- The Amazon Fire TV is a media player that streams video, music, and games to your TV.
- It plugs into the HDMI port of your television and turns any TV into a smart TV.
- There are several models, including the Fire TV Stick, which is like the Roku Streaming Stick, and the premium-priced Fire TV Cube.
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Amazon Fire TV is a video streaming device created by Amazon.
Amazon released the first version of the Fire TV in 2014, and since that time has sold several different versions and models.
What Amazon Fire TV can do
The Fire TV is similar to other media players, like the Roku family of streaming boxes, Google Chromecast, and the Apple TV. It is a device that connects to a TV via an HDMI port and lets you choose from among thousands of streaming channels (like Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and many others).
In that way, the Fire TV turns an ordinary TV into a "smart" TV. You can also connect Fire TV to a smart TV, though the benefits won’t be as significant, since the TV can already do at least some of the things Fire TV can do.
How Amazon Fire TV differs from its competitors
The Fire TV line of streaming devices stands out from competing products in a couple of important ways.
First and foremost, since it’s an Amazon product, it emphasizes Amazon services in its menus. Of course, you have access to a vast array of channels, but Amazon makes sure you can’t miss Prime Video and Prime Music.
In addition, while some other streamers include voice control, Fire TV relies on Alexa, the same personal assistant found in Echo smart speakers.
It comes in three models
They include a library of tens of thousands of streaming channels, work with Amazon Alexa for voice control of the TV and media functions, and also include music (via services like Amazon Prime Music and Spotify) and a large selection of games.
The Fire TV Stick is the least expensive at $40 and is a good choice if you don’t need 4K video (it delivers 1080P high definition resolution). Like the Roku Stick, it’s a self-contained media player that looks like a USB flash drive and plugs directly into the HDMI port of your TV.
The Fire TV Stick 4K is a step up. At $50, it upgrades the video resolution to 4K, but is otherwise the same. It’s a good choice if you have a 4K TV.
Amazon’s Fire TV Cube costs $120 and is, as the name suggests, cube-shaped. It sits on your media console and includes a built-in speaker. And while Fire TV Sticks require the remote control for Alexa voice control (there is a microphone built into the remote), the Cube understands your voice from across the room, without the need to speak into the remote. The Cube also has built-in Ethernet support, so you can wire it directly to your internet router if you want to; the Fire TV Sticks require Wi-Fi or an optional Ethernet adapter.
Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:
- ‘What is Google Chromecast?’: How to use Google’s smart device for TVs and monitors
- How to stream content from a Kodi player on your Roku device
- ‘What can the Amazon Echo do?’: Everything you need to know about Amazon’s smart speakers