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Amazon Fire TV Review: A Killer Cord Cutting Solution?

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The Amazon Fire TV lets you cut the cord and get content from Amazon. My Fire TV review covers how it works and how much money you can save with the device.

I love that so many cord-cutting options have come out the past few years. The Amazon Fire TV is just another option that has made it possible to ditch the cable companies and save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year. We bought an Amazon Fire TV about two years ago and wanted to do an updated review for 2019 of our experience with the set top box from Amazon.

The Fire TV isn’t our first device we’ve bought from Amazon. We have two Amazon Fire TV Sticks and both work great.

As you’ll see in my Amazon Fire TV review, it’s very similar to the Fire Stick but offers several upgrades that make it worth a consideration under the right circumstance.

What Comes With the Amazon Fire TV?

 

The Amazon Fire TV is incredibly easy to set up and can be done within a few minutes. As you can see from the picture below, here’s what comes with the device:

  • Fire TV
  • Voice remote
  • Power adapter
  • Two AAA batteries

You’ll also need the following to install the Fire TV:

When you plug in and install the Fire TV, Amazon provides a short video to walk you through the installation process. The video, while helpful, really isn’t needed to get the device ready to operate.

You should be able to watch videos, play games, listen to music or more within five minutes of installing the device as it’s really that simple to set-up.

Amazon Fire TV

What channels can you get with the Amazon Fire TV?

 

Many who want to cut the cord look for one thing – ‘what channels can I still get when I leave my cable company?’ The Amazon Fire TV will not replace all channels, but it does provide access to a fair number of them. Some of the channels or apps will require login credentials.

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In many cases, the login information comes from a cable provider, though some channels will allow you in with information from your Internet Service Provider. Here are the channels you can get with the Amazon Fire TV:

  • Netflix
  • Crackle
  • HBO NOW
  • Watch ESPN
  • Watch HGTV
  • CBS AllAccess
  • Watch Food Network
  • BBC News
  • Hulu
  • Disney Junior
  • MLB TV Premium
  • Showtime
  • A&E
  • YouTube
  • iHeart Radio
  • Spotify
  • History Channel
  • NBA Game Time
  • PBS Kids
  • Bloomberg TV
  • Huff Post Live
  • And, of course, Amazon Prime videos

As you can see in our Fire TV Stick channels list, the Fire TV offers the same lineup of channels.

Some of the channels will require a separate monthly cost, such as HBO Now, which costs $15 per month after the expiration of the free 30-day trial. The other thing to keep in mind is that Amazon Fire TV allows you to access other cable cutting options like:

Each service will add to your overall monthly cost, of course, but I have personally found that both Sling TV and Hulu Live work seamlessly with the Fire TV and give us no problems.

**Additional tip: Love NFL football but don’t know how to watch your favorite team without cable? Here’s how to watch NFL games online for free and still catch all the action!**

Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV vs Fire TV Stick

 

Most may not know the difference between the Amazon Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick. I didn’t when we first started to look at buying the Fire TV.

In all honesty, there isn’t a lot of difference between the two items on the surface. Both are based on the same platform so they operate very similarly and provide the same user experience.

Both devices offer access to Amazon’s 7,000+ apps, games and Alexa skills plus access to other streaming services. They both also have a quad-core processor as well as 8 GB (16 GB for the Fire TV) of internal storage and simply require Wi-Fi connectivity to work.

However, there are some differences to keep in mind when looking to purchase one of the two Amazon devices. Some of those major differences are:

  • The Fire TV provides an Ethernet port; a digital output port; a USB port; and an expandable memory port for up to 200 GB of microSD storage – on top of the standard power and HDMI ports. In contrast, the Fire TV Stick offers only a standard power port and an HDMI port.
  • The Fire TV isn’t as easy to transport as the Fire TV Stick. While still small, the Fire TV doesn’t provide the same pocket portability and plug and play capability that the Fire TV Stick does.
  • The Fire TV is more responsive with fewer buffering issues. Not that the Fire TV Stick buffers a lot, because it doesn’t, but the speed difference is somewhat noticeable when going between the two devices.
  • The Amazon Fire TV supports 4K Ultra HD quality pictures whereas the Fire TV Stick tops out at 1080p picture quality. If video quality is important to you, then the Fire TV will be the preferred option.
  • The Fire TV is big for serious gamers whereas the Fire TV Stick is a little more lightweight. I’m not a gamer, so I’ve honestly not tested the difference between the two. In my research, the Fire TV Stick is good for gaming but is nowhere near robust as the Fire TV.

When looking at Amazon Fire TV vs Fire TV Stick, it really comes down to what you’re looking for in a device and the value you put on it. If the premium options appeal to you, it may warrant the extra $70 cost. Having used both personally, I do see a difference but would be happy with either device.

