Amazon Fire TV Stick vs. Fire TV Stick 4K vs. Fire TV Cube

Amazon’s Fire TV family of media devices is wildly popular, and for good reason. They give you access to a wide variety of free and subscription-based streaming content from services like Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, YouTube and, of course, Amazon’s Prime Video.

Some Fire TV devices even let you interact with Alexa, making voice control of your TV as easy as saying “Alexa, open Netflix.” But there are several types of Fire TV devices, each with a different price, design, and features. Which Amazon Fire TV Stick is Best for You? We’ll take an in-depth look at the five current Amazon Fire TV models – the Fire TV Stick Lite, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Stick 4K Max, and Fire TV Cube – so you can get an idea of ​​what that everyone offers.

Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon fire tv stick with tv controls.
Alexa voice remote with TV controls

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is identical to the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite, with a few exceptions. The Fire TV Stick includes TV controls on the remote and native Dolby Atmos support. The Amazon Fire TV Stick costs $40 for these extra features, while the Lite is just $30 (and often on sale for much less), making it not only the least expensive Fire TV device price you can buy, but also one of the least expensive media streamers, period. That said, the Fire TV Stick and its Lite version share all sorts of great features, and it’s up to you to decide which are most important to you.

Both devices share a super-fast interface, tons of great content, and a wide selection of apps and games. An optional Ethernet adapter is available, but their 802.11ac Wi-Fi connection should be very fast for most users, especially since the devices are limited to 1080p HD content. The latest 3rd Gen models include 1GB of memory, and in 2021 the Fire TV and Fire TV Lite remotes were upgraded with the new 3rd Gen Alexa Voice Remote and Voice Remote Lite, respectively. Both remotes have a dedicated button for summoning Alexa, but the main difference is that the Fire TV version has buttons for volume control and power.

Each Fire Stick has 8GB of built-in storage for downloaded apps and games, which is more than any other stick-based streamer. While you don’t get 4K streaming either (see below for the 4K version, if that’s your jam), you do get access to a massive library of Fire TV apps, which includes virtually every Fire TV service. most popular subscriptions like Disney+, HBO, ESPN, and CBS All Access, plus a ton of free options too, like YouTube, PlutoTV, Tubi, and more. If you’re an Apple fan, you can even get the Apple TV app, which is needed to access Apple TV+.

There are also two main browser apps: Amazon’s own Silk web browser and a version of Firefox. That’s a rarity in the world of streaming media devices, where you won’t find easy browser options on Apple TV, Roku, or even Google-controlled Android TV.

The Fire TV Stick and Stick Lite can also run games – a surprising number of them considering these devices aren’t really aimed at gamers – but you’ll need to buy a compatible game controller to get the most out of them. Many Bluetooth controllers, like the Sony DualShock 4, will work, but beware: Amazon’s own Fire TV game controller, mysteriously, does not. The Fire TV remote will also work for many of these games.

The latest versions of Fire TV Stick and TV Stick Lite now support HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+ and HLG picture formats, which is a step towards a much better viewing experience as these formats become much more widely used on streaming platforms. And while the Lite is still limited to just HDMI audio passthrough for Dolby encoded audio (which is fine in most cases), the Fire Stick natively supports Dolby Atmos so you can enjoy its incredible object-based surround sound.

Our reviews of Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon Fire TV 4K Stick

Amazon fire tv stick 4k on a sofa.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Remote Control

Those premium audio and video options that the Fire TV Stick lacks are why Amazon created the Fire 4K TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick 4K does everything we’ve described above, but if you have a 4K TV, especially if it’s a HDR compatible model – that $10 gives you a lot of extra joy. This model is also slightly faster, with 1.5 GB of memory. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4k costs $50.

We probably don’t need to tell you that 4K HDR content is absolutely gorgeous, making all older movies and shows look dull and lifeless in comparison. And with streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix quickly embracing 4K HDR, you owe it to yourself to get the Fire TV Stick 4K.

We’d also like to point out that the Fire TV Stick 4K is the only streaming media player we’ve found that supports all flavors of HDR, including HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, and Dolby Vision. It’s just amazing considering that devices that can cost up to four times the price of the Fire TV Stick 4K don’t offer this level of future-proofing.

