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Things I Like: Amazon Fire TV Stick

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It seems like has been forever since I've done a "Things I Like" article. I did a quick search and the last one was my NutriBullet Super Blender nearly 18 months ago.

Fortunately, a deserving product showed up at my door a couple of days ago: the Amazon Fire TV Stick. I like my tech gadgets, but it's extremely rare that one gets "wife-approved." The Fire stick is one such winning gadget. It's the exact opposite of the $60 Ball I bought.

These TV sticks are all the rage, ever since Google ChromeCast wowed everyone with it. These sticks allow you to Internet-enable your television. It makes it easy to watch Netflix, listen to Pandora, even play games. Roku and even even Mozilla Firefox have gotten into the act. So of course Amazon had to join the party.

I jumped on Amazon's Fire TV Stick when it was offered at $19. Now it is $39. I won't lie, the introductory price gimmick got me. Paying $20 today hurts a lot less than paying $40 in a week from now.

It also didn't hurt that I had a perfect use-case for a Fire TV Stick. My home has two televisions, one in the living room which gets most of the use, and one in the bedroom that rarely gets used. The living room one has a computer instead of a cable box eliminating cable box renting fees. The bedroom has the coaxial cable plugged into it. It's essentially "good enough" considering how little we use it.

On rare occasions, such as when one of us is sick, the television can get a lot of use. For not a lot of money, and no additional subscription fees, there are now a ton of movies available via a handy remote control. Now if my wife gets sick she can watch a whole season of Orange is The New Black while she gets better I serve her chicken noodle soup.

We are more of a Netflix family than an Amazon Prime movie family. I think it's because I never know what's going to cost me more money on Amazon. With Netflix, I know there's no pay-per-view. With Amazon Prime, I could see a movie, click into it, and find that it costs me money to rent (or in some cases buy) it. Of course Amazon wants to push these purchases and, as you'd expect, they give their own movies and television shows most of the screen real estate. However, it's easy enough to go to the Netflix application and use that to watch whatever I want to.

I found a couple of interesting things with the Fire TV Stick that are worth mentioning. The recommended movies, at least to start, seemed to be those late night Cinemax adult movies. I don't know if everyone gets this or if it's just what Amazon thinks of me. (Thanks Amazon.) Maybe Amazon knows it's a bedroom television and is giving my wife and I a subtle hint. In any case, my wife found it very weird. She quickly found the more mainstream movies.

The other thing that is worth mentioning is that there are a number of applications that I haven't gotten a chance to try yet. There's Plex, which is a media server. I have it on my living room computer/television, so there's the chance I can stream videos upstairs. It's a little more research to see how that works. There's a Pandora app as well that I want to get set-up. It'll be handy while I do laundry (on the list for later today) or maybe even when I'm in the shower.

You can do most, or perhaps all, of this stuff with ChromeCast or Roku. Google's ChromeCast is even a little cheaper than the current $39 Fire Stick price. My friend had an issue with ChromeCast's wifi. I don't remember the exact issue, but it was something about it not working at the 5ghz that the rest of his gadgets did, or the 2.4ghz getting blocked with baby monitors/wireless phones. In any case, he couldn't use it. Amazon's stick is a more advanced processor and has more memory, so I presume it is a little snappier. Roku's stick is about as expensive as Amazon's. I'm sure it is great, but for a cheapskate like me paying $19 made it an impulse buy vs. $35 or more the competitors. In hindsight, it is probably well worth that money... I just didn't realize it until I used it.

And that's really the weird thing about this review. At $19 the Fire TV Stick is a screaming buy if you have a use case for it. At $39, it is a fair price for the functionality and probably a very good purchase... but psychologically it feels "expensive" given the previous much cheaper price.

So what do you say? Buy or don't buy? Let me know in the comments.

Posted on December 3, 2014.

