What is the Amazon Firestick?
First introduced in 2014, the Amazon Firestick and Fire TV have succeeded in rivalling Chromecast and Roku as one of the most popular streaming and home entertainment devices available. The Firestick simply plugs into your TV’s HDMI port, allowing any TV to stream your favorite shows, movies, music and more. You can choose from hundreds of apps to gain on-demand access to content from the likes of Hulu, HBO, Netflix, and Prime Video. It’s portable, meaning you can take your media with you anywhere you go.
Why should you use a VPN with it?
When you connect to the internet on any device, your ISP (Internet Service Provider) is able to see all your online activity, including the shows you watch and the apps you download on your Amazon Firestick. This information can be sold on to third parties, who use the download and streaming logs for targeted advertising purposes, jeopardizing your privacy in the process.
ISPs in certain countries have also been known for bandwidth throttling, which can slow down performance significantly and leads to the dreaded buffering wheel.
Much of the content the Firestick provides access to is geo-locked, meaning it’s only available to consumers in certain countries or regions, often due to strict licensing agreements and broadcasting rights. Similarly, local sporting events are typically restricted due to the exclusive rights of certain large networks.
A VPN encrypts your internet connection and replaces your IP address, making it impossible for ISPs to snoop on your online activity. It can also unblock restricted content and allow you to appear in a different country – so the world really is your oyster!
How to pick the best VPNs for Firestick
When it comes to choosing a VPN to use with your Firestick, there are a few important things to take into consideration. Many providers will claim to be superior, but not all are compatible with the device and some offer a much better service than others. There are hundreds of options to choose from, many of which are unreliable or at worst, dangerous. So, before you buy, make sure to ask yourself the following questions:
Does the VPN provider offer a custom app on the Amazon store? Is it easy to use?
To make your life easier, you should look for a provider that offers a user-friendly native app that you can download directly from the Amazon or App store. This will allow you to set up your VPN software without the hassle of manual configuration. Two of the most popular providers with native apps for the Firestick are ExpressVPN and IPVanish.
Are there servers in the locations I need?
To experience the best performances, you’ll need to connect to a server near to your physical location. Take a look at the available servers on the provider’s website before purchasing to make sure there are plenty in your area. Some providers will even allow you to drill down to city level, so you can pinpoint an exact location.
Is performance fast enough for buffer-free, HD streaming?
There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting while your favorite shows buffer endlessly. Using a VPN prevents bandwidth throttling, but it can slow down performance. Make sure to pick a provider that boasts quick speeds when connecting to your chosen location. Anything above 20Mbps will be enough for HD streaming, but some providers offer over 200Mbps. You could test out the speeds using a free trial or money-back guarantee period or use a comparison site to research different providers beforehand.
Can I still access my favorite streaming services?
Services like Netflix and BBC iPlayer have recently cracked down on VPN providers, so not every option works with the most popular streaming services. A select few still offer quick and easy access to the sites, so look out for providers that offer dedicated streaming servers.
Does the provider collect any data about their users?
Do I want to use a VPN on any other devices?
If you want to protect all your other devices, including laptops, phones and games consoles, you’ll want a VPN that is compatible with them all and allows you to connect on multiple devices at the same time. Most providers offer custom apps for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android, but only some boast simple solutions for other devices.
The Fire TV and Firestick are both great devices, and this is reflected in their recent popularity. That being said, using a VPN can improve the capabilities of your device dramatically, allowing you to access a wide variety of new content quickly and securely. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll find the right VPN to make the most of your device.