The sky’s the limit when it comes to entertainment. You can visit an old-school cinema to see a movie, watch sitcoms reruns on TV, or create your own at-home theater experience with .
Even though we have all these options at our fingertips, they can come with some inconveniences. First, going to a local IMAX hub isn’t as budget-friendly as it used to be. Then, there’s the chance that the internet might crap out when you’re watching your favorite Netflix series. And on top of all that, who wants to pay for an expensive cable bill?
If you’re over pricey tickets, connectivity issues, and cable payments, there’s hope. You can avoid these situations and buy a streaming media player. These devices can be game changers when it comes to watching your favorite movies and shows. They’ll take the hassle out of your next binge-watching session, so you can curl up on the couch, eat some popcorn, and relax for hours. Sounds simple, right?
SEE ALSO: What’s the difference between the Echo and the Echo Dot?
There are many streaming media players available for your entertainment needs. Amazon, a leader in the technology space, offers two popular streaming media players: the and the . These devices have similar names, but each have different pros and cons for streaming.
In 2014, Amazon launched the first generation Fire TV, a box that plugs into HDTVs for instant access to Hulu Plus, Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Showtime, WatchESPN, and low-cost video rentals. With its Advanced Streaming and Prediction (ASAP) feature, it predicts which TV episodes and films you want to watch and buffers them for instant viewing. This tiny device is a milestone for streaming, because it allows people to enjoy entertainment whenever and wherever they want. The Fire TV was followed by a second generation in 2015, which included more processing power, 4K support, and Alexa integration. Today, you can purchase the , which features detailed contrast, access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes, and expanded voice control.
After the Fire TV’s successful launch, Amazon debuted the first generation Fire TV Stick, a smaller and more affordable streaming media player, in October 2014. Like the Fire TV, the first Fire TV Stick provides the same instant streaming perks, except it has a slightly different design. Rather than a box, it is a small stick that connects to HDMI ports on HDTVs. Today, you can buy the second generation , which is up to 30 percent faster than the first generation model, offers access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes, and includes the Alexa Voice Remote.
Even though both devices have a similar purpose — providing stress-free entertainment access — both offer different benefits and features when it comes to streaming content.
Ready to upgrade your streaming experience? Here’s what you need to know if you’re deciding between the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick.
The is a streaming media player part of the Amazon Fire TV Family. It’s a device with many streaming benefits—packed with high-tech features and the power to deliver an immersive entertainment experience. Key features include advanced 4K Ultra HD streaming, access to over 500,000 films and TV episodes, and more voice control options with Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant.
The Fire TV weighs 3.1 ounces and its dimensions are 2.6 inches x 2.6 inches x 0.6 inches. It has a slim square shape, a standard HDMI Male, and a micro USB port for power or an optional Amazon Ethernet Adapter. Its stays concealed behind your HDTV, so there’s no need to worry about any cords or wires poking out.
Using the Fire TV is easy. All you have to do is plug the Fire TV into your HDTV’s HDMI port, insert its USB cable and power adapter into a wall outlet, and connect to the internet through Wi-Fi or an optional Amazon Ethernet Adapter to watch movies and TV shows.
A cool highlight of the Fire TV is that it works with Alexa. The Alexa Voice Remote can help you find, start, and control digital content for seamless streaming. The Fire TV can be paired with Echo devices as well, so you can use Alexa for hands-free control when you watch films or TV episodes. Plus, you can use Alexa on your Fire TV via the Alexa Voice Remote to play music, check the weather, and listen to the news.
Each Fire TV set includes a Fire TV streaming media player, an Alexa Voice Remote (First Generation), a USB cable and power adapter, two AAA batteries, a quick start guide, and a product guide.
Fire TV Stick
If you’re on an entertainment budget, the offers similar streaming perks as the Fire TV at a fraction of the price. As an Amazon Fire TV Family device, this streaming media player has key entertainment benefits, including good picture quality, access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes, and the ability to control content with an Alexa Voice Remote (same First Generation model used with Fire TV).
The Fire TV Stick weighs 1.1 ounces and its dimensions are 3.4 inches x 1.2 inches x 0.5 inches. Its shape resembles a USB flash drive, unlike the Fire TV which looks more like a square. Because it weighs less than the Fire TV, the Fire TV Stick might fit better behind HDTVs and works great for on-the-go entertainment.
Like the Fire TV, the Fire TV Stick doesn’t take much effort to operate. Plug the Fire TV Stick into your HDTV, attach the power adapter, connect to the internet via Wi-Fi, and then you can start streaming movies and TV episodes. An Alexa Voice Remote also comes with the Fire TV Stick, so you can use Alexa to find your favorite flicks and control playback with voice commands. Echo devices also pair up with the Fire TV Stick for seamless hands-free control when you watch films, sitcoms, and more on your HDTV.
