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.
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 will be. For a start, ExpressVPN now has an app on the Fire TV so you no longer have to faff about side-loading the Android version.
It also lives up to its name when it comes to speed since, in our tests, it was one of the fastest services and can easily handle video streaming. At the time of writing, it worked with US Netflix.
There are around 1700 servers in 94 countries. It's HQ is based 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.
Bandwidth is unlimited, so you can watch as much as you like - so long as you have an uncapped broadband package of course. And you can have three devices connected to the service simultaneously.
With excellent tech support, it's easy to recommend ExpressVPN.
Read our full review of ExpressVPN
IPVanish is another great choice for the Fire TV. There's an app ready to download in the Amazon 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, too, 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
As with ExpressVPN, you'll find an app for VyprVPN on your Fire TV. In fact, 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 roughly 700 servers in 70 countries, so the choice should be wide enough for most people.
For a long time NordVPN has been our favourite VPN service. For Fire TV owners it isn't necessarily the best choice as it doesn't offer an Amazon app.
This means setup is more involved. Fortunately, there's an Android app so it's relatively easy to get hold of the .apk file (only use the official one from NordVPN's website) and install it on your Fire TV Stick. Previously you had to install it on your router or share the connection from a PC, and that's way too much hassle.
Do note, though, that it's still quite a lot of hassle to use NordVPN compared with a service with a native app on the Fire TV, so we hope they'll release one soon.
The upside of NordVPN in this scenario is that it has a huge number of servers (>4000) in over 60 countries and allows you to watch Netflix US.
Performance used to be a weak point for NordVPN, but these days it is among the best and more than enough for streaming HD video. As with the other services here, you may find you can streak 4K content if your own broadband is quick enough.
With headquarters in Panama and a no-logging policy NordVPN also scores well for privacy.
Read our full NordVPN 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.