Amazon Fire TV Stick Max

MSRP $55.00

“It’s an iterative update, sure, but one that makes the Fire TV Stick 4K Max the one to get.”

Pros

  • Better processor and Wi-Fi
  • Includes the brand new distant management
  • Still extraordinarily reasonably priced

Cons

  • Built on an growing older model of Android

The most essential function of any streaming stick in all probability isn’t listed on the facet of the field. It’s not how a lot RAM it has. It’s not the dimensions of the on-board storage. It’s not whether or not it has 4K (OK, it’s greater than a little bit about that), and it’s not the Wi-Fi pace or the processor. And it’s not all of the apps it has entry to.

The most essential function of the brand new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the value. That’s actually what determines the place it matches not simply inside Amazon’s lineup of Fire TV units, but in addition its place within the larger scheme of issues towards its closest competitor, Roku, which has its personal line of comparatively low-cost streaming sticks. Sure, the specs decide the value. But inform us how a lot you need to spend, and we’ll inform you one of the best streaming system to get.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K MaxPhil Nickinson/Digital Trends

And the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, regardless of being an iterative replace (there’s definitely nothing incorrect with that) and regardless of being fairly a mouthful to say (that we take a little bit subject with), it’s undoubtedly the Fire TV Stick to purchase.

Here’s why.

The Fire TV Stick Max is generally a Fire TV Stick 4K, solely higher. It’s extra Max.

What’s new in Fire TV Stick 4K Max

This isn’t simply the Fire TV Stick. It’s not the Fire TV Stick 4K. This one is Max, which we will solely assume is a step above Plus however nonetheless beneath Extreme. It’s a foolish suffix tacked on to a product that itself principally is an iteration on an iteration. That’s how these streaming sticks work. You have sure options at sure value factors, so that you’re assured to become profitable it doesn’t matter what. More on that beneath.

Amazon’s personal comparability chart spells it out fairly effectively. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max ticks a pair extra packing containers than the Fire TV Stick 4K, which at this level is three years outdated. And they’re not unimportant packing containers.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the primary within the Amazon lineup to sport Wi-Fi 6, aka 802.11ax. That means it’ll make the most of the most recent wi-fi requirements should you’ve obtained a Wi-Fi 6 router, or be prepared for whenever you do. You shouldn’t essentially count on warp-speed Wi-Fi, however you’ll have greater than sufficient bandwidth to get the job accomplished. Connected wirelessly to an Eero Pro 6 (conveniently, one other Amazon-owned product), I used to be pulling upward of 250Mbps downstream, with ping occasions between 20ms and 25ms. By comparability, the previous-generation Fire TV Stick 4K obtained about 200Mbps downstream on Wi-Fi 5, with comparable pings.

For those that are saying “Just grab the Ethernet adapter!” — let me cease you there. You’re virtually definitely going to need to simply go forward and use Wi-Fi with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max over Amazon’s personal Ethernet adapter, which isn’t included within the field anyway. That adapter — which offers energy in addition to the wired community connection — is a ten/100 system, that means it’s truly going to prime out at a 100Mbps connection anyway. And in my case, meaning getting round half the pace as I used to be seeing on Wi-Fi, to say nothing of not getting near profiting from my true-Gigabit fiber connection.

In different phrases, follow the Wi-Fi 6 constructed into the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. It’s a lot good.

Elsewhere, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max ships with the most recent Alexa Voice Remote, which got here out in April 2021 and has been redesigned ever so barely, with just a few further buttons and options.

The Max additionally has a little bit extra RAM, which is essential as a result of it’s an Android-based system, and Android nonetheless wants all of the RAM it will probably get. Not that 2 gigabytes is rather a lot, and it’s solely a half-gig greater than the Fire TV Stick 4K. But we’ll take what we will get. And the processor has been up to date, too, to a quad-core Mediatek MT8696 at 1.8GHz. If that’s the type of factor you care about, good on ya. If it’s the type of factor you suppose you possibly can discover over the older Fire TV Stick 4K, you’re in all probability mendacity, are an engineer, or are operating the 2 units facet by facet. The level is these are essential and apparent updates, but in addition definitely not one thing that’ll change the best way you watch TV on Amazon Fire TV.

In different phrases, it appears and acts just about just like the Fire TV Sticks of yore. Just a little bit higher. If you’re like us and are dumb sufficient to have a couple of Fire TV Stick laying round, you’ll rapidly neglect which is which. I used to be flipping backwards and forwards between the 2018 Fire TV Stick 4K and the brand new Max and instantly had no thought which was plugged in with out actively checking. In truth, the 2 are darned close to twins in individual, with the one seen distinction the “Fire TV” moniker added onto the casing. The older stick simply has the Amazon Smile. On display screen, there’s actually no distinction.

