Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review

Amazon has (in the UK at least) streamlined its video streamer variety to only two sticks: the existing Fire TV Stick and this, the brand new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (£50/$50).

The large upgrade is reinforce for 4K video, of course, but it’s a long way from the only improvement: HDR has additionally been added, not simply in usual HDR10 shape, but additionally HLG, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, making this the most format-friendly top dynamic vary video streamer currently available. Alexa has been added, too, and proves extra compelling than chances are you'll consider.

All of that makes it value a lot more than the small top class the Fire TV Stick 4K commands over its sibling. But what’s possibly more unexpected is what a celebrity performer it's for a video streamer.

Build

Such is its chunkiness, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K could be more accurately referred to as a department. Compared to a extra traditionally formed streamer such because the Apple TV 4K, this is a far more compact design, however at 10cm long the Fire TV Stick 4K will protrude from the edge of many TVs when plugged into a sideways-facing socket. Plugging it in subsequent to other cables can be a actual squeeze too.

There is, no less than, an HDMI extender in the field that can lend a hand with the latter issue as well as improving the wi-fi efficiency – even though we had no problems with wi-fi without it. You too can hardwire the Fire TV Stick 4K in your router via adding the optional ethernet adapter.

As well as being bodily larger than maximum sticks, the Fire TV Stick 4K also draws extra power, to the level that you should utilize the USB wall plug that comes in the field moderately than operating the cable into one of your TV’s own sockets – despite the fact that we attempted it each techniques all through checking out and noticed no difference in performance. But wall-mounters who’ve selected a stick tool for neatness will probably be disappointed in the event that they uncover plugging the Amazon into the wall is or turns into essential.

First-time set-up is pleasantly slick. The Stick robotically installs any available device updates, quickly and easily connects to your wi-fi and, predictably, hyperlinks to your Amazon account. The video that introduces you for your new software comes in handy, but it surely additionally sets off any Alexa software already in the room.

Once the initial set-up is entire there are still a couple of extra advanced choices value exploring. The option to play all content material in its native body rate is became off through default and we’d strongly recommend turning it on. The Fire TV Stick 4K may be by default set to always output HDR, successfully upconverting usual dynamic vary content to quite inauthentic effect - we’d recommend you additionally change that while in the surroundings menus.

Features

If your previous experience of Amazon on TV is proscribed to the Prime Video app constructed into your television, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that the presentation and consumer enjoy offered by way of the Fire TV Stick 4K is massively superior.

Home screens are bright, colourful, and have prominent paintings promoting Amazon’s newest content material, menus are bold, sharp and transparent, and operation right through is snappy and clean. And while the Prime Video app on other devices is invariably a nightmare with regards to finding Ultra HD content material, it’s given just a little extra prominence here and is in fact introduced in seek results. Hallelujah!

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K tech specifications

Resolution 4K

HDR fortify HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Connections USB, HDMI

Dimensions 10.8 x 3 x 1.4cm

Weight 54g

Adding a further dimension to operability is Alexa voice control. Simply press the voice regulate button at the far flung and factor instructions into the built-in microphone. 

What makes the Fire TV Stick 4K’s voice keep watch over special is its aggregate of responsiveness, consistency of comprehension and scope. Issuing commands feels natural, they’re at all times understood and enacted upon quickly, and you'll be able to do more than just seek for a display or pause what you’re gazing.

With HDMI-CEC accurately setup, you'll be able to issue a single voice command to show on your TV, flip at the Fire TV Stick 4K and get started playing an episode of, say, Jack Ryan. Now that’s neat. If you’ve were given every other Alexa software, comparable to an Echo Dot, you can factor the command ‘out loud’ – no want to even in finding the Stick’s far flung.

However, Alexa is quite hampered through a patchy basic search serve as. It’s now not universal, for a start, so iPlayer, as an example, isn’t included in results. And even supposing Netflix is incorporated, Amazon results are predictably prioritised – even if clicking on them would lead to paying to look at one thing that’s already incorporated to your Netflix subscription. In brief, the search function, whether activated by kind or voice, works absolute best while you know what you’re after.

