Streaming devices continue to be hot sellers in Canada. The new-for-2020 Amazon Fire TV Stick launched earlier this year. This is the HD version of Fire TV Stick; there’s also a 4K Version that costs a couple bucks more, and the Fire TV Cube (which I reviewed here) is also available which is an Amazon Echo home device combined with the TV steaming box.
Amazon 2020 Fire TV Stick Review
The new Amazon Fire TV Stick keeps the same design as before. But its brains are more refined: it’s now 50% faster than previous generation for fast streaming in Full HD. This version also includes an Alexa Voice Remote in the package and it has home theater audio with Dolby Atmos compatability.
Amazon Fire TV Stick: What’s in the Box?
There’s lots to unpack in this small television kit. Inside the box you’ll get the thumb-sized Fire TV Cube which hides completely put of sight behind your TV. There’s a power cord, USB cable, an HDMI extender cable, plus the batteries are also included!
Set up: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Set up is so simple with this device. Once you get everything plugged everything in and powered up, Fire TV Stick will start searching for the included remote right away. Once it finds it, you’ll touch the home button on the remote to connect.
Canadian channels return to Amazon Fire TV Stick
It’s actually very nice to see several Canadian channel options on this device. There’s Crave, Bell fibe TV, Global, CTV, and CBC Gem. You can also add sports channels, and music streaming apps too. The device will add all of your chosen channels or apps to your home screen. You can also at this point enable Alexa voice control. I also get access to my Audible library which is a nice added feature.
You can also watch live TV like news and sports with Amazon’s 2020 Fire TV Stick.
The Fire TV Stick runs Fire OS like other Fire TV products. In addition to Amazon’s services like Amazon Music and Prime Video, the Fire TV Cube lets you access streaming apps like Netflix, and YouTube and lots more.
Fire TV Stick also lets you browse the internet either with Firefox or Amazon’s Silk browser. You can also rent or buy TV shows and movies through Amazon’s video service.
Controlling the Amazon Fire TV Stick
A key difference in this device as compared to Fire TV Cube is that to access Alexa voice assistant here, you need to use the button on the remote. Unlike an Echo device or the Fire TV Cube, which is always listening for your commands, with this you need to manually trigger it from the remote. Not really a big deal, but if you want to use this in a kitchen where your hands may be chicken-y, that might not be ideal.
Using Alexa via the voice button on the remote, it’s easy to control the TV. Just push and say things like, Play Forensic Files, pause, or ‘Search for CSI Miami’. The screen will show you what’s available. You can say ‘Show more” to scroll through.
Alexa for other home commands
You can use Alexa for other info too, and you’ll get matching visuals on screen. Ask for the weather forecast, conversions, for information or searches about people places or things. It’s very handy! Alexa can also control your smart home devices of course; ask her to adjust the lights, thermostat and more. My experience using Alexa to control smart hoem devices has been great. I already have an Echo 4th generation and the Echo Studio (reviews are here*****) and they work really well and are very responsive.
2020 Amazon Fire TV Stick: Performance
Amazon says users will see a noticeable improvement in performance over the previous Fire TV Stick, but since I didn’t review that one, I can’t compare. For me, navigating the menus and switching between the apps in the Fire TV Cube is definitely quick and responsive. I noticced no lag, no hanging and no buffering.
Overall Review: Amazon Fire TV Stick 2020
If you already have a Fire TV Stick, you probably don’t need to upgrade, but if you’re looking for a new streaming device, this is a pretty powerful package. The Fire TV Stick is easy to set up and it operates easily with the included remote. You get a tonne of streaming channels including CanCon which is a big plus.
I really like the Fire TV interface; I find the search features work really well, as does the voice control.
For me personally, I like this device just fine but I actually prefer upgrading to the Fire TV Cube, and here’s why: I use the Fire TV system on my kitchen TV and I prefer being able to activate Alexa and operate the TV with my voice without needing to pickup the remote and hit the button, especially when I’n doing food prep. The Cube also gives you an upgrade to 4K resolution.
The people who will get the most out of this 2020 Fire TV stick are the folks who want to use it on an HD, not 4K TV, and people who don’t need to bother with hands-free voice activation.
The 2020 Fire TV Stick sells for about $59 from Amazon.
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