Amazon Fire TV Stick Review – A Cord Cutting Solution?

Read my Amazon Fire TV Stick review to see my thoughts on the device. If you want to cut the cord, Amazon makes it easy to not miss your favorite shows.

The Amazon Fire TV stick is another in a growing line of cord cutting options for those who want to kill their cable bill. We recently canceled DirecTV and the Fire Stick has replaced a lot of that content as we’re Amazon Prime members. This Amazon Fire Stick review shares our experience using the device.

The Fire Stick is actually the second of two streaming options by Amazon. They first introduced the Amazon Fire TV as a set top box that streams content and comes in at $99. We have no real need for a set top box and have been very satisfied with the Fire Stick.

What Comes With the Fire TV Stick?


Did I mention that the Fire TV Stick is incredibly easy to use? Well, it is. 🙂 As you can see from the picture below, it comes in a small box from Amazon and contains the following items:


Amazon Fire TV Stick                   Amazon Fire TV Stick


It’s not only easy to use, it’s easy to set up. We’ve had bad experiences in the past setting up wireless routers and other pieces of technology that claim to be easy to set up but then require us to spend an hour or two on the phone with a customer service rep in Malaysia to work correctly. The Fire Stick was the complete opposite.

You take the Fire Stick out of the box, put the batteries in the remote and connect the USB cable to the dongle and then to your TV. I actually recommend, as does Amazon, to plug it in to a surrounding outlet as they provide updates to it that you will not get if you simply plug the stick into the TV. Do keep in mind the cord is a bit on the short side; thankfully, we have an outlet within reach.

Once I got the Fire TV Stick out of the box we were watching a video within five minutes. In actuality, the time potentially could be less than that, but Amazon has a short intro video that walks you through how to us it as well as an option to sign up for Amazon Prime if you’re not currently a member. As an aside, Amazon does allow you to sign up for a free 30-day trial of Prime by purchasing the Fire Stick if that’s something you want to look at.

Amazon Fire TV stick


Fire Stick Features


If you want to cut the cord, features are going to be a big thing for you. As a whole, the Fire Stick does not disappoint when it comes to features. The first thing most are concerned with are the channels you receive. Here is a sampling of the channels available through the Fire TV Stick:

  • Netflix
  • Crackle
  • Watch ESPN
  • Hulu Plus
  • A&E
  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • iHeart Radio
  • Spotify
  • History Channel
  • NBA Game Time
  • PBS Kids
  • Bloomberg TV
  • Huff Post Live
  • And, of course, Amazon Prime videos

I will add that the HBO Now feature does cost $15 per month, though they do offer a free 30 day trial to test it out. We’ve added it since cutting the cord and it works great. Amazon also recently added Showtime and Starz as other add-on features for $8.99 per month if you like those channels.

The Amazon Prime app is the only app that is loaded on the Fire Stick, but adding the others is relatively simple. You can also add other apps through the Amazon App store if you like, and is fairly intuitive to do. Beyond the channels you can watch, the Fire TV Stick also has a number of games you can play but many require the Amazon Fire TV game controller, to play them.

Having used the Fire Stick for over a year I’d say you don’t need to have a Prime membership to buy and use it. Yes, it does add to the features of course, but there are plenty of options available through the standard apps and those available through the Amazon App store.

I’ve not used any of the other similar options out there like the Google Chromecast, but here is a visual from the Amazon site that covers the differences in what each offers to get a flavor of how the Fire TV Stick stands out.

Fire TV stick

What to Like and Not Like About the Fire Stick


I have really liked what I’ve seen from the Fire Stick thus far. The price alone has made it worth it. There are a few other things to really like about the Amazon stick, such as:

It’s incredibly simple to use. You can get the dongle set up and ready to go in under 10 minutes. You can’t beat that.

Fast platform. I was curious as to how fast the platform would be and have not been disappointed. The platform is super fast and ultra responsive.

A huge amount of content available. Whether or not you have Amazon Prime, there is a lot of content available on the Fire TV Stick. If you do have Prime, then you’ll be even more impressed with the available content – it competes quite well with Netflix in my opinion. Many have asked about receiving local channels since cutting the cord. We use the Mohu Leaf 50 to get local channels and it works great.

Simple to use remote. The remote, while on the smallish side, is simple and easy to use. It’s relatively easy to move around the on screen platform through the remote and when you need to type things in it’s very responsive. Amazon recently introduced a new Amazon Fire TV Stick with voice remote that looks to be a great addition for those wanting something more advanced.

Great wireless coverage. Our router is at the other end of the house, on a different floor, and picks it up at full strength.

New X-Ray Feature. The newly added X-Ray feature allows you to identify favorite actors or songs in shows and find them in other shows or movies.

Excellent storage capacity. The Fire TV Stick offers 8 GB of internal storage vs. 2 GB from the Chromecast.

