Top positive review
Is it worth upgrading from prior FireSticks?...It most certainly IS! AAA+
Reviewed in Canada on October 11, 2021
This is now my 5th FireStick! My first trial experience with Amazon Smart and Streaming products was picking up a regular FireTV Stick along with an HD8 Tablet when on sale during the July 2019 Canada Prime Day. I now have 4 additional FireTV Sticks, including this new 4K “Max”. I also have a Fire Cube, Echo Show 8, Echo Show 5, a brand new HD10 64GB Tablet (2021 variant) along with my original HD10, another HD8 and still growing! I also plan on getting the new 15” wall mounted Echo Show when it releases and I have had such good experience with my new Amazon products that I am now even considering one of the new generation Amazon branded 4K Televisions with FireTV embedded which are about to start shipping very soon.
I am a former Apple “FanBoy” and I could go on forever about all of my new Amazon hardware, but the bottom line is that all of these Amazon Fire and smart products are outstanding values in relation to competing products and can literally save you $1,000's over Apple products!!. This is no exaggeration. If I were running multiple iPads and Apple hardware in my home in an attempt to try to recreate what I get out of my Amazon product ecosystem the cost would be substantially higher than what I have paid for all my Amazon products.
Well, so how about this new generation 4k Max Stick?.. Lets see how it performs....
The new “Max” stick comes in a larger box but it basically includes all of the same accessories as prior FireSticks. You get an USB power cord with appropriate charging wall power brick, an HDMI extender dongle (which is very handy in situations where you need to reorient the stick due to space issues in the back of you TV, batteries to power the remote, and an Alexa enabled remote. The Remote is newly designed for the Max and I will touch on that a bit later.
SetUp is very easy as with all prior generation FireSticks. Once plugged into power and you turn on your TV you will be met with the Update screens within a few moments. You just need to take a few minutes to follow the simple on screen prompts to log into your network for the first time, and then after entering your Amazon account details the updates will complete and you will be given the option of sending over all the apps you already had setup on your prior Sticks. You will also be able to set it to work to your TV in moments during this same processs and from there on, the FireStick remote will be able to turn you TV on and off, raise, lower and mute Volume. Easy Peezy!
If you are a NEW FireStick user it will be basically the same process, but you will also be prompted to set up an new Amazon Account in order to get going. Setting up a new Amazon Account is absolutely FREE! If you are a concerned parent you will also be able to easily setup Parental Controls during this initial process.
Remember, you do NOT necessarily have to be a PRIME MEMBER to be able to get good use from a FireStick as there are all sorts of Free Apps you can download from the Amazon Store across many Interests and Genres. However, being a Prime member opens up an whole other World with this as FireSticks are of course optimized for using Prime Video and Amazon Music Streaming services. All the other big services (both free and subscription based) are there as well including YouTube, Netflix, ATV+, Disney+, etc., etc.
The new Max stick feels blisteringly fast vs. my older regular non-4K sticks and much, MUCH snappier when compared to my relatively new original 4K Sticks. I am not kidding. I can really notice the difference when surfing through the GUI menus and searching. It's the update in the internal specs. that makes all the difference. The MAX has an upgraded CPU and more memory. The new Max Stick has 2GB of RAM vs. the 1.5GB in my prior 4K sticks and the CPU is now 1.8Ghz with a 750mhz GPU vs. the prior 1.70Ghz with a 650Mhz GPU. While that may not seem like a lot on paper, Wow, it sure makes a big difference in the overall performance. As a FireStick user for several years now, I can really feel and see the difference.
I now find that I really like the newly redesigned remote! It’s still very familiar with the same size and footprint of my prior remotes, but at first glance I was actually annoyed that it now has quick access buttons for 4 pre-set services in the lower area (see comparison photo). But then I thought these are services I ACTUALLY USE, so its very convenient for my household. The 4 hotkey buttons are for direct access to Prime Video, Amazon Music, NetFlix and Disney+. (The Book of Boba Fett and a new season of The Mandalorian are just on the horizon, so Disney now has me hooked whether I like it or not! Haha)
I unfortunately cannot offer any comments on one of the other new features of the Max, that being WIFI 6, as I dont have that. Still, I am more than happy with my setup in any event as I have a fast, unlimited Broadband connection with a stable wifi router. I have virtually no issues with 4K streaming and the picture is just as vivid and beautiful as before.
All in all, I am very happy to have picked up the new FireStick Max as soon as it was released. I am now already well versed in the Amazon product ecosystem and the overall performance boost of the new CPU and additional memory in the Max Stick just makes it so much better than prior generations. It really enhances our viewing experience and I can see my household gradually upgrading all of our current sticks to this newer standard. I will more than likely pass on my two regular older non-4K FireSticks to friends or family.
I highly recommend the new Max to both existing FireTV users as an upgrade and new users alike. New people especially will be very pleased with the new operating system.