Amazon's Fire TV Stick is a very cheap dongle that lets you watch video from Netflix, BBC iPlayer and many more services including Amazon's own Prime Video.
It's easy to install extra apps from the built-in app store, but you're still limited by the geo-restrictions put in place by those content providers.
So if you want to take your Fire TV Stick - or 4K Fire TV dongle - on holiday and watch iPlayer when you're abroad, you'll find it impossible unless you use a VPN.
For the uninitiated, VPNs route your connection through a server before going to the final destination. This makes the website or service think you're in the same country as the server, and it's one reason why people use a VPN.
The other reason is because VPNs encrypt all the information between your device and the server, so no-one can see what you're looking at.
What do I need to look for in a VPN?
You'll find a more in-depth guide in our roundup of the Best VPNs, but here's a summary of what you'll want if you're choosing a service primarily to use with your Fire TV.
- Speed: the connection needs to be fast enough to stream video
- Choice of servers: Need a server in the country where the content is located
- Bandwidth: Video uses a lot of data, so you need a large monthly allowance
- Price: You won't get all of the above for free!
- Free trial: To test the VPN to make sure it's fast enough and works with the video services you want to watch
There are other considerations, too, such as whether the VPN service keeps logs or not and whether it supports P2P or not. You'll only need the latter if you're using a video streaming service that relies on peer-to-peer file sharing. Most don't.
Last, but not least, is whether there's an app available for your chosen VPN service on the Fire TV or not. It's much more convenient if there is, but since the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV boxes are based on Android you can 'side-load' the Android app version of a VPN service, such as NordVPN.
Just note that Android apps are designed for phones, not TV use, so it is easiest and most convenient to use an app from the Fire TV's app store.
For a long time NordVPN has been our favourite VPN service. But for Fire TV owners it wasn't the best choice for the simple reason that there was no Amazon app, which meant you had to faff about side-loading the Android app if you already had a Nord account and wanted to use it on your Firestick.
Fortunately, that's now fixed and you'll find the NordVPN app when you search for VPN in the app store on your Firestick. It's based on the Android app and uses OpenVPN, but the interface is tailored for TV use.
NordVPN has a huge number of servers (>5000) in over 60 countries and allows you to watch Netflix US, among many streaming services, thanks to its Smart Play feature that automatically picks the most appropriate server for you. As you'd expect you can save your favourites for quicker connections.
Performance is among the best of any VPN service and more than enough for streaming HD video. As with the other services here, you may find you can stream 4K content if your own broadband is quick enough.
With headquarters in Panama and a no-logging policy, NordVPN also scores well for privacy. Don't forget you can also use the service on your laptop, phone and other devices: Nord allows up to six simultaneous connections and offers extra features such as double VPN for excellent security and privacy.
Read our full NordVPN review
ExpressVPN isn't the cheapest option. It's one of the most expensive, actually, but it is also one of the best. There's no free trial. Instead there's the offer of a 30-day money-back guarantee so you can try it out and get a refund if you're not happy.
But we think you'll be more than happy. ExpressVPN was quicker than some rivals in releasing an app for the Fire TV so installing it takes all of 60 seconds.
It also lives up to its name when it comes to speed since, in our tests, it was one of the fastest VPN services and can easily handle video streaming. It works with US Netflix, just as you'd expect.
The company now has over 2000 servers in 94 countries. It's HQ is in the British Virgin Islands, which is technically outside the 14-eyes group. But the fact the company keeps no logs means it isn't really an issue.
There's only a couple of minor quibbles: you can have just three devices connected to the service simultaneously where rivals typically offer more. Plus, you can't pay via gift cards: Bitcoin is the option if you want to avoid using your usual bank account and reveal your real name and address. And that's more of a hassle.
But with excellent tech support, there's still a lot to like about ExpressVPN.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN
PureVPN is a great all-rounder, and another service that has a Fire TV app ready to install in the app store.
You shouldn't choose a VPN service based only on its Fire TV app, and PureVPN is a solid choice for all your VPN needs. It offers over 2000 servers in 141 countries (just about the widest coverage of any service) and it works with Netflix.
It allows you to use your subscription on up to five devices at once, is based outside the '14 Eyes' and in our tests offered reliable and fast connections.
With temptingly low monthly prices, it's easy to recommend.
- Sign up for PureVPN
Read our full PureVPN review
VyprVPN was one of the first VPN services to put an app on the Fire TV. It too unblocks Netflix US and in our tests had excellent, reliable performance. That means you can watch HD shows - even 4K if your own broadband is fast enough.
There's a free trial and though it lasts just three days it should be enough to figure out whether it's the right VPN service for you.
Based in Switzerland, it's outside the 14-eyes but it does keep logs of IP addresses, bytes transferred and connection times. It supports P2P connections too, but encourages users to respect local copyright laws.
In terms of locations, there are over 700 servers in 70 countries, so the choice should be wide enough for most people.
IPVanish is another great choice for the Fire TV. There's an app ready to download in the app store which means the only real work is to sign up for an account and enter your login details. As with any of the VPN services here, we recommend you sign up on a PC or laptop as it's far easier to type in your details on a keyboard instead of using the Fire TV remote.
IPVanish has masses of servers in over 60 countries and is a pretty good choice for privacy as it keeps no logs, nor connection timings. The snag is that it's based in the US which is one of the "14-eyes".
Performance is great and the app lets you do things such as automatically change IP address every so often and automatically select the fastest server. We found not every server unblocks Netflix US, but we also discovered that tech support is swift to respond and help select the right server.
Read our full IPVanish review
Although we said at the start you can't get a good VPN for streaming video for free, there is one option: Windscribe.
This service offers a generous 10GB bandwidth per month for nothing, though it will only give you 2GB if you don't enter an email address when you sign up.
If that wasn't enough of a bonus, the Windscribe app is in the app store on your Fire TV so it's simple to install and set up.
Under Windscribe's free plan you get to use its servers in only 10 countries, but those cover US, UK, Hong Kong and Romania. You can upgrade to one of the Pro plans if you like the service but want unlimited bandwidth.
Even in the free package there's support for P2P, too.
Speeds aren't wonderful, but as it's free you can test it out and see if it's quick enough to stream the videos you want to watch.