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.
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