Amazon Fireplace TV Stick 4K Overview: A Welcome Improve

In the present day’s finest Amazon Fireplace TV Stick 4K offers

As 4K HDR gadgets go, the $50 Fireplace TV Stick 4K impresses with its steadiness of performance, worth and efficiency, which make it a preferred buy when it goes on sale. Though it is not essentially the most complete system available on the market, (or the most affordable, or essentially the most highly effective), these used to a few of the commonplace frustrations with Amazon merchandise can get a rock-solid streaming participant at a comparatively inexpensive worth.

I wasn’t that impressed with the Amazon Fireplace TV Stick when it got here out in 2014. I believed the system was underpowered, unfocused and relied too closely on the Amazon ecosystem. Within the age of 4K HDR streaming gadgets from Roku and Google, the Fireplace TV Stick was in dire want of a refresh.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K specs

Ports: microUSB (energy), HDMI (video out)
Decision: As much as 2160p
Wi-Fi: 802.11ac (2.4GHz/5GHz)
Measurements: 3.9 x 1.2 x 0.6 inches
Weight: 1.9 oz
Storage: 8GB

And that is precisely what we see on this Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment. This new model of the Fireplace TV Stick is a surprisingly massive black dongle, which hooks into your TV and gives 4K HDR streaming content material (and promotes Amazon’s personal programming). 

Whereas the system nonetheless all however requires you to have an Amazon Prime account for full performance (and an Echo speaker would not harm, both), the up to date Stick has rather more to supply than its predecessor.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Value and availability

Incessantly placed on sale, the Fireplace TV Stick 4K is often $50, and is bought in virtually all electronics shops, each on-line and brick and mortar.  

We have not heard any indicators of a brand new Fireplace TV Stick, and whereas 8K TVs could also be an enormous factor this winter, there would not appear to be a lot 8K content material you may stream proper now. 

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Design

The Fireplace TV Stick 4K qualifies as a dongle, however simply barely; at 4.0 x 1.2 inches, the black rectangular field is actually the biggest one I’ve ever seen. It match simply advantageous in our workplace take a look at TV, and there is a versatile HDMI adapter within the field in case your setup is not as huge. Equally, the $50 Chromecast with Google TV sits behind your TV, being an unobtrusive streamer.

However I do surprise if it may stick out previous the perimeters of some older tv units. The one port is a micro USB enter, for energy.

Nonetheless, I will take a big dongle over a cumbersome field or a noncommittal, tiny attachment. My solely actual criticism is that the Fireplace TV Stick 4K fails to handle one of many largest issues with the unique Fireplace TV Stick; it would not draw sufficient energy from a TV USB port to operate. 

As an alternative, you need to preserve it plugged right into a wall socket. I am unsure why Amazon insists on this inconvenient setup when merchandise just like the Roku Streaming Stick+ have eradicated the necessity for a separate adapter.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Interface

From the second that you simply boot it up, it is clear that the Fireplace TV Stick 4K is an Amazon system. You log into your Amazon account to make use of it, whereupon a useful animated video explains that you’re going to want Amazon Prime to get essentially the most out of your gadget — and do you know Amazon Prime might additionally web you free two-day delivery, higher costs and your very personal unicorn? 

From there, the Fireplace TV Stick deposits you on the dwelling display screen, the place the primary belongings you’ll see are really helpful Amazon TV Exhibits and really helpful Amazon Films. The Fireplace TV Stick 4K just isn’t refined about its allegiances. Try our setup and mastery information to learn to use the Fireplace Stick.

As with Amazon’s different streaming devices, nearly each display screen places Amazon content material entrance and heart — and if you do not have an Amazon Prime account, you will must both put money into one or turn out to be superb at ignoring about three-fourths of what you see on the menus.

There are additionally sponsored adverts on the entire screens, which all the time rubs me the improper approach — even paying $50 for a streaming participant and $100 per yr for a Prime subscription just isn’t sufficient to earn you just a little peaceable on-line area.

You navigate the system with six tabs on the prime. To be truthful, the Residence display screen offers you two complete rows of your personal apps earlier than it begins pushing Amazon content material. Your Movies may additionally have content material you bought elsewhere, for those who consolidated your Films Anyplace account. From there, Films and TV Exhibits showcase all kinds of each Prime and à la carte Amazon content material. Apps helps you discover new packages and Settings is self-explanatory.

MORE: Amazon Echo Present (2nd Gen) Overview: Higher In Each Approach

The overwhelming deal with Amazon content material has the secondary impact of constructing loads of these tabs really feel superfluous. For those who merely scroll down in your Residence display screen, you will discover loads of the identical suggestions as for those who had been to tab over to Films or TV Exhibits. There are additionally sponsored adverts on the entire screens, which all the time rubs me the improper approach — even paying $50 for a streaming participant and $119 per yr for a Prime subscription just isn’t sufficient to earn you just a little ad-free on-line area.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Search

Amazon trawls greater than 100 totally different companies once you search (both by getting into textual content from a distant management or by utilizing your voice). Apparently, it really works solely with apps you may have put in. Often, Amazon will prioritize content material from its personal retailer, then offer you alternate options like Netflix, Hulu and CBS All Entry as soon as you choose “extra methods to observe.” 

It is a decent-enough course of, if you have already got loads of apps put in. However for those who’re in search of one of the best place to observe a film or TV present, and you are not averse to downloading a brand new app, Amazon’s search options can really feel surprisingly restricted.

