Your Tech, Your Decision: Whether You Should Jailbreak Your Firestick

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When most people choose to purchase an Amazon Firestick.

They’re making a conscious decision based on their knowledge of the brand to invest in technology that they feel will improve their lives. The convenience and speed associated with the brand (despite some of its in-warehouse conditions, for which Amazon has rightfully drawn criticisms) are associated with any product that bears its parent company’s name, leading many consumers to choose the Firestick over other set-top models.

Unfortunately for them, the Amazon Firestick doesn’t offer much that’s different from other set-top boxes. In actuality, the only thing that the Firestick had over its competitors was a voice-search function that is now incorporated into other set-top models; and even when the Firestick had just been released, the voice-search function only worked with Amazon’s main site. You couldn’t use it to browse apps that were added on after the fact, such as Netflix or Hulu: really, the only thing that differentiates Firestick from other set-tops is the ability to browse Amazon’s site more conveniently.

The only thing the Firestick is good for as-is is giving you unparalleled access to Amazon’s site and Amazon unparalleled access to your wallet. Due to the Firestick’s manufacturer settings, there are a whole bunch of free TV and movie apps that you cannot use with the branded device, as Amazon would prefer you shop with them instead of getting your entertainment for free. Instead of offering convenience on a level never-before-seen, like Amazon’s earth-shattering Prime service, the Firestick is just a branded piece of tech intended to limit your entertainment options and direct as much commerce as possible to Amazon’s site.

The practice of parent companies restricting how their tech can be used for their own profit goes back as far as the first iPhone, with consumers being unable to download apps that were not available on the Apple store for one reason or another. Considering the heavy investment most of us put into our tech and how much functionality we typically expect from our devices, this common practice gets under many consumers’ skin. Fortunately, there is a way to get what we feel we deserve from the tech we purchase.

Jailbreaking: Making Your Tech Universally Compatible

This method, which can be applied to many different types of tech, is known as jailbreaking. Jailbreaking is, in short, the act of rewriting your device’s programming to remove unnecessary manufacturer restrictions, allowing your device to function as an open-source product essentially. Before jailbreaking, your device’s ability to work with different kinds of software would be restricted according to the whims of the device’s parent company; after jailbreaking, your device can integrate with any third-party software application your heart desires. With the right tools and the proper know-how, this process can be done with devices of all kinds, from old gaming consoles and music players to even the newest phone models.

However, not all devices are made equal, and some are easier to jailbreak than others: this is where Firestick owners have cause to rejoice. The Amazon Firestick is actually one of the easiest devices to jailbreak, simply requiring you to change a couple of security settings. With the right instructions, your borderline-useless piece of corporately produced and monitored tech can become a veritable universal remote, able to connect to free TV and movie apps across the internet.

Are There Any Risks?

The short answer is no. Jailbreaking is a completely safe process, especially if you’re using instructions from a reputable source. You aren’t irreparably damaging your device, and you aren’t limiting its functionality by jailbreaking it: you’re expanding it, getting rid of needless manufacturer restrictions.

However, you will likely also want to install a VPN to go along with your Firestick, just to give you an added layer of security from outside intervention in how you use your tech. VPN’s make it impossible for internet service providers (ISPs) to throttle your connection if you access services they don’t like. Paired with a jailbroken firestick, a VPN can give you the closest thing to tech that’s free from restriction in today’s world.

The question isn’t so much “should I jailbreak my device” as “what do I stand to gain by jailbreaking my device? And what will I miss out on if I don’t?” Jailbreaking your Firestick can expand the world of free entertainment available to you, giving you the opportunity to get more bang for your buck and give less money to greedy tech companies.

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