How-To Guide to Streaming Sticks (Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, etc.)
One of the big trends in entertainment over the past decade has been the move to streaming TV services. These are entertainment channels that you watch through an internet connection rather than traditional cable or satellite.
You can now even watch the channels that you normally get on cable through an internet streaming service, like Hulu. This has led to a rise in households “cutting the cord,” meaning they drop cable or satellite service altogether. About 19.9% of U.S. families fall into this group.
Streaming services are all the rage these days with more seeming to popup overnight. Some of the most popular streaming services right now are:
Amazon Prime Video
With streaming services, you can watch entertainment on any device, but for most people, watching it on the television is the most convenient. For one, you have a bigger screen than on a computer or tablet.
One way that streaming services can show their content on a TV is through a streaming stick. But it can require a little tech assistance to set it up and ramp up the learning curve.
What’s a Streaming Stick?
Streaming sticks are like small entertainment devices for a television. It will have three main connections:
Connection to your TV through the HDMI port
Connection to an electrical outlet
Wireless connection to the internet
They’re called sticks because they tend to be long and rectangular in appearance.
We’ll go through the top three streaming sticks and how these devices work.
What Does a Streaming Stick Do?
A streaming stick makes it possible for you to watch multiple streaming services from your television.
Three of the most popular streaming stick brands are:
Amazon Fire TV Stick
Each of these will look slightly different, however they will all accomplish the same task, to allow you to stream entertainment via the internet through your television.
Once you have the streaming stick set up and connected, you’ll be able to use different applications on the device (think of these as the apps on your phone). Each application is a different streaming service, like Netflix or Disney+.
How Do You Set Up a Streaming Stick?
What You Get in the Box
Here’s a picture from Amazon of what comes in the box with a Fire TV Stick. For the other streaming sticks, the items will be similar.
You will typically get a remote control, similar to your TV remote, but usually smaller because you don’t need all the channel buttons.
You’ll also get the device that plugs into your television’s HDMI port, and a way to plug the device into a power outlet. This is much like your phone’s cord.
You may also get an HDMI extender cable with some streaming sticks. This is used if it’s difficult to plug the streaming stick directly into the port. The extender cable gives you a little more leeway.
Step 1: Plug the Stick Into a Power Outlet
First, you’ll connect the power cord and power adapter to the streaming stick and plug it into an outlet.
Step 2: Plug the Streaming Stick Into Your TV’s HDMI Port
HDMI is a common media port on a television. If your TV is newer, then you may have more than one of them.
Step 3. Use Your Regular TV Remote to Set the Input to the HDMI Port
Next, you’ll need to tell your television to use that port so you can see the setup instructions on the screen. Look for an “input” button on your standard remote (not the streaming remote) that will allow you to choose the HDMI port that your streaming stick is plugged into.
Step 4: Put the Batteries in the Streaming Stick Remote
To navigate through the streaming stick’s menu and setup, you’ll need to use the remote that came in the box. Note: Some of these can connect to a service like Alexa for voice commands.
Step 5: Go Through Setup (Connect Account, Wi-Fi, etc.)
Now, you should be prompted to go through the setup of the streaming stick. You’re going to need the following:
An account and the login for the streaming stick vendor (i.e. Your Amazon account for a Fire TV Stick or Google account for a Chromecast, etc.)
You’ll need to know your Wi-Fi name and the password to connect.
Step 6: Install Apps You May Need
Many of the streaming sticks will already have common apps like Netflix installed, but you may need to install another streaming service that you use that is not already there, such as Disney+.
Step 7: Sign Into the Service You Want to Watch
You’re going to see a lot of different apps/streaming services, when you turn on your streaming stick connection, but most of these will require you to have a paid account.
You’ll need to already have an account with a service like Netflix that you want to watch and when you click the app, it will ask you to login with your username and password. You’ll then be taken directly to that specific streaming app’s menu to pick your show.
Here are some Free TV Streaming Trials you can check out with your new streaming stick!
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