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Deciding whether to go with a Fire Stick vs a Smart TV is an important part of choosing the best TV for your needs. Amazon’s Fire Stick is an inexpensive, highly portable option that will allow you to stream content from every conceivable content provider and streaming service, but it requires some setup.
By now, most people will know the differences between regular TVs vs smart TVs. Smart TVs allow for out-of-the-box streaming and no setup, but depending on the model, may offer fewer streaming options and apps. TVs with Smart technology also come at higher price points than those without them. Once you’ve decided on your streaming method, look at the pros and cons of other features available on your chosen TV, such as Dynamic Crystal Color vs. PurColor, on a Samsung Smart TV.
The biggest difference between Amazon’s Fire Stick and a Smart TV is that the Fire Stick is a dongle purchased separately from the television, while a Smart TV has Wi-Fi connectivity and streaming apps built-in. Both require an internet connection to stream content. That said, both options have many pros and cons, especially in terms of cost, convenience, and portability. For more about this topic, read our guide to Smart TV vs streaming devices.
And, to learn more about the need for better internet or a smart model, you’ll want to read our guide to WiFi TV vs Smart TV. Additionally, if you don’t like the operating system of the Fire Stick, you can look into other options, as most smart TV brands have their own operating system that differs from the competition. You can check out our comparison of smart TV vs Android TV or Roku TV vs smart TV to see one of these options. All of them come with the ability to stream TV shows and movies, but how does streaming TV work?
You can use Fire Sticks with Smart TVs to extend the TV’s capabilities, such as if the model in question isn’t able to access a particular streaming service.
While no setup is required to access online streaming services with a Smart TV like the Amazon Smart TV, there sometimes are limitations depending on the model. While newer Smart TVs have the apps for the most popular streaming services available to them, older Smart TVs may not be able to use all of them. Also, apps on Smart TVs don’t always work as seamlessly as they do on Fire Sticks, which can access an enormous variety of even fairly niche streaming services.
While newer Smart TVs are compatible with all the major streaming services, there’s a chance that older models won’t be compatible with less popular or niche streaming services.
Fire Sticks and Smart TVs each offer conveniences the other does not. Smart TVs let you stream content right away and require no setup. However, you can’t use its connectivity to stream from your other devices, for the most part.
Fire Sticks take some initial setup and require software updates more frequently, but you can use them on multiple devices. They’re also portable, meaning you can take your streaming options on vacation. If you don’t know how to update your device, you can read our page on how to update a smart TV.
Both Smart TVs and Fire Sticks integrate with other services, too, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa, making them capable of accepting voice commands. An Amazon Fire TV, for example, comes with a single remote control that can be used to access the voice assistant.
STAT: A 2016 Forbes article reported that most streaming services would rather support their app on the popular streaming devices than ensure it works on every available Smart TV. (source)
The Fire Stick has Smart TVs over a barrel in terms of cost, with the Fire Stick costing around $30 and a decent HDMI cable costing around $10. And if you have a non-smart TV like the one in our Acer SB220Q review, that’s a relatively cheap way to get smart functionality. Smart TVs come at a wide range of price points depending on size, brand, and features, but finding even a smaller entry-level model will run you $350-450.
Do you need a Fire Stick if you have a Smart TV?
If you have a Smart TV, a Fire Stick or other streaming sticks or dongles, such as Google TV or a Roku stick, will be redundant. The only reason you might wind up using a Fire Stick with a Smart TV is if your particular TV isn’t able to access a specific streaming service.
Is there a monthly charge for Fire Sticks?
Amazon’s Fire Stick is a one-time purchase for the dongle itself. You will have to pay the subscription fees for any streaming service (Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV, etc) you access with the Fire Stick, with the obvious exception of free services (such as Tubi.)
Is Amazon Fire Stick compatible with all TVs?
Yes, any modern TV or Smart TV with an HDMI port will work with a Fire Stick. You can also connect via MiniPort or DVI with an adapter should you have no free HDMI ports, though streaming quality can be affected (sometimes positively).