Once you decide to cut the cord, there’s no going back. All the affordable streaming content is too good to return from. And there are many devices out there that are good to stream with, but few are as portable and as full of features as Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks and Cubes.
These devices come fully loaded with apps, games, Alexa and access to thousands of films and TV shows. Tap or click here to see our comparison between Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Chromecast and other streaming platforms.
While you may believe you’re getting the most out of your Fire TV Stick or Cube, you may be surprised to learn there are several hidden features only the pros know. We’ll fill you in.
What’s the difference?
Before we discuss the tips and tricks, you might be asking yourself what the difference is between the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Cube. Honestly, there has to be a bigger difference than the size and design, right?
Beyond size, the biggest difference is the Fire Cube can function as an Alexa speaker and a streaming device.
Because the Cube can function as a smart speaker, it can link with and control your smart devices like lights, thermostat, smart plugs and switches, and even your Ring products. Tap or click here to learn the difference between smart plugs and smart switches.
Here are the Alexa features currently not available on Fire TV Cube:
- Video Drop-In and Calling
- Drop-In from devices not registered to your account
- Support for Bluetooth connections with external sources (like a smartphone)
- Voice support for Bluetooth connections
- Third-party smart home devices without a hub
- Support for Echo Buttons
Note: You can still use Announcements and Messaging.
Now that you know the only real difference between the Fire Stick and Fire Cube, let’s get into the cool features they both offer.
1. Behind the scenes info
Did you know Amazon owns a lot more than just an online shopping website? There’s a very impressive list, but what we’re focusing on this time is that Amazon owns IMDb.
Because Amazon owns IMDb, you can gain free access to the online movie base for film ratings, summaries, trivia and more. So the next time you’re streaming on the Fire Stick or Cube, access IMDb information about your show or movie.
Simply press up or down on the remote to scroll through cast info and biographies, see what song is playing in a scene and more, all while the movie continues to play.
2. Watch movies free
Speaking of IMDb, did you know there’s an IMDb TV streaming service? It’s free for Fire TV devices and it shows a variety of films, shows and originals. All you have to do is add the IMDb channel to your device and you’ll have access. But be warned, it does have ads.
3. Get rid of ad-tracking
While there is no free option to turn off advertisements on some channels, you can at least stop advertisements from tracking you. Just go to Settings, then Preferences and Privacy Settings. Switch Internet-Based Ads to “off.”
This won’t stop advertisements from playing, but at least your device won’t be tracking your internet habits in an attempt to sell you things.
4. Protect the kids
Kids are curious and unfortunately, they can stumble upon inappropriate content by mistake. To set up parental controls, all you need to do is go into Settings, then Preferences and choose Parental Controls. From here, you can choose to turn the controls on, which will keep R and TV-MA-rated items hidden.
These controls can also be customized to restrict access to certain games, apps and even the viewing of photos. You will need to create a PIN code, which you will use twice upon setup, but anyone with this code can have full access to everything Amazon Fire offers.
5. Use Alexa to search
The Fire Stick may not function exactly like a smart speaker, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use Alexa. Simply press the microphone button on your remote and ask Alexa to open your favorite channel, search for a specific movie or TV show, or even ask it about the weather.
Alexa will search your available channels for the shows and movies you ask for or will let you know all about the daily forecast. If you own the Fire Cube, simply speak to it the same way you would a normal smart speaker — no remote necessary.
6. Mirror content
If you’re streaming something on your phone in one room and want to display it on a TV, just use the display mirroring option. Make sure you have the most recent version of FireOS, which you can check by going to Settings, clicking My Fire TV, then About and Software Update.
When you’re ready, press and hold the home key on your remote. On your smartphone, look for Smart link, Screen Mirroring, Display Beam or something similar. The wording will depend on your device. Tap on the applicable option and select Fire TV. Easy, huh?
If you’re not sure what to watch, consider using your phone or laptop to stream some free films and shows. Tap or click here to see the 10 best sites to watch free movies, then mirror them to your TV.
7. Disable auto-play
When you’re searching for something to watch, it can be annoying when episodes and movies start to autoplay in the background. This is especially bad when you don’t realize the volume is turned up and suddenly you’re blasted with the opening credits.
To turn this feature off, go to Settings, Preferences, then Featured Content. Turn off Allow Video Autoplay and, since it just makes sense, also turn off Allow Audio Autoplay as well.
8. Delete voice recordings
You should assume your Alexa-enabled device hears everything you say. Amazon records your commands to help its AI better understand users and to improve its ability to react appropriately when people talk to it.
If this makes you uncomfortable, you can delete the recordings by telling your Amazon Cube, “Alexa, delete everything I said today.”
For the Amazon Fire Stick, or to set your device to auto-delete all Alexa recordings, just open your Alexa app. Go to Settings, then Alexa Privacy and tap Manage Your Alexa Data. Look for the Manage your voice recordings section and toggle Automatically delete recordings to delete after three or 18 months.
Alexa isn’t the only service listening-in. Tap or click here to see what your phone pics up.
9. Connect via Bluetooth
What’s a watching experience if you don’t have an amazing soundbar to go with your TV and Fire device? No one wants the hassle or mess of a bunch of wires, so connect via Bluetooth. You can also connect earbuds if you want to watch something in the middle of the night while the rest of your household sleeps.
To connect, just turn on your soundbar, headset or other Bluetooth device and, if applicable, put it in pairing mode. Turn on the TV your Fire Stick or Cube is attached to. On the Fire device’s main menu, scroll to Settings and choose Controllers and Bluetooth Devices.
From this menu, choose Other Bluetooth Devices and wait as the list of discoverable Bluetooth devices to load. Once the appropriate device’s name loads, select it and the two will pair. That’s it!
Once you connect your Bluetooth device once, your Fire TV streamer will always recognize it in the future. To disconnect the device, just turn it off. Easy-peasy.
10. Backup controller
This isn’t necessarily something you need to worry about with a Fire Cube, but if you lose the Fire Stick remote, or if it is accidentally broken, you don’t have to order a new one. Simply use your smartphone as a backup remote.
All you have to do is download the app for iOS or Android and link it to your device. Make sure your smartphone and Fire TV are both linked to the same Wi-Fi network, then open the Fire TV app on your phone. Choose the available device on your phone and follow the simple on-screen prompts.
After the setup, every time you want to use your Fire Stick, just open the app.
Now that you know everything you need to get the most out of your device, get to streaming! Not sure what to watch? Tap or click here to see some of the best streaming service options and how they compare to one another.