Amazon Fire TV – The Good

 

We’ve enjoyed using the Amazon Fire TV over the past two years. Here are some of the things we really like about the device:

The new Alexa technology. We absolutely love this feature of the Amazon Fire TV. The remote is voice activated so you can use that to navigate the system and any other request you’d use the Alexa technology for – you can ask it for the weather, location of the nearest restaurant and so much more.

You can read our Amazon Echo review for more on how it works as it brings most of that to your TV.

It’s very simple to use. You can set up the system in less than ten minutes and start watching videos or live TV. You can’t beat that.

Fast platform. The Amazon Fire TV platform is fast and very responsive. That’s great if you’re impatient like me.

Good storage capacity. The Fire TV provides an ample 16 GB of internal storage and up to 200 GB of expandable storage. This is in addition to the Ethernet port it provides for gaming.

Easy to use remote. I wasn’t certain how I’d like the voice-activated remote, but it works great and is very easy to use.

Great video quality. If you have a 4K Ultra HD quality TV, the video quality really stands out. However, it’s important to get the one that matches with your TV. If your TV does not have 4K Ultra HD capability, then the Amazon Fire TV will not be worth the extra cost vs. going with the lower cost Fire TV Stick.

Amazon Fire TV – The Bad

 

While we love our Amazon Fire TV, there are a few things we don’t like about the device. Those are:

It nearly requires having Amazon Prime. You can still have a Fire TV if you don’t have Amazon Prime but you will be limited in what you can do with the device. We have Amazon Prime, so it’s not an issue but you really need it to take advantage of all it can do.

One click ordering. Since we have three young kids, we’re not fans of one-click ordering. Amazon defaults the Fire TV to allow it but it is a simple fix to disable it. The other problem is our daughter has an Amazon Kids Fire Tablet and we’ve put restrictions on it to limit how much time she can spend on it each day.

This causes a problem as it requires us to put in our pin code twice when we want to watch something. To be fair, this happens on both our Fire TV as well as the Fire TV Stick.

amazon Fire TV faqs

 

I’ve been asked a lot of questions over the years about the Fire TV. I’ve put a few of the common questions below, along with answers.

What internet speed do I need to use the Fire TV?

Per Amazon, you need a speed of at least 3 Megabits per second to use the Fire TV for SD content. If you want HD content, then you need at least 5 Mbps. If you want 4K Ultra HD, then you need at least 15 Mbps.

Do I need a Fire TV to access streaming platforms?

That depends on the TV you currently use. Some smart televisions let you access Sling TV, Hulu, and more directly from their platform. Others require a different platform. Check with the manufacturer of your TV to see what’s needed.

Does the Fire TV offer closed captions?

Yes, the Fire TV provides closed captioning.

Can I watch YouTube on Amazon Fire TV?

Google and Amazon had a spat last year, and Google threatened to remove YouTube from the Amazon platform. Thankfully, the spat was short-lived. Here’s what you need to do to watch YouTube on the Amazon platform:

  • Click the search box in the Fire TV Stick platform and type “Firefox”
  • Select Firefox for Fire TV
  • Click “Get”

This downloads the Firefox browser, which allows you to watch YouTube all you wish.

How many devices can I stream on Amazon simultaneously?

You can have as many Fire TV as you wish, but Amazon only allows you to stream content simultaneously on two devices.

Can I watch all cable channels, or pay-per-view events on the Fire TV?

The short answer is no. There are services available that let you jailbreak the Fire TV and get unlimited content. Many will argue that is stealing content, and it’s not something we’ve attempted to do personally.

Can I access everything on the Amazon Fire TV channels list?

Yes, each device comes with access to all of the same Fire TV channels. a handful may be pay options (like HBO Now), but many of the others are free to use.

Can I record shows on the Amazon Fire TV?

The device itself does not allow you to record content. You will need the Fire TV Recast to record shows. The Recast is relatively affordable and allows you to record over-the-air content with your Fire device.

There is no monthly cost and does not work with content you watch on a streaming service like Sling TV or Hulu Live.

The Amazon Fire TV lets you cut the cord and get content from Amazon. My Fire TV review covers how it works and how much money you can save with the device.

Amazon Fire TV Review – My Take

 

Overall, we’ve been very pleased with the Amazon Fire TV. We love the additional capabilities that Alexa technology offers, not to mention the upgraded video quality.

I will also add that if you’re on the fence choosing between the Amazon Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick you can’t really go wrong with either choice. It comes down to how much the differences mean to you and what you’re looking for in a device. We have both and love both devices for different reasons.

