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Priced right, Amazon’s Fire Stick delivers the video goods

Written By | Dec 31, 2016

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, MD: Some of us are constantly searching for the latest electronic gadget. We find that after researching an item extensively and buying it, discover that it doesn’t do all the things we believed it would, or, after a few years, it no longer supports the features we bought it for.  The Amazon Fire Stick promises to fix that.

Sometimes, as in the case of Google TV/Logitech Revue, the one promising gadget we acquire is summarily dropped by its manufacturers and becomes useless. In other cases, as with Chromecast, one quickly discovers that the technology is very limited and not consistently easy to use.

The Amazon Fire Stick

But sometimes there are rewards. The Amazon Fire Stick is one such item that fits the bill. It has been around for some time, and as of this date it is still fully functional.

The Fire Stick is the economical choice from the array of what Amazon offers as media centers. These items make your TV a complete entertainment experience by providing access to paid services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.




With general price drops in recent months, the basic Fire Stick now sells for around $35, while the high-end device sells for about $100. The former has a dual-core processor and the latter a quad core. The high-end device offers options that may make it attractive to some, but the basic model is good enough for most of us.

Upon opening up the Fire Stick’s container, it’s not a bad idea to read the small instruction booklet that comes with it as your first task. The basic Fire Stick installs easily right out of the box, using the included small remote:

  1. Connect the device to an unused HDMI port on the TV and the power cord to an outlet or to an active USB port. Most TVs will have at least one port with enough power to run the gadget;
  2. Switch the input to that HDMI;
  3. Run the installation to connect it to your WiFi;
  4. Once the device is installed, use the interface to configure your pay services: Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Showtime, etc.

That is it.

Nuts and Bolts

Now, when you want to use the Fire Stick, either turn on the TV, switch to the port where the device is connected or just press the remote Enter key (center of the circle on top). In most cases the TV will power up and will switch to the port where the device is connected.

The Fire Stick device gives a TV more functionality. You can use services that you are paying the cable company for without having to rent a digital HD box from them. If you are like many American homes, you are probably renting a high-end box or two and have other TVs that are just using the basic digital converter that is either free or rentable for a small fee. With the stick, you can stream some of the services from your premium channels providers. Be aware that you need a good network wireless signal for this to work well.

If this is all you want a media device to do, this is not different in functionality from other similar devices. However, the stick lets you do more.

If you also would like to stream from Kodi, this is the only device that I found that lets you install it.

If you are a video/movie fanatic, you probably have heard of Kodi. You can find articles about it here or here.



Installing Kodi

To install Kodi on your stick you must take several steps:

  1. Set up the stick;
  2. Search for and install ES Explorer;
  3. Create a shortcut for http://www.kodi.tv in ES Explorer;
  4. Use the shortcut to open the Kodi website and select the ARM version of Kodi;
  5. Install Kodi and configure it using http://fusion.tvaddons.ag;
  6. If you want, make it easily accessible in your stick menu by downloading another app;
  7. Watch movies, TV, foreign content in Kodi.

Alternatively, you can install Kodi using SSH. Programs like Putti and ABDLink let you interact wirelessly with the stick using another computer. This allows you to enter the operating system of your stick, upload Kodi from your computer/tablet and install it. I found that this works every time, while being a little more involved. You can find instructions here or here. I have used both methods before and they work.

There are many posts on how to do this available on the Internet. Just Google “installing Kodi on Amazon Fire Stick.”

This is a good project to wrap up your 2016 with some sense of accomplishment.

 

Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a fanatic when it comes to anything technological. Remember, nothing is as easy as your first think. Find him on Twitter (@chibcharus), Google+, LinkedIn and Facebook (Mario Salazar).

Mario Salazar

Mario Salazar is a combat infantry Vietnam Vet, world traveler, renaissance reconnaissance man, pacifist, metal smith, glass artisan, computer programmer and he has a Master of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering. Now retired from the Environmental Protection Agency and living in Montgomery County, Mario will share with you his life, his thoughts, his musing on living in yet another century of change. He will also try to convey his joy of being old.