John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

I have two Amazon Fire TVs, one First generation and the second the 4K. The two of these do all the heavy lifting of media playing in the home. Music, TV, movies etc. My primary media player is Kodi with the secondary being Plex. Amazon have eased how aggressively they discourage Kodi on Fire TVs which is awesome.

This new player, a Fire TV Stick 4K caught my eye because of positive reviews and a new remote. The Fire TV sticks have been a lot less powerful than the Fire TVs in the past, but this FireTV Stick has changed that. So let’s have look at what we have here … Physically the device consists of an HDMI plug to plug into your TV directly (although they also give you a short pig tail in case it doesn’t fit) and a micro USB port for power and that’s it. There are no lights, no additional ports nothing. They give you a 5W (5V 1A) adapter and they encourage you to use it to power the stick. This wattage seems easily attainable by any USB port (on the TV or receiver) which would save you running an additional cable for power but I will do as they recommend (for now).

I had a few challenges at first setup because the FireTV Stick is 4K and while my receiver is 4K my TV is not. So I had to insure I plugged the Stick into a non 4K port. Once this was done the stick put out 1080p and all was well. Initial setup is a tad clumsy requiring you to enter things like your amazon account, wifi password and the like selecting them one character at a time on the remote. Since this has only one micro USB port you can not plug in a keyboard, or mouse etc. You can buy third party cables that fix this limitation on Amazon, why they didn’t just add this is beyond me.

Connectivity wise the Stick can only do WIFI, no wired network. You can add an optional wired Ethernet adapter for $19.95.

Once on the internet firmware for both the firetv and the remote can be updated if there is anything new, and there was for me.

Once setup is done your on your way. Plex can easily be found in the Amazon App store and linking it to your account is super easy.

Kodi can be loaded a couple of ways, the way I choose to do it is to side load it using ADB (Android Debugger). There are other ways that download a downloader from the Amazon app store. I first tried to do it using Firestarter but ran into issues with needing a mouse to select install as well as Firestarter being too aggressive in taking over the Fire, and gave up on that.

The remote is one of the things that is new, and one of the main reasons I chose to buy the Stick. There are a number of new buttons, power, and volume controls.

During the initial setup of the Fire it guides you through programming the remote to operate your TV. And with this you can use one remote when watching from the fire, but there is another trick up their sleeve. You can add equipment from within the FireTV settings menus which includes sound bars and receivers. The fact this is done inside the menus for the FireTV was less than obvious to me. Even google didn’t help. Once you find this setting, you simply select your company for your equipment and your good to go. This works quite well, but like any multi function remote it’s not without it’s anomalies. If you aren’t pointing in the right direction to talk to all of your devices some can miss commands, and if you also use your devices remotes it can get mixed up and turn the receiver off when you wanted it on for example. But these are expected anomalies of a universal remote. I have to say, the universal remote feature seems to work quite well. I did a double check on my FireTV 4K (the non stick one) and see if they had added this to the firmware, sadly they have not, so you just can’t upgrade the more on the older FireTVs.

Once Kodi is installed, for me, I had to also update the advancedsettings.xml to support the common back end database which I also did using ADB. If your not aware, you can have a common SQL database where all of your media libraries, watched status and the like are stored. This works really well if you have more than one Kodi in the home and want them all to be in sync.

Compared to the FireTV (non stick) I found navigating around the kodi menus to be noticeably slower. This could be relative to the processor, or it could also be because it’s on WIFI vs wired. So went ahead and bought the $19 ethernet adapter which still does not allow you to do USB OTG (for keyboards etc) and this made little to no difference. In all playback on Kodi has been flawless. The new remote works REALLY well and has dramatically simplified my AV setup. I like the FireTV Stick 4K and it is WELL worth the money, but I wouldn’t bother with the wired adapter unless your wireless router is too far away. All in all though … a great buy!

April 17, 2019 - Posted by | Mutlimedia

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