The Amazon Fire TV Stick, or Firestick as it’s commonly known, is one of the hottest selling streaming devices globally.
Since its debut in 2014, over 150 million Firesticks have been snapped up. That’s nearly half the total US population!
What makes the Firestick so sought-after? Well, it provides a huge range of streaming content, has an intuitive interface, and won’t empty your wallet.
It’s so in demand that even my folks wanted one! There was a catch though – they own a fairly old TV and were unsure whether the Firestick would work with it.
I’ve always known that a Firestick could morph a simple, “dumb” TV into a smart one. However, I wasn’t entirely certain if it would work with any TV.
So, I decided to do some digging. I scoured forums and articles, and even hit up Amazon customer support to get the facts straight.
Here’s what I learned.
Does a Fire Stick work on any TV?
The answer is that a Firestick can operate on any HD or UHD TV that has at least one HDMI port. So yes, in essence, a Firestick is compatible with most TVs currently on the market.
And, even if your TV has a lower resolution, don’t worry – the Firestick can still work on it.
What are the requirements for a Firestick to work?
To get your Firestick up and running, you’ll need just three things:
- A High Definition (HD) or Ultra High Definition (UHD) TV that has an HDMI port (just one HDMI port will get the job done)
- An internet connection (preferably Wi-Fi, as you have to buy an ethernet adapter if you want a wired connection)
- An Amazon account (if you bought the Firestick using your Amazon account, it’s automatically registered)
As long as you have these essentials, your Firestick will be good to go.
The vast majority of TVs you’ll find for sale today come with at least one HDMI port, and non-HD TVs are nearly extinct!
However, there have been instances where the Firestick has hit a snag with older HD (720p) TVs.
In these cases, users typically encounter an “Invalid Format” error message. If you see this error, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can try to get your Firestick working (more on this shortly).
Why isn’t Firestick working on my TV?
Imagine this scenario: You’ve just purchased a shiny new Firestick. You excitedly unbox it, connect all the cables, and plug it into your older HD (720p) TV. You’re eagerly waiting for the Firestick setup screen, but instead, you’re greeted with an “Invalid Format” error message.
Frustrating? Absolutely. But don’t fret just yet.
If you find this “Invalid Format” (or “Format Not Supported”) error message on your screen, it indicates that your Firestick’s resolution settings are incompatible with what your old HD TV can handle.
While the Firestick typically plays nice with most modern TVs, there are instances where it falls short, particularly when paired with older 720p TVs.
When the Firestick rolled out in 2014, many TVs were already at Full HD (1080p), and a few 4K TVs had even hit the market a couple of years earlier.
So, it doesn’t come as a huge shock that the Firestick may have compatibility issues with certain older HD (720p) TVs.
But that doesn’t mean the Firestick is a no-go for all older HD TVs.
In fact, there’s a pretty good chance your Firestick will fire up without a hitch. It’s designed to “read” your TV’s resolution through the HDMI connection and “scale down” the signal to the best suitable resolution.
So, if you’re faced with an “Invalid Format” error message, don’t throw in the towel just yet! There’s still a shot at getting your Firestick to work.
I’m going to walk you through some tried-and-true steps you can follow.
How do I fix a Firestick “Invalid Format” error?
1. Change the resolution
If an “Invalid Format” error message pops up when you hook up your Firestick to your TV, you’ll need to tweak the resolution.
Take your Firestick’s remote and hold down the Rewind button and the Up side of the navigating circle for about 10 seconds. Your TV will cycle through different Firestick resolutions every 10 seconds. You just need to pick the one that aligns with your TV’s capacity.
Don’t worry if nothing happens immediately after pressing the Up and Rewind button of your Firestick’s remote for 10 seconds.
Leave it for a minute or two, and it will automatically cycle through different resolutions.
But if that doesn’t do the trick, you can still adjust the resolution of your Firestick by connecting it to a newer TV first.
I know it sounds like a bit of a hassle, but trust me, it’s worth a shot.
Disconnect your Firestick from your older HD TV and plug it into a more recent model. Once it’s hooked up, hit the Home button on your Firestick remote. Navigate to Settings > Display & Sound > Display. Choose Video Resolution, and adjust it to a setting compatible with your old TV (most likely 720p).
You can then reconnect the Firestick to your old TV and see if it’s now working.
2. Unplug the Firestick from the power source
Another simple fix you can try involves unplugging the Firestick from its power source.
Remove the power adapter of your Firestick from the outlet and keep it disconnected for at least 5 minutes. After that time, plug it back in and see if your Firestick is now operational.
It might raise eyebrows because it seems overly basic, but you’d be surprised how often it works.
Unplugging your Firestick and giving it a 5-minute timeout before plugging it back in acts like a soft reset, or what’s usually called a power cycle.
This process drains any leftover electrical charge from your Firestick and resets it to its original stable state.
3. Allow the Firestick to load
If you’re facing an “Invalid Format” error message with your Firestick, or if it’s just stuck at the logo screen, you could just let it be.
You read that right. Stand by and play the waiting game.
Take a break from your Firestick and TV for about 25 minutes or until there’s a change on the screen. All the while, make sure the Firestick is powered on.
After about 25 minutes or potentially even less, see if your Firestick has finished loading on your TV and if you’re now able to set it up.
