Amazon Fire TV Stick review: TV control is nice, but Roku (and Lite) are better sticks

Streaming Tv carries on to expand in recognition, with new services and possibilities every day, and to hold up most of the major device makers launched new products in the earlier year you can hook to any Tv. Roku has the new Streambar and the Roku Express 4K Furthermore, Google has the Chromecast with Google Tv and Amazon has its lowest priced streamer yet: the $30 Fireplace Stick Tv Lite. Amazon also sells the $40 Fireplace Tv Stick, the matter of this evaluation. 

Like

  • Low-cost
  • Distant delivers Alexa voice and Tv command
  • Broad selection of streaming apps
  • Integrates nicely with Echo speakers

Will not Like

  • The less expensive Lite is a far better value
  • The phase-up 4K adhere is far better for 4K TVs
  • Far more intricate menus than Roku

Like some of its competition the $forty Fireplace Stick’s distant has buttons for quantity, mute and electrical power, allowing you to command those capabilities on your Tv — and perhaps ditch your Tv distant. Individuals distant buttons are the only serious big difference between the $30 Stick Lite and the $forty Stick, so you might be mainly paying $10 for Tv command.

The $forty Stick (2020) is the High definition-only middle child between the less expensive Lite and the additional capable Fireplace Tv Stick 4K , and equally of those are far better selections over-all. Indeed, that Tv command is wonderful, and the Fireplace Stick does delivers a great deal for your $forty, like integration with current Echo devices a good choice of apps (it now has both HBO Max and Peacock) and a slick interface. But Fireplace Tv still pushes its Primary Video retailer in search benefits, and the house display screen can be a minor as well busy for people today who know what they want to watch. At the exact rate the Roku Express 4K Furthermore delivers far better options and value, and for $10 significantly less the Lite is an unbeatable offer.

What is it?


Sarah Tew/CNET

Fireplace Tv Sticks are USB adhere-sized devices that plug into a spare HDMI port on your Tv. They stream audio and video information from dozens of distinctive apps around your Wi-Fi connection. Although anyone can use just one of these devices, being an Amazon Primary subscriber permits you to watch added programming.

The distant itself hasn’t bodily changed a great deal considering that the very first Fireplace Tv was launched, and it lacks the quality experience of the Roku distant or Google’s new distant. The new Fireplace Stick distant does insert the skill to command your Tv quantity, however it lacks the shortcuts to Netflix or other frequently-used services. Placing the distant up with a Tv usually takes about 30 seconds and it can even command a receiver (I used it with a Sony Tv and an Onkyo receiver without concern).

043-amazon-fire-stick-tv-and-fire-stick-lite-menu-screens-2020

Sarah Tew/CNET

Together with the Fireplace Tv Lite, these are the very first devices we’ve found to present HDR but not 4K resolution, and it raises the question of what type of Tv it really is designed for. There are hundreds of 4K HDR TVs out there but I experimented with accomplishing a search for 1080p TVs that can do HDR on Very best Buy’s internet site and found only 4. For most people today with 4K HDR TVs, we would endorse receiving a streamer that can actually do 4K alternatively of a 1080p streamer like the Stick.

The adhere arrives with a electrical power adapter and Amazon strongly suggests you use this. Although you could use the USB ports on your Tv to electrical power the device, it implies the device could behave unusually. For illustration, Dolby Atmos information would not operate at all when the device was plugged into a Tv USB port, despite the device declaring it was outputting “Dolby Atmos” — the seem arrived out as 5.one. 

Loads of streaming apps

054-amazon-fire-stick-tv-and-fire-stick-lite-menu-screens-2020

The Fireplace Tv athletics (get it?) dozens of streaming apps.


Sarah Tew/CNET

Like other streaming devices the range of services that Amazon Fireplace Tv supports is strengthening all the time. It can accessibility pretty much all of the major streaming apps, like Amazon Primary Video, Netflix, Hulu, Sling Tv, Crackle, Pluto Tv, Tubi Tv, Amazon Audio, Pandora, Spotify and a lot of, a lot of additional. The Fireplace Tv system now delivers equally HBO Max and Peacock bringing it in line with Roku and Chromecast with Google Tv.  

What it really is like to use

With only a couple of tiny options to independent them — and the sticks even have the exact S3L46N product range — the Fireplace Tv and Fireplace Tv Lite behaved pretty much identically in my checks. The two present a healthful enhance of options, tightly integrated voice instructions and relative fast reaction periods. 

Employing the Fireplace Tv Stick distant is quick, and Alexa lookups with the microphone button ended up additional responsive and relevant than working with the Echo as a go-between. In distinction, Roku could not have the exact sturdy voice capabilities, but text lookups by means of the Roku distant are normally additional qualified towards free of charge or incorporated packages relatively than only “invest in now” inbound links.  

065-amazon-fire-stick-tv-and-fire-stick-lite-menu-screens-2020

Sarah Tew/CNET

When it arrives to person interfaces there are two distinctive educational facilities of assumed: App-centric menus like the Roku and Apple Tv ones just demonstrate you a grid of apps, so you won’t be able to actually browse for one thing to watch without clicking by way of to each application. Amazon Fireplace Tv and Google Tv acquire a additional information-focused tactic, surfacing plenty of titles on the house site itself. 

If you like to graze for information, the Fireplace Tv may well be additional appealing, If you know what you want presently, or at least what application you want to watch, a Roku is likely a far better alternative, in component since Amazon’s search benefits skews seriously towards its possess (frequently person-pays-more) information. 

Image and seem excellent ended up very very similar between the Lite and the Fireplace Stick, and image excellent was as great as I might count on. On paper there is certainly a big difference in Atmos audio guidance: The Stick delivers Dolby Atmos audio decoding when the Lite has Dolby Atmos pass-by way of. The realistic big difference between them is negligible, even so, since an Atmos-able receiver or soundbar is essential in equally cases to hear Atmos audio. Irrespective of whether the adhere or the receiver does the decoding won’t really make a difference. 

Also, in my screening I have found a lot of services — like Primary Video and Disney Furthermore — have to have a 4K Tv for Atmos to operate anyway. In short, I really don’t consider this characteristic big difference a major offer since most people today with decent Atmos setups ought to (at the time yet again) be working with a bona fide 4K streamer.

Need to you invest in it?

If you might be in the sector for a new $30 or $forty streamer it arrives down to a alternative between Fireplace TV’s information-very first tactic versus Roku application-very first just one. If you might be common with Roku’s basic menu structure the range of tiles and possibilities on the Fireplace Tv Stick’s house site can be frustrating.

If you presently have a Fireplace Stick, there is certainly definitely no cause for you to invest in the 2020 variation. Dolby Atmos and HDR are bizarre insert-ons for 1080p devices, and if Amazon preferred to present one thing exceptional at the rate it ought to have incorporated comprehensive 4K guidance. As it is, if you have a decent 4K Tv then you ought to get a serious 4K streamer like the Roku Express 4K Furthermore. And if you want to save money, go with the Fireplace Tv Lite.

1st revealed Oct. 8 2020, up-to-date June 2021 with addition of Peacock.