Top positive review
Breathes new life into TVs with fewer features
Reviewed in Australia on 28 October 2020
So a couple of years ago I bought one of the last Hisense TVs before they went Android. It had Netflix and a handful of other streaming services on it and I thought it was everything I would need. But, as we all know, over the last few years the streaming environment has been changing radically. We now have Disney+, Kayo, Prime Video (of course) and even some of the free-to-air apps that are not available on the Hisense platform.
I don't use all of these, but I wanted to use some. At first I tried using a Chromecast but it was a pain having my mobile with me and loading it with a whole bunch of apps that I didn't want on my phone just to play videos via the Chromecast device. What I wanted was something that could play ALL the apps I could ever want, via a remote (in other words, contain the apps on the device), and that had the ability to support new apps when needed. The Fire TV stick is that device.
I do note that the newer Chromecasts have their own remote as well so it's possible that they are now doing the same thing so my comments about it relate to the older generation of them. They got hot, if you left them plugged in to the power supply they gave you, they were not always robust when you went to use them, and if you did what I used to do (plug the device into a USB port in the side of the TV for power, meaning it was only on when the TV was) they whined at you about the power supply. Constantly. And also prevented you from playing HD video.
The Fire TV Stick on the other hand complained at me twice, then stopped. It plays full HD even though it's plugged into the TV rather than the provided power supply. It's easy to use, and even integrates the content from different apps to some degree, even though I really only use it for Prime Video at the moment as it was the main thing I wanted that was not available on my TV.
I was pleasantly surprised by this device. It works; well. Easy to set up, easy to use, and on TVs that are not already loaded with some apps, would handle all your streaming needs quite well. The unit seems to read the remote quite well even though the unit is stuck behind the TV and can't be seen from the front. The voice activation system was hit and miss when I tried it, but I'm not a voice command type of person so I didn't persist with it and it may well work quite effectively for the average person if you're into that sort of thing.
There are some minor things - some of the movies it finds it wants to charge you for; I'm not sure how that works and it might be an Amazon thing, perhaps I'm just too used to Netflix. In any event, for the most part I've been able to watch all I want to watch via this device and I'm happy with it.
As a way of breathing new life into older TVs or getting a 'cheaper' (read as less features) TV to work in the modern world, this is not a bad idea. The math is simple. A TV that has all the apps you want will cost you up to thousands more depending on size and brand, whereas this (for less than $100) gives you the features you want without the cost of integrating it into a TV at high cost.
Bottom line? This is essentially the equivalent of the old 'set top boxes' we all had to get when TV first went digital in Australia. If you want to stream content and your TV isn't up to it, this gets you the features you want without ditching an otherwise perfectly good TV.