It's holiday season, and while TVs have never been cheaper than this year, chances are you're not ready to upgrade that premium set you bought. a decade ago. Although TVs have come a long way in the last few years – 4K, HDR and all sorts of new software built-in – that might not mean anything to you. After all, a screen is a screen, and if you bought a fantastic 1080p TV in 2010, it probably still looks great today, especially if you're not interested in 4K content.
Of course, these old TVs are missing a crucial element needed to enjoy your favorite movies and shows: streaming services. What was once a nice addition to your cable package is quickly becoming the only way to watch original shows, movies and more. Netflix original content is constantly attracting eyes and ears across the internet, while Disney's streaming service delivers all-new Originals in the Marvel and Star Wars universes to come over the next five years. Meanwhile, HBO Max plans to preview WB's entire slate of 2022 movies along with their theatrical releases, making a trip to the theater nearly obsolete.
If your TV had these apps built-in, you're good to go, but if your TV doesn't include apps, you don't have to miss and upgrade today. For as little as $29, you can buy one of Amazon's Fire TV Sticks for your TV, adding thousands of the company's on-demand apps, games, and rentals to your TV. Setting up your Fire Stick only takes a few steps, even if your TV is older, so grab your new streaming gadget and get ready to unlock hours of entertainment.
Which fire stick should I buy?
If you haven't already picked up a Fire Stick, you'll want to be sure to head over to Amazon's website to pick up yours. Amazon sells three separate versions of the Fire Stick, though they all offer identical software experiences when set up.
- At the low end, you'll find the new Staff of Fire Lite, which was first released in 2022. At $29 – and available for as low as $18 during the holiday and Prime Day sales – the Lite version of the Fire Stick is, in our eyes, perfect for most non-smart TV owners. You'll get all the great software included in the other two models, without the added hardware extras that aren't necessary.
- In the middle, you'll find the 1080p Firestick standard. At $39, it's only $10 more than the Lite version, and in addition to a slightly upgraded processor, you'll find the included new Fire Remote, which includes voice commands and volume and tone controls. power supply for your TV. Look to see if your TV has HDMI-CEC – we'll talk a bit more about that below. If so, this is the model for you; otherwise, these features aren't worth the price increase.
- Finally, Amazon sells a 4K version of their Fire Stick, which is identical in almost every way to the original 1080p model. At $49, it's $20 more than the Lite version, but offers 4K HDR support for your money. If your TV is 4K, it almost certainly has smart apps, but it's still a great buy to get away from the (usually bad) software included on most TVs. It's also a great buy if you're trying to future-proof your investment. If you buy a new 4K TV in a few years, you'll be good to go with this device.
Once you have your Fire Stick in hand, it's time to set it up with your TV.
Setting up your fire stick
First, you need to make sure your TV has at least one HDMI input. If you're using a TV that's much older than modern displays, you might find that there's no HDMI port at all. If your TV doesn't have an HDMI input, you can always grab a converter box like this to use your Fire Stick with composite cables, though, really, you should consider upgrading your TV for better experience.
For everyone else, make sure you have a wireless internet connection in your home, insert the batteries into your Fire remote, and you'll be ready to follow these setup steps:
- Start by connecting your Fire Stick to power. 1080p models can use your TV's USB port (if there is one), but for the best experience, plug the Fire Stick directly into an outlet using a USB adapter. The 4K model requires a power outlet.
- Connect your Fire Stick to the HDMI port on the back of your TV. In most cases, it doesn't matter which HDMI port you use. If it doesn't fit, be sure to use the extension cable included in the box.
- Using your TV's remote, select the input that corresponds to the HDMI port you plugged your Fire Stick into (eg, HDMI 1, HDMI 2, etc.). When you have selected your screen, you will see your Fire Stick splash screen when your device starts,
- If your remote does not automatically pair, press and hold the home button for fifteen seconds to ensure that the remote and the Fire Stick are synced. This should happen automatically.
- Follow the onscreen instructions to connect your Fire Stick to your WiFi network.
- Register your Fire Stick with your Amazon account.
- Once you reach the home screen, you can navigate through the various setup menus to install apps such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and HBO Max. Each of these apps will require login information.
If you're using the converter box we linked above to plug your Fire Stick into your TV, remember to match each color to your TV's composite inputs.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Fire Stick During Setup
There are a few things to keep in mind when setting up your Fire Stick, depending on the actual age of your TV.
- First: Check your TV to see if it supports HDMI-CEC. It's a special version of HDMI that allows your TV and any electronic device plugged into the CEC port to work together, so your Fire Stick can control your TV's volume or your TV's remote can control the menus on your Fire Stick. HDMI-CEC has been around for over a decade, so even older, non-smart TVs may have it. Most brands refer to CEC as their own special names; for example, Samsung calls it Anynet+. If you can, use a CEC-equipped port for your Fire Stick. This will give you the best possible experience.
- In your device's settings menu, you should check your display settings to make sure your resolution is set correctly. For example, if your TV resolution is 720p, make sure your Fire Stick is not set to 1080p, and vice versa.
- Even if you decide to buy a new TV in the next few years, Amazon's software is much better than what most TVs come with. Factor in auto-updating apps and a wider range of content than any TV on the market today, and sticking with Fire Stick just makes sense.
- If you use one of Amazon's Echo products, you can use Alexa to control your Fire Stick. While the voice-activated remote is the easiest way to do this, you can also turn to your Echo speakers to ask Alexa to play shows, movies, music, and more right from your TV. .
- Amazon sells an ethernet adapter for your Fire Stick if you prefer to use it over a wired connection. This can help anyone with a fast internet connection but not a router, or anyone who wants to plug and play the internet and forget about having to deal with WiFi.
Make your TV smarter
Whether you're looking to breathe new life into an older TV or want to finally start streaming on Netflix, Amazon's Fire TV ecosystem is the place to be. Not only can it make a boring TV “smart”, but when you finally dive into the world of 4K UHD displays, it can continue on your new TV without an ounce of setup.