Which Amazon Fire TV Stick Should You Buy?

Which Amazon Fire Tv Stick Should You Buy Featured

With so many streaming platforms, you need a way to make accessing your favorites easy. That’s where an Amazon Fire TV Stick comes in. Whether you have a smart TV with apps or not, adding this device can give you access to even more options. The only hard part is choosing which model is right for your needs.

What Is an Amazon Fire TV Stick?

The Fire TV Stick is a streaming video player that allows you to install various streaming apps – such as Netflix, Disney+, and Prime Video – naturally. You’ll also need to connect it to an available USB port or a power outlet to provide power. A USB cable and plug are included with every model.

Think of the Amazon Fire TV Stick as a portable smart TV – minus the screen of course. It’s a small, portable device that looks like a larger USB stick that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. It connects to your Wi-Fi network to make streaming simple.

The Fire TV Stick tends to update more often than smart TVs and gives you a larger catalog of services and apps to choose from. Currently, there are tens of thousands, though you’ll never need that many. You also get access to Alexa skills and some apps from Amazon’s app store, such as games.

As new platforms/services release, you may find them on the Fire Stick immediately, or it can take months. In the case of Peacock, it took 14 months.

Once installed on your TV, The apps you want are downloaded, and you can access them much like you would TV stations. Use the included remote to navigate and even talk to Alexa – after all, it is an Amazon product.

To better meet individual needs, there are four main models of the Amazon Fire TV Stick available at different price points and with different features.

The Fire TV Stick Lite: Best for Basic Streaming & Budget

The Fire TV Stick Lite is the cheapest model available at just $29.99, is the perfect entry-level streaming stick. It includes the Alexa Voice Remote Lite, which is the fancy way of saying you can’t control your TV volume or inputs with it. You can still press the microphone button to speak to Alexa to search, switch channels, or even interact with other Alexa-compatible devices.

There’s plenty of room to store apps/platforms with 8 GB of storage. The 1.7 GHz processor, 1 GB memory, and 650 MHz GPU gives you smooth performance for video.

Pros:

  • Affordable at $29.99
  • Easy to install
  • Alexa on remote
  • Full 1080p HD video

Cons:

  • No 4K support
  • No Wi-Fi 6 support
  • Overly simple remote

The Fire TV Stick: Best for Most Streamers

Overall, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is the best option for most streamers and cord-cutters. It’s affordable but has a much better remote than the Lite version. At the time of writing, the current version (3rd gen) is 50 percent more powerful than previous versions, so it’s a good time to upgrade if you have an older model.

The remote adds controls for TV/soundbar volume and TV power. You also get four shortcut buttons for Prime Video, Hulu, Netflix, and Disney+, which is nice if you have those services. Alexa voice control is also included.

You get the same amount of storage as the Lite with 8 GB. The 1.7 GHz processor, 1 GB memory, and 650 MHz GPU are also the same, ensuring a smoother streaming experience.

Pros:

  • Affordable at just $39.99
  • Full 1080p HD support
  • Remote includes TV controls
  • Alexa on remote
  • Dolby Atmos audio

Cons:

  • No 4K support
  • No Wi-Fi 6 support

The Fire TV Stick 4K: Best for 4K Streamers

If HD just isn’t good enough, you’ll definitely prefer the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. As the name implies, you’ll upgrade your video quality with support for 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+. There’s also Dolby Atmos audio support for richer sound to go along with amazing video quality.

The remote includes Alexa voice control and TV power/volume controls. However, the shortcut buttons aren’t there for some odd reason.

The specs are similar to the previous models with 8 GB storage, 1.7 GHz CPU, and 650 MHz GPU. However, the memory is bumped up to 1.5 GB.

Pros:

  • 4K support
  • Often on sale for just $39.99 ($10 off)
  • Alexa on remote
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support

Cons:

  • No shortcuts on remote
  • No Wi-Fi 6 support

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Best for Most Powerful 4K Experience

When you want it all, don’t settle for less than the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max. With the “max” in the name, it has to be great, right? It actually is pretty impressive. It offers 40 percent more power than the 4K model, making loading and switching between apps and titles faster than ever. It has full 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+ support but costs more at $54.99.

The remote looks more like the standard Fire TV Stick with four presets for Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+, and Hulu. There are also TV controls and Alexa voice control. One added benefit is live picture-in-picture, so you can ask Alexa to check security cameras or your Ring doorbell and see the video without leaving your favorite TV show or movie.

The specs are also noticeably better. While it’s still just 8 GB of storage, the memory increases to 2 GB. The CPU jumps to 1.8 GHz and the GPU to 750 MHz.

Pros:

  • 4K support
  • Shortcuts on remote
  • Alexa on remote
  • Live picture-in-picture
  • Wi-Fi 6 support
  • Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support

Cons:

  • More expensive than other models at $54.99

Fire TV Stick vs. Fire TV Cube

In addition to the four Fire TV Stick models, there’s also the Fire TV Cube. This is more like an Amazon Echo and Fire TV Stick rolled into a single device. If you need an extra Echo or don’t have one yet, this is a good combination for your home.

