The Amazon Fire TV Stick or FireStick is a handy piece of streaming tech similar to the Roku streaming USB stick, but this time around it’s made by the world-famous Amazon.com e-commerce website and multi-billion mail-order company. FireStick offers loads of features and has portability as one of its main selling points. You can put the whole thing, including its power supply, into your pockets and head out anywhere you want.
With that in mind, can you use amazon fire stick on a computer or laptop? It’s one thing to be able to lug around the Fire TV Stick and use it on your nearest HDTV or HDMI projector with an Internet connection. It’s a whole other thing to be able to use the stick on your desktop or even laptop PC for the ultimate mobility in terms of steaming entertainment.
Learn More About The FireStick and Streaming on PC
If you’re a video streamer, here are a couple of facts about streaming through the FireStick and your laptop that you need to know, particularly when it comes to online streaming without any “protections” whatsoever.
- Streaming via Laptop Is Rather Redundant: Is it possible to use the FireStick on a laptop in order to stream Amazon Prime or Netflix as well as other services like Hulu, HBO Go, CrunchyRoll, and Disney+? Sure, but why use the stick when you can use your laptop’s OS and a web browser to accomplish the same thing? You can access your Amazon Prime account through browsers like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Opera with relative ease and without the device that’s mostly used to allow HDTVs to stream without a special app installed. It usually doesn’t need the FireStick in the first place. The broadcasting device that is the FireStick should be left in the hands of an HDTV instead of a laptop that has Internet access to an online player and an Amazon Prime account anyway.
- HDMI Limitations and Copyright Protections: The idea behind the FireStick is clear. You don’t need to log into anything with your browser. The Fire TV Stick will allow you access to Netflix and Amazon Prime with the ease of putting on a CD or DVD. You’ll get to watch your favorite programs in a jiffy or sooner. However, there are limitations to HDMI that might force you simply access Amazon Prime through your Chrome or Firefox browser instead of through the flash-drive-like hardware. HDMI was designed to prevent you from accessing copyrighted programs through computers unless a digital certificate allows you to do a handshake that permits you access.
- The Fire TV Stick Is Made for HDTVs Mostly: The reason why the Amazon FireStick doesn’t work on laptops is that it uses HDMI to connect to an HDTV. It wasn’t designed to connect to laptops and copyright owners intended that to be the case. Many digital pirates might use the stick to record or rip the web-based HD flv files of whatever show or movie is available on Netflix and Amazon as well as Disney+ and HBO Go, particularly their original content. Even newer laptops with HDMI ports have HDCP included that bars any device without the proper certificates and handshakes to use the FireStick as their broadcasting device.
- Both Are Broadcast Ports: The laptop and Amazon Fire TV Stick are also both broadcasting devices. They have ports for input rather than output as in the case of HDTVs, computer monitors, and projectors. Thusly, trying to connect the FireStick with your laptop is as futile as trying to connect your desktop with your Blu-Ray player. It just won’t work, even if your desktop comes with a computer monitor connected to it. It’s better to have a Blu-Ray or DVD drive and play movies through that medium instead of trying to jerry-rig or daisy-chain your two source media together. It’s the same with the Fire TV Stick and your laptop. They both need a monitor or an HDTV display device to work, so using both at the same time instead of one or the other gets to be a little redundant.
- Your ISP Has All Your Information: Your Internet Service Provider or ISP is legally allowed to sell the information about what you view and it has a direct window to everything you stream and view on the Worldwide Web. Because ISPs don’t wish to deal with lawsuits in a direct manner, they will pass along your viewing habits and information to concerned parties to protect themselves from litigation, which compromises your privacy. You might need to protect yourself and your streaming information by using a commercial VPN instead of streaming content through the ISP.
