Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max review: Top dog for streaming?

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(Pocket-lint) - The Amazon Fire TV Stick range seems to beryllium spawning caller models each the time. That's evident from the sanction of this top-end 2021 model: the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

This isn't conscionable immoderate aged Fire TV, nor is it conscionable a 4K mentation - because that was already released successful 2020 - alternatively it's the maxxed retired mentation of them all.

But what does the 'Max' portion of the sanction really mean and however does this apical canine of Amazon's streaming sticks fair?

Design, setup and connections

  • Dimensions: 99 x 30 x 14mm / Weight: 48.4g
  • HDMI dongle, HDMI extender included
  • Alexa distant with TV controls

Amazon has done a batch to predominate the streaming instrumentality market. Providing a elemental solution to adding astute services to your television, the affordable sticks plug consecutive into an HDMI larboard connected your TV and past you conscionable person to link to the powerfulness root utilizing the supplied plug and cable.

It's a USB powerfulness supply, but the USB connected the rear of your TV is improbable to person the powerfulness indispensable to tally it, truthful you'll person to plug it into the partition socket.

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There's an HDMI extender provided, truthful if the HDMI is sticking consecutive retired the backmost of your TV and you don't person capable abstraction down - possibly owed to different ample HDMI connections - past you tin usage the cablegram to crook it astir the country and retired of the way. We attached it to an AV receiver (AVR) successful this case, utilizing the extender due to the fact that determination wasn't capable abstraction without the Stick 4K Max hitting the wall.

In presumption of installation, that's astir each determination is to do. Plug it in, crook connected your TV, and disconnected you go.

To get connected it volition privation to firstly link to your Wi-Fi network, past to your Amazon account. The Wi-Fi enactment is 1 of the changes present implicit the older sticks - with the 4K Max offering Wi-Fi 6 support. You'll request a Wi-Fi 6 router to instrumentality vantage of that, similar the eero Pro 6

Offering Wi-Fi 6 means faster Wi-Fi, much connected devices, and greater range. That besides means little lag successful starting a watercourse and it volition beryllium speedy to measurement up to higher prime (rather than surviving successful little prime astatine the opening of a stream, arsenic you whitethorn person seen a clump of times).

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Much of the setup tin beryllium done connected your telephone to prevention utilizing on-screen keyboards, but arsenic you get into much item you'll find yourself utilizing that on-screen keyboard much and more.

On-screen navigation is slick and fast, with the keyboard 1 of the easiest we've utilized due to the fact that it's responsive, acknowledgment to the precision of the distant and the information that this is the astir almighty Fire TV Stick yet.

During setup, the 4K Max volition automatically observe what it's connected to, take the close settings, past connection up a scope of services you mightiness privation to usage truthful they tin beryllium downloaded and installed.

The last measurement of setup involves mounting the distant to power your TV and audio. This volition fto you prime the marque of TV truthful you tin usage the powerfulness fastener connected the distant to crook it disconnected and on, arsenic good arsenic asking astir your speakers.

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If, similar us, you person an AVR successful the mix, that's nary problem, due to the fact that you tin prime speakers separately from the TV, truthful you get measurement power connected the Amazon distant too. In reality, this is amended than astir rival systems and it was elemental to setup LG TV power and Sony AVR control. Once done, you tin alteration measurement with Amazon's distant which is great, but besides deed the powerfulness fastener to crook everything disconnected oregon everything connected - and successful our setup that was some the TV and the AVR. It's impressively simple.

Apps and services

  • Full scope of streaming services
  • Alexa remote, Echo integration
  • Fire TV app

As we mentioned, erstwhile you setup the Fire TV Stick 4K Max you'll beryllium invited to instal a scope of antithetic streaming services. This focuses connected the astir fashionable worldly - and you mightiness person to hunt wider to get a implicit acceptable of what you want.

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The services disposable to you volition disagree from portion to region, but successful the UK there's a afloat acceptable of terrestrial catch-up services - BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 - arsenic good arsenic different escaped services similar UKTV Play.

The mainstream subscription services are each determination excessively - Netflix, Disney+, Now, Apple TV+ - and of course, Amazon's ain Prime Video. You get entree to YouTube, allowing you to motion successful truthful you tin entree subscriptions. BT Sport, Spotify, Britbox and galore others are besides available.

That's the entreaty of a streaming instrumentality for galore - it volition springiness you each the services successful 1 place, alternatively than having thing missing, which tin beryllium a occupation connected immoderate astute TVs.

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On apical of that there's entree to "live TV", which is portion nationalist broadcasters you mightiness person installed, portion Prime Video Channels you mightiness subscribe to. You tin unfastened up an physics programme usher (EPG) to spot what's connected and click through.

That's benignant of an unusual statement and we tin spot that, potentially, you could person a setup successful the aboriginal wherever everything is streamed alternatively than delivered via broadcast, but it doesn't consciousness similar it truly adds overmuch astatine the infinitesimal - successful the UK astatine least.

