Before Smart TV’s were as common as they are now, streaming devices like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick were a great way to add functionality to virtually any TV. With a Fire TV Stick, you can load almost any streaming app to the device, and have a hub for all your favorite content.
In 2023, Smart TV’s are much more common. They have the ability to run streaming apps just like the Fire TV Stick. While there are some advantages of using a separate streaming device, there are also some downsides.
In this article, I will highlight some of the biggest disadvantages of an Amazon Fire TV Stick. I’ve come up with 5 cons that I think you should consider before buying. Let’s get into it!
Ads and Amazon promotions
For me, the biggest disadvantage of using a Fire TV Stick is that the operating system is very much Amazon and Prime Video focused. When browsing through the apps and menus, you’ll see promotions for Amazon products and content. You will also see a lot of Prime Video promotions, even more than what is being promoted on other streaming services.
In addition to the Amazon promotions, they also have promoted and sponsored apps that will show up on your dashboard. For example, I keep seeing a live local news app being suggested. Clearly, app developers are able to pay Amazon to suggest their apps to customers.
While this isn’t a problem unique to the Fire TV Stick, it is one disadvantage to keep in mind. Personally, I prefer to be able to view my dashboard without a lot of distractions. The pop-up Amazon messages, constant Prime Video promotions, and promoted 3rd party apps are annoying for sure.
Few useful features compared to a Smart TV
Another disadvantage is that the Fire TV Stick doesn’t do much beyond what is offered by Smart TV’s. Sure, if you have an older TV, a Fire TV Stick is a game changer. It allows you to run all sorts of apps and services that were not previously available to you. But if you already have a Smart TV, you probably have all the apps and features you need.
One caveat here is that most Smart TV’s run a lot slower than an external device. The processor inside a Fire TV Stick is probably better than what you have in your Smart TV. So if speed and smooth performance when browsing through menus and shows is important, a Fire TV Stick could be beneficial, even if you already have a Smart TV.
Needs a separate power connection
Another con of the Fire TV Stick is that most models require a USB power cord. If you are like me, you already have a ton of stuff plugged into the wall behind your TV. Adding another power cord can sometimes be a challenge.
You can either plug the USB cord into your TV, or use the included AC wall adapter. I found that the USB output from my TV wasn’t sufficient to power the Fire TV Stick, so I had to use the wall adapter. Luckily, I already had a power strip with a free spot. But if you are limited on outlet space behind your TV, you’ll need to consider where you will power the Fire TV Stick from.
Confusing product lineup
4K, Lite, Max, Cube? Which one do you go with, and why? One of the things I found confusing when purchasing my Fire TV Stick was the number of different devices under the Fire TV Stick brand. You get the same basic functionality no matter which model you go with, but I found the options to be a downside.
I wish their product lineup was simpler, with just a few options. The budget Lite option for 1080p streaming, the 4K as the mainstream choice, and the Cube as the high-end enthusiast option. Instead you have a lot of features that seem to overlap between models, and it presents a challenge to potential customers when deciding on which one meets their needs the best.
No Airplay support
Another disadvantage is the lack of Apple Airplay support. You can’t natively stream movies, music, or TV shows directly to the Fire TV Stick via Airplay. If you have Apple devices, this might be enough to make you look to another streaming device.
Luckily, there is a workaround to get Airplay on a Fire TV Stick using a 3rd party app.
You need an Amazon account to use it
Finally, the last major disadvantage of the Fire TV Stick is that you need an Amazon account to even use it. Sure, most of us already have an Amazon account to begin with. But if you value privacy, you might not want Amazon accessing data about what kind of content you consume.
When you go through the initial setup for the Fire TV Stick, you need to sign in or create a new Amazon account. And while you can change privacy settings to prevent your data being used to personalize ads on the Fire TV platform, they can use your data in other ways.
This issue isn’t unique to the Fire TV Stick. Other devices like Apple TV require you to sign in with an account. But most Smart TV operating systems don’t. If you prioritize privacy, needing to sign in to an Amazon account may be a downside to consider.
Although the Fire TV Stick has plenty of disadvantages, like I detailed above, there are also a lot of advantages. First, the specs for many of the Fire TV Stick models are probably better than most Smart TV hardware out there. And second, if you don’t have a Smart TV, you’ll likely need some kind of streaming device to be able to use all the streaming apps. The Fire TV Stick is great for this purpose.
Whether or not the pros outweigh the cons will be an individual choice, based on what priority you place on the specific issues I raised in this article. If you value privacy and hate sponsored promotions, you might steer clear of the Fire TV Stick. However, if you don’t mind having to use an Amazon account or external power supply, it could be a great option for your needs.
If you think I missed any major disadvantages, let me know in the comments below!