- Streaming by Legal Means: The best way to avoid getting litigated due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that prevents users from engaging in digital piracy is to have a Netflix or Amazon Prime account. This way, your ISP won’t have anything bad to report to anyone since you’re paying for the content you’re streaming. On that note, HDMI and High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) is another layer of digital piracy protection present in your Amazon Fire TV Stick and laptop with an HDMI port that prevents you from accessing Amazon Prime through the FIreStick and laptop instead of through an online browser like Google Chrome and an attached media player.
- The HDMI port of the Laptop: The HDMI port of the laptop is mostly there to allow for you to connect another display screen to it or even allow HDTV linkage if you so wish. It can extend screens or mirror its display on another monitor. Both the Amazon FireStick and the laptop send signals instead of receiving them since they’re not display devices. Despite the built-in monitor of the laptop, its HDMI port isn’t for receiving broadcast media. It won’t work. The HDMI port of the laptop is linked to the graphics card instead of its own monitor. There’s no hardware-type path to carry the HDMI signal from your Fire TV Stick to your laptop screen.
- ElGato HD60S and a USB-C Cable Connection: There are some paths you can use in order to allow your laptop’s screen or computer monitor to connect to the Amazon Fire TV Stick so that you can enjoy some Amazon Prime entertainment or “Netflix and Chill” (the non-sexualized version of that, anyway). The ElGato HD60S is a device that takes an HDMI output from a game console like the Nintendo Switch then streams it to your laptop or PC through a USB-C cable. This unit comes with an app that puts the input from your USB-C cable unto the screen of your laptop or desktop PC. Dealing with such video streams requires you to have advanced monster-grade gaming laptops like a MacBook running Sierra or a 64-bit Windows 10 machine and an i5-4xxx quad-core processor. Your graphics card should be something like Nvidia GeForce GTX 600 and above.
- Strip the HDCP Out with The ViewHD HDMI Splitter: The HDCP is a major sticking point in using the Amazon FireStick with your laptop or desktop PC even if you are able to bypass HDMI limitations and connect to the display monitor. The HDMI signal will cut off if it detects no handshake or certificate from the receiving device due to the HDCP encryption protocol. HDMI was picked as the HDTV standard exactly because it makes it harder for pirates to pirate the digital copyrighted content of content owners. ElGato doesn’t work with HDCP. You sill need the ViewHD HDMI Splitter to strip that encryption out or breaks it to allow the basic HDMI signal to go through your ElGato device.
- Isn’t This More Trouble Than It’s Worth? Yes, trying to access Amazon Prime or Netflix by a device like the Amazon Fire TV Stick or the Roku stick by PC is more trouble than it’s worth in light of the fact that these devices were made with HDTVs or smart TVs in mind. They enable those display appliances to work like PCs and access Netflix and the like via app. You don’t need to turn your laptop or desktop into PCs since they’re already PCs. They already have access to apps from Netflix and Amazon Prime or browsers that can play such content through online players. You can access your accounts from those content providers with relative ease without trying to break HDCP or buying game console streaming gadgetry.
To Sum Things Up
The Amazon FireStick is incredibly popular because of its ability to work with practically any smart TV with a USB or HDMI port included. It also helps that it’s a device made by Amazon for services like Amazon Prime as well as its closest competitor Netflix. If you want to stream without using a computer’s net browser with an HDMI connection, you can’t go wrong with the Fire TV Stick and its ability to convert any TV into a streaming machine. Or can you?
You should be able to plug the stick into your laptop anywhere with Wi-Fi in order to enjoy your fave programs using something other than a web browser and online player, right? However, there are obstacles in your path towards using the FireStick as your instant-access gateway towards streaming entertainment. With that said, even though HDMI connections are limited, there are a couple of methods or hacks you can use in order to use your stick with a laptop. It mostly involves splitters and game console streaming devices.
- “Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice“, Amazon.com, Retrieved April 30, 2020
- Robert Hayes, “Can You Use The Amazon Fire Stick On A Laptop?“, TechJunkie.com January 26, 2020