Welcome to the era of low-cost 4K streaming. Not only do most 4K TVs now include app and streaming service support, but dedicated 4K media streamers are becoming increasingly affordable. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K joins them, but it completely replaces the 4K-capable Amazon Fire TV. The Fire TV Stick 4K is smaller, faster, and less expensive, and it also supports Dolby Vision and has a more advanced remote.
Because of its size, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is more accurately described as a branch. This is a far more compact design than a more traditionally shaped streamer like the Apple TV 4K, but at 10cm long, the Fire TV Stick 4K will protrude from the edge of many TVs when plugged into a sideways-facing socket. Plugging it in next to other cables can also be a challenge.
There is, at least, an HDMI extender in the box that can help with the latter issue while also improving wi-fi performance – though we had no problems with wi-fi without it. By purchasing the optional ethernet adapter, you can hardwire the Fire TV Stick 4K to your router.
The Fire TV Stick 4K is not only larger than most sticks, but it also consumes more power, to the point where you should use the included USB wall plug rather than plugging the cable into one of your TV’s own sockets – though we tested both ways and found no difference in performance. However, wall-mounters who chose a stick device for its convenience will be disappointed if they discover that plugging the Amazon into the wall is or becomes necessary.
If your previous experience with Amazon on TV was limited to the Prime Video app built into your television, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that the Fire TV Stick 4K’s presentation and user experience is vastly superior.
Home screens are bright and colourful, with prominent artwork promoting Amazon’s latest content, menus are bold, sharp, and clear, and overall operation is snappy and smooth. While the Prime Video app on other devices is invariably a nightmare for finding Ultra HD content, it’s given a little more prominence here and is actually displayed in search results.
Dolby Atmos isn’t always available at this end of the market, so we head straight for Amazon’s Jack Ryan and are pleasantly surprised to discover that it not only works, but also sounds fantastic. This is room-filling audio with excellent effect placement and real weight and drama.
The Fire TV Stick 4K sounds great with standard 5.1 surround sound and even stereo. Regardless of format, this is a clear, fairly detailed, and spacious sound that will reward those who use a decent sound solution rather than the speakers built into their television.