And it now helps picture-in-picture, if that’s a factor it’s important to have.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.The 2021 Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max appears precisely just like the 2018 Fire TV Stick 4K — save for the emblem. Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

What’s nonetheless within the Fire TV Stick 4K Max

If you’re a present proprietor of an Amazon Fire TV Stick, you already know what to anticipate. You’ve undoubtedly been utilizing the brand new Fire TV OS consumer interface that rolled out earlier in 2021. That it’s nonetheless primarily based on Android 9 and never one thing newer (Android 12 is presently being launched simply now) is a bone of competition for some, and definitely at the least a slight trigger for concern. But provided that that is Amazon we’re speaking about and never some no-name importer that simply slaps Android on prime of some {hardware} and calls it a day, we’re barely much less fearful. But, nonetheless, Amazon actually does must get into the double digits sooner slightly than later, and it’s solely a matter of time earlier than our endurance actually begins to put on skinny.

The different fundamental specs stay the identical because the older Fire TV Stick 4K. It nonetheless helps 4K decision with Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and HLG for top dynamic vary, and Dolby Atmos for audio. Of course, your TV and sound system might want to assist all that, too, should you intend on making any use of it.

If you’re going to be utilizing Alexa together with your Fire TV Stick 4K Max, you’ll be doing so by way of the Alexa distant. That’s unchanged, since there’s no microphone of any type tucked into the stick itself.

There’s additionally nothing new on the app facet. Amazon’s Fire TV OS nonetheless has entry to all of the issues it’s had entry to, like Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV+, to call however three.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.Phil Nickinson/Digital Trends

Buy it for future-proofing, not as a result of it’s exponentially “better.”

Our take

If you’re out there for a brand new Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the one to get. Full cease.

I’d even advocate it over the Fire TV Cube, for a few causes. First is that it’s about half the value, which in and of itself must be a no brainer. If you simply must have hands-free Alexa (as in not having to press the voice button on the distant management first), you will get a Max and a brand new Echo Dot and nonetheless have loads of cash left over to purchase lunch. The second is that it has been a few years because the Fire TV Cube has been up to date, which suggests older internals. That’s not an enormous deal in units like this, however it will probably matter over time. Newer is nearly at all times higher.

Are there any options?

Sure. Anything that plugs right into a TV and reveals movies is an alternate. And the most important opponents to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max are the opposite Amazon Fire TV Sticks.

Fire TV Stick
Lite
Fire TV
Stick
Fire TV Stick
4K
Fire TV Stick
4K Max
Year launched 2020 2020 2018 2021
Retail value $30 $40 $40 $55
Resolution 1080p 1080p 4K 4K
Dolby Vision No No Yes Yes
Dolby Atmos No Yes Yes Yes
Wi-Fi model Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 6
Storage 8GB 8GB 8GB 8GB
Memory 1GB 1GB 1.5GB 2GB

Where the Fire TV Stick 4K Max matches into the larger scheme of cheap streaming sticks — that’s, across the $50 vary — actually simply comes right down to ecosystem. Do you need Fire TV? Or would you like Roku? Or what about Chromecast with Google TV? Each has its deserves and falls in the identical value vary. I’d usually argue that Fire TV OS is the extra mature and complex working system, whereas Roku is simplistic and simpler to navigate. Both are smattered with advertisements and different alternatives to spend cash, and each are also closely pushing their very own advertising-based video-on-demand companies. Amazon has IMDB TV, and Roku has The Roku Channel. Pick your poison. Chromecast With Google TV is its personal animal. If you’re manner into Android, I’d look right here.

The greater query I’ve is what occurs to the remainder of the Fire TV Stick area. Amazon advised us it has no intention to cease promoting the legacy Fire TV Stick 4K, which on the time we’re publishing that is $15 cheaper than the 4K Max when not on sale — and also you’ll undoubtedly discover it for much less sooner slightly than later. I’d say that further $15 is value it for the Wi-Fi 6 future-proofing and the newer distant management, which by itself sells for $30. Throw within the upgraded processor and reminiscence and it simply is smart. You get a much bigger bang on your buck. And presumably, Amazon both will section out the older Fire TV Stick 4K, or possibly even rearrange the whole line. It nonetheless has the Fire TV Stick on the identical $40 value because the older Fire TV Stick 4K, which doesn’t actually make sense as a result of it tops out at 1080p decision. And then there’s the Fire TV Stick Lite, at $30. That’s not a lot of a variety, so don’t be shocked if Amazon consolidates issues in some unspecified time in the future.

How lengthy will it final?

We do not know. It’s a little bit piece of plastic and steel. But usually talking, Fire TV Sticks have lasted far longer than they should. Not that we’re followers of setting cash on fireplace, however these items are low-cost. They don’t have transferring elements, they in all probability aren’t being moved round all that a lot, and so they’re just about commodities at this level. They’re impulse purchases. In the uncommon occasion that one fails on you — and that’s not one thing you hear of fairly often — chances are high you’ll simply purchase a brand new one with out an excessive amount of thought. For all the pieces else, there’s all people’s favourite submit on how one can repair Fire TV stick issues.

Should you purchase it?

Did you learn the 1,700 phrases above? Yes. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the one we’d get.

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