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Smart TVs Vs. Amazon Fire Stick? 13 Answers (For Beginners)

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Have an old smart TV but want to upgrade? Buying a new smart TV can be costly since smart TVs can cost thousands of dollars.

And investing in a smart TV can be a gamble, because rapidly advancing technology may mean your new purchase will be obsolete in just a few years.

That’s why many people decide to go for streaming sticks, such as the Amazon Fire TV Stick, as an alternative to buying a smart TV.

Here’s What You Need to Know about Smart TVs and the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Smart TVs are televisions that enable you to connect to the Internet and watch content on a bigger screen, while the Amazon Fire TV Stick is a streaming dongle that lets you turn any TV with an HDMI port into a smart TV.

1. What is Better, a Smart TV or a Fire TV Stick?

Smart TVs and Fire TV Sticks have their strengths and weaknesses.

  • When it comes to the price, Fire TV Sticks win out with a starting price that’s less than $50. Smart TVs, meanwhile,  start at $200 for the essential features and can cost thousands of dollars at the top tier.
  • Smart TVs have the advantage of being an all-in-one entertainment system. Aside from connecting your TV to the Internet, smart TVs are ready to use out of the box. A Fire TV Stick needs to be plugged into an HDMI port to work, aside from connecting to the Internet.
  • A Fire TV Stick is also dependent on the resolution of the TV it plugs into. Thus, if you have the 4K edition of the Fire TV Stick, and you only have a TV with 1080p, you won’t be able to take advantage of the 4k offering.

One thing is definite: they both need fast Internet to make the most out of their features.

2. Three Differences between Smart TVs and a Fire TV Stick-Equipped TV:

Equipment

The most striking difference between the two devices is the hardware they need to operate.

Smart TVs only need to be connected to an Internet source to stream content and can still be used without the Internet for other applications, such as watching cable and free-to-air channels.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is dependent on the Internet and needs to be plugged into a TV with HDMI to work. For the most part, the Fire TV Sticks remains dependent on the Internet.

Modern Smart TVs also have the option to use Wi-Fi or Ethernet.  Meanwhile, the Fire TV Stick connects via Wi-Fi and needs an OTG adapter and Ethernet dongle to connect to your Local Area Network. So you have more options for connectivity when you buy a smart TV.

Operating System

All the different terms used to talk about smart TVs can be confusing, especially since a lot of the terms are used interchangeably.

Depending on the brand you buy, smart TVs come with different platforms (also referred to as operating systems), such as Android, Roku, Tizen, SmartCast, webOS, among others.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is an operating system and platform itself. The Amazon Fire TV runs on the Fire TV OS operating system.

Navigation

Smart TVs can be a bit sluggish when navigating the different apps loaded on their system. And when the hardware and apps themselves are not updated, it can lead to slower performance.

Fire TV Sticks have lesser hardware requirements, which make them easier and faster to navigate.

3. Do I Need a Fire TV Stick if I Have a Smart TV?

Having a Fire TV Stick and smart TV may seem redundant.

And it is indeed is redundant to have a Fire TV Stick and a smart TV that runs on the Android system, considering that they’re the same system. And you don’t need a Fire TV Stick if you already have a good, modern smart TV with the updated firmware.

But there are some situations when having a smart TV and a Fire TV Stick can be useful. 

Take, for example, the Vizio smart TVs.

  • Vizio smart TVs do not have a very large app selection, when compared to brands like Samsung or Sony.
  • If you plug in a Fire TV Stick, you can take advantage of the wider app selection available with the Fire TV Stick.

Another instance of Fire TV Sticks not being redundant is when your smart TV is outdated.

  • There are some older smart TVs that don’t support some popular apps.
  • By using the Fire TV Stick with your old smart TV, you can give your old smart TV a new lease on life and gain access to modern apps.

At its cheapest, the Amazon Fire Stick is generally priced at around $40, and even its most expensive iteration won’t cost as much as buying a new smart TV.

4. Will a Fire TV Stick Work with Any TV?

A Fire TV Stick will work on any TV that has an HDMI port.

The TV you use doesn’t need to have an Internet connection, as the Fire TV Stick will be the one to connect to the web.

5. Are Smart TVs Becoming Obsolete?

The turn-over on smart TVs is fast, like pretty much all electronic devices. It only takes a few months before another smart TV is released with more advanced or improved features.

The biggest threat to smart TVs that can force them into obsolescence is if the TV is unable to adapt to newer systems used by hot new apps.

Take the case of some older Vizio and Samsung smart TVs. With Netflix having a new Digital Rights Management system, some of their older model smart TVs are no longer able to support the Netflix app. That’s a big problem, as Netflix is a hugely popular streaming app!

