Amazon launched the Fireplace TV Stick three years in the past, providing a microphone-equipped distant as an non-obligatory accent or as a part of a premium $60 bundle. Its newest media streamer—and its just one obtainable in “stick” type—comes with a distant out of the field that offers you entry to voice search and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. It additionally options an upgraded quad-core processor, and maybe most spectacular of all is out there for simply $39.99. Regardless of just a few omissions in streaming apps, the Fireplace TV Stick With Alexa Voice Distant simply presents sufficient in the way in which of options and worth to make it our Editors’ Selection for price range media streamers.
The Fireplace TV Stick is only a hair wider than the earlier mannequin, at three.four by 1.1 by zero.5 inches (HWD), however in any other case appears to be like equivalent. It is a plain black plastic rectangle with an HDMI plug on one finish and a micro USB port on one facet. As a stick supposed to plug into the again of your tv, it would not must look spectacular or have any actual controls or show.
The included voice distant seems to be the very same distant that was obtainable for the earlier stick. It is a 5.9-inch flat black plastic wand with a shiny circle close to the highest that serves as a navigation pad, with a clickable Verify button within the middle. A Microphone button sits above the pad, with a pinhole microphone above that for speaking into. Menu and playback controls sit under the navigation pad.
App and Equipment
You should utilize the Amazon Fireplace TV Distant app for Android and iOS should you favor to manage the Fireplace TV Stick along with your smartphone or pill. It is a lot easier than the distant app used with Roku gadgets, principally offering a touchpad for menu navigation, a handful of playback controls, a voice search operate along with your machine’s microphone, and (most helpful if that you must enter login data) an onscreen keyboard. It would not provide personal listening just like the Roku app does, which streams audio by way of your smartphone or pill so you’ll be able to hearken to what you are watching with a set of headphones plugged into it. For the reason that Fireplace TV Stick helps Bluetooth, nevertheless, you’ll be able to merely pair a set of Bluetooth headphones immediately with the stick for the same operate.
In addition to the voice distant, the Fireplace TV Stick comes with a brief HDMI extender cable (helpful if the HDMI ports in your tv are recessed), a micro USB cable, a USB energy adapter, and a pair of AAA batteries for the distant. It is the whole lot that you must begin streaming media, wanting the TV itself.
Fireplace TV OS
Amazon makes use of a closely modified model of Android within the Fireplace TV Stick, the identical as you may discover in all different Fireplace TV gadgets. It is much like Android TV’s interface, with massive rows of icons displaying apps and content material, organized in numerous classes like your most up-to-date picks and advised reveals. It is visually pleasant and straightforward to navigate.
Like different Fireplace TV gadgets, the Fireplace TV Stick makes use of a restricted model of Amazon’s app retailer relatively than Google Play for all of its apps and companies. Most main streaming companies can be found, together with (after all) Amazon, HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, Sling, and YouTube. It is lacking just a few distinguished companies, although, like Google Play and Vudu, each of which can be found on Roku. The choice is best than it was final yr, although, and Crunchyroll, Spotify, and PlayStation Vue have since been added.
As an Amazon product, Amazon Prime customers get quite a lot of advantages baked into the Fireplace TV Stick, even earlier than putting in any apps. Movies on Amazon will be accessed immediately from the stick’s interface, so you’ll be able to simply bounce into something you wish to watch (if it is on Prime). You’ll be able to entry Amazon Music Limitless (which is $9.99 for a month-to-month subscription, or $7.99 with Prime) to stream loads of music by way of your tv and any linked audio system. You can even entry a restricted quantity of free music by way of Prime.
Because it’s nonetheless mainly an Android machine there are just a few esoteric strategies for sideloading your personal .apk recordsdata and putting in any app you need (to various success primarily based on integration with the distant management and different components). I put in Crunchyroll (earlier than a Fireplace TV app was added to the shop) with out a downside, however once I launched the app it appeared as a portrait-format smartphone app and did not show an onscreen cursor, making it unusable. It is also a clunky answer we would not suggest for anybody who is not assured of their technical talents and is aware of their approach round a command line, but it surely does provide some freedom not obtainable with a Roku or the Apple TV.
