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Hands On

I was curious to see how the Fire TV Stick compared to the original Fire TV, so I pulled the original product off the shelf and hooked it up to the network. I was surprised there wasn't a automatic firmware upgrade, since the last time the Fire TV was used was back in April.

After some additional exploration, I finally found a pending update in the Settings > System > About screen. After it finished, I found the same interface as on the Stick. The image below was taken immediately following Fire TV Stick setup.

Amazon Fire TV Stick Landing Page

Amazon Fire TV Stick Landing Page

The top level menu now provides easier access to all of the free video content for Prime subscribers. The first entry below Home is Prime Video. The image below shows the first three Prime Video categories: Recommended Prime TV, Recommended Prime Movies and Recently added Prime TV.

Amazon Fire TV Stick Prime Video menu

Amazon Fire TV Stick Prime Video menu

There are eight other categories (not shown) that include: Recently Added Prime Movies; The HBO Collection on Prime; Prime Member Exclusives; Top TV on Prime; Top Movies on Prime; Kids' TV on Prime; Prime TV Genres; and Prime Movie Genres. If you are an Amazon Prime member, this menu is a must have.

The other new menu is "Music". This menu lets you access music you have stored in the Amazon cloud, music that you have purchased from Amazon, your playlists, your artists, your albums and your genres.

Amazon Fire TV Stick - Music menu

Amazon Fire TV Stick - Music menu

Most importantly, the Music menu provides access to Amazon Prime Music. Amazon claims over 1 million songs and hundreds of "expert-programmed" playlists are available for unlimited ad-free streaming. Amazon Prime Subscribers can add Prime albums and playlists to their music library at (You can't add music from within the Fire TV Stick interface.)

I added quite a few playlists and some albums and was able to stream them without a problem. While I still prefer Pandora, for some Amazon Prime subscribers, Prime Music might be good enough that they could cancel their Pandora paid subscription.

Amazon Fire TV Stick - Prime Music

Amazon Fire TV Stick - Prime Music

The balance of the applications and features are virtually identical on the Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick, so the balance of our previous review remains unchanged. I encourage you to look back at that review for individual comparisons of popular apps and how the search feature works.

As with the initial incarnation, search is still limited to and HuluPlus content. For example, if you search for House of Cards, a Netflix exclusive, you'll find opportunities to rent or buy episodes or seasons either in standard or high definition. Even though there's a "More Ways to Watch" icon, it doesn't tell you that you can watch it for free on Netflix if you have a subscription.

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