How to Use Your Amazon Fire Stick on an Old, Non-Smart TV
Although HDTVs have never been cheaper, there’s a good chance you aren’t ready to upgrade from the high-end set you bought a decade ago. TVs have come a long way in the last few years—4K, HDR, and even 8K. All sorts of new software arise—new operating systems and new functionality. After all, a display is a display, and if you purchased a superior 1080p TV back in 2010, it likely still looks great today, especially if you aren’t interested in 4K content.
Of course, those older TVs are missing a crucial element necessary to enjoy your favorite movies and shows: streaming services. What was once a lovely addition to your cable package quickly became the only way to watch original shows, movies, and more.
Netflix’s original content constantly draws eyes and ears on the internet, while Disney’s streaming service has all-new originals set in the Marvel and Star Wars universes. Meanwhile, HBO Max premiers WB’s entire 2021 film slate with their theatrical releases, making a trip to the theater all but obsolete.
If your TV had these apps built-in, you’re all set, but if your TV doesn’t include apps, you don’t have to run out and upgrade today. For as little as $29.99, you can pick up one of Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks for your TV, adding thousands of apps, games, and on-demand rentals to your TV. Setting up your Fire Stick only takes a few steps, even if your television is older, so grab your new streaming gadget and get ready to unlock hours of entertainment.
Which Fire Stick Should I Buy?
If you don’t already have a Fire Stick picked out, you’ll want to ensure you head to Amazon’s website to grab yours. Amazon sells three distinct versions of the Fire Stick, though they all feature the same software experiences once set up. The main difference is performance, such as processor speed, Wi-Fi flexibility, etc.
- At the low-end, you’ll find the new Fire Stick Lite, which was first released in 2020. At $29.99—and available for as low as $18 during holiday sales and Prime Day—the Lite version of the Fire stick is perfect for most non-smart TV owners. You’ll get all the great software included in the other two models, without the additional hardware extras that aren’t needed.
- In the middle, you’ll find the standard 1080p Fire Stick. At $39.99, it’s only $10 more than the Lite version, and in addition to a slightly improved processor, you’ll find the newer Fire Remote included, which features voice commands and volume and power controls for your television. Look to see if your television has HDMI-CEC—we’ll talk about it a bit more below. If it does, this is the model for you; otherwise, these features aren’t worth the increase in price.
- Finally, Amazon sells a 4K version of their Fire Stick, identical in nearly every way to the original 1080p model. At $49.99, it’s $20 more than the Lite version, but offers 4K HDR support for your cash. If your TV is 4K, it almost certainly has smart apps, but this is still a great buy for switching away from the (usually bad) software included on most TVs. This is also a great buy if you’re trying to futureproof your investment. If you pick up a new 4K television in a few years, you’ll be ready to go with this unit.
Once you have your Fire Stick in hand, it’s time to set it up with your TV.
Setting Up Your Fire Stick on Your Older TV
First and foremost, you need to ensure that your TV has at least one HDMI input. If you have an older TV, you may find there’s no HDMI port at all. However, you can grab an HDMI to AV (RGB) adapter, HDMI to component adapter, or even an HDMI to SVGA adapter to use on your Fire Stick, although, honestly, you should think about upgrading your TV for a better experience.
For everyone else, ensure that you have a wireless internet connection in your home and insert the batteries in your Fire TV Remote. You’ll then be ready to follow the setup steps below.
- Start by connecting your Fire Stick to a power outlet in the wall. The 1080p models can use the USB port on your television (if there is one), but for the best experience, plug the Fire Stick directly into an outlet using a USB adapter. Note: The 4K model requires a power outlet.
- For TVs without any HDMI inputs, you need an adapter, as previously discussed. Connect the adapter to power if required, plug the device into your TV, then connect the Fire TV Stick to the adapter.
- For TVs with HDMI inputs, connect your Fire Stick to the HDMI port on the back.
- Using your television’s remote, select the input that matches the HDMI port you plugged your Fire Stick into (e.g., HDMI 1, DVI, PC, etc.). When you’ve selected your display, you’ll see your Fire Stick boot up.
- If your remote doesn’t auto-pair, hold the “Home” button for “fifteen seconds” to ensure the remote and Fire Stick get synced. Normally, this process should happen automatically.
- Follow the on-screen instructions for connecting your Fire Stick to your Wi-Fi network.
- Register your Fire Stick with your Amazon account.
- Once you’ve reached the home screen, you can navigate through the various setup menus to install apps like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and HBO Max. Each of these apps will require login information.
If you’re using a converter/adapter to plug your Fire Stick into your television, remember to match each color to the corresponding inputs on your television, if applicable.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Fire Stick During Setup
Depending on how old your TV is, there are a few things to keep in mind when setting up your Fire Stick.
Use HDMI-CEC Support
First and foremost, check your TV to see if it supports HDMI-CEC. CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control. This HDMI technology allows your television and devices plugged into it to work and communicate together. The Fire Stick controls the volume on your TV. Your TV remote can potentially navigate the menus on your Fire Stick. Furthermore, powering on the Firestick can turn on the TV.
HDMI-CEC has been around for over a decade, so it’s possible that even older, non-smart TVs have it equipped. Most brands refer to CEC with their unique names. For example, Samsung calls CEC technology “Anynet+.” If you can, use a CEC-equipped port for your Fire Stick. It’ll give you the best experience possible.
Check TV Resolution Settings
In the settings menu of your device, you should check to ensure your resolution gets appropriately set. For example, if your TV’s resolution is 720p, ensure the Fire Stick isn’t set to 1080p, and vice versa.
Enjoy Flexible Options and Features
Even if you decide to buy a new TV in the next few years, Amazon’s software and features are far better than what most TVs have equipped. Factor in auto-updating apps and a more comprehensive range of content than any TV on the market today, and sticking with a Fire Stick just makes sense.
If you use any of Amazon’s Echo products, you should know that you can use Alexa to control your Fire Stick. While the voice-equipped remote is the easiest way to do it, you can also turn to your Echo speakers to ask Alexa to play shows, movies, music, and more right from your TV.
Use Ethernet whenever Possible
Amazon sells an ethernet adapter for your Fire Stick if you want to use a wired internet connection. Ethernet connections boost internet speeds over traditional Wi-Fi connections and deliver reliable signal transfer. Anyone who has fast internet but not a router or wants to plug and play their internet and forget about dealing with Wi-Fi can use this handy device.
Make Your Old, Non-Smart TV Smarter
New TVs are undoubtedly “smarter” than old ones, and they offer more (or even the latest) A/V input types. Whether you’re looking to breathe new life into an older TV, or you’re looking to start streaming on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and more, Amazon’s Fire TV devices are the place to be. Not only do these devices make a boring TV “smart,” but they are also ready to use on your new TV when you decide to get one! If you opt for the Fire TV Stick 4K model, it will work out of the box on a 4K TV to deliver excellent video resolutions.