Alexa and Voice Search
Any shortcomings within the Fireplace TV app retailer are made up for by the highly effective voice assistant and search capabilities. By holding the Microphone button down on the distant, you’ll be able to seek for films, reveals, and apps just by talking into it (you’ll be able to’t use it hands-free my saying “Alexa,” like you’ll be able to with Amazon Echo merchandise). As a result of it is linked to your TV and is not merely a speaker just like the Amazon Echo, the Fireplace TV Stick may give you visible data in response to your Alexa requests, just like the Amazon Echo Present (however with out the contact display screen controls).
Alexa can search primarily based on present and film titles, actor and director names, and broad genres and themes (although the extra imprecise your requests are, the much less dependable the outcomes will probably be). The voice search characteristic spans throughout 90 totally different apps and companies together with Netflix and Hulu, and the Fireplace TV Stick retains observe of any subscriptions you may need and front-loads search outcomes to spotlight content material obtainable on these companies. Search outcomes nonetheless lean towards Amazon’s personal on-demand and instantaneous video libraries after they’re obtainable, but it surely’s a helpful and complete method to search for something you may wish to watch.
In addition to voice search, you will get helpful data and even have the Fireplace TV Stick carry out sure duties along with your voice due to Amazon Alexa integration (the identical voice assistant used within the Amazon Echo, which actually provides quite a lot of comfort that the voice search performance on Roku gadgets would not provide. You’ll be able to verify the climate, discover out sports activities scores, convey up Wikipedia data, and even add gadgets to your purchasing checklist. You can even add abilities to Alexa for extra options, like ordering a pizza by way of Domino’s. Third-party abilities fluctuate wildly in performance and usefulness, however they actually add to what you are able to do with the Fireplace TV Stick. See Amazon’s highest-rated Alexa abilities in each class for some concepts.
Alexa additionally enables you to management sensible dwelling gadgets along with your voice. All kinds of linked lights, locks, themostats, and different dwelling automation tools works with Alexa. Holding a button down and talking right into a distant is not fairly as handy because the hands-free voice activation of the Echo gadgets, but it surely’s nonetheless a helpful method to convey down the lights when watching a film, or adjusting the temperature of the home with out getting up.
Voice recognition is great. Even with my voice sounding hoarse from a chilly, the Fireplace TV Stick understood all of my requests. It introduced up search outcomes for Brokers of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gundam, and Voltron with no subject, gave me a climate forecast for the approaching week, and instructed me when the upcoming presidential debate can be. It is impressively correct and responsive for a $40 streaming machine.
Efficiency is aided partly by a quad-core processor that considerably speeds issues up over the earlier mannequin. Navigating menus is not fairly as quick as it’s with the 4K-capable Fireplace TV field, and the stick can solely output as much as 1080p video, but it surely’s an considerable improve (with a way more cheap worth than the Fireplace TV). I had no subject flipping between totally different apps and rapidly loading films and reveals.
Like all media streamers, particularly ones that solely use Wi-Fi, video high quality will depend on the velocity and sign energy of your community.
Comparisons and Conclusions
If you need 4K help and a barely higher collection of streaming media companies, the Roku Premiere+ is our Editors’ Selection for 4K media streamers—but it surely’s greater than twice the worth of the Fireplace TV Stick.
The Amazon Fireplace TV Stick With Alexa Voice Distant is the one finest worth in a media streamer we have seen but. At $40 it comes shut in worth to the Google Chromecast and Roku Specific, with the benefit of a microphone-equipped distant with entry to Amazon’s highly effective Alexa service. It is lacking just a few notable streaming companies and apps (which you might be able to add your self, with some work), however its low worth, wealthy characteristic set, and improved efficiency assist it push previous the Roku Streaming Stick with earn our Editors’ Selection for price range media streamers.