For many, their current television is not considered “smart” by today’s standards. It has a few HDMI ports, plays digital TV in full high-definition and it serves them well. Some people will connect a gaming console, a blu-ray player and maybe another device to add “apps” to their world. Adding apps to a television for access to video content on Netflix or listening to music or watching Stan can be done with various devices such as the Google Chromecast however, that product requires a smartphone. We’ve been testing a product that runs independently with a traditional remote.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a small dongle that connects into the HDMI port of your current television. It then takes power from a microUSB cable connected to power. The bluetooth remote for this takes two AAA batteries which are thoughtfully included.
After a few minutes of getting through the setup you’ll then see a main window designed well enough to be considered Apple TV standards. The remote is also not dissimilar to Apple from a functionality point of view and it’s so refreshing to not need our smartphone to control the browsing and watching experience.
The Fire TV Stick uses Wi-Fi to connect to the internet and services such as Netflix will fire up very quickly. There are actually over 4000 apps available from games to music apps to extreme sports. The store is full of variety but for someone living in Australia you’ll likely be upset not to find some apps we almost can’t live without. Stan, Ten Play, 9now, Seven Plus, ABC iView are just a few which do not exist on Amazon’s app store for the Fire TV Stick. They are likely to come in the future and as Amazon grows in popularity in Australia but at this stage it is a real blow.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a fantastic way to turn your older TV into a smart TV. The easy plug and play approach is inviting, the use of a remote adds simplicity and the performance is comforting. We are hoping that the localisation of apps continues to grow and we’re seeing Stan and free view apps available soon. Some will complain that the Amazon Fire TV Stick only supports Full high-definition output however if you own a 4K TV, it likely has apps built-in already.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick sells on Amazon.com.au for $69, $10 more than a Google Chromecast and $140 less than an Apple TV. For a product that meets both in the middle, it is rather compelling.