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Review: Amazon Fire TV Stick

LiveMint logoLiveMint 25-04-2017 Vishal Mathur

It is often said that good things come in small packages. The Amazon Fire TV Stick (Rs3,999) is a prime example—it resembles a pen drive, and plugs directly into the HDMI port on your TV. Amazon has also included an HDMI extender, useful because many TVs have ports placed too close to each other, with not enough room for the Fire TV Stick to squeeze in.

Setting it up is quite simple. You sign in with your Amazon account (if you purchase this on Amazon.in, it’ll come with your credentials preloaded). The home screens are laid out in such a way that you need to scroll right or left to switch between apps, Prime TV shows and the Movies library—it is a breeze to search for and discover new content. 

App availability is where Amazon steals a march over rivals. For example, Google Chromecast mandatorily requires a phone or tablet to stream, a lot of cobbled together Android streaming boxes are largely clunky to use, and the slick Apple TV makes do without Amazon Prime Video content. With the Fire TV Stick, you get all the popular streaming apps (Netflix, Hotstar, Voot, Viu, Eros Now, for example), catch-up TV apps (Ditto TV and nexGTv, for instance) and Live TV apps (Zoom, Al Jazeera and more). The way the Android-based FireOS platform is designed, you have a massive library of content at your fingertips. 

The Fire TV Stick runs a MediaTek quad-core processor clocking at 1.3 GHz, 1 GB RAM, Mali450 graphics for audio and video processing and 8 GB internal storage for apps. It handles 1,080p Full HD videos with ease. In fact, on the same television and speaker set-up, the Dolby Digital Audio audio output is louder and clearer than an Apple TV and an Nvidia Shield TV console. There are no Wi-Fi signal variations—it is significantly better than the Chromecast, and on a par with Apple TV. 

What we get with the Fire TV Stick is a Voice remote (and not the Alexa assistant, as in the US). It is cleanly laid out and the voice search understands Indian accents well enough. However, it doesn’t have any volume control—a big miss. 

In case you are wondering whether you need to buy this since you already own a smart TV, the answer is simple—no smart TV platform offers all the apps that the FireOS platform has, and the overall experience isn’t satisfactory. Indeed, the Fire TV Stick is the definitive online streaming device if you have signed up for Amazon Prime Video, Netflix and others. And it doesn’t need a smartphone to work, which adds to the ease of use.

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