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13 Responses to “Things I Like: Amazon Fire TV Stick”

  1. Peter says:

    I actually bought the Fire TV stick when it was at $19 for Prime members as well. I just got it a couple of nights ago and only had the chance to set it up and watch one show so far. My initial impressions are that it’s quick, streaming works really well, and that it can definitely be a useful device. I think there are some things that it can’t do that Chromecast can, however. For example, you can’t cast content from your computer, and casting from apps on your tablet or phone isn’t available either. Not sure that’s a huge deal, but it is something I’ve found extremely useful with Chromecast. For $19 I think it’s definitely a must buy. At $39 I’d definitely give it a chance as well.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    I’m hoping that the Plex application bridges the casting from a computer (of course the computer has to have Plex). I’m not sure what apps I’d cast from my tablet or phone if they are mostly available on the Fire Stick themselves. I’d have to use a Chromecast to see how this works.

  3. Money Beagle says:

    I have two Chromecasts that I primarily use to watch Netflix (along with a Roku) and I really enjoy them. I got both of them on sales ($25 and $15) so the price was also right, just like it was for your Fire Stick.

  4. Janeen says:

    I’m curious how the fire stick stacks up against the apple TV. We own two Apple TVs (living room and bedroom) and we use them constantly. We do a lot of mirroring from our ipads and phones to the TVs, so maybe that makes them better for us. Of course, embarassingly, the Apple TVs cost waaaay more than your $19 fire stick. Thinking now that I overspent…

  5. Lazy Man says:

    Amazon has a Fire TV, different from the Fire TV Stick, which is more a competitor to Apple TV. You get a lot more computing power with Fire TV or Apple TV. The question is whether you really need it.

    If you don’t mind me asking, what do you mirror from your phone/tablet that you couldn’t get from the Apple TV itself? Downloaded movies?

  6. I’ve been wondering what these were about. We have a laptop hooked up to the TV now. I feel so turn of the century now.

  7. oxide says:

    I can’t speak for Janeen, but for me, I AirPlay quite a bit to my Apple TV from a browser. Specifically, I don’t subscribe to HBO and I can find quite a bit of useful content on the Web (witcheries). You cannot do this from the device.

  8. Lazy Man says:

    I see. I guess it depends on the content that you are looking for. I figure the big ones (YouTube, Hulu, NetFlix, Amazon) covers 95% of what most people watch. So as one might expect there are a few more things you can do with the more expensive Apple TV. For me, it hits the right mix of 90% of functionality for 20% of the price (or whatever it was).

  9. Evan says:

    Love our chromecast, but truth be told we don’t use it all that much. It gets a majority of use on Sundays when I cast the tab I have Direct Tv Sunday ticket on. I wish it had its own welcome screen or native apps that use a remote – much like the fire and appletv seem to have.

    It feels like these little sticks are just the beginning of cutting the cord revolution. They allow the non-tech person the ability to get a ton of content without really having to worry setting things up or pissing off the tech-gods.

  10. We have a Roku and love the interface. It’s definitely “spouse approved”. Before the roku we used Plex’s native interface which was fine… except when that computer had problems while I was on a business trip. Then I had an unhappy wife!

    On the roku we use Plex, HBO Go (friends gave us their PW), Amazon Prime, and Youtube. Amazing what great TV is on youtube!

  11. Lazy Man says:

    Knock on wood, but our Windows Media Center has been very reliable. The interface for it is great, but sadly it seems Microsoft wants to kill it off.

    I’ll have to look on YouTube. Short of educational programs for the kids, I haven’t looked to watch television there.

  12. Derrick Sadler says:

    I just recently got the fire stick.. $25 black Friday from best buy.It has miracast and have no problems casting anything to the tv. Movies lag on the miracast but I believe that’s normal for m iracast. I also was able to put XBMC on it and it runs smoother on the firestick than in a windows pc or android!. I would recommend it even at the $39 price just for that.

  13. […] like our Amazon Fire TV Stick, but if you have something similar (such as a ChromeCast) it probably isn't worth buying. I'm […]

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