What is Amazon FireStick – The Basics

Back in 2014, Amazon introduced the world to Fire TV. A plug-in TV Box for providing entertainment by streaming movies and TV shows. It used Android applications just like a smartphone. Later the same year, Amazon released the FireStick. Whereas FireTv is a TV box set, FireStick – as the name implies – is a USB style plug-in stick.

Amazon Firestick

Being smaller in size, Fire TV Stick, or simply FireStick, is slightly less powerful than its big brother. A watered-down version, you can say. However, it offers similar functionality. It connects your TV to the World Wide Web so that you can stream TV Shows and different channels. Besides, you can power the device remotely, and some latest generations of the device even have voice support.

FireStick adds, “tens of thousands” of channels to your home entertainment. That includes all the premium streaming services you like, such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and HBO NOW, among others. You can also stream Live TV and network TV, including sports, news, documentaries, and thousands of less common micro-niche channels, you may never have heard of before via third-party APKs. Some of these apps even let you watch pay per view live streaming free of cost. For instance, you can get Spectrum for FireStick. 

All that for a mere $39.99. Yes, you read that, right! The basic FireStick costs just 40 bucks. You can get it for even low price during the discount seasons. The 4K version, appropriately called FireStick 4K, costs a little more ($49.99) and is identical in shape & size to the FireStick except that it streams 4K videos. The basic Fire TV Stick can only send 1080p HD videos instead.

 

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More About Firestick

Is purchasing and setting up FireStick difficult? Not at all. Purchasing a FireStick is very straightforward. You can get it from any nearby Target, Best buy, or any other hardware store. However, we suggest ordering it online from Amazon. Amazon ships it pretty much all over the world.

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These types of media devices are created with ease of use in mind. Anyone can set them up on their own. You don’t have to be a tech-savvy person to plug a USB-style device into your TV set. So users can start right away!

How to Set Up FireStick

Before you can setup Firestick, you need the following:

A Compatible TV – Any TV with HD or UHD support and an HDMI port is compatible with FireStick. All the latest TV screens have this port. So if you bought one recently, you’re in luck!

Internet – A Wi-Fi or wireless connection

Amazon Account – While you don’t need to be an  Amazon Prime customer, you need a regular Amazon account for Firestick. Don’t worry if you don’t have one at the moment. You can create one during the set up process.

Batteries – 2 AAA size batteries to power up FireStick remote control

Alright. You have all the necessary things sorted? Good! Follow these four steps to set up FireStick.

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Step 1: Plug one end of the power adapter into your FireStick and the other end to a power outlet. Make sure your device is turned “ON.”

Step 2: You can plug the FireStick directly into the HDMI port of your TV or use an HDMI extender to attach it to your TV. Both ways will work just fine. HDMI port is usually on the back of your screen.

Step 3: Pop the batteries into your remote control. If it’s not pairing with your stick automatically, press and hold the Home Button for 10 seconds. This will send the remote to a discovery mode to help you complete the pairing process.

Step 4:  Connect FireStick to your Wi-Fi network and then follow the on-screen instructions to set up your Amazon account.

That’s it, folks! Your FireStick is ready to fire up your entertainment world. Wait a second, do you know you can do much more than just streaming entertainment on your screen with FireStick? Let us give you some ideas.

1. Ask Alexa Things

New FireStick devices come with Alexa support. Alexa is Amazon’s version of Google’s Siri, which allows you to command the device using your voice alone. Yup, you don’t even have to move a muscle to pull things on screen now. And besides asking Alexa to change movies for you, it can do other things like ordering a pizza, getting live video feeds from smart cameras, or even asking for the latest weather update.

2. Listen to Favorite Music

FireStick gives you a couple of different ways to listen to music. First, if you’re an Amazon Prime member, you can sign up for a music subscription. Second, via Amazon’s Music App. And third, you can also download the Spotify app for free from Amazon App Store and listen to your favorite Spotify playlists.

3. Digital Signage

If you’re a content creator yourself and want to share your own content to the screen, FireStick allows you to setup digital signage. You just have to download this handy little app called ScreenCloud. Follow instructions and make your account. Then you can create channels & playlists full of images, videos, or other content. You can also schedule content using ScreenCloud.

4. Mirror Phone’s Screen

FireStick can take what’s playing on your phone and show it on the big screen. To set up this setting, press and hold down the Home button on your remote. This will open up the quick access menu on your screen. That’s where you can find the mirroring option. Now find the mirroring option on your phone and pair the two. Easy peasy!

5. Jailbreak FireStick

In an age when third party support is becoming non-existent, FireStick has a jailbreaking option. This means you can install third-party applications and enjoy unlimited support. However, Jailbreaking Firestick is different from other electronic devices. Here, you’re just enabling the option for third party support. For in-depth information, Check out our ultimate Jailbreak Firestick guide.

Using VPN (Why the need?)

When you’re streaming content, a Virtual Private Network or VPN helps you in more than one way. In this section, we discuss why you need one!

