Amazon's Fire TV is an awesome device, letting you access movies, music, streaming TV and a whopping 7,000 different apps. Now, the updated Fire TV stick lets you harness the power of Amazon's voice assistant, Alexa, to make navigating all those choices even easier. It's a great Christmas present for anyone with a TV, but especially those who are short on space or do a lot of traveling.
The stick itself is plenty powerful, with a 1.3GHz MediaTek Quad-core ARM, 8GB internal storage and 1GB of memory. It has a dual-band, dual antenna Wi-Fi and is Bluetooth 4.1 capable. It's game-controller compatible and supports high definition video. It's definitely improved compared to the previous version, but the Alexa interface makes it an excellent choice.
You speak to Alexa through a microphone built into the remote, and it can do more than scroll through menus and enact apps. For example, you can tell it, "Play Stranger Things," and Alexa will access Netflix and stream the latest episode. Or you can ask Alexa to find songs by a specific artist. The Fire TV stick supports voice-controlled music requests from Amazon Music Unlimited, Amazon Prime Music, Pandora and iHeart Radio. It also lets you watch videos from YouTube, Vevo and Vimeo.
With the many apps, the Fire TV isn't just about what you can watch or play. You can surf the internet and even order pizza.
Neither you nor the person you give it to needs technical skill to set up the Fire TV stick. You plug the stick into the power outlet and into any compatible high-definition TV, and it's ready. If you have an Amazon account, you'll have to sign in, of course. The device is as portable as a flash drive, so you can take it anywhere you have Wi-Fi and an HDTV.
The only difficulty we had with the stick is plugging it in. It's small compared to a Fire TV, but the stick itself is much larger than a thumb drive. It would not fit our TV where we had other HDMI cables plugged in, and was just long enough that it took some maneuvering to plug it in to one of the bottom-facing jacks. It does have an adapter, however, for those occasions, and once it's in, though, the device worked like a champ.
Economical and convenient, the Amazon Fire TV stick is a great gift for anyone who wants to carry their entertainment with them, and the addition of access to Alexa on the remote make it great for those who just want to chill on the couch at home. It's a win-win gift.