As an experienced cord-cutter, I often get asked – what‘s the best video player for streaming devices like Firestick and Android TV?
My answer is always VLC media player.
In this detailed guide, I‘ll show you how to install VLC on Firestick and Android TV. I‘ll also share some pro tips to use VLC‘s advanced features for smooth video playback.
Let‘s get started!
Why VLC is the Best Video Player for Streaming
VLC dominates the world of media players. With over 3 billion downloads across various platforms, it is by far the most popular and versatile video player available.
Unlike built-in players, VLC can play virtually any video or audio format you throw at it. This includes:
- H.264, H.265 and AV1 for high quality video
- VP9 codec used by YouTube and Google
- MKV, AVI, MP4, MOV and other common containers
- Hi-res audio formats like FLAC and Vorbis
- DVDs, BluRays and other optical media
- Obscure formats like Ogg, M2TS, BDMV and more
This wide format support is thanks to VLC‘s built-in codecs. It saves you the hassle of downloading additional codec packs.
Beyond formats, VLC offers top-notch streaming performance. In my testing, VLC consistently has less stutter and buffering compared to native players on Firestick and Android TV devices.
Advanced caching and network options allow smooth video playback even on slower internet connections. This makes VLC an excellent choice for cord-cutters who stream a lot.
Of course, being open source gives VLC some key advantages:
Constant innovation: Thousands of developers worldwide contribute to VLC‘s development. This ensures the player is always improving.
Community support: As an open source project, there is great community documentation and support available for VLC online.
Transparency: You can trust there is no hidden agenda or tracking when using an open source tool like VLC.
Free and legal: VLC is 100% free forever with no ads, subscriptions or illegal streams.
After testing dozens of media players over the past decade, I can confidently say VLC reigns supreme when it comes to features, performance and transparency. Let‘s see how to unleash VLC‘s potential on your streaming device.
Step-by-Step Guide to Install VLC on Firestick
The process to get VLC Player on your Amazon Firestick just takes a few minutes:
From the Firestick home screen, use the Search option to look for "VLC for Fire".
Select the VLC Player app from the search results. Confirm it is offered by VideoLAN.
Click the "Download" button on VLC‘s page to begin installation.
Once downloaded, open VLC from the Firestick apps menu.
The first time you launch VLC, grant the required permissions when prompted.
That‘s all it takes! VLC will now be ready to play media files and streams on your Firestick. Pretty straightforward, right?
Of course, the same process works to download VLC on any Fire TV model including the Firestick 4K, Fire TV Cube and Fire TV Stick Lite.
Installing VLC on Android TV
Got an Android TV box like Nvidia Shield or Xiaomi Mi Box? The installation is very similar:
Open the Google Play Store and search for "VLC for Android TV".
Select the VLC app from search results and click "Install".
Accept permissions after opening VLC for the first time.
And you‘re done – VLC is installed and ready for action on Android TV!
I recommend granting VLC access to external storage if you have media files on a USB or microSD connected to your Android TV device.
Integrating VLC with Streaming Apps
A key benefit of VLC is that it can be used from within other media apps on your Firestick or Android TV device.
For example, you can set VLC as the default "external player" in Kodi, Cinema APK, CatMouse and several others.
Here‘s how to do it in a popular streaming APK like Cinema HD:
In Cinema APK, open the side menu and go to the Settings section.
Choose the "Default player" option.
Select VLC from the list to make it the default player.
That‘s it! Now Cinema APK will handoff video playback to VLC instead of the built-in player.
This results in a smoother viewing experience with significantly reduced buffering.
I recommend testing VLC as an external player with your favorite apps to enjoy buttery-smooth streaming.
Next, let‘s explore some of VLC‘s awesome advanced features.
Handy Features That Make VLC Stand Out
Beyond playing regular video and audio files, VLC is packed with convenient utilities that improve the streaming experience.
Here are some of my favorite VLC features:
Adjust Playback Speed
Want to speed up or slow down a video? VLC lets you quickly adjust playback between 0.25x to 4x normal speed. Very handy!
Easily load external SRT subtitles in VLC. You can even download subtitles right from within the player.
Zoom and Rotate
Zoom into videos or rotate the viewing angle for more comfortable watching. Great for accessibility.
Play Network Streams
Directly play any network stream URL without downloading the file first. Extremely useful trick!
Change the audio codec seamlessly if a video file has incompatible audio. Saves from re-encoding the file.
Detach the video into a floating window for a mini-player effect. Allows resizing and always-on-top.
Import your local media files into VLC‘s library. Easily organize and play videos without browsing folders.
Take some time to get familiar with these features by exploring VLC‘s settings. It will level up your streaming experience considerably.
Pro Tips for Using VLC on Firestick
With great power comes great responsibility. To get the best results from VLC on your Fire TV device, keep these expert tips in mind:
Use a Mouse Toggle
A mouse makes navigating VLC‘s interface much easier. The free Mouse Toggle app emulates a pointer for Firestick.
Enable Hardware Decoding
Turn on hardware acceleration in settings for smoother video playback. Uses hardware decoding via your device‘s GPU.
Increase Network Caching
Buffering a lot? Increase network caching to 300-500ms for smooth streaming over unreliable networks.
Adjust Aspect Ratio
Don‘t see video full screen? Try different aspect ratios in VLC like 16:9, 4:3, zoom etc.
Having codec issues with a file? Try transcoding the audio or video codec to a compatible format.
Fix Audio Sync
Experiencing lip sync problems? Adjust audio delay settings to resync out-of-sync audio.
Use your Fire tablet or smartphone to control VLC on Firestick. Just download the VLC app on mobile.
These tips will help avoid common playback issues and deliver flawless media streaming with VLC on Firestick.
VLC vs. Competition: How Does It Compare?
While VLC is my top pick, some users may prefer alternative media players like MX Player or Kodi. Let‘s see how VLC compares to its major competitors:
MX Player – Popular commercial app focused on smooth video playback. But has less format support compared to VLC, and closed source.
Kodi – As a full-fledged media center, Kodi offers many more features overall. But VLC has some advantages like format support and streamlined interface.
MPC-HC – Highly capable Windows-only media player. Good choice for HTPC setups, but lacks VLC‘s cross-platform flexibility.
GOM Player – Decent alternative with built-in codecs and support for 360 VR videos. But has limited features compared to VLC.
PotPlayer – Feature-packed Windows media player with DXVA support. Not available for streaming devices like Firestick.
As you can see, VLC offers an unbeatable combination of format support, streaming performance, intuitive interface and open source code.
After reading this guide, you should have a good understanding of installing and using VLC media player on Firestick, Fire TV and Android TV devices.
As an experienced analyst of streaming apps and devices, I highly recommend VLC for smooth, buffer-free video playback.
Configuring VLC properly and learning its advanced capabilities does require some learning. But a little effort goes a long way in improving your cord-cutting experience.
VLC transforms any Firestick or Android TV gadget into an incredibly versatile media streaming box. I hope this guide helped show you how to unlock its full potential for watching movies, shows and other media without restrictions!
Let me know if you have any other questions. Happy streaming!