At entrance and centre of the app selection is Amazon Prime Video, here available in 4K with usual HDR, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision – and with Dolby Atmos sound. Netflix is here, too, also in 4K with HDR and Dolby Vision – although with out HDR10+ (which isn’t these days supported via Netflix) or Dolby Atmos (which you will get from the Netflix app on some platforms, corresponding to Apple TV). As smartly as BBC iPlayer you additionally get ITV Hub, 4OD and Demand 5, whilst for local streaming there’s Plex and VLC, and for track you get Spotify, Deezer and Tidal. Now TV can be nice, however the Fire TV Stick 4K has all other bases lined.

That’s key to its attraction: it comprises all the streaming services you’re more likely to need and supports all of the current most complex video and sound formats. The give a boost to for HDR10+ is, in reality, a one-up at the Apple TV 4K, which prices £a hundred thirty more than this. The Apple TV does counter, although, with a a ways superior number of pay-as-you-go blockbusters in 4K HDR, via the iTunes app. Amazon allows you to rent and buy new releases that aren’t included with Prime, but few are in 4K and less still in HDR.

Picture

Playing The Grand Tour presentations off Amazon’s manufacturing qualities at their best, and looks very good when played throughout the Fire TV Stick 4K. This is a actually sharp and detailed symbol, in all probability to the detriment of the increasingly more baggy presenters, however to the advantage of the four-wheeled beauties on display. It’s terrifically bright and colourful, too, making the image of a Ford GT rumbling throughout the streets of New York the entire more shocking.

There’s a little of judder to difficult motion, extra in relation to other people than automobiles, and one of the crucial brightest detail is missing, but this is a really spectacular image that some distance surpasses the prevailing stick usual.

Switching to Marco Polo on Netflix continues the fantastic form, with impressive nuance as well as dramatic distinction. There’s somewhat of detail lacking on the darkest and brightest ends of the spectrum, however blacks are deep and dramatic while whites are punchy and natural - the result is a dynamic, engaging image.

You received’t be gazing 4K HDR the entire time, of course, and Informer on BBC iPlayer proves that the Fire TV Stick 4K is a dab hand when it comes to same old 1080p, too. Detailed and transparent, and with delicate, balanced colours, there’s nothing right here to whinge about, specifically given the cost.

Sound

Dolby Atmos is nearly unprecedented at this finish of the market, so we make a beeline for Amazon’s Jack Ryan and are extremely joyful to find no longer simplest that it really works, but that it also sounds in reality good. This is room-filling sound with superb placement of effects and actual weight and drama.

The Fire TV Stick 4K sounds good with same old 5.1 and even stereo, too. This is a clear, relatively detailed and spacious sound irrespective of the format, and will praise the ones the usage of a good sound resolution relatively than the speakers built into their television tube.

Having stated that, next to the very best streamers (necessarily the Apple TV 4K) or a devoted disc-spinner, the Stick is quite missing in the case of dynamics and outright punch, which can rob an action set piece of a bit of of its affect. For a device this measurement and worth, although, the Fire TV Stick 4K is undeniably impressive.

Verdict

If you’re going to shop for a devoted video streamer, you wish to have it to do the whole thing – and till now the one person who did that was once the Apple TV 4K. But for this kind of low price, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K has all the apps you need, supports all present HDR formats and throws in Dolby Atmos. That’s an astonishingly excellent deal, in particular when you issue in the all-round quality of the performance and excellent user-friendliness.

The Apple TV 4K continues to be the perfect streamer – it has the threshold when it comes to image and sound quality and, in all probability extra importantly, will give you get right of entry to to a better-stocked collection of 4K HDR films.

But the fact that you would have to spend a complete bite of cash more to better the Fire TV Stick 4K proves simply what a phenomenal bargain it is.

SCORES

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