With that in mind, I commonly get asked about how to cut the cord and what options are available. The Amazon Fire TV is one of the best options to keep in mind, but there are many other options available. Some of those are:

  • Mohu Leaf 50 antenna – This is the antenna we use and allows you to watch local channels without cable. We have one on each of our TVs and they work great.
  • Roku Streaming Stick – Similar to the Amazon Fire TV Stick, and is another good option to consider.
  • Hulu. I mentioned Hulu above and it’s a great option if you want to cut the cord. With prices at $5.99 or $11.99 per month, you get access to many shows the day after they air, not to mention their own original content.

While there may be some upfront costs to cutting the cord, you can recoup the cost with the resultant savings in three to four months; then you continue to keep the savings. At $80 – $100 per month, or more, it’s well worth it to find an option that works for you.

 

What are your thoughts on the Amazon Fire TV? What streaming services have you used to try to save money on cable? Do you still have cable – why or why not?

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John is the founder of Frugal Rules, a dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry whose writing has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, Yahoo Finance and more.

Passionate about helping people learn from his mistakes, John shares financial tools and tips to help you enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. One of his favorite tools is Personal Capital , which he used to plan for retirement and keep track of his finances in less than 15 minutes each month.

Another one of John's passions is helping people save $80 per month by axing their expensive cable subscriptions and replacing them with more affordable ones, like Hulu with Live TV.

34 Comments

  • Seems like there isn’t much difference between this and the Roku? I think people get confused about what these things are and are not. You aren’t going to get at on of free streaming content, but more so a platform to add on channels. I think you explained it well in this post. I got the Roku first and I like the user interface so I’m stuck on that. We only have one TV right now but would like to get a second one (though not a priority because it probably won’t get used much). I think we’ll stick with the Roku for that one too.

    • John Schmoll says:

      We don’t have a Roku but from all of the reading I’ve done on them both I think you’re right and really just comes down to your preference. Good point DC about thinking it’ll replace everything. It won’t. It’ll give you access to a few things but not everything by any means.

    • Bart Burroughs says:

      I have a Roku Premiere + but just bought a fire tv mainly hoping it will solve an issue I have with the Roku dropping audio about 10 times per movie/show I watch when using the Roku through my Vizio tv and Samsung soundbar surround system. it only happens on the Roku and not if I stream from my phone using the built in Chromecast etc. I have read a ton about this issue on the Roku forums and Roku has no fix so I am hoping the Fire tv will not suffer from this same issue. I will move the Roku to my bedroom tv without surround sound.

      • John Schmoll says:

        Wow, didn’t know that at all – thanks for sharing Bart. Hopefully you won’t run into the same issue with the Fire TV.

        • Treviese Griffin says:

          I am ready to cut the cord on my cable company. I recently was gifted a Amazon fire stick. What is it I need once I leave my cable company? Do I just need internet service?

          • John Schmoll says:

            Very cool, you’ll love the savings! Yes, for the Fire Stick to work you’ll need internet service and that’s it. The one thing to know is the Fire Stick does not provide access to local channels. If you want that, you can find a digital antenna anywhere for a one-time cost of $20 -$50ish and be good to go.

  • Crawdady says:

    We cut the cable and now have 3 Fire TV boxes around the house. We primarily run Playstation Vue on it to watch all our previous cable channels and sports. We watch movies via Amazon Prime Video (both free and pay per view), watch YouTube videos via the YouTube app, and have side loaded Kodi for more movie options. The remote is great and the entire setup is easy to navigate, reliable and entertaining. If cable were free, I wouldn’t go back. As it is, I am saving over $90 per month vs. cable.

    As for Roku vs. Fire TV, Fire TV is best for us since we are Prime members, reviews said Fire TV worked better with Playstation Vue, and we wanted to add free movies with Kodi. And you can side load virtually any Android app on the Fire TV, something you can’t do on Roku.

    Most importantly, with all of these boxes give us freedom! Since they are platforms for media apps, as new services roll out, I can switch easily to something better by simply loading a new app.

  • Jim Peeler says:

    I’m basically a “dummy” when it comes to “cord cutting”, so I’d like some sound advice on what is best for me. I have a 7 year old Samsung HDTV, I like sports, Investigation Discovery channel, Natgeo channel, History, and local stations. That’s about it. I’m not into movies, period! What would you recommend? Thanks….Jim

  • Chris Quednau says:

    I just ordered a used Amazon Fire TV to try the DirecTV Now. In the discription it said it had 32 meg of memory and I have seen others that have 64 … can you tell me the difference and what it means to me as a beginner.
    Thanks.
    Chris

    • John Schmoll says:

      The Fire TV actually has 2GB of memory, according to Amazon so not certain where you’re seeing 32 vs. 64. That being said, it really doesn’t mean that much as it should be more than enough memory for most.

