Amazon recently launched their second generation Fire TV Stick in India and it comes with a built-in voice assistant this time. The little device has the capabilities to transform any television into a smart TV within a few minutes. It looks like a USB pen drive, bundles along a smart remote and works like a charm, helping you enjoy your movies and videos from your smartphone or tablet on the big screen.
The Fire TV Stick from Amazon looks similar to a USB pen drive, albeit a little larger than usual. It sports just a micro USB port for power on one side. All you need to do is supply power to the stick using a supplied power brick and plug in the device to the TV’s HDMI port. Dump in two batteries into the remote controller and you are ready to rock. A bundled HDMI extension cable will help you connect to your TV if you are unable to reach the port of the wall-mounted display panel.
Once connected and powered on, you need to make sure you have your home Wi-Fi password at hand and the router switched on. Turn the TV on, switch to the HDMI input and you are ready to configure the Fire TV. On the initial screen, you would be asked to input the wireless network details, and your Amazon account details. A few screens will take you through the short introductory video that helps you know how to use the Fire TV Stick and the voice controls. Once connected to your Amazon account, you can simply browse through the various content available — movies, TV or music, and in various genres. Additionally, you can also download a browser for surfing the web, or even download and play games that can make use of the basic remote controller. If you are a geek, you also have options to sideload apps directly. However, you could stand a chance to lose out on warranty if you do so. You can get access to thousands of Bollywood, Hollywood and Regional language movies and TV episodes, songs.
Apart from the usual, you can also download and install a few many apps available on the Amazon App store. You can download apps such as YouTube, Facebook, Netflix, and a few many. You can also download the Amazon Prime app on your smartphone and seamlessly watch, play or resume video content on your smartphone and the TV accordingly. A remote app is also available for your Fire Stick, which allows you to take full control of your Fire TV Stick from your smartphone, in case you lose it or need another remote to take advantage of your smartphone’s touchscreen for greater ease. The smartphone can help you use the keyboard, which is missing from the remote controller. What we also found missing is a volume control option which should have been incorporated by Amazon. Since the volume control option is missing, you have to make sure you are around your television’s remote to control the audio output. Putting the control on the remote could have helped eliminate the TV’s remote entirely.
The remote control is not an IR controller — it features Bluetooth as its connectivity. This makes the remote even easier to control as you don’t need to point it towards the TV for operation. As mentioned earlier, the remote also features a voice-activated assistant to help you search for videos and movies. A small microphone within the remote can be activated by pressing down the mic button on the remote. All you need to do is speak into the remote and the Fire Stick will search for the content online. However, the voice assistant is a very basic module — you can only use it to search for keywords and not use it like Siri or Alexa. The keywords are recognised well and it is also tuned for Indian English, and can search within Amazon or across other apps too. For example, if you search for ‘Just for Laughs Gags’, you can search for it in other apps such as YouTube, Netflix and others. You can also search for actor’s name, genre and other such keywords where suggestions are thrown on the screen thereafter. The voice control also helps in skipping ahead, pausing your video and a few other playback functions.
Coming back to the video experience, you should know that the video on the Fire TV Stick maxes out at 1080p — sorry, no 4K content possible here. Parental controls are also available where you can restrict the type of content your kids are hunting, but placing a PIN code. The initial interface is very simple, yet very informative. A top banner on the home screen welcomes you with prime content, while scrolling down allows you to check other channels, apps and more. Navigating on the screen with the remote is bliss, although you may find is a tad laggy at times and the onscreen keyboard is pretty tacky to operate.
What’s even better? — Data control! The Amazon Fire TV Stick has features to help you save data too. You can control your content’s quality based on your data too. Choose Good, Better and Best modes to make sure you don’t consume your data too. You can also set data limits where don’t exceed your monthly FUP.
The built-in Bluetooth connectivity also allows you to connect Bluetooth headphones so that you can privately enjoy your television shows without disturbing your family or running long cables from your TV.
Apart from the missing volume control feature, we also did find one issue — the power input. The Stick needs a higher power input which forces you to carry along the power brick. You cannot stick the USB power cable into a spare USB port on the TV as the power requirement is lower from the TV and the Fire TV Stick warns you about low the power given. However, it still works, and that’s the beauty of it.
The Fire TV Stick is one of the best TV sticks we have ever seen. Unlike regular Android TV sticks, the Fire TV Stick has a smooth and quick user interface and the entire experience is overwhelming. For the price of Rs 3,999, we would highly recommend it if you are looking for a device to stream your Amazon Prime movies on your television. You can carry the Stick along on your holidays and enjoy your favourite TV shows, movies and music while you travel.
Specifications at a glance:
Size: 85.9mm x 30.0mm x 12.6mm
Processor: Quad-core 1.3 GHz MediaTek SoC
GPU: Mali 450
Storage: 8GB internal for apps and short storage of movies, music, photos
Wi-Fi: Dual-band, dual-antenna, support for 2x2 MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.1
Ports: HDMI, Micro-USB for power only
Voice Support: Voice Remote (included), or free Fire TV Remote app
Cloud Storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Audio Support: Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass-through up to 7.1Supported content format:
Video: H.264 1080p30H.265 1080p30,
Audio: AAC-LC, HE-AACv1 (AAC+), HE-AACv2 (eAAC+), AC3 (Dolby Digital), eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MIDI, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, AMR-NB, AMR-WB,
Photo: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
Resolution: 720p / 1080p, up to 60fps
Included in Box: Fire TV Stick, Voice Remote, USB cable and power adapter, HDMI extender, 2 x AAA batteries, Quick Start Guide
Warranty: One year.