  • Privacy Issues: User privacy is one of the biggest concerns today. Your ISP, government, or a hacker can sniff your traffic to analyze what you’re watching. VPN encrypts your traffic so that it is harder for third parties to hijack your internet traffic.
  • Surveillance Issues: Surveillance, like privacy, is another big today. Governments in the third world countries (and law enforcement agencies in the first world) keep an eye on users. VPN adds a protective layer by encrypting and rerouting your traffic.
  • Legal Issues: Streaming from third party resources can get you in legal trouble. This is because most of these apps feature licensed content without actually having the license. A VPN hides your IP Address so that it becomes harder for anyone to locate and identify you.
  • Geo-restriction Issues: Sometimes, premium apps like Netflix restrict content on the basis of geography. This is called Geo-blocking. You can get around any geo-restricted content using a VPN (and changing your IP address to another location).
  • ISP throttling Issues: ISPs around the world can restrict your connection speed for one reason or another. When your connection speed is down, you cannot stream HQ videos. A VPN can get around this problem by simply making your activities invisible to your ISP.

What is the best VPN for Firestick?

Now that you know, a VPN is an excellent way to supercharge your Firestick…. This brings us to the big question. What’s the best VPN for FireStick? There are several good VPNs out in the market. But how do you know which one’s ideal for you?

First things first, it should have either a dedicated Fire TV app or app support. This means, once you’ve settled on a VPN of your choice, you can zap to the Amazon App Store and get the corresponding app. Having an official app means you can avoid the hassle of setting things up manually.

Of course, performance is also key. Your VPN should offer a fast, safe, and reliable connection. A large server count helps find you a suitable server quickly. Additionally, this ensures you have a reliable connection because you can switch to another server if one goes down for some reason.

Firestick VPN app is free!  The service it uses to hide your Firestick’s IP address (called IPvanish) costs $4.87 after you use my coupon code, which is available only to visitors of KFireTV

Introduction to IPVanish
IPVanish VPN

Enter IPvanish. Long-time readers of this website know IPVanish is our go-to choice for streaming. It’s a commercial VPN service based in the US since 2012. That makes it one of the longest-running VPN services in the country. The company owns roughly 90 percent of its Points of Presence, also called POPs (data centers and hardware). After changing a few hands, IPVanish was finally acquired by J2 Global, a Los Angeles Tech Company, in 2019.

Why IPVanish

Because….Reasons! There are a few reasons which mean IPVanish standout from the crowd. These are:

1. Security

IPVanish uses industry-standard (AES 256-bit) end to end encryption protocols to keep your data safe. To give you an idea, the US government and military use the same standard to safeguard sensitive data. Therefore, your data remains secure throughout its World Wide Web journey.

2. Privacy

IPVanish is one of the few services that follow a strict no-logs policy. While every VPN provider claims to protect your privacy, they keep user logs for one reason or another. And sometimes, they even share it with the government. IPVanish is the only VPN among the bunch that doesn’t record user activity, connection, or traffic on any pretext.

3. Wide Network Coverage

IPvanish has more than 1000 servers in 75+ regions all over the world. That means you can change your IP address to any of these locations. With IPVanish, geography restrictions are now a thing of the past. Whenever you come across a restricted content, simply change your IP address and watch whatever you want.

4. Unmatched Speed

As we pointed out earlier, IPVanish owns almost all of its infrastructure. None of it is outsourced. Due to which it offers the fastest VPN speeds due to the lowest latency. No throttling at all. So your download and upload time are quick even when you’re streaming UHD and 4K content.

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While it’s previous 10-device support was pretty generous, IPVanish has replaced it with something even better. Now IPVanish offers unlimited device support on a single subscription. That means you can protect every single device in your homes like Android/iOS phones and devices such as FireStick along with Windows, Linux, and Mac PCs. Plus, routers as well.

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Common Issues & Troubleshooting

Let’s take a look at some of the common issues and how you can troubleshoot them without getting your panties in a bunch!

Unfreeze/Restart/Reset

No electronic device is completely infallible. That’s why sometimes, for one reason or another, your Firestick freezes and stops functioning. If you find yourself in such a situation, the best solution is to either Restart or Reset your device. Below are four different ways you can do just that.

  1. Unplug your FireStick and TV and wait for at least 30 seconds. Plug it back again to start normal operation.
  2. You can restart a frozen Firestick from the Settings menu. However, this option is only useful for people who use their smartphones in place of the FireStick remote. To do this, go to Settings. Search for “Device,” tap on it and then select the “Restart” option. Your device will automatically restart within a few moments.
  3. In case you hate walking up to the power supply, you can restart with the help of the FireStick remote. Simply grab the remote, press, and hold down the Select and Play/Pause button simultaneously. Hold down both buttons for atleast ten seconds until your device powers off and restarts.
  4. Many apps run in the background. Several others have outright RAM leaks, consuming memory bit by bit until it comes to a halt. These apps consume your device’s resources without you even noticing. It’s why we recommend using any free app such as “Background Apps and Process List” that helps you see the background process. Close all background processes to unfreeze FireStick.