The most noticeable difference is the Fire TV Cube is an actual cube that’ll sit near your TV. This means it’s not quite as out of the way as the Fire TV Stick. The other main difference is that you get hands-free Alexa voice control. With the Fire TV Stick models, you must press the Alexa button to talk to Alexa.

Just like Amazon Echo devices, there’s a button to turn the microphone off to give you more privacy. Otherwise, it’s always listening for the wake word.

It’s also designed to give you more power overall. The hexacore 2.2 GHz + 1.9 GHz CPU and 800 MHz GPU surpass the Fire Stick models. You also get double the storage with 16 GB and 2 GB of memory. It’s essentially the 4K Max with more power and hands-free Alexa control.

But, there’s a catch. It’s much more expensive at $119.99. For perspective, you can buy an Echo Dot (basic model) for $39.99. If you buy at Fire TV Stick 4K, you’d pay $89.98 at most. Plus, the Echo Dot is often on sale for less.

Other Fire TV Options

The Amazon Fire TV Stick isn’t the only way to get the Fire TV streaming player. However, it’s the most affordable option overall.

If you need to replace your TV, consider an Amazon Fire TV:

If you opt for a TV, try these tips to get everything set up just the way you want it.

You can also add a soundbar with Fire TV built in. This makes a great addition if you want better sound along when streaming without buying a new TV. Amazon currently offers:

Amazon Fire TV Stick vs. the Competition

Of course, Amazon Fire TV Stick isn’t the only streaming stick available. Before you set you heart on Amazon’s options, see how it compares to the competition.

Fire TV Stick vs. Apple TV

Apple has two different devices: Apple TV HD and Apple TV 4K. These are comparable to the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K. Overall, the devices share many similarities. Apple TV uses Siri, which is included on the remotes instead of Alexa.

Apple TV is also a small box versus a hideaway stick. One thing I personally don’t like is that you have to buy an HDMI cable separately, which is required for using it.

Apple does offer more storage for apps at 32 GB, and the 4K model is also available in a 64 GB version. Another benefit is that there’s a wired Ethernet option for a stronger connection while streaming.

The biggest difference is price. Apple TV HD is $149, while Apple TV 4K is $179 to $199.

Fire TV Stick vs. Roku

The more comparable battle is actually between Fire TV Stick and Roku. The pricing and features are incredibly similar.

Roku has several options to choose from, including:

  • Roku Express – $29.99, includes basic remote and HD streaming
  • Roku Premiere – $42, includes basic remote and 4K and HDR streaming
  • Roku Express 4K – $39.99, includes basic remote and 4K/HDR streaming
  • Roku Express 4K+ – $38.98, includes voice remote with TV controls and 4K/HDR streaming
  • Roku Streaming Stick+ – $49.99, includes voice remote with TV controls and 4K/HDR streaming
  • Roku Ultra – $99, includes TV controls and headphone jack on remote for private/quiet listening along with 4K/HDR streaming

There are some additional models, including a soundbar, but these are the most popular options. As you can tell, they’re similar to the various Fire Stick models.

Overall, Roku does tend to get the latest platforms/services faster than Amazon Fire TV Stick. Additionally, Roku uses Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, so it’s a good option if you already use Google Assistant, while Fire Stick is still a great option for Alexa users and Amazon Prime users.

Fire TV Stick vs. Chromecast

The final battle comes down to Fire TV Stick and Chromecast. First, it’s important to point out that the basic Chromecast is just for casting other devices to your TV, so is mostly likely not what you are looking for. Instead, a better comparison can be made with the Chromecast with Google TV.

The Chromecast with Google TV comes in three colors: snow, sunrise, and sky. It’s a dongle that connects to your HDMI port and needs a USB port for power. The included remote works with Google Assistant.

There’s only one model available, and it’s just $49.99 and supports 4K/HDR streaming. Bundles with HBO Max or Netflix are available to give you an initial discount on either service.

Chromecast with Google TV is quickly adding more apps, and all the major ones are included. For more niche services, you may only find them on Amazon Fire TV Stick or Roku.

For the most part, it comes down to whether you prefer Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Plus, the Fire TV Stick comes in two cheaper models without 4K support if you don’t need that.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do I need a 4K TV to use the 4K models?

Yes. Your TV has to support 4K; otherwise, you’re limited to your TV’s capabilities.

2. Is all content in 4K?

No. Only content that’s created for 4K will be shown at that quality. Otherwise, your device streams the TV show/movie at the highest quality it’s available in.

3. Do I need other Alexa devices to use the voice control?

No. In fact, you don’t even have to use the Alexa voice control on the remote if you don’t want to.

4. Can I get any discounts?

If you’re trading in a previous Fire TV Stick device, you can get as much as 20 percent off a new model. Amazon also frequently offers sales and even bundle deals, such as buying an Echo and a Fire Stick together. Holidays and Prime Day are the best times for discounts.

Wrapping Up

Still not sure which Amazon Fire TV Stick to choose? My recommendation would be either the Fire TV Stick or the Fire TV Stick 4K. They offer the most value for your money and are affordable add-ons to be able to stream both free and premium services.

Once have your Fire TV Stick installed, check out some of the best apps to add. You can even add a web browser.

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Crystal Crowder

Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.

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