Not everything is perfect with the Fire Stick, though there are only a few things I don’t like, such as:

Limited voice search. It is available but you must download a smart phone app to use it. That being said, the new voice remote option is a great way to solve this problem.

One click ordering. You may like one click ordering, though we prefer not to have it in our house. You can disable that through setting the Parental Controls, so it’s not that much of a hassle.

Read my Amazon Fire TV Stick review to see my thoughts on the device. If you want to cut the cord, Amazon makes it easy to not miss your favorite shows.


Amazon Fire TV Stick Review – My Take


We’ve been using the Amazon Fire TV Stick for over a year now and are really enjoy it. Since cutting the cord we’ve begun to use it a lot more and really like its simplicity. There is a ton of content available through the device and while a good bit of it isn’t free – like Netflix or Hulu Plus, if you already subscribe to one of those services you’ll find the Fire TV Stick seamlessly integrates with your TV watching habits. We also like that we can travel with it and use on any TV we like. We’ve bought the Nupro Travel Case for Fire TV Stick to keep the dongle, remote and adapter safe and in one place.

That being said, there are plenty of other cord cutting options, from the TiVo Bolt if you want a DVR, to the Roku 3 player that can save you significant money.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member the Fire Stick can really maximize the value you receive from the membership. Amazon has a library thousands of titles large and growing daily. The other feature I really like is that you can use the dongle on any TV in your house. So, if you have multiple TVs you can simply pull it from one and plug it in another without a problem – as well as a new feature that allows you to take it with you if you travel.

The Fire TV Stick, won’t replace all the shows you watch, but with the wealth of content they do have, it goes a long way towards getting you there while allowing you to cut the cord on cable. Now if I can just get my football I’d be set. 🙂


Do you still have cable? What cord cutting options have you tried and come to like? How much do you spend for your cable or other cord cutting options per month?

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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more. If you're wanting to learn how to monetize your blog, check out my blog coaching services to see how I can help you take your site to the next level.


  • Bryan says:

    Con: They do tend to be a bit more sluggish than their regular FireTV, but that isn’t to much of an issue. You get used to it

    New Pro: I like that the latest update allows an easier time connecting to hotel WiFi platforms that require you to go to a special web page. This makes them great for when you go on vacation!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Good to know Bryan. We’ve not had much issue with sluggishness, but interesting to know the set top box is a bit faster.

      I know, I really like they added that as well. We don’t watch much TV on vacation – but a great option to have.

  • I’ve had AppleTV for quite some time now which I enjoy. If I didn’t this definitely seems like great replacement, for a cheap price. Who needs cable anymore anyways?

  • I like the portability aspect. Not that we go on trips to watch TV, but it is sometimes nice to watch a movie in a hotel room without paying $17.99 though the hotel medium. Vacations are often the only time I get to watch an entire movie in one setting!

  • Right now I have a “smart” Blu-ray player in my living room and one in my bedroom too that I use to stream Netflix on those two TVs and that is what I mainly use. Unfortunately, I can’t use them to access Hulu, which I also subscribe to. I like that this option is able to be used with lots of different streaming options. That’s great! I usually have to use my laptop to watch the shows I want on Hulu.

  • Kalie says:

    We don’t have cable, and found that a less than $5 HDMI cable connecting our laptop to the computer does the job of a fire stick. It is slightly less convenient because it is a cord, but can be left plugged into the TV like the fire stick. Here is a link to a chart comparing it to other options:

    • John Schmoll says:

      We’ve done that as well Kalie, especially for shows we miss for some reason and want to watch straight from the given channel’s website. The only problem we’re finding is some are starting to not allow it for free.

  • Donna says:

    I have no problem cutting the cord to cable tv however I also get my internet access through my cable company Time Warner package “deal”. My problem is maintaining good internet access after the cord is cut. Internet is my go for everything for selling stuff on Craig’s List and how too video’s to learn new thing’s for making extra cash. I have learned so much on the internet. I refuse to use Verizon as my ISP but need access somehow. Anyone have any ideas about that?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Great question Donna! You’d want to talk with Time Warner to see how that would impact your pricing for internet service. They’re not dependent on each other, you can have service without the cable, though it’s likely it’ll jack up what you’re paying for the internet service. It’s worth a call at the very least.

      • Kelly P says:

        Just cancelled cable package with TWC. Extreme Internet (50Mps) standalone is around $84 per month. Expensive but far cheaper than the $223 a month I was paying for package that I rarely watched. I own 3 Fire Sticks that are sync’d to one fully loaded prime account. The connection to my Kindle is also a plus. Love it!

  • Jim De Leonardis says:

    I have 6 cable boxes from cablevision in my office for each room. I have triple play which gives me internet, phone and TV. Can the fire stick in each room replace my cable boxes or give me negotiation options with cablevision?
    I have quite a few in my house as well.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Good question Jim. Not knowing what all you use your cable to watch, I don’t know if it’d replace it per se. Personally speaking, we use the Fire Stick to access a fair number of things. They have apps available to download (many are free) that allows you to watch different shows plus access to the channels I listed above. We get many (which isn’t that much) of the network shows from the Internet and have HBO Now through the Fire Stick. The only thing we’ve not fully replaced is sports. The nice thing about the Fire Stick is it’s portable so you can move it from TV to TV. Hope that helps!

