The age of 4K streaming is here! Most 4K TVs have at least one app or streaming service support. Dedicated 4K media streamers are also becoming more affordable. We were first to see 4K TVs below $50 for the Premiere+ and Roku Premiere. The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is joining them. It costs $49.99 and replaces the Amazon Fire TV 4K-capable Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick 4K costs less, is faster, more affordable, supports Dolby Vision and has a better remote. This is our Editors’ Choice and the best media streamer for less than $50. The non-4K Fire TV Stick is $10 cheaper and offers the same features as the 4K.
Design and Voice Remote
The Fire TV Stick 4K measures 3.9 by 1.22 by 0.6 inches (HWD), slightly more than the standard Fire TV Stick. It is a rectangular, matte black plastic bar made with a male HDMI connector and a micro-USB port on one side. A short flexible HDMI extender allows you to reposition the item at a different angle if it is slightly too big to fit in a TV port.
Amazon’s Alexa Voice Remote has been updated with new features. The remote’s second generation is still a rectangular wand that has a prominent circular navigation pad. There’s also a pinhole microphone at the top to use Alexa. The remote still includes playback and menu controls. Now power and volume buttons are joined to them. You can control the volume and power of your TV with the Fire TV Stick 4K. This allows you to jump straight into streaming media without having to pick up another remote. The Fire TV Stick 4K can only adjust volume and toggle power. However, if the Fire TV Stick is your primary device, this upgrade will be very helpful.
Fire TV Setup
The Fire TV Stick 4K can be set up in the same way as any other Fire TV device. Connect the stick to WiFi by plugging it into your TV. Once you are done, log in to your Amazon account. To use the Fire TV Stick 4K, you don’t have to have a paid Amazon Prime account. A regular, free Amazon account will suffice. Amazon Prime members will automatically have access to Prime Music and Prime Video streaming media.
Amazon Fire TV OS
Fire TV is consistent across all Fire TV devices. This includes the non-4K Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, and Fire edition TVs. The main menu is organized in large rows of apps, media, and suggestions from Amazon. Although suggestions are primarily Amazon-centric, there are many third-party apps, services, and content search functions that aggregate across Amazon and multiple third parties.
Fire TV is missing Apple and Google services, but almost every other major video site is available, including Crackle and Crunchyroll and HBO Go. YouTube does not have an app. However, you can use the Firefox and Silk Web browsers to access YouTube’s web version using a shortcut on Fire TV. This is similar to the Android TV or Roku apps.
The Fire TV Stick 4K is a Fire TV device that includes Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. To talk to Alexa, press the microphone button on your remote. If you prefer hands-free Alexa within a media streamer from the box, the Fire TV Cube is the best choice. Alexa can be asked for general information, or for recommendations on media that you want to view or listen to. To complement Alexa’s spoken answers, your connected TV will show visual information such as weather forecasts with clouds and rain icons, sports scores including individual scores and logos, as well lists of movies and summaries.
Alexa can also control media playback and your TV via voice. It can play, pause and navigate through Amazon streaming media as well as a few third-party services. Alexa can also be used with more than 20,000 home automation devices, including smart locks, thermostats, and smart lights. You can also bring up live feeds from home security cameras such as the Nest Cam IQ and Amazon Cloud Cam. To enable hands-free voice control, pair your Fire TV Stick 4K and an Amazon Echo device such as an Echo Dot. After they are paired, you can say “Alexa” (or “Amazon,” or “Echo,” depending on your preferences) to play media on your TV or display information.
4K Streaming and Performance
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K has a new remote and can stream 4K media. The Fire TV Stick 4K streams ultra-high definition ( UHD) or 4K video. It can also stream media in HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The stick is now capable of streaming HDR10 and 4K video, unlike last year’s Fire TV. Amazon claims that the stick runs faster than the Fire TV.
The Fire TV Stick 4K has a quad-core, 1.7GHz CPU and 8GB of memory. It supports MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 (with BLE). Wi-Fi specifications are crucial because, unlike the Fire TV Stick 4K, there is no Ethernet adapter (although you can purchase an optional adapter for $15).
With the Fire TV Stick, 4K connected via FiOS to my home network, I streamed Daredevil 4K HDR on Netflix. It loaded quickly and went to 4K resolution in minutes with Dolby Vision. Media playback was quick and clear in our testing. You can expect a 4K video with Dolby Vision if your wireless network is strong.
The menu navigation is also quick. It is very easy to navigate through the different rows and switch between apps. Alexa responds quickly to questions and the voice remote activates Alexa reliably and controls TV volume with minimal delay.
The Perfect $50 4K Media Streamer
You will need Google Play Movies & TV Support on your $50 4K media streamer. This means you will have to use the Roku Premiere/Premiere+, which will remove the voice assistant, TV volume control, Dolby Vision support, and TV volume control.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K media streamer is nearly perfect. It supports 4K with HDR10, Dolby Vision, and its new remote can control the volume and power of your TV. You can also access streaming media from Amazon’s libraries as well as most third-party sources, all for $50. The only downside is the lack of an Ethernet adapter, which is the same as the Fire TV Stick. However, it has a smaller, faster, Dolby Vision-supporting, and $20 cheaper price. Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is the most affordable media hub under $50, and even less than $100. It easily earned our Editors’ choice.
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