Top positive review
Is it worth upgrading from prior Regular 1080pFireSticks?.... YES! A+
Reviewed in Canada on October 15, 2021
I almost find this hard to believe but this is now my 6th 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 and we now have these all over the house in addition to the “regular” 1080p one I first purchased in 2019 which is now at a weekend property. I recently also picked up the brand new 4K “Max” variant for my main Home Theatre, but that is a lot more money than this 4K version. I wanted this Stick being reviewed to retire that original 2019 one and have a better 4K version of the stick to replace it. That brings us to the question “is THIS another new 4K version”? Well, it is and it isn’t.....
I was a bit confused when I first saw this listing as it appeared around the same time as the launch of “Max” but there is also another 4K Firestick listing that is several years old (with 30,000+ reviews on it!) I thought, is this one another NEW 4K stick I was not aware of? Well, after scrutinzing all the specs and details, this version appears to be exactly the SAME as the other 4K listing (from what I can tell) other than the fact that it has been refreshed with a updated Alexa remote that now also has 4 dedicated “1-click” access buttons for certain services. My current 4K sticks released several years ago have the “normal” remote (see comparison pic). I will touch on this refreshed remote control first....
I now find I really like the newly redesigned remote! It’s still very familiar with the same same size and footprint of my prior remotes, but at first glance I was actually annoyed by the inclusion of the quick access buttons for 4 pre-set services as these are set in stone and NOT changeable to something else. 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+. I believe that US 4K Sticks have a “Hulu” button in place of Amazon Music button on the Canadian retail version, but that would make sense as Hulu is now a huge service down South.
Well, so how about this newer 4k Stick “Refresh”?... Keep in mind that I am really just basing my comparison on “upgrading” from an older regular 1080p only FireStick which is what I am doing here. There are some extra benefits from going from a 4K the new 4K “Max” as well, but the Max is $30 more so it is hard for many to justify that price point difference. So, lets look at this “newish” 4K Stick...
This 4K stick basically includes all of the same accessories as prior FireSticks. You get a USB power cord with a charging wall/power brick, an HDMI extender dongle (which is very handy in situations where you need to reposition the stick due to space issues in the back of you TV, batteries to power the remote, and the refreshed Alexa enabled remote as already noted.
SetUp is very easy as with all prior generation FireSticks. Once pluggIed 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. But being a Prime member opens up an whole other World with this as FireSticks are optimized for using Prime Video and Amazon Music Streaming services. But of course all the other big services (both free and subscription based) are there including YouTube, Netflix, ATV+, Disney+, etc., etc.
In a simple summary, the 4K version of a Firestick is blazingly fast vs. My regular 1080p Stick. You can really notice the huge performance difference when surfing through the GUI menus and searching. As a FireStick user for several years now, I can certainly sense the difference between the two. There are times when there is a subtle lag or hickup if you will when clicking through the items in the Menus or searching. Don’t get me wrong, the basic 1080p Stick is a very good video streaming device, but the 4K variant just simply feels more “snappier” with much quicker user interface responses. A simple difference in specs makes all the difference. While the 1080p has basically the same CPU/GPU combination as the 4K stick, the 4K actually has more memory... 1.5GB of RAM vs. 1GB in the 1080p version. While that may not sound like a lot, it certainly makes a big difference in the overall performance and a more pleasant and seemless overall viewing experience.
All in all, I am very happy to have picked up the 4K FireStick “refresh”. I wanted a better 4K stick to replace my original 1080p version and at only a $10 or so difference between the two, I feel this decision is a no-brainer. The 4K variant also offers Dolby Vision/HDR over the 1080p Stick for those with a need for that in better home theatre or media room setups with displays that support that. I feel the 4K Stick really enhances our viewing experience over the basic 1080p Stick and I highly recommend the new both existing 1080p FireTV users as an upgrade and new users alike. (Please note that there is also a “Lite” version of the Firestick. This is basically the same as a 1080p Stick but has an “economy” remote which does not have the ability to control any TV functions. I personally would stay away from the “Lite” altogether unless unless your are OK with juggling multiple remotes for basic TV watching)
Edit: And for those who are adventurous, despite what some say, you can in fact easily get more Storage on any FireStick with a simple splitter cable (avaialble on Amazon) that will allow you to power the stick as usual via USB as well has being able to insert a USB memory stick.. need 32GB? More?.. Just search YouTube to see how as are many videos on the subject. But, what do I need that for you ask? Well, the 4K Firestick makes an EXCELLENT video GAMING device! Again, lots of YouTube vids you can find with the answers. Have a Great Day!