The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is a $50 media streamer that comes with an Alexa-enabled voice remote, support for 4K HDR playback, and the ability to stream videos and music from most popular sources (including the recently re-added YouTube).
But that’s not good enough for some folks — so xda-developers member k4y0z has posted instructions for unlocking the Fire TV Stick 4K bootloader.
This makes it possible to access protected portions of the device’s storage so you can load unofficial firmware or software patches. In other words, you can root the Fire TV Stick 4K and maybe even run custom ROMs.
That said, the process of unlocking the bootloader isn’t for the faint of heart.
In a nutshell, you’ll need to download a Linux disc image and boot your computer from it. Then:
- Run a script on the computer
- Open your Fire TV Stick 4K case
- Identify a point on the board
- Short the circuit by touching a pair of tweezers (or another conductive item) to that point and to a ground point (like the shielding cage)
- While holding the short, connect your Fire TV Stick 4K to the computer with a USB cable.
- Follow the remaining on-screen instructions and then run another command to complete the process.
You can find more details in the original forum post, but if everything goes the way it should, you’ll boot into TWRP, a custom recover that allows you to flash custom firmware and patches.
From there you should be able to root the Fire TV Stick 4K and make other modifications. This could open the door to installing the Google Play Store or even replacing Fire OS with a custom ROM, although I’m not aware of any ROMs that would work with the stick yet.
Just keep in mind that there’s a chance you could damage your device performing this sort of hardware hack. But the good news for folks hoping to hack their own Fire TV Stick 4K devices is that it looks like there’s no way for Amazon to prevent users from unlocking their bootloaders through any future software updates — the only way to patch this vulnerability would be to release new hardware (which wouldn’t affect all the Fire TV Stick 4K units already in the wild).
At $25 a pop when on sale, it seems like something quite a few people might use.
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