  • Sally Matamoros says:

    What about ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, FX, USE, ION WTVZ, ANC, SPIKE TV, TNT, HISTORY CHAN, ANIMAL CHAN, and HGTV. These are the main channels we watch. Our Smart TV have Netflix. Will I be able to view any of these. I now have cox for internet and cable.

  • John Schmoll says:

    Good questions Sally. You won’t be able to get the main networks on the Fire Stick, or most other devices like this for that matter. In most cases a simple satellite will get you all the network channels. I discuss how we do that here –

    The Fire Stick does allow you to get the History Channel. Most of those other channels either have apps you can download through the Fire Stick and, if not, you can access them online in most cases. Hope that helps. 🙂

  • Catherine Watkins says:

    I am really interested in the first stick? HOw do We watch local channels and ones like 106 of we go basic on dish tv?

  • stephanie matchus says:

    Thank you for this info John! I have been way overspending and trying to figure out the best of the best and keeping just those. I currently pay for the full suite of channels with xfinity (my husband LOVES history channels), netflix, amazon prime, spotify, and sirius. I have been trying to figure out how to get this way down.. what are your top choices? I am thinking about keeping Netflix, getting an Amazon Fire stick and spotify for music…thoughts?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Not a problem at all Stephanie, happy to help. We were in the same boat, spending over $100/month on DirecTV – which I talk about here –

      I’d stay with Netflix and possibly add the Fire Stick as it’s well worth the one-time cost. We do both and get virtually most of the same content we were prior and are saving $80/month. The Fire Stick gets you access to the History Channel so that’d be good for your husband. For Spotify, we have the family plan which is $15/month. We recently added that as we both work from home so it’s worth the expense. Hope that helps, let me know if there are any more specific questions I can answer. 🙂

  • Chris says:

    John, how does it work with the HDMI cable? Is there some sort of adapter to the USB end of the Fire Stick?

  • Doris Jones says:

    I am buying the fire stick and cutting the cord on Dish. Your answers have given me all the info I need.

  • Kathy Morris says:

    Thank you, John!
    Your answers/advice/knowledge with Amazon Fire Stick are very helpful to those of us who just “don’t get it!”
    Again, THANK YOU!!

  • Rhonda says:


    What about accessing networks such as Bravo and Lifetime? We just ordered the Fire Stick with voice remote today, and are looking into antennas for access to local channels (local news, etc)……so we are that much closer to “cutting the cord”….excited yet nervous…

    • John Schmoll says:

      Congrats on cutting the cord Rhonda, you’ll love the savings! I’m not very familiar with the options on those channels. I’d check to see what content they offer on their websites as well as on YouTube. You may be able to get a fair bit of the content that way.

  • Andrea says:

    Hi John, if I buy a firestick for each TV. Can they be used at the same time??

    • John Schmoll says:

      Great question Andrea! Amazon allows you to stream from your account from two separate spots at once. So, in theory, you are able to. The only thing to be mindful of is if your Internet connection is fast enough to allow for both without any lagging.

  • Steve says:

    What about ESPN and the Golf channel, will I be able to access either?

  • Charli says:

    OK so , if I get the firestick and add hulu plus (if that’s how it works) would I get football and mostly my normal stuff ( big bang theory , 2 broke girls ) stuff like that , or would I need an antenna?? Don’t want to sound ignorant but really I have no clue. And what about my children’s tv in their rooms, they watch TV.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I believe that would take care of most of it. I’m not that familiar with Hulu, but I believe they carry most network shows. For stuff like football, on local channels, you’d need an antenna. For antennas/fire stick they only work on one tv so you’d need multiples in your case.

  • Berni F says:

    Have you tried a Sling subscription? I think I’m going to go with the fire stick + very basic sling. That way hubby has his sports and considering I already have Prime (for many other reasons), I’ll still save a bunch over my $120/mo cable bill. Thanks for your review.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I have Berni. You can see my review of Sling here –

      Sadly, Sling leaves a lot to be desired. We tried it about 6-8 months ago and just got a 7 day free trial again this week and it doesn’t seem that they’ve cleared up their issues. It has significant buffering issues and can lag quite a bit. I’ve read that’s a known issue, but hopefully you won’t run into that.

  • Kim says:

    I am thinking about buying a Fire Stick, and downgrading to basic cable so we can still watch local news and live TV. My husband has heard from friends that the cable service can scramble your service and it can take up to a week to get it straightened out. I find that hard to believe, have you heard any stories like that?

  • cathi says:

    How about amc? Can I watch amc with firestick?

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