Disk Space

The new FireStick devices come with 8GB storage. But only about 5 GB is available to the users for downloads and app installations. When the storage becomes low, you may have trouble installing new apps. Some FireStick users report slow streaming when their device runs low on storage. Others come across a more critical “Low on Storage” message displayed on their screens. If you find yourself in such a situation, follow these tried and tested methods to free up space.

1. Clear Cache and App Data

Over time, cache fills up your memory. Clearing cache frees up this space without installing your app. But keep in mind, clearing cache will factory reset your app. This means it will revert back to the settings when you installed it the first time. So you will lose all account information. Follow these steps to clear Firestick’s cache.

Step 1: Go to Firestick’s settings menu and choose Applications.

Step 2: Go to “Manage Installed Applications.”

Step 3: Now, you should see a list of all the apps. Select the app whose cache you want to clear and then select the “Clear cache” option on the following screen.

Repeat the same for all the apps

2. Uninstall Unused Applications

You can free considerable space by removing unused or less frequently used app. To remove an app on the FireStick, follow the below-mentioned steps

Step 1: Launch Settings menu and go to Applications

Step 2: Choose “Manage Installed Applications” just like before

Step 3: From the apps list, select the app you want to remove

Step 4: Select uninstall. Confirm your selection, and that’s it.

This will uninstall the app and delete all associated files, thereby freeing up space.

Audio Lag

Is your audio out of sync with the video? If yes, you’re not alone. Hundreds of Firestick users go through the same nightmare. Here’s how you can fix this problem and save your sanity along the way.

1. Force Stop the App

If the audio lag is app-specific, force stopping it might help. To forcestop an app, navigate to the Settings menu, and go to Applications. Select Manage Installed Applications and choose the affected app. Click Force Stop to shut it down right away. Afterward, relaunch the app and check if the issue has been solved. If not, try these solutions below.

2. Restart FireStick

Using any of the methods mentioned above.

3. Clear Cache

Using any of the methods mentioned above.

4. Turn off Dolby Digital Output

If you have Dolby Digital Plus enabled on your FireStick, it can cause synchronization issues. This is because sometimes HDMI devices (TV, soundbar, etc.) don’t support this feature. Follow these steps to disable Dolby Digital Plus.

Step 1: Go to the FireStick Settings menu and choose “Display & Sounds.”

Step 2: Select “Audio,” followed by “Dolby Digital Output.”

Step 3: Check the setting for “Dolby Digital Plus OFF.”

5. Update FireStick OS

If nothing else works, you have to update your Fire OS. Simply go to Settings, then My Fire Tv, followed by About. If an update is available, you’ll see an Install Update option on the page. Otherwise, there will be a “Check for Updates” option, which means your OS is up to date.

Zoom Out (Zoomed In Issue)

Zoom In and Zoom Out are two features of FireStick’s Magnifier. Sometimes, the screen gets stuck on either of the two. If that’s the case with you, check out these solutions:

1. Try UnZooming via Remote

You can use the Menu and Fast Forward buttons to Zoom in and the Menu button with Rewind to zoom out. Alternatively, try Menu with the Play button to first disable and then enable the Screen Magnifier. Hold the keys down for atleast 5 to 10 seconds.

2. Turn Off Magnifier

In case you don’t need any visual assistance, turn off Magnifier. So that the screen reverts back to normal navigation. To do this, navigate to Settings. Then select Accessibility and toggle the Screen Magnifier feature off.  

3. Reset/Restart FireStick

If the above options don’t work, try resetting your Amazon FireStick. Use the methods mentioned above for this purpose.

4. Check other connected Apps and device

Smart TVs come with a Zoom feature. Similarly, if you’re using Kodi on Firestick, Kodi also has the zoom feature. So it’s worth checking whether the problem is with your FireStick or any of the connected devices/apps. A telltale sign is the lack of orange bordering on the screen. FireStick adds this border to show you’re zoomed. The lack of an orange border means the problem is not with your Firestick.

No Sound

FireStick No Sound is another common issue. In that scenario, try the following solutions.

1. Check the volume

Check volume of your TV. Make sure it’s not muted or set to the lowest settings.

2. Check cable

Ensure that your HDMI and Optical connectors are plugged in the right way. Check for any breakage or cuts in the cable. Also, reverse the ends of the cable or try another HDMI cable to be sure there’s nothing wrong with the connections.

3. Check Audio Settings

Try turning off the Dolby Digital Plus feature on your Amazon Fire Device. Dolby Digital Plus is based on Dolby Digital 5.1, which has become a sort of a standard for home theatre audio. But to get Dolby Digital Plus audio, you need a receiver that supports the feature.

4. Reset/Restart the App/FireStick

Try restarting the problematic app and Firestick. Normally, this should solve any sound issue.

5. Update Fire OS

Make sure you have the latest OS on your device. This will force optimal performance from your device.

6. Reinstall Problematic App

If your problem is specific to an app, delete and reinstall to check whether it fixes the problem.

Final Thoughts

That’s pretty much all you need to know about FireStick. This guide should be enough to get you started with your new device and troubleshoot any common issues. While you’re streaming content (such as free PPV on FireStick), don’t forget to protect yourself with a reliable VPN like IPVanish. It will help you in more than one way. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us through the comment section below. Thank you for reading.