Not so long ago, there were two distinct ways of watching movies and video. One was the “lean back” way — like watching TV from your drawing room sofa. The other was the “lean forward way” — hunched up close, over a PC or laptop. Today the distinction has vanished. You can watch TV channels on your PC and YouTube on your big screen TV, provided it is a smart, Internet-ready set.
But again, a smart TV is not essential. Any TV that is fairly recent and has a HDMI port can be converted into a Smart TV, using a TV stick. Google made this happen with the Chromecast stick. And last month, Amazon refined the tool further when it launched the Fire TV Stick with a slate of India-specific features.I have been using Fire TV for ten days now. It is the most intuitive, made-for-dummies TV stick I have used. Of course, you need a home Wi-Fi network with a reasonable data speed at least 40-50 MBPS to get jitter free video. You need to connect the stick to the HDMI port of your TV. You also need to power up the device by connecting the adapter to a main outlet, select HDMI as the input source on the TV. You can now use the remote to choose your language and select your Wi-Fi network.
It is also worth paying Rs 499 for a year’s membership to Amazon Prime Video, since that will provide access to a large collection of English and Indian language movies and TV serials for free.
All this takes about five minutes and after that you have menus offering you access to NetFlix, Hotstar, Voot, Gaana, Eros and other popular Internet TV services. All of them have some free offerings but charge for premium services. One nice touch is a voice button on the remote. Press it and speak the name of the movie or show you want to watch. It works fine with our Indian-English accents or in Hindi. Amazon Fire TV stick costs Rs 3,999 which is Rs 600 more than Google’s Chromecast stick, but really it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Chromecast’s strength is to mirror anything running on your Android phone — video, images, text that you must open with the Chrome browser.
In any case, there is so much of TV content now available on the Internet, not just YouTube, that a TV stick of some kind is fast becoming a must-have accessory. It frees you from watching TV when “they” broadcast it — to when and where, “you” prefer it....