Smart TVs are cool and all, but they tend to deliver a less than stellar, clunky user experience. Want to know a better way to enjoy your favorite shows?
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is one of the top streaming devices available today. It’s entry-level and fairly cheap, but it gets the job done.
And the best part is that the Fire Stick makes it simple to upgrade your standard TV to a smart TV. It is compatible with any TV (including a non-smart TV) that has an HDMI port.
So, don’t sweat it if you don’t have a smart TV at home. We’ll show you how you can upgrade your regular TV into an internet-connected, fully-functional entertainment device without breaking the bank.
Let’s talk more about the Fire Stick and how you can connect it to your normal, non-smart TV.
An Overview: Amazon Fire TV Stick
The Amazon Fire TV Stick is a device that you can plug directly into your TV’s HDMI port to stream content. It’s housed in a dongle, slightly bigger than USB thumb drives.
The Fire TV Stick lets you do a lot of things like watch TV shows or movies on demand, listen to music, and even play games. It delivers the ‘smart’ to any regular, compatible TV for an affordable price.
It comes in different versions:
The Lite version is the cheapest of the four. It’s got all the features of your standard Fire Stick minus a few remote control features and Dolby Atmos support.
Your standard Fire Stick is the most practical pick for non-4K fanboys, while the 4K version is true to its name and supports 4K content.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the premium version of the stick and loads everything at lightning-fast speeds, from logins to loading content in general.
All versions run on Android and are compatible with any TV with an HDMI port.
Connecting the Fire Stick to a Non-Smart TV via HDMI
When you first purchase a Fire Stick, it will come with a USB cable and a power adapter along with the other essentials (remote control, manual, and batteries).
Before you connect the stick to your TV, you will need to have the following:
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
- USB cable
- Power adapter
- TV with an HDMI port
- A stable Wi-Fi connection
Once you’ve checked and prepared the following materials and requirements, follow the steps below to start setting up your Fire Stick:
Step 1: Grab the USB cable that came with the box, then connect it to the port located on the side of the Fire Stick.
Step 2: Plug the Stick into the HDMI port of your TV.
Step 3: The Stick needs power in order for it to work. So using the same USB cable earlier, connect its other end to the power adapter that came with the package.
Step 4: Hook the power adapter to a power source and viola! Your Fire Stick should be working.
Step 5: Alternatively, you can hook it up directly to your TV’s USB port instead of connecting the other end of your USB cable to the power adapter. Do keep in mind that while this is a plausible method, it’s not highly recommended. USB ports do not give enough power.
Note: If you own a 4K Fire Stick, make sure that your HDMI port is HDCP-compliant. You should be looking for a port that is labeled with HDCP 2.2.
Connecting the Fire Stick to a Non-Smart TV via a Converter
If you own a regular TV that has existed for over a decade now, chances are it doesn’t contain HDMI ports. But you can breathe life into your old TV again by investing in a converter.
Converters or adapters have different types. Depending on your TV’s connector, you can get an HDMI to component or HDMI to composite adapter.
If you don’t know the difference between component and composite cables, keep in mind that component cables have red, blue, red, green, and white wires. Meanwhile, composite cables contain yellow, red, and white connectors. Both send analog signals to your old TV.
What you’ll need:
- Amazon Fire TV Stick
- HDMI to component converter OR HDMI to composite converter
- Power adapter
- USB cable
- Component or composite cables
Once you’ve got your materials ready, follow the steps below to connect your Stick to your old TV:
Step 1: Grab your Fire Stick and plug its HDMI connector into the HDMI port of your converter
Step 2: Using the component or composite cables, start plugging in the cables into the converter with their corresponding colors.
Step 3: Plug these colored cables into your TV’s port as well
Step 4: Grab your Fire Stick again and plug the USB cable into the stick’s port located on the side.
Step 5: Connect the other end of the USB cable to a power adapter.
Step 6: Plug the power adapter into an electrical outlet and your stick should be up and running shortly.
Smart TV vs. Non-Smart TV with Fire Stick
Let’s dip our toes into this long-standing debate for a bit.
So, which is better? A smart TV or a regular TV connected to a streaming device like the Fire TV Stick?
Despite common knowledge, smart TVs aren’t necessarily better than regular TVs, but it all really depends on who is using what.
TV owners usually fall into two camps—smart TV worshippers who value convenience and entertainment connoisseurs who place quality user experience above all. But there are downsides to both, and we’ll be getting to that shortly.
Smart TVs are a commercial success and it makes sense. They’re convenient and exist in large quantities which continually drive down their prices. They are now more affordable and accessible than ever before.
But there’s one big setback.
Smart TVs, over time, become laggy, slow, and outdated. This is because smart TV manufacturers simply have no incentive for polishing software chips for their products. After all, TV owners, unlike smartphone owners, don’t prioritize speed. They prioritize size, picture quality, and ease of use.
Streaming sticks and set-top boxes fill this big gap, and regular TV users are starting to take notice and are benefiting from them.
Unlike their smart TV counterparts, portable streaming devices have smoother UIs and an arguably cheaper and more convenient, plug-and-play setup that can easily turn an old digital TV into a reusable one.
And on top of that, you have a plethora of manufacturers to choose from, allowing you to customize what sort of content is best for you. The problem, though, is the incessant ad placements (for a select few streaming sticks) and the extra steps you have to take for you to use these devices.
So, what’s the answer to this debate on which setup is better? It all depends on what works for you.
Streaming devices are starting to shape the way entertainment is consumed, much like how smart TVs did a few years earlier.
Again, don’t sweat it if you own just a regular TV. A $20 streaming stick can easily remedy it!
Vance is a dad, former software engineer, and tech lover. Knowing how a computer works becomes handy when he builds Pointer Clicker. His quest is to make tech more accessible for non-techie users. When not working with his team, you can find him caring for his son and gaming.