When you buy the Fire TV Stick, you’ll get the following: a Fire TV Stick streaming media player, an Alexa Voice Remote, a USB cable and power adapter, an HDMI extender, two AAA batteries, and a quick start guide.
Going to a movie theater can be expensive and inconvenient, so why leave when you can create a similar experience at home? The is here to take your binge-watching sessions to the next level with immersive entertainment, access to over 500,000 episodes and films, and the option to watch live TV without cable.
Captivating entertainment: Watching a film or TV episode on a conventional computer, TV, or tablet doesn’t provide all the interactive feels, but the Fire TV develops the opposite effect. Compatible with some 4K ultra high-definition TV models, including those from LG, Samsung, and Sony, the Fire TV will give you advanced picture quality in HDR (higher dynamic range) and 4K Ultra HD. There’s HDR for true-to-life imaging and 4K Ultra HD streaming at up to 60 fps, so you won’t have to watch a fuzzy screen. For audio support, it works with Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Digital Plus. You’ll feel like you’re right in your favorite scenes with high-quality picture and sound.
Digital content access: Can’t find something good to watch? You won’t run into this issue with the Fire TV. You can play over 500,000 films and TV episodes from HBO, Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, Showtime, Starz, and more. If you want to listen to music, Fire TV provides song access through iHeartRadio, Prime Music, and Spotify. Plus, you can even browse websites like Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube right from your couch when you use the Fire TV. You’ll have to pay for subscription fees for some of the media service providers above, but it’s definitely worth it for easy digital content access.
No cable required: Cable can cost an arm and a leg, but you can cut your monthly bill with the Fire TV. There’s two ways to watch live TV with this device. You can use an indoor HD antenna connected to your TV to get NBC, PBS, and other broadcast networks for free, or you can view programs with subscriptions to DirectTV Now, Hulu, and Sling TV.
Fire TV Stick
If you would like a streaming media player that’s more affordable and provides perks similar to the Fire TV, the is a good entertainment choice. It’s a streaming media player with bonafide benefits, including great picture and audio, access to over 500,000 movies and TV episodes, and the option to watch live TV without cable.
Engaging atmosphere: Nothing beats a viewing experience that heightens the senses, and the Fire TV Stick brings you right into the action. It works with some high-definition TV models from JVC, LG, Panasonic, and other brands. Like the Fire TV, it has an output resolution of up to 60 fps, so you’ll get high-resolution pictures while you’re binge-watching the latest flick. Even though its audio support includes Dolby Audio, 2ch stereo, 5.1 surround sound, and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1, it has high quality sounds. Unlike the Fire TV, you won’t get HDR and 4K Ultra HD settings, but the Fire TV Stick still provides an atmosphere that’s a step above your typical computer, tablet or TV streaming.
Large digital content inventory: If you’re stuck in a streaming rut, the Fire TV Stick gives you access to over 500,000 films and TV episodes at your fingertips. Like the Fire TV, you can watch digital content from HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, and other subscription streaming media services. You can view videos on Facebook, Reddit, and YouTube when you use the Fire TV Stick. Plus, you can play games and music too, so there’s no need to leave your living room if you’re hosting a party and need some beats.
View programs sans cable: Like the Fire TV, the Fire TV Stick allows you to watch live TV by using a HD antenna connected directly to your TV for broadcast network access or by streaming with subscriptions to Hulu, PlayStation Vue, and Sling TV.
On the go streaming: Traveling away from home? You can use the Fire TV Stick if you’re staying at a friend’s house or hotel. It easily connects with HDTVs and all you need is a Wi-Fi connection to watch your favorite shows. Unlike the Fire TV, the Fire TV Stick has a more slender shape, making it perfect for portable streaming whenever and wherever you need entertainment access.
When you buy the bundle, you’ll get an Alexa Voice Remote. This handy device enables you to have a convenient streaming experience and enjoy other smart home benefits.
The Alexa Voice Remote can seamlessly search, launch, and play content. Just press the remote and say, “Alexa, find romantic comedies,” or “Alexa, next episode,” and she’ll do the work for you. Thanks to far-field voice recognition, you can sit back and enjoy your favorite flicks without getting up to change channels or rewind scenes.
But, there’s more. When you use Alexa on your Fire TV, you can go beyond basic streaming functions. Check the weather, dim the lights, set the temperature, and order pizza with a few quick voice commands. Plus, you can pair the Fire TV with another Echo device, so you can use Alexa for hands-free control during binge-watching sessions.
Fire TV Stick
Like the Fire TV, the bundle features an Alexa Voice Remote for high-tech streaming.