Alternatively, the voice search is sweet at parsing what you say — until you ask for 4K content material. I looked for reveals like Star Trek and actors like Patrick Stewart with fairly good outcomes total. However as quickly as I requested for “4K films,” the Fireplace TV Stick 4K looked for films with “4 Okay.” within the title. Clearly, there’s nonetheless some room for enchancment right here.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Distant

If Amazon’s search nonetheless has a methods to go, its distant is best than it is ever been. Like earlier than, you will get a small, glossy black rectangle with a d-pad, a bunch of navigation buttons and a voice-search microphone. Nonetheless, this time round, you additionally get buttons that management the TV itself, corresponding to energy, quantity management and mute. 

This lets you manipulate your Fireplace TV Stick 4K with out ever having to choose up a second distant management. Setup is trivial, too; simply level your Fireplace TV Stick distant management on the TV, and it syncs by itself.

Amazon has made a lot of the truth that the distant is Alexa-enabled,” which implies you can faucet into Amazon’s voice-powered digital assistant with it. You may ask your Fireplace TV Stick 4K about sports activities, climate, visitors, smart-home gadgets and even meals supply, and it’ll reply simply as an Alexa-enabled Echo speaker would. It is value noting, although, that each different Amazon Fireplace system has the identical Alexa performance.

What is comparatively novel, although, is you can now management sure apps with Alexa voice instructions. Not each app permits this, however heavy hitters like Netflix, Hulu and HBO do — as do Amazon Video and Amazon Music, naturally. I am unsure that telling Alexa to play or pause a present, or soar forward by 2 minutes, is any simpler than simply hitting a button — particularly since you’ll want to hit the mic button anyway, until you may have the system linked with an Echo speaker — however the possibility is sweet to have.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Content material and apps

Amazon streaming devices have been available on the market for fairly a number of years now; you may inform from its huge app library. Whereas Amazon would not present an actual determine, there are greater than 5,000 out there.

Uncooked numbers do not all the time inform a lot, however you can get just about each app you need. Amazon Video is there, after all, however you will additionally discover Netflix, Hulu, Vudu, Sling TV, Spotify, Pandora, Plex, CBS All Entry and nearly each stand-alone cable or community app you may consider.

Essentially the most notable exception is Peacock TV. Fireplace TV just lately added HBO Max (as of Nov. 17, 2020). As Fireplace TV customers bear in mind from when Google and Amazon’s spats saved their streaming apps off every others gadgets, these unlucky conditions — the place everybody loses — ultimately finish. It simply stinks proper now. Roku’s gained Peacock TV however lacks HBO Max, whereas the Chromecast with Google TV affords each.

One engaging factor concerning the Fireplace TV Stick 4K for Amazon aficionados is that your whole Amazon content material comes alongside for the trip. You may watch your whole bought films and TV reveals, hearken to Amazon Music, management your smart-home gadgets by means of Alexa and even have the system learn you Kindle books. (It is just a little creepy to have a TV learn you bedtime tales, however I suppose it is no worse than the text-to-speech operate on the Kindle itself.)

MORE: Our Favourite 4K (Extremely HD) TVs Obtainable Now

One space the place the Fireplace TV Stick 4K nonetheless falls down, although, is in video games. Again when the Fireplace TV debuted, gaming was one of many system’s huge focuses. Since then, although, few huge studios have bothered with it, leaving the doorways open for plenty of outright shovelware and second-rate free-to-play titles that felt dated on iOS and Android gadgets years in the past. That stated, for those who’ve by no means performed Shovel Knight, you need to completely decide that one up.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Efficiency

Finally, the Fireplace TV Stick 4K is not  right here to look fairly or win a UI design competitors; it exists to stream 4K HDR content material. And it does so completely fantastically.

Testing 4K HDR content material from each Amazon Video and YouTube, the Fireplace TV Stick 4K routinely reached full UHD resolutions inside 30 seconds — and generally displayed movies in 4K HDR proper from the get-go. For companies that do not provide 4K content material, the Fireplace TV Stick 4K can attain 1080p resolutions in only a few seconds.

The Fireplace TV Stick 4K streams 4K HDR content material completely fantastically.

As all the time, I’d warning readers that that is typically dependent in your wi-fi pace and setup. Our workplace Wi-Fi is theoretically very quick — greater than 100 Mbps down — however would not play properly with streaming devices due to our firewall. When you have wi-fi speeds in extra of 25 Mbps, although, you need to theoretically get related outcomes to ours.

Navigating menus was additionally snappy and fast on Amazon’s up to date streaming stick — a pleasing distinction to the unique Fireplace TV Stick.

Fireplace TV Stick 4K assessment: Backside line

A few of my least-favorite issues concerning the Fireplace TV Stick are nonetheless current within the Fireplace TV Stick 4K. It requires a separate energy cable; its search could possibly be higher; and it pushes Amazon content material approach too arduous.

However Amazon has additionally corrected loads of the largest sticking factors with the unique Fireplace TV Stick. Navigation is fast and breezy; Alexa integration is best than ever; and, most essential, the system performs 4K HDR content material for $20 lower than the Google Chromecast Extremely, $10 lower than the Roku Streaming Stick+, and solely $10 greater than the shrug-worthy Roku Premiere.

With a number of content material to play and greater than sufficient energy to course of excessive resolutions and vast coloration gamuts, the Fireplace TV Stick 4K is a simple advice. It isn’t fairly nearly as good because the Roku Streaming Stick+, which has a greater app lineup and a extra intuitive interface — however for dyed-in-the-wool Amazon followers who’ve totally embraced the Amazon Prime life-style, the trade-offs are most likely worthwhile.

Credit score: Amazon

In the present day’s finest Amazon Fireplace TV Stick 4K offers

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