Back in January or February of this year I was told about the Amazon Fire Stick and the fact that it could be modified to stream movies, sports and live TV for free. The modification is known as “jail breaking.” The person telling me about jail breaking the Amazon Fire TV Stick had been using the fire stick as her main source for television entertainment. After using it successfully for 6 months she canceled the TV portion of her cable service. In other words, she was saving a nice little sum by using the modified fire stick.
Since it was the first I heard about such a process I was a bit skeptical. I mean, I already had a Roku and Chromecast and was able to extend the capability of my viewing pleasure. Was really necessary for me to purchase yet another device to attach to my TV? I had tucked the fire stick conversation in the back of my mind and forgot about it until I received a letter from my cable company. The letter informed me that my “promotional” rate is expiring and that my monthly cable charges would increase. Upon reading the letter, my earlier jail breaking conversation came to mind.
Purchasing the Amazon Fire TV Stick
At first, I thought I needed to purchase the Amazon Fire TV. That device cost $89.99. I went to order it from Amazon, but that device was not in stock. I then drove over to Best Buy to purchase the TV stick, but it wasn’t in stock at Best Buy either. Eventually, I realized I didn’t need the $89.99 device. All I needed was the $39.99 Amazon Fire Stick, so I purchased it from Best Buy. Now, with fire stick in hand, I set about modifying it to stream all the goodies the internet had to offer.
A little Grandmotherly Advice: Before you jail break your Amazon Fire TV Stick, make sure to get a reliable VPN. I use IPVanish as my VPN.
Jail Breaking the Amazon Fire TV Stick
Thank you YouTube for being the prime institution for my School of Hard Knocks learning. To jailbreak the firestick I followed Franklin Ogbonna’s instructions and they worked like a charm. Here’s a link to his YouTube channel, but here’s the video I used to modify my Amazon firestick:
It takes about 25 minutes to go through the process, and then another 25 minutes or more to get familiar with the user interface. Actually, because I’m a bit slow on the uptake, it’s taking me much longer to get used to the interface.
When modifying (jail breaking) the fire stick, you must install Kodi. Kodi is the app that makes streaming content through the fire stick possible. Kodi is not limited to the firestick. It can also be installed on any computer, android or iOs device. With Kodi as the infrastructure, you then install third-party add-ons. For old-timers like me, I think of Kodi as the operating system and the addons as the various software programs.
With Kodi and add-ons, you can watch movies, live TV, sports, listen to music and even import your own images/videos to display. I’m still feeling my way around the program. I’m sure there are a host of other things it can do that I’m still too new to know about. Instead of learning from my limited experience, here are a couple of links to folks who really know what they’re talking about:
- What is Kodi – Review (this one gives tips on how to use Kodi to replace cable)
- Best Working Kodi Video Add-Ons
- Basics of Kodi – Part 1 This is a bit dated as it was published in 2016, but it gives the newbie plenty of information to digest. It’s a 4-part tutorial. Just go through the first one and the others should automatically play. If not, here’s Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
New Builds and Updates
One thing you’ll note with using Kodi and the add-ons is that it’s not a one-stop shopping where you set it and forget it. It appears you’ll have to update Kodi and add-ons from time to time as new builds are released and add-ons are updated. Think of the new builds/updates the same way as when iOS or Android update mobile devices. In the world of technology, nothing stands still. If you’re the type that likes your updates pushed thru to your device, then jail breaking the fire stick might not be for you. But, if you’re like me and like to tinker around then, give it a shot (it’s really not that bad).
I’ve only had the fire stick for a few days so I have much to learn. It is my intent to document my learning process here (that’s if I remember). If not, there are plenty of YouTube videos that will get any novice through the whole process well enough to be able to watch movies.
In the few days of using the fire stick, I’ve come up with the following questions. Guess they’ll be the subject of my next posts:
- VPN – What is it and do I need one?
- Is this legal?
- How to change the home screen shortcuts?
- Can I download Kodi music playlist to my iPhone?
- What about audiobooks?
My nephew told me about another method for jail breaking the Amazon Fire TV Stick. The end results of this method is a more user-friendly interface. The video is put out by GoJoe Productions. I’ve used both methods and prefer this one.
One more tip: If you have a questionable internet connection when modifying the Fire Stick, I strongly suggest you use the Wi-Fi signal booster that comes along with the device.