Top positive review
Pleased with Audio and Video upgrades and Alexa controlled remote
Reviewed in Canada on November 27, 2018
When Amazon launched Amazon Fire TV stick-Basic Edition in Canada in November 2017, I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be right decision as I was able to not only convert my older HDTV into Smart TV, but it also opened door for lots of content including Amazon Prime Video. It should be noted that Amazon Prime Video is totally free for Amazon Prime Members. Now, most of people have 4K UHD TV and considering lots of content is now available in 4K, there was quite an urgent need for having an update to Basic version of Fire TV which only supported 1080p-full HD to 4K version in the same small form factor. I am glad that Amazon has released this much awaited and anticipated update in Canada. I am also using Amazon Echo Dot and there are few more Alexa compatible devices in home so updated remote with Alexa support is another welcome update. Amazon claims that new Fire TV Stick 4K is company’s most powerful streaming stick to date.
I pre-ordered The Fire TV Stick and it was delivered on the release day-thanks to free 1-day shipping with my Prime Membership. Stick connects to your TV’s HDMI port. Set up was very easy - Just connect stick to power port and HDMI port of TV, enter WI-Fi password and after software update, Amazon Fire TV stick was ready to use in minutes. It even asked me if I want to set up parental controls. It asked me to press Volume Up and Down buttons which in turn successfully paired my TV to the remote and now I can control TV with Amazon remote. The stick came pre-registered to my name and Amazon Account. I didn’t need to do any account set up. I just chose my Amazon account and everything was ready in few minutes. After setup, it played a brief introduction video showing key features of Amazon Fire TV.
People buying it as a gift should note that you should make sure that you check “THIS IS A GIFT” option when you add this to the cart. This will ensure that Fire Stick will NOT come pre-registered to your account and gift recipient can register to their own Amazon account. This will ensure that they are not using your account.
SUMMARY OF MAJOR CHANGES FROM FIRE TV BASIC EDITION:
(1) Up to 2160p/4K output resolution with Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR10 format support
(2) 80% more Powerful due to upgraded 1.7 GHz quad-core processor
(3) Upgraded 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip
(4) Upgraded remote with Alexa support and added Volume and Mute buttons.
(5) Upgraded Audio from Dolby Audio to Dolby Atmos
(6) Added Ethernet Support. You need to buy “Amazon Ethernet Adapter for Amazon Fire TV Devices for $19.99
Amazon claims that Fire TV Stick 4K is 80% more powerful than previous version and this is mainly due to upgraded quad-core processor and Wi-Fi chipset. This enables not just 4K video streaming, but also support for HDR in both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. I think this stick checks all the boxes for home theatre enthusiasts in terms of both video and audio.
There are lots of applications pre-configured and you can browse and download thousands of applications and games. There is also Firefox browser support to browse internet. This Edition has 8GB of storage, a 1.7 GHz quad-core processor. It can stream movies and TV shows at 720p, 1080p HD and 2160p 4K at up to 60 fps. The compact size makes it useful for traveling as well and weight is only 54 grams. Once you connect to TV, you find that everything is laid out nicely and browsing through the content is quite user-friendly. It should be mentioned that YouTube application is not available as Google has removed support long back but you can always use Firefox or Silk browser. It’s bit of hassle but it seems feud between Amazon and Google will never end.
Stick comes with dual-band, dual-antenna WI-Fi and provides seamless Wi-Fi performance. It features upgraded 802.11ac Wi-Fi chip that helps with bandwidth requirements of 4K programming which will ensure no buffering and quick load times. If you have issues with Wi-Fi connectivity, you can buy “Amazon Ethernet Adapter for Amazon Fire TV Devices” which is sold separately for $19.99. Also included in the box is HDMI extender cable in case you need it for better remote or Wi-Fi performance.
It should be noted that stick works with both 4K as well as normal HD TV.
The most appealing functionality upgrade on the remote is Alexa Voice Support. I have Echo Dot and I knew this will work well and I found this to be case. Voice Control worked almost perfectly. The Alexa Voice Remote combines Bluetooth with infrared to control both the Fire TV Stick as well as other home entertainment devices, including your TV and cable box. Alexa powered remote is great upgrade as you can just talk to Alexa to find things for you. Another impressive find is though remote includes in-built microphone and you can command remote to do almost anything, if you have Amazon Echo, you can also link it to Echo to have hands-free Alexa compatibility. In fact as soon as I set up fire TV, Amazon Echo Dot immediately announced :” I found TV”. I also got message on my Alexa iOS application as well if I want to control new TV.
For Example, you can ask :
“Alexa, Open Netflix”,
“Alexa, Open Amazon Prime Video”
“Alexa, Find Thriller Movies” ,
“Alexa, play Grand Tour”
“Alexa, find 4K TV Shows”.
If can also control compatible devices like TV and Sound Bards or ask Alexa to dim the light. I also tried things like “Alexa, What is the weather now” and “Alexa, Set thermostat temperature to 21 degrees”.
Alexa Remote has also got upgrade in terms of added Volume and Mute buttons. It should be noted that this remote can be purchased separately to upgrade your remote on older Fire TV.
You can also download the Fire TV Remote App to your mobile phone and pair it with your Fire TV device to use as an alternate remote.
For people new to Amazon Fire Stick, it should be noted that there is no monthly charge associated with Amazon Fire TV stick, but you may have to pay for streaming services like Netflix to stream their content. There is lot of free content though. Another thing worth noting is the content is country specific. E.g. Amazon Prime Video content will be different in Canada than US and you can only watch country specific content to which you have subscribed to. Amazon Prime Members will be happy as they do not pay for Amazon Prime Video which has lots of content. Some people may say that other streaming services like Netflix has more content, but I am not even able to watch small fraction of huge amount of stuff available on Amazon Prime and it’s free with my Prime. People using Android box may be disappointed as most of content they were getting free is not available free. You subscribe or pay for the content.
(1) Best in class Video (4K) and Audio (Dolby Atmos) support including Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR10 format support
(2) Alexa enable remote with capabilities to control devices like TV, Sound Bar as well as other Alexa devices in home
(3) Extremely fast performance. Fast Load Time and no buffering
(4) Best in class hardware
(1) My friend uses Roku and Roku seems to have more selection.
(2) Battery Compartment cover was very hard to remove. I had to slide knife into gap and open the cover.
Overall, this package feels best-in-class in terms of hardware capabilities and remote functionalities. Some people may lean towards Roku due to more content, but to me being a Prime Member and having few Alexa compatible devices this is definitely a winner. It simply fits well in Alexa ecosystem.
People who have used Android TV and Kodi May find that there is lesser free content and you have to pay for many streaming service. Having said that, I read that people seems to be able to install Kodi on previous Basic Edition of stick. As I said earlier, it’s not my cup of tea.