Alexa’s far-field voice recognition technology can help you easily find, load, and control movies or TV episodes with simple speech commands. All you have to say is, “Alexa, find horror films,” or “Alexa, pause,” while you’re watching digital content on Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, and more.
You can press the microphone button to request other favors from Alexa, including ordering takeout, playing music from Spotify, and shopping on Amazon for goods. The Fire TV Stick also pairs with Echo devices, making hands-control operation super easy from your couch.
At $70, the Fire TV is moderately priced, but you’ll receive 4K Ultra HD and HDR features that are a step above other streaming media players. It’s one of the best devices for immersive entertainment, access to over 500,000 types of digital content, cable-less viewing, and smart home capabilities via the Alexa Voice Remote. For this price, you’ll get a Fire TV, an Alexa Voice Remote (First Generation), two AAA batteries, a USB cable and power adapter, a product guide, and a quick start guide. It’s available to purchase at Amazon, Best Buy, and Target.
Amazon offers a one-year limited warranty for the Fire TV. It covers defects in materials and workmanship that might arise within 12 months of purchase. It does not apply to issues caused by misuse or damage brought on by external causes. You can also buy an optional two-year and three-year extended warranty separately if you would like additional protection.
Fire TV Stick
The might not have the 4K Ultra HD and HDR features, but at $40, it’s a budget-friendly pick for high-tech streaming. Its perks include up to 1080p picture quality, support for Dolby Audio, access to over 500,000 films and TV episodes, the ability to stream live TV without cable, an Alexa Voice Remote for easy control, and its portable enough for travel. At this price, you’ll receive a Fire TV Stick, an Alexa Voice Remote, two AAA batteries, an HDMI extender, a USB cable and power adapter, and a quick start guide. You can buy a Fire TV Stick at Amazon, Best Buy, and Target.
If you’re not happy with your Fire TV Stick, Amazon offers a 90-day limited warranty for defects caused by faulty materials and workmanship. Even though the Fire TV Stick has a shorter warranty period compared to the Fire TV, you can also purchase an optional two-year or three-year extended warranty from Amazon.
, an Amazon customer, writes:
“When I saw that Amazon launched this new version, the 4K ULTRA HD FIRE TV, we ordered it that day. I was concerned that it would be hard to set up or confusing to use, it is not. Actually, it was easy. It is very nicely boxed and the instructions are straight forward. We do not have an Alexa, so we had to remember to hold down the button and speak. How easy is that to do! No more scrolling through channels and trying to press the buttons to try to punch in programs, or movies. There are so many choices of movies, specials, sports, and programs that there are not enough hours in the day to watch them.”
And , another Amazon reviewer, says:
“I love this thing! It allowed me to cut the cord on cable which has become ridiculous. With cable, I am getting channels I don’t watch or care about nor do I spend that much time watching cable. I am binge watcher and news junkie. Other half is sports freak. So, we get what we want without the hefty price tag. I still have a ways to go with the learning curve and I have since learned I didn’t probably need one for every TV. So oh well. I was just so excited knowing I could give Comcast cable the boot, it was all I could do to contain myself.”
Fire TV Stick
Amazon reviewer writes:
“Ordered the Amazon Fire Stick from Best Buy. Instructions were short and easy to follow. I was going to order the Amazon Ethernet Adapter because I was worried about wireless speeds in my area, but thought I’d wait and see. Glad I did. Wireless connection has proved almost flawless so far. A few brief hiccups here and there, but I’m convinced that was from the apps themselves. Don’t miss the ridiculously high cable prices and I am able to watch most of what I used to watch for a much lower price, which right now is a total of $50 a month.”
And , another Amazon customer, says:
“Great price. I bought the Fire Stick on Amazon’s Summer Black Friday for $20. I “cut the cord” years ago and rely on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu for my family’s TV entertainment. The Fire Stick’s user interface is more pleasurable visually and easier to set up, change settings, and watch. Alexa is a great feature. Just push a button and say what you’re looking for. The Fire Stick also gives the ability to directly access the internet. Something the other devices do not allow.”
So which one should you choose?
For an immersive binge-watching session, the is your best pick for a streaming media player. It offers 4K Ultra HD and HDR picture quality, theater-like audio, Alexa Voice Remote for seamless searching, launching, and playing, and the ability to go beyond streaming commands with Alexa.
If you don’t want to spend a lot on streaming media player, the offers similar perks to the Fire TV at a fraction of the price. You won’t get the same 4K Ultra HD and HDR settings, but you will still have high-quality images and sounds when you’re watching your favorite movies, TV episodes, and programs. You can use an Alexa Voice Remote for seamless content commands, like playing music, finding a film, or ordering a pizza. Plus, it’s super portable, just in case you’re traveling and need to catch up on your latest show.