazon Alexa
  • Mirror your smartphone or tablet onto your TV using Miracast

What channels are available on the Amazon Fire Stick?

What is a Fire Stick: What Channels Are Available

The Amazon Fire TV Stick boasts a massive collection of channels. Here’s some of the channels available on the Fire TV Stick:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime Video
  • YouTube
  • Crackle
  • Hulu
  • Spotify
  • and many more…

If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber (you can get a free 30-day trial here), you’ll get access to Prime Video as part of the package, making it a compelling choice.

How does the Fire Stick work?

To use the Amazon Fire TV Stick, just connect the included micro USB cable to the Firestick and plug the other end into the included USB wall adapter or your TV’s USB port. The Firestick can be plugged directly into your TV’s HDMI ports.

What is a Fire Stick: Firestick HDMI Port

Then, use your TV’s remote to switch to the appropriate HDMI input (e.g. HDMI 1) and you’re up and running.

If you’re experience wifi issues or cannot fit the Fire TV Stick into your TV’s HDMI port, use the included HDMI extender instead.

Where to Buy the Amazon Firestick

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is available from Amazon.

Check Price at Amazon

Amazon Firestick FAQs

Amazon Fire TV Stick FAQs

What do you get with the Amazon Firestick?

Inside the box, you’ll get:

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick
  • Alexa Voice Remote
  • Micro USB power cable
  • USB wall adapter
  • HDMI extender
  • 2x AA adapters
  • Instruction Manual

Do you have to have Amazon Prime to use the Fire Stick?

You don’t need to have Amazon Prime to use the Fire Stick. Whilst Amazon Prime Video is tightly integrated into FireOS, there’s plenty of other services that you can use without Amazon Prime including YouTube, Netflix and Spotify as well as a massive library of apps and games.

Is there a monthly fee for the Amazon Fire Stick?

There’s no monthly fee for using the Amazon Fire Stick – just a one time purchase.

This purchase doesn’t include access to the numerous channels available on the Firestick. Whilst a number of them are free, some like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video require separate subscriptions.

However, if you’re wanting to stream your own movies (from a server, for example), I’d recommend you install Kodi and follow my Kodi setup guide.

How to use the Amazon Fire Stick with Kodi?

Kodi, arguably the world’s most popular media center software, isn’t available on in the Amazon App Store so you need to sideload the Kodi APK.

I’ve pulled together a detailed step-by-step guide on how to install Kodi on a Firestick that walks you through the whole process.

Do you have to have Wifi to use a Fire Stick?

The Amazon Fire Stick doesn’t have any ports for adding external storage like USB drives (though I’ve heard people had success using this adapter) so wifi is recommended so you can access the numerous supported streaming services or stream movies from your own server.

Do you need a smart TV to use a Fire Stick?

You don’t need to have a smart TV to use a Fire Stick, as the Amazon Fire TV stick adds the “smarts” to your TV. All you need is to have a TV with HDMI inputs.

How Do You Install a VPN on a Fire Stick?

If you’ve got a 2nd generation Firestick, installing a VPN is straightforward. Just follow my simple guide on how to install a VPN on Android.

What is a Fire Stick?: A Recap

What is a Fire Stick: Amazon Fire TV Stick 02

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a cheap way to add smarts to your home theatre setup. With support for thousands of channels, apps and even home automation via Amazon Alexa, it’s hard to argue with the value it offers.

If you’re interested in picking up an Amazon Fire TV stick, you can buy one from Amazon here.

What’s your experience with the the Firestick? What do you watch on yours? Let me know in the comments!


Michael is a technology expert with over 15 years of experience in IT, Home Theatre and Automation. Feel free to send Michael a message here.

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8 thoughts on “Amazon Fire TV Stick: What is a Fire Stick (and Why You Need One)”

  1. Amazon Prime and Netflix are with a subscription; do I understand thatnthe majority of other movie programs are free to view; like Utube, Hulu, etc


    • Hi Joe,

      It really depends on the app you’re using and if they’ve got a free offering available but there’s quite a few out there such as Crunchyroll, etc that offers a pretty large catalog for nothing.


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