Today’s announcement of the Amazon Fire TV Stick has stirred up quite a few unanswered questions. I’m going to gather the most popular ones and try to answer them here. I’ll be updating this post as needed throughout the day. If you’ve got a question related to the Fire TV Stick, tweet them at me with the hashtag #fireTVstickQA and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Can you install XBMC / Kodi (or other sideloaded apps) on the Fire TV Stick?
Most likely, Yes. There’s no way to know for sure until the device ships, but Amazon has been very open with allowing sideloaded apps. The Fire TV has always accepted sideloaded apps, so there’s no reason to think the Fire TV Stick will be any different. Additionally, a recent update to the Fire TV has added the option to enable app installs from unknown sources; further showing Amazon’s acceptance of non-Appstore apps. Finally, the primary way to sideload apps on the Fire TV is to do so over the network. So if the Fire TV Stick’s micro USB port is truly just capable of providing power, it will not hinder the ability to sideload apps.
Now that the Fire TV Stick has been released, we know you can install XBMC / Kodi the same way you install it on the Fire TV.
Can you root the Fire TV Stick?
The Fire TV Stick will probably be just as rootable as the Fire TV. That said, new Fire TVs running the latest update are currently not rootable so the Fire TV Stick will likely not be rootable when it ships. However, I would expect that if a future rooting method is discovered for the Fire TV that it will also work on the Fire TV Stick.
Now that the Fire TV Stick has been released, we know that you currently cannot root it.
Can the Fire TV Stick run all the Fire TV apps?
Amazon lists the Fire TV as having “300+” games, and the Fire TV Stick as having “200+” games. That right there tells you that there are Fire TV apps that don’t run on the Fire TV Stick. Since the Fire TV Stick has a weaker CPU and GPU, the deciding factor will be how computationally intense is the app. I suspect that most, if not all, non-games will run on both devices.
Can you use a mouse and/or keyboard with the Fire TV Stick?
The lack of a full USB port is a concern for mouse and keyboard support. The Fire TV supports a mouse, keyboard, and even USB hubs right out of the box. The Fire TV Stick may support the same using an adapter, but even if it doesn’t, people have had success using bluetooth mice and keyboards with the Fire TV, so I suspect the case will be the same with the Fire TV Stick. Additionally, using smartphones as remote mice and keyboards should work by sideloading server/client apps.
Can you use voice search on the Fire TV Stick?
Not with the included remote, but the Fire TV Stick is compatible with the Voice Remote which Amazon sells separately for $29.99. Additionally, Amazon will be releasing a Fire TV Remote App for Android and iOS which will be capable of functioning as a voice remote for the Fire TV Stick.
Will the Fire TV Stick work with Game Controllers?
Yes, but only ones with Bluetooth. The Amazon Fire Game Controller will work, as will other standard bluetooth controllers like the Playstation DualShock 4. Controllers like the Xbox 360 controller, which require a USB Receiver, will not work.
How powerful is the Fire TV Stick?
We don’t know much about the performance of the device. Based on the CPU Amazon decided to use, the performance should fall somewhere between a Samsung Galaxy S II and Samsung Galaxy S III.
Can the Fire TV Stick be powered by my TV’s HDMI port?
Yes, but Amazon advises that you should use the included power plug instead.
Can I use the Fire TV Stick non-voice remote with my Fire TV and vice versa?
Yes. If you already have a Fire TV, all remotes can work on all devices. This is especially great because it means you can play multiplayer games using one voice remote and one non-voice remote.
Can you cast web browser pages to your TV like you can with Chromecast?
There is no indication on the Fire TV Stick product page that you can “cast” or “mirror” a web browser page. However, Amazon did just add Miracast support to the Fire TV with the latest software update. Miracast allows you to mirror your entire PC, if it supports it, to the Fire TV. So since all indication is that the Fire TV Stick will be very similar in functionality to the Fire TV, I would expect that the Fire TV Stick will launch with miracast support. Remember though that miracast is not a browser plugin like Chromecast uses. Instead, your operating system needs to support it, and currently Windows 8.1 is the only operating system that supports miracast by default.