Devices like the Fire TV Stick and Chromecast, which offer similar functions but can be easily updated, are an excellent solution if you’re worried that your smart TV may become outdated.

If smart TV manufacturers want to remain a viable option for users, they must find a way to future-proof their products to keep up with devices like the Fire TV Stick.

However, it is safe to say that smart TVs are not currently becoming obsolete, since no matter how great a streaming stick is, it still, of course, needs a TV to work!

Smart TVs offer cutting-edge technology in terms of screen resolution. A streaming stick like the Amazon TV Stick can’t offer screen resolution—that’s up to your TV.

6. What is the Best Solution for Streaming?

If you want stable connectivity for video streaming, the best solution is to use your smart TV, because you can take advantage of the Ethernet connection to provide a consistent, more reliable connection.

While a Fire TV Stick does have Ethernet compatibility, you still need a compatible Ethernet adapter to connect with the streaming dongle.

But the Fire TV Stick is more reliably updated then the smart TV. It can more easily update your apps, and having an updated app means having a smoother performance on the screen.

7. Is it Cheaper to Use a Fire TV Stick than a Smart TV?

If you are looking to upgrade your home entertainment setup, it is cheaper to buy a Fire TV Stick and use your existing TV that has an HDMI port than buying a whole new TV. 

But remember, if you want to take advantage of the Full HD streaming quality of the 4K Fire TV Stick, you will need to have a 4K TV.

While there are non-smart TVs with 4K resolutions, buying a 4K smart TV comes out cheaper since manufacturers offset manufacturing costs by selling data gathered by TVs to advertisers.

All things considered, if you want to get 4K streaming quality, you can opt to get the latest 4K smart TV, or get a cheaper 4K smart TV without the extra features, and use a 4K Fire TV Stick with it.

But on its own, the Fire TV Stick is compatible with any HDMI TV, which makes it a good solution for anyone who wants to watch Netflix or YouTube on a bigger screen without breaking the bank.

8. What Channels Are Free on Fire TV Stick?

The Fire TV Stick does not offer channels like a non-smart TV.

It lets you access an app store, where you can download apps like Hulu and Netflix that let you stream programs.

The most popular free service you can get on the Fire TV Stick is YouTube, which you can use without an account.

Is Amazon Prime Video free on the Fire TV Stick?

The Amazon Prime Video app comes by default with the Fire TV Stick, but it’s not free to use. You have to pay the subscription fee to use the service.

9. Do You Need Internet for the Fire TV Stick?

The Fire TV Stick needs to be connected to the Internet to work and stream videos from apps.

It does not have an offline mode for watching videos without Internet access.

10. Is the Fire TV Stick the Same as the Nvidia Shield?

The Fire TV Stick and the Nvidia Shield are the same in that they both are streaming devices that can turn ordinary TVs into smart TVs.

But they differ in operating systems.

The Fire TV Stick uses the Fire TV OS, and the Nvidia Shield uses the Android TV System.

11. Is the Fire TV Stick the Same as the Roku Streaming Stick?

Like the Nvidia Shield, the Fire TV Stick and Roku Streaming Stick share similarities in function but differ in their operating system.

The Roku Streaming Stick uses the Roku Operating System that is based on Linux, while the Fire Stick uses Fire TV OS. 

12. Is the Fire TV Stick the Same as the Chromecast?

The Fire TV Stick and Chromecast are devices that can stream content.

A Fire TV Stick uses apps installed in its system to stream content, while a Chromecast depends on the compatible apps or services you have on your smartphone or Chrome browser that you’re connecting to.

Can the Fire TV Stick cast content from your smartphone?

A Fire TV Stick can cast some content from your smartphone. A good example of this would be casting a YouTube video from your smartphone’s browser.

All you need is to have YouTube installed on the Fire TV Stick.

13. Can You Link a Fire TV Stick with Alexa?

You can link your Fire TV Stick with Alexa, as these are both products made by Amazon.

Are all smart TVs compatible with Alexa?

Many modern smart TVs on the market today are compatible with Alexa.

But not all of them have the full functionality of Alexa.

Final Thoughts

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a viable upgrade solution for people who don’t want to spend too much on upgrading their home entertainment setups.

As it only costs around $40, it’s an affordable solution that beats spending thousands of dollars for a TV upgrade.

And the Fire TV Stick is much easier and cheaper to upgrade than a smart TV.

 

Sources:

Smart TV or media streamer?

Why Smart TVs Could Become Obsolete

Smart TV apps are convenient, but you should really stream with a device

 

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