  • Jo says:

    What sport options do you get with the fire stick? My husband is a big sports fan

    • John Schmoll says:

      It only gets you access to the apps/channels listed, but you may need cable logins to access some of them. The Fire TV really isn’t like other cable replacement services, you’d want something like Sling TV or DirecTV Now to access many channels.

  • Bill George says:

    I’m just now looking into cord-cutting and I’m a bit confused. The Fire TV connects to your wifi network to offer up various services. How does this differ from the internet access my TV has and the services it offers?
    Do I need something like the Fire TV if my TV has internet capabilities?

    Thanks
    Bill George in Sacramento

    • John Schmoll says:

      Good question Bill! If your TV has wireless internet capability then you’re good – aside from losing out on the extra apps the Fire TV offers. That’s why we prefer the Fire Stick as it’s portable and it likely allows you access to significantly more apps.

  • Tony says:

    My mother likes to watch cable news. Is Fox News Channel and Headline News available on a Fire Stick?

  • Trig Simon says:

    We live in the country and get our TV via DirectTV Satelite. Are we stuck with DirectTV or DishTV?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Not necessarily. There are two options you could consider, largely in the form of a streaming, no-contract provider. You could use someone like Hulu to get content. It won’t replace everything and most network shows are delayed by 24 hours. The other option would either be DirecTV Now or Sling TV. Both will get you access to a lot of different cable channels with no contract. The main downside to those is you don’t get access to locals.

      • ella wolfe says:

        I keep reading about cutting the cord and though I am very interested, our internet service sucks. We have very limited choice on internet. There is Comcast, which we have, and there is Hughes
        Net, which EVERYBODY around here says to definitely stay away from.

        Comcast just reduced our Mbps from 25 to 3 with no corresponding cut in the cost. If we want to go back to 25 Mbps it will cost $35 more per month.

        This idea of cutting the cord is great but if it needs very high internet capacity I might as well stick with Directv for TV and Comcast for internet & phone. I don’t use a cell phone enough to warrant $50 a month for that either.
        Altogether I pay $145 for Directv (incl HBO & Showtime). $94 for internet & landline. $12 for a cell phone which I still have thousands of text messages and several thousand minutes of rollover from Tracfone.

        Do you have any suggestions for those of us in the stone age as far as internet?

  • Danny says:

    We have a home in Florida and in Kentucky can we use our fire tv along with play station vue in both places?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Great question Danny. Yes, you should be able to use both. You might need to go through the hassle of unplugging one to use the other, but you can definitely do it.

  • Pamela Black says:

    Hi,
    I’ve recently cut the cord even though I’ve had the Amazon Fire box for a while. I didn’t realize it had anything but movies. I subscribed to Sling and didn’t like it so I switched to Directtv Now. I don’t like it either. I’ve been searching for hours to find the monthly cost for certain channels, History for one, and can’t find the information. Can you tell me how I can find out the monthly charge for all channels offered?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Sorry to hear you don’t like those Pamela. No service is perfect unfortunately. Looking up cost for The History Channel appears to be $4.99 per month. I don’t know of anything that lists the costs of all available channels. Many channels simply don’t have a standalone service they offer, which is why a streaming service tends to be a better alternative.

  • Donna Steele says:

    I am thinking of cutting the cord.I live in West Virginia, and in the country surrounded by mountain’s.I already use a Roku on 3 TV’s.What is the best service to subscribe to watch tv? I already have netflix and amazon.But I need to know where to go to get a lot of channel’s.I pay $225 and up for Dish and am sick of being ripped off.And my bill is different every month.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I remember being frustrated with the up and down bills each month Donna. We hated it. That said, we recommend DirecTV Now and Hulu Live as the top options. Both are no-contract and have 40+ channels – typically the most popular cable channels out there, at a fraction of the price you’re currently paying.

  • Bonnie L Wright says:

    How does this work with multiple TV’S? Does each need a Fire stick or Fire TV? Do I need a subscription for each TV or one for the house and the code is good on each system?

    • John Schmoll says:

      Good questions Bonnie. You’ll need a Fire TV for each TV as they’re less portable. The Stick is more portable so it’s really up to you as it’s a plug and play device. We have two, but it’s certainly not needed. You’re good with one subscription. 🙂

  • Cherri says:

    We are considering the fire stick for 4 TVs. They are not connected to the internet. We are not tech savvy. Would we need 4 fire sticks? Would we get local channels?

  • tim says:

    Just so I understand –
    1- Roku and Fire TV/Stick need an internet connection?
    2- Can it be a wired connection, NOT wireless?

    My TV is not HD, but has HDMI inputs.
    I’m trying to get 2 primary channels – NBCSN and Willow. Do you know which system will give me those channels?
    Thanks

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