What Is a FireStick?

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is similar to other streaming devices, including Roku and Google Chromecast. See how the three compare in our Firestick vs Chromecast, Roku vs Firestick and Roku vs Firestick vs Chromecast articles. When you plug in the device to your TV, the available apps allow you to access Fire Stick channels with TV and movie options.

The Fire Stick is a small plastic rectangle that measures about three-and-a-half inches in length and just over an inch wide. The visible housing of the device is very simple, with an Amazon smile logo imprinted on one side and an HDMI port sticking out of one end of the device. There’s also a small port for plugging in the included power source. Fire TV Stick Hardware


Contained within this unassuming dongle is the hardware to turn pretty much any TV into a highly functional smart TV. Depending on the exact model and generation of Fire TV Stick you have, the specs will vary somewhat. However, most of the Fire TV Sticks sold today have a surprisingly powerful quad-core processor paired with either 1GB or 1.5GB of RAM.

This is an impressive feat, considering the unit has no cooling fans and requires very little power. This processor allows the Firestick to handle 4K video, HDR, Dolby Atmos and more with ease. 

To access content from the device, simply connect it to your WiFi and sign in to your favorite streaming services from the corresponding app on the Fire TV interface. You can use your Amazon account to watch Amazon Prime content, or you can watch Hulu, Netflix, YouTube TV and more, all from this single device. 

How Does the Firestick Work?

Within its minimalist plastic frame, the Amazon Fire TV Stick has all the necessary hardware to function as a streaming device, much like your phone or computer would. It has a WiFi receiver, a processor and an HDMI output. The only thing it’s missing is a screen, which comes in the form of any TV with an HDMI port to plug it into.

Fundamentally, the Amazon Firestick operates on all the same principles as a computer or phone that you’re using for streaming. In fact, the Fire OS that Amazon uses on its Fire TV Sticks and other devices is built on Google’s open-source Android OS. 

From this operating system, you can launch apps that allow you to stream content from almost anywhere, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu or even live TV channels if you have the necessary apps and subscriptions. 

If for some reason your Firestick is not working, you can read our help guide.

Fire Stick
Fire Stick

How Do You Set up an Amazon FireStick?

The Fire TV Stick setup process is quick and easy. All you need to do is plug the included power adapter into a wall outlet, attach the included USB cable to the Fire TV Stick’s micro USB port on one end and the power adapter at the other, and plug the Firestick into your TV’s HDMI port.


Once this is done, select the appropriate input source on your TV and follow the on-screen instructions. 

What Is the Firestick For?

The Amazon Fire Stick is a great way to improve the functionality of an existing TV in a number of ways. The most obvious way is by turning it into a smart TV, so you can stream content from practically any platform right to your TV.

Whether you’re trying to watch Apple TV, Pluto TV, HBO Max or almost any streaming service you can think of, there’s most likely an app for it among the hundreds of apps for the Fire TV Stick.

Voice Commands for Your TV

The second major way that the Amazon Fire TV Stick improves an existing TV is with the included remote control. All Fire TV Sticks currently on the market come with an Alexa voice remote that lets you control your TV with voice commands.

All Fire TV Sticks on the market include an Alexa voice remote

To use the Alexa voice control, simply hold down the microphone button on the remote and say what you want. This can be anything from changing the volume or input on the TV to looking for a particular type of content. For example, you can say “show me action movies” and Alexa will pull up a list of relevant movies from whatever streaming service you’re logged in to.

Video & Audio Quality

Finally, depending on your current television setup and the model of Fire TV Stick you choose, the Fire TV Stick can actually improve the quality of your sound and picture. The Fire TV Stick 4K can handle 4K HDR as well as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

HDR and Dolby Vision improve upon the ultra-HD sharpness of 4K by boosting color clarity and depth over normal 4K video, while Dolby Atmos creates a spatial surround sound experience by using object-based sound rather than encoded channels like traditional surround sound. 

These features, when supported by your TV and streaming service, can offer an improved viewing experience. Netflix, for example, produces all of its original content in HDR, and much of it also has Dolby Vision. Fire TV Sticks also support the more traditional 5.1 surround sound format.

Amazon Fire TV Stick Pricing

There are several models of the Amazon Fire TV Stick available, and the features of the model you choose will affect the price. Te is the least expensive model Amazon sells, and it’s usually available for $29.99. This model is limited to 1080p resolution with some HDR compatibility.