Occasionally, Firesticks don’t kick into gear right after being plugged in.
All it requires is a bit of patience and letting the Firestick successfully connect to your TV on its own time.
4. Don’t use an HDMI adapter or extender
If you’ve hooked up an HDMI adapter or extender to your Firestick, you might want to consider removing it and plugging your Firestick directly into your TV.
HDMI adapters and extenders can sometimes lead to signal loss.
When your Firestick’s signal has to travel through the HDMI adapter or extender, it’s possible that it might not fully reach your TV. So, a direct plug-in is a better option.
In certain cases, the Firestick might not be compatible with the particular HDMI adapter you’re using.
5. Use a different HDMI port
If you’re still encountering the “Invalid Format” message with your Firestick, consider switching to a different HDMI port, if available.
But if the TV you’re using only has one HDMI slot, you might want to give it a good clean.
Pull out your Firestick from the TV.
Check out the HDMI port to see if dust has accumulated. You can clean the HDMI port using a small brush or cloth. Alternatively, canned or compressed air could do the job.
Once you’ve dusted off the HDMI port, re-plug your Firestick and see if the issue’s resolved.
6. Check if your TV is HDCP-compliant
Unfortunately, not all TVs are HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) compliant. If that’s the case, your Firestick may not function on that TV.
You’re likely familiar with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), which transmits digital video and audio signals from a source, like the Firestick, to a display like your TV.
HDMI works hand in hand with HDCP, an anti-piracy protocol that encrypts the transmitted content to prevent the receiving device from illicitly recording it.
While smart TVs and modern monitors are HDCP-compliant, some older sets might not be. Non-HDCP-compliant TVs can potentially be used to unlawfully record and distribute content, hence the Firestick won’t work with them.
To check if your TV is HDCP-compliant, refer to your TV’s user manual, or you can Google your TV brand and model along with the term “user manual”.
Many TV manufacturers list the specifications of all their models on their websites.
7. Factory reset your Firestick
If none of the above tips help, or if the issue keeps cropping up, a factory reset of your Firestick might be in order.
Be aware, a factory reset will revert your Firestick back to its original settings, erasing all your downloaded content and account details.
That’s why this should be your last resort.
To perform a factory reset, use your remote and hold down the Right side of the navigating circle and the Back button for about 10 seconds. A prompt will pop up on your TV screen. Press OK to confirm the reset.
Once the reset is complete, try setting up your Firestick again.
8. Use another TV
Unfortunately, if the Firestick continues to display the “Invalid Format” error message, your best bet may be to switch to another TV.
As I’ve previously stated, the Firestick was introduced during the time of Full HD TVs and the emergence of 4K TVs. So it’s not entirely surprising if it’s not compatible with older HD (720p) TVs.
Attempt to connect your Firestick to a different TV. If you don’t have another one, you might want to think about purchasing a new one, given there are numerous affordable Full HD or UHD TVs available today.
9. Reach out to Amazon’s customer service teams
You could also enlist the assistance of Amazon’s customer service team.
You can contact them by calling 1-888-280-4331, and they’re on call 24/7.
If you’re not up for a phone call, you can also chat with an Amazon representative on their website.
On the Contact Us page, select the Something else option, then I need more help. A customer service window will pop up, and a chatbot will ask you about your issue.
Type and enter Talk to a representative until it offers you an option to do so. Select Chat with an associate now to be connected to a live agent.
Will a 4K Firestick work on a lower-resolution TV?
Absolutely, a 4K Firestick can function on a lower-resolution TV, but naturally, 4K resolution won’t be accessible.
The Firestick has the ability to “downscale” its resolution to match the best resolution your TV can handle. So, if you have a 1080p or a 2K TV, no problem – a 4K Firestick will work just fine.
While it may not seem logical to purchase a 4K Firestick if you don’t own a 4K TV, there are benefits.
Besides the enhanced viewing experience, the 4K Firestick often feels quicker and smoother due to its slightly higher RAM (1.5 GB) compared to non-4K Firestick models.
A Firestick can function on any HD or UHD TV that has at least one HDMI port. Additionally, you just need Wi-Fi and an Amazon account to kickstart your Firestick experience.
However, there can be instances where the Firestick doesn’t instantly sync with older HD (720p) TVs. In these cases, an “Invalid Format” error message usually pops up.
If you get an “Invalid Format” error, there are a couple of initial solutions to try:
- Adjust your Firestick’s resolution by holding down the Rewind button and the top side of the navigating circle for 10 seconds.
- Connect your Firestick to a newer TV, modify the resolution, then reconnect it to your old HD TV.
You should also try these other fixes if changing the resolution doesn’t do the trick:
- Unplug the Firestick from the power source and plug it back after 5 minutes.
- Allow the Firestick to load for 25 minutes (or until the screen changes).
- Plug the Firestick directly into your TV and don’t use an HDMI adapter or extender.
- Use a different HDMI port, if possible.
- Switch to an HDCP-compliant TV.
- Factory reset your Firestick.
If none of these solutions work, it’s possible your Firestick is simply not compatible with your older TV. In that case, try using the Firestick with a different TV, ideally a more recent model.
You can also dial Amazon’s customer service at 1-888-280-4331. They’re available around the clock, seven days a week.