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Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is a fine device when it comes to streaming. The rub with it, however, is its operating system (OS). Though it shares roots with Google’s Android OS, the Fire TV Stick’s Fire OS is an offshoot of Android, and it doesn’t come with the Google Play Store preinstalled. If you’re hoping to install a VPN app on your Fire TV Stick, that could present some challenges. To find the best VPN for Fire TV Sticks and other Fire TV devices, we checked out the VPNs available in the Amazon Appstore for Android, as well as Android-native VPN apps that Fire TV users could potentially sideload onto their devices. We also considered running a VPN on a router, which is a good workaround when your individual devices aren’t as VPN-friendly as you might like.
In the end, we came up with two recommendations for Fire TV devices. The first is relatively easy to set up and should work for just about any Fire TV user; the second is geared toward more tech-savvy users who are willing to go through a more complicated setup process.
Let’s take a look at these two VPN services now.
ExpressVPN is one of the better VPN options available today, and there are many reasons why. It delivers in the speed department. It works with most streaming video services. It has servers all across the world. And, most important, it has solid support for Amazon’s Fire TV Stick.
In terms of speed, ExpressVPN didn’t let us down. In our ExpressVPN review, we didn’t experience much of a hit in speed when connecting to a server and doing everyday things like browsing the internet and streaming movies. If you hate watching that buffering icon, you’ll be pretty happy with ExpressVPN.
And speaking of streaming services, we found that ExpressVPN worked well with many of the major ones and accomplished what we hoped it would: It was able to location-shift us to a different region, letting us access content from that region without having to be there.
ExpressVPN has thousands of servers in 89 countries around the world, which bodes well for those who need to access streaming video content from a very specific locale. If you need to shift yourself to a particular country, there’s a good chance that ExpressVPN will be able to do that.
But the chief reason why ExpressVPN occupies the top spot in this comparison — why we’re so high on it — is because it is very simple to install on your Amazon Fire TV Stick. ExpressVPN has an app in Amazon’s Appstore, which makes finding, downloading, and installing it a piece of cake. There’s no sideloading whatsoever.
Let’s say you know your way around Android and, more specifically, Fire OS. You’re well versed in sideloading apps, and installing them from unknown sources doesn’t strike fear into your heart. If that is the case, you may be comfortable with doing the additional work required to install what we feel is a better all-around VPN for the Fire TV Stick. If you are that person, you could use Private Internet Access to take your Fire TV Stick streaming game to the next level.
As mentioned earlier, in a pure streaming VPN battle, Private Internet Access typically takes the crown over ExpressVPN. It barely affects your internet speed, according to our PIA review. It’s capable of working with just about any streaming service. And it edges out ExpressVPN when it comes to the number of countries in which it has servers.
The process for getting Private Internet Access on your Fire TV Stick, however, is a bit more involved, as it requires downloading an entirely different app, then using that app to download the file you’ll need to use Private Internet Access. As I said before, you may be someone who is totally fine with doing that, but not everyone is. Some may feel worried — and rightly so — about downloading an app from an unknown source. That can be a recipe for infecting your device with malware if you aren’t incredibly careful.
For those of you who will brave that process, however, Private Internet Access will likely offer you a better overall experience. There’s just that one hump to get over, which, unfortunately, makes it a solid second-place VPN, but not one we’d recommend to just anyone with a Fire TV Stick.
At the risk of repeating myself (since I’ve already talked about this a great deal), choosing between ExpressVPN and Private Internet Access comes down to how comfortable you are managing your Amazon Fire TV Stick.
It’s our belief that most people should take the easier, safer route by using ExpressVPN. It’s in Amazon’s Appstore, which makes it easy to download. If you’re someone who knows the Fire TV Stick and its operating system inside and out, though — and you’re confident in your ability to install the correct app — Private Internet Access will likely provide you a slightly better VPN experience overall.