Inexpensive. Includes a voice remote. Amazon Alexa and voice search are extremely useful. Speedy functionality.
Losing some notable flowing services.
Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick comes with an Alexa, and is more rapid and more affordable than ever -enabled voice remote out of the carton, making it the best budget-friendly media streamer you can purchase.
Amazon launched the Fire TV Stick two years back, offering a mic-equipped remote as part of a premium $60 bundle or as an optional accessory. Its latest media streamer—and its only one for sale in “stick” type—comes using a remote from the box that provides you access to voice search and Amazon’s Alexa voice helper. In addition, it features an upgraded quad-core processor, and maybe most notable of all is available for only $39.99. Despite a number of omissions in streaming programs, the Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote readily offers enough in the way of value and features to make it our new Editors’ Choice for budget media streamers.
Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote Review
The new Fire TV Stick $39.99 at Amazon is just a hair wider than the previous version, at 3.4 by 1.1 by 0.5 inches (HWD), but otherwise seems identical. Itis a simple black plastic rectangle with the HDMI plug on one end and a micro USB port on one side. As a stick intended to plug into the back part of your tv, have any actual controls or screen or it will not need to look remarkable.
The included voice remote seems to be the exact same remote that was available for the stick that was prior. It is a 5.9-inch flat black plastic wand with a sleek circle near the top that serves as a navigation pad, with a clickable Support button in the facility. A Mic button sits with a pinhole mic for talking into above that, above the pad. Menu and playback controls sit below the navigation pad.
Should you would rather control the Fire TV Stick with your smartphone or tablet computer you can use the Amazon Fire TV Remote app for Android and iOS. It is much more straightforward compared to the remote program combined with Roku devices, mostly supplying a touchpad for menu navigation, a couple of playback controls, a voice search function by means of your device’s mic, and (most useful should you have to enter login info) an onscreen keyboard. It doesn’t offer private listening like the Roku program does, so you can listen to what you’re watching with a set of headphones plugged into it which streams sound through your smartphone or tablet PC. Because the Fire TV Stick supports Bluetooth, however, you’re able to just couple a group of Bluetooth headphones right with all the stick to get the same function.
It is all you need to begin streaming media, short of the TV itself.
Amazon uses a greatly modified model of Android the same as you’ll find in all other Fire TV devices, in the new Fire TV Stick. The interface is currently indistinguishable across the devices, with both apps and content and a notable navigation bar on the left side of the display organized categorically into rows that expand to fill the screen when you choose them. That will transform with an upcoming software update that’ll make the Fire TV interface look and act more in line with Sony’s connected tvs and Android TV devices like the Nvidia Shield Android TV. When it rolls out after this year, we’ll update this review having a comprehensive look at the newest interface.
As an Amazon product, Amazon Prime users get plenty of benefits before installing any programs baked into the Fire TV Stick, even. Videos on Amazon could be accessed straight from the stick’s interface, so you could merely jump into anything you would like to watch (if it is on Prime). While Spotify is not available, you can access Amazon Music Unlimited (which is $9.99 for a monthly subscription, or $7.99 with Prime) to stream loads of music through your tv and any connected speakers. You may also get a limited amount of complimentary music through Prime.
As with other Fire TV devices, the Fire TV Stick runs on the limited variant of the app of Amazon store in place of Google Play for each of its own apps and services. Most leading streaming services are available, including (of course) Amazon, HBO NOW, Hulu, Netflix, Sling, and YouTube. It’s missing a few notable services, though, like Google Play, Crunchyroll, Spotify, and Vudu, all of which are available on Roku.
Since it is still essentially an Android device there are several esoteric techniques for sideloading your own .apk files and installing any app you need (to changing success depending on integration using the remote control along with other variables). I installed Crunchyroll without a trouble, but when the program was started by me it seemed as a portrait-format smartphone app and didn’t display an onscreen cursor, making it unusable.
Any shortcomings in the Fire TV app store are made up for by the strong voice helper and search functions. You are able to search for movies, shows, and programs by simply speaking into it by holding down the Mic button on the remote.
Alexa can hunt based on show and movie titles, actor and director names, and comprehensive genres and topics (though the more obscure your requests really are, the less reliable the results will be). The voice search feature spans across 90 different programs and services including Netflix and Hulu, and the Fire TV Stick keeps track of any subscriptions you may have and front-loads search results to emphasize content accessible on those services. Search results still lean toward Amazon’s own on demand and video libraries that are immediate when they’re available, but it’s a useful and complete way to try to find whatever you may want to observe.
You find out sports scores, can check the weather, bring up Wikipedia advice, as well as add items to your own shopping list. You can also add skills to Alexa for additional attributes, like directing you through a Johnnie Walker whiskey tasting, or ordering a pizza through Domino’s. Thirdparty skills change wildly in functionality and usefulness, but they really add to what you can do with the Fire TV Stick.
Voice recognition is outstanding. It brought up search results for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Gundam, and Voltron with no issue, gave me a weather forecast for the forthcoming week, and told me when the upcoming presidential debate would be. It’s impressively accurate and responsive for a $40 streaming device.
Performance is helped in part by a brand new quad-core processor that speeds up things over the previous model. Browsing menus is not quite as fast as it is with the 4K-capable Fire TV box$89.99 at Amazon, and the stick can only output up to 1080p video, but it’s an appreciable upgrade (with a much more reasonable price than the Fire TV). I ‘d no issue flipping between different apps and fast loading pictures and shows.
Like all media streamers, particularly ones that only use Wi-Fi, video quality depends on the speed and signal strength of your network.
Comparisons and Decisions
The Amazon Fire TV Stick With Alexa Voice Remote is the only finest value in a media streamer we have seen yet.