After months of being sold out, Amazon's Fire TV and Fire Stick are finally back in business. Why the surge in popularity? Dynamic functionality with 4K output, Prime's impressive library of binge-able shows and award-winning originals, and access all your other main-squeeze streaming services make it a sweet set-up for entertainment mongers. Beyond that, the Fire Stick has certain, um, hackable properties that have taken cord-cutting to the next level. So if you want to operate yours like a pro, let these tips guide you to streaming nirvana.
Stream content from your smartphone or Fire tablet
Don’t think Chromecast is the only streamer out there that can beam content from your phone to an HDTV. Both Fire TV devices support Miracast, letting users share personal media on their smartphone across multiple screens. Connect your Android phone or Fire tablet to the same Wi-Fi network as your Fire TV, then go to Settings > Display and Sounds > Enable Display Mirroring. Hold down the Home button, select Mirroring, and connect the compatible device.
... or from your computer
Fire TV devices can also broadcast your own content through the Plex app that’s available for free in the Amazon App Store. Start by downloading the Plex Media Server software on a personal computer, add the media you want, and then download the app on Fire TV. Sign up for the app and you’ll open the portal to browse and play files from your computer.
Get more personal space when you install a flash drive
The Fire TV affords you 8GB of internal memory, just enough to save some apps, music, and videos. If you want to add personal files or free up space by transferring content to another device, stick a flash drive into the USB port found on the back of the set-top box (sorry Fire Stick owners). Once plugged in, go to Settings > Applications > Manage Installed Applications to move content to and from the USB stick.
Turn your phone into a Voice Remote
Amazon sells both Fire TV devices with the Voice Remote, but if you break it or lose it to the wormhole in your couch, it's an extra $30 for a brand new one. Nah. Save the cash and download the Fire TV App, which lets your iPhone or Android phone act as a Voice Remote substitute. Connect the phone to the same Wi-Fi network as your Fire TV and punch in the four-digit code that appears on the screen. Now you can use the voice feature or on-screen keyboard to perform searches.
Hook up your Fire TV to an Xbox One for Kodi
Why connect a streaming device to a next-gen console, especially when it already offers most of the same services? Answer: Kodi. Think of Kodi as the black market Netflix that grants you access to an endless world of “free” content. Amazon's Fire Stick and Fire TV happen to be the perfect hosts for this very special open-source media player. The simplest way to run Kodi is on the Xbox One. Basically plug a Fire TV or Stick into the gaming machine’s HDMI input, open the OneGuide app, and operate the device the same as you would on any HDTV. You’re welcome.
Make your phone the ultimate Kodi remote with the Yatse app
The Fire TV remote sucks for Kodi. You need something a bit more intuitive to get the most out of the platform. Enter Yatse. This unofficial remote control app gives you full control of Kodi directly from an Android phone. It’s pretty semi-simple to set up if you follow this YouTube tutorial.
Use Trakt to build your own film and TV library on Kodi
If you happen to get your hands on a Fire Stick that's pre-programmed with Kodi, you might want to check out Trakt. Rather than constantly running the same searches for your favorite movies and TV shows, Trakt simplifies things by letting you build your own personal collections, which are then integrated into your favorite Kodi programs (we recommend Exodus) for instant access. It also keeps track of upcoming episodes soon to air based on your viewing habits.
Create an account on Trakt.tv and start adding content. Open Exodus > Tools > Settings: Accounts > Trakt > Authorization. You’re then prompted to visit a Trakt URL and enter a PIN to authorize access. Once done, your Trakt profile becomes linked to Exodus and everything added or saved can be found in the My Movies/My TV Shows section.
Use an Ethernet cable to boost streaming speeds
Buffering is inevitable on a wireless network. And if your connection sucks that bad, consider applying some of these DIY tips for faster Wi-Fi or upgrading your crappy router altogether. In the meantime, plug an Ethernet cord into the back of the Fire TV. When doing so enter Settings > System > Network and select the Wired option. Hit the Home button and it’s off to Netflix.
Or download the Real-Debrid add-on for Kodi
Streaming on Kodi is a love-hate relationship. The majority of file hosts featured on the platform have restricted bandwidth capabilities that cause routine buffering. Then come the thousands of others sharing the same streams and affecting performance, too. One way around to get around this is by signing up to Real-Debrid, a paid service that provides admittance to several popular file hosts on the Web with high-quality streams. Create an account, select a paid package, and follow this standard setup through Kodi. Plans range anywhere from $5 for 30 days to $20 for six month.
Delete voice recordings from your search history
One of the more overlooked features on the Fire TV is its ability to save voice searches. One the other hand, you might want to keep what you watch private. So for the binge-watchers still ashamed of their love of Grey’s Anatomy, log into your Amazon account online, find the Manage Your Content and Devices page and select Your Devices. Click on your device name > Manage Voice Records > Delete.
Connect your wireless headphones for private listening
Roku offers a remote with a headphone jack to give users the option of listening to their entertainment discretely. Amazon’s set-top boxes up the ante by supporting wireless headphone connectivity. Head over to Settings > Controllers and Bluetooth Devices > Other Bluetooth Devices and pair your sound cans to the Fire TV. And if you're on the market for your next pair, check out our recs for the best Bluetooth headphones on the market.
Access your photos from Amazon Cloud Drive
Most people forget about the other cool bonuses that come with being an Amazon Prime member. One of them is Cloud Drive, which provides up to 5GB of free storage for media and unlimited photo backup storage. Since Fire TV devices are synced to Amazon’s entire ecosystem, this opens the lane to view images directly on the Fire TV interface. Go into Photos on the main menu, select an album, and a slideshow will begin.
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