Dolby Atmos support is also part of the package. Not all surround sound is created equal, and if you have a Dolby Atmos-enabled sound system, you need a Dolby Atmos-enabled media streamer to take advantage of that. With an increasing amount of Atmos content appearing on Netflix and Prime Video, now is a good time to own a device that can handle it.

Our full Fire TV Stick 4K review

Amazon Fire TV 4K Max Stick

Amazon fire tv stick 4k max.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max and the Alexa Voice Remote. Amazon

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the latest version of Amazon Fire TV Stick to be released. It includes all the features listed above in this Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K model plus it’s 40% more powerful so your apps start up faster and browse smoother. It includes slightly more memory than the original 4K version with 2GB of memory included, which is identical to the Amazon Fire TV Cube. The cost of Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max Pro is $55.

If your home network includes Wi-Fi 6, this is the only Amazon Fire TV product that supports it. It also includes Live View Picture-in-Picture, which lets you view your front door camera, for example, without stopping your broadcast.

Amazon FireTV Cube

Amazon firetv cube.
Amazon FireTV Cube

In some respects, the Amazon FireTV Cube is so sophisticated and so different from the two Fire TV Stick models that it doesn’t really feel like it belongs to the same family of devices. Unlike sticks, the Cube is designed to sit beside or in front of your TV instead of hiding behind it. The reason is much more than cosmetic, although we’d say its minimalist design is more appealing than most of the devices that end up hooking up to our TVs. Placement matters because the Fire TV Cube is much more than a media streamer for your TV – it can control your entire home theater and ultimately your smart home as well.

The Fire TV Cube is a full-fledged Amazon Echo smart speaker, with the ability to continuously listen and respond to Alexa commands. unlike others Alexa speakers, like the Echo or the Dot, the Fire TV Cube can actually control your other home theater products, even if they’re not physically connected.

With the built-in IR blaster and IR extension cable, the Cube can send commands to hundreds of different devices, from cable boxes to Blu-ray players, all with the power of your voice. It’s like having a voice-activated universal remote, and yes, the Fire TV Cube also comes with a normal handheld remote.

As the nerve center of every Alexa-enabled smart device in your home, you can sit on your couch and use your voice to master a number of gadgets, like security cameras and smart door locks. This prompted our reviewer to give the Fire TV Cube a rare 5/5.

With 16GB of storage, a super-fast processor, an Ethernet adapter, and full support for 4K, all HDR formats, and Dolby Atmos, the Fire TV Cube is a cutting-edge streaming device.

Of course, all this techno magic doesn’t come cheap. The Fire TV Cube is a big leap over its $120 stick-based family members. But before you balk at that price, consider this: the Fire TV Cube does a lot more (for a lot less) than most other streaming devices, including the Apple TV, Roku Ultra and Chromecast with Google TV.

Our full review of the Fire TV Cube

Which Amazon Fire TV Key Should You Get?

If you’re looking for the cheapest option to enter the Amazon Fire TV Stick market, then the $30 Fire TV Stick Lite is your choice. Keep in mind, however, that it lacks several features that may be important for your TV.

We think that for the $25 premium over the price of the Fire TV Stick Lite, anyone with a 4K TV – or anyone who thinks they can buy a 4K TV in the next few years – should buy the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. This is the latest Fire TV Stick model and it is better and faster than all previous Fire TV Stick versions. Its combination of paid and free apps, games and streaming services, plus an unparalleled level of support for all of today’s top audio and video formats, make it an exceptional value. When you add in the ability of Alexa to give you voice control of your content as well as your smart home, plus support for Wi-Fi 6, it’s hard to conceive a reason why Fire TV buyers should not Buy it.

We love the Fire TV Cube, but we also recognize that it’s not for everyone. It’s expensive (relatively speaking) and doesn’t handle travel as well as the Sticks. But if you secretly harbor a desire to turn your home theater into your very own USS Enterprise deck, complete with a computer that responds to voice commands, the Fire TV Cube is your passport to the captain’s chair.

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