As the digital age continues to evolve, the movement toward streaming devices like Fire Sticks and away from traditional cable seems inevitable.  Cutting the cable and relying on streaming devices for television programming, streaming videos, and music may be the best option.

So, should you choose a Fire Stick over traditional cable?  Fire sticks can be advantageous over traditional cable TV because (with internet access) it allows users to watch TV shows or Movies on popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Prime Video, and more. Also included are popular apps (like YouTube or Facebook) and the ability to view live camera feeds to compatible devices (like the Ring Doorbell). Using the Firestick alone does not include long-term contracts, set-up fees, or a standard coaxial cable.

The experience of using a Fire Stick may be completely different than traditional cable, but just how different?

Fire Stick versus Cable

In a head to head comparison, here is what the Fire Stick offers versus traditional cable:

  Fire Stick Cable
Live TV Yes Yes
Subscription/Contract required No Yes
Local Channels No Yes
Premium Channels Yes * Yes*
Installation Yourself Technician
Internet Required Yes * No
Purchase Price As low as $29** Equipment fees may apply
Monthly charge (basic) $0 $35-$65 average
COST PER YEAR (basic) $0 $420-$780

*additional cost required  **4K HD Fire Sticks cost $70+ 

Amazon FireStick 4K with Alexa voice remote. Click to check price

If you decide to add premium streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video to your Fire Stick, the average cost is between $8 and $16 per month.  Cost is not the only differences between Fire Stick and Cable, there are a few advantages and disadvantages to both.

Fire Stick Advantages

Using a Fire Stick can open a whole new world of content, apps, digital access, and smart home interaction.  Here are just a few of the advantages of using a Fire Stick

AFFORDABLE.  For a one-time purchase you will have unlimited access to digital content, some even free!  Check the latest prices now.

You can get premium streaming services that usually charge a monthly fee. 

Amazon Prime members get access to Prime Video included with their membership, and that can be accessed through a Fire Stick as well.

VERSATILE. 

Fire Sticks afford users the ability to use multiple streaming services with one device.  Streaming services such as Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Amazon Prime are only one click away. 

Sling TV is another streaming subscription service that has packages that offer many of the same channels as traditional cable, like ESPN, ID, TBS, and more. 

→→You can even add some of your favorite game apps to the Fire Stick←←

ALEXA ENABLED. 

Amazon Fire Sticks now come Alexa enabled.  On the Fire Stick remote, users press one button, ask for what they want, and get it instantly.  

For example, you can press the microphone button and ask, “What’s the weather.”  Your local weather information will be displayed, and Alexa will tell you the weather. 

When it is done, the TV will immediately return to the last channel or app it was using.

NO CONTRACTS. 

There are NO contracts associated with the Fire Stick. 

This does not include any contracts or subscriptions associated with premium streaming services.

PORTABLE. 

You can also use a Fire Stick while traveling.  Going to visit your parents?  You can take the Fire Stick with you and use it on most HDMI compatible televisions where Wi-Fi connections are available. 

Most hotels now offer Wi-Fi access and HDMI inputs, so you do not have to miss your favorite shows. 

You can also move that TV outside for the big game or movie night if you have a good Wi-Fi signal and an outlet.

Fire Stick Disadvantages

Nothing is perfect and that includes the Fire Stick, here’s a few drawbacks

INTERNET CONNECTION REQUIRED. 

To use a Fire Stick, you must have a reliable internet connection.

Amazon suggests internet speeds of 3.5 Mbps as the absolute minimum, while HD streaming requires 7-10 Mbps. 

BUFFERING. 

The dreaded spinning circle, this can happen when multiple devices are using the same Wi-Fi connection as the Fire Stick. 

The Fire Stick will let you know if your connection is too weak for it to operate. 

NO LOCAL CHANNELS.

Depending on your location and the channel that you are looking for, a Fire Stick will not likely be able to provide you with your local channel. 

This can become especially troublesome for severe weather reports and local sports and news. 

Some major networks such as CBS offer streaming content, however, these are not the local broadcasts.

Cable Advantages

Tradition cable has been around for a while, and it has some advantages, such as:

LOCAL CHANNELS. 

Cable provides local news and sports channels.   

RELIABLE. 

Other than major storm damage, cable is likely to work most of the time. 

Since cable does not rely on streaming through Wi-Fi, there is no interference when using other digital devices.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT. 

Most cable companies offer 24/7 phone support.  If you are having any issues with your cable, then you can typically talk to an actual person to help diagnose the issue. 

Be aware, however, in rare cases, even technical support by phone may result in an additional fee on the next bill.

BUNDLING OPTIONS. 

In many markets, local cable companies have partnered with local phone and internet companies to offer discounts if you choose to bundle your services.  And in many cases, the bundle can be on one bill.

Cable Disadvantages

Using cable means you are linked, and not in a good way.  Here are a few more disadvantages.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT. 

Yes, this is also on the list of advantages.  However, what happens when you cannot fix the problem yourself.

If there is a bigger problem than you must set an appointment for a technician to come to your house and fix it.  In some cases, this may cost you a fee, depending on your contract.

NO PORTABILITY. 

Whether you want to rearrange your living room, or simply want to watch TV on your patio, you are likely limited to where you can locate your television. 

Cable hookups are generally close to exterior walls and one per room. 

In some cases, cable companies charge for additional connections as well.

LIMITED AVAILABILITY. 

The choice of cable company is limited by location. 

While Comcast, for example, offers reliable and budget-friendly cable, it is only available in major metropolitan areas.  In many rural areas, cable is not even an option.

CONTRACTS. 

Many cable providers require that customers agree to a year or more of continued service.

If service is disconnected, voluntarily or for non-payment, the customer is still responsible for those contracted fees. 

Time to decide, Fire Stick or Cable?

Let’s face it, many homes already have one or more paid premium streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.  And it is likely that these homes also have reliable internet access.  In these cases, a Fire Stick makes complete sense, making already paid for content more accessible. 

For existing Amazon Prime members, using a Fire Stick gives them more access to the content already included with their membership.  Unfortunately, for those that may not have an internet connection or internet access is through their cable provider, dropping cable may not be an option.

You also have the option of upgrading to the new Amazon Fire Cube. It is the more powerful Firestick Amazon released recently.

Related Questions

Can you use Fire Stick with cable?

You can absolutely use a Fire Stick with traditional cable.  All you need is Wi-fi access and an HDMI input on your television.  By using this option, you have the best of both worlds.  Cable offers live local channels, while a Fire Stick offers streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube straight to your TV. 

I have a Smart TV; do I need a Fire Stick? 

While Smart TVs do offer some access to streaming services, they are limited.  TV manufacturers must enter into partnership agreements with each streaming service they provide.  So, while you do not need a Fire Stick with a Smart TV, there are benefits to adding a Fire Stick to your favorite Smart TV.