While there's entree to plentifulness of contented sources, there's nary autochthonal enactment for Apple AirPlay 2 connected immoderate Fire TV Sticks, truthful Apple users are little good supported. There's an enactment to crook connected mirroring, but we didn't negociate to reflector thing - if mirroring and AirPlay is what you want, past Roku is simply a amended option.

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There is enactment for Spotify Connect, truthful you tin divert euphony from your telephone to your Fire TV Stick, arsenic good arsenic usage Alexa to power Spotify connected your TV utilizing your voice.

You tin formed from the Prime Video app connected your telephone to the Fire TV Stick, but you can't formed from Netflix, YouTube oregon different communal apps arsenic you tin connected different platforms.

There's a Fire TV app for smartphones which volition springiness you power functions connected your phone, arsenic good arsenic Alexa, and you tin unfastened up your app database to leap consecutive to services you mightiness want. We similar the supplied remote, it's conscionable simpler to usage for anyone who happens to beryllium astatine the controls.

Diving into Alexa control

As this is an Amazon device, there's integration with Echo. And acknowledgment to Alexa connected an Echo instrumentality there's tons that you tin bash - but besides imaginable for confusion. You'll privation to radical your Echo and Fire TV successful a country successful the Alexa app to marque that relation betwixt devices, truthful the Echo knows what it's controlling.

If you've setup TV and dependable power options connected the distant (as we mentioned above), you tin archer Alexa to "turn disconnected Fire TV" and it volition execute the aforesaid bid arsenic it would if you propulsion the fastener connected the remote, meaning you tin crook the TV connected and disconnected with your voice. That's a neat interaction but it doesn't ever enactment erstwhile it comes to turning on, truthful it's a spot deed and miss.

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There are plentifulness of commands Alexa volition understand, specified arsenic "open Netflix", "play Snowpiercer", oregon to play music. Of course, each these things enactment some connected an Echo instrumentality and utilizing the Alexa fastener connected the remote.

This is besides wherever immoderate of the disorder tin travel in, arsenic if your Echo thinks it should beryllium controlling your Fire TV, erstwhile you inquire for euphony it volition unfastened it connected your TV - and that mightiness use to things similar quality programmes excessively - erstwhile you really privation them connected your Echo instead.

You'll person to experimentation and fig retired what's champion for you - and what phrases get your Echo to bash everything you privation - but surely there's plentifulness of amusive to beryllium had if you person an Echo successful the aforesaid country arsenic your Fire TV.

Using the Alexa distant means you tin pat into each the different Skills that Alexa has: from controlling your astute location devices, done to the live-view of your connected cameras. You'll beryllium capable to presumption your cameras, including reducing those to picture-in-picture truthful you tin support your oculus some connected the beforehand doorway and your TV.

Quality and performance

  • 4K resolution
  • Dolby Atmos audio support
  • High dynamic scope formats: Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HLG

Some streaming devices don't enactment Dolby Vision, but Amazon has offered this for a fig of years, including connected the little positioned Fire TV Stick 4K. Other precocious dynamic scope (HDR) standards are supported, with HDR10+ and HLG, meaning you're covered for the types of HDR you'll acquisition connected streaming services.

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There is an argument, of course, that if you person a TV that offers 4K solution and supports Dolby Vision, past you'll person these streaming services connected your TV already. That's true: successful galore cases, if you tin enactment everything the Fire TV Stick 4K Max offers, you astir apt don't really request one.

With enactment for Dolby Atmos, 7.1 and 5.1 situation sound, astatine slightest this instrumentality is delivering everything you mightiness request to get the champion from streaming.

Of course, you'll request a strategy that supports Dolby Atmos if you privation that much immersive soundscape, and you'll request a TV that supports HDR to get the champion visuals. If you're connecting the Stick straight to your TV you volition person to walk that audio done to your audio instrumentality to decode those much precocious dependable formats - but for those utilizing an AVR, it's comparatively simple.

Regardless of what you're looking for and what you've already got astatine home, some the Fire TV Stick 4K and this caller Max mentation enactment those standards, but the existent merchantability present is that this is simply a much almighty device, truthful it's faster - and that makes for a amended experience, careless of the hardware you link it to astatine home.

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The speed, wide format and services support, combined with a large remote, makes for a large acquisition with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. What truly comes crossed is however speedy and accelerated it is to determination astir the idiosyncratic interface (UI) and get watching.

That mightiness not beryllium worthy the further terms implicit the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K if you already ain one, but if you're trying to decide, the 4K Max is the amended instrumentality of the two.

A look astatine Amazon's UI

Amazon has its ain idiosyncratic interface and it's overmuch amended connected the Fire TV Stick than it is successful different areas - similar connected the Fire tablet, successful the Prime Video smartphone app, oregon so connected different streaming devices.

Naturally, Amazon's contented dominates the location screen, with thumbnails to leap backmost into the Amazon shows you've been watching, on with highlighted content, immoderate of which mightiness beryllium to buy. Then there's a enactment of "sponsored" shows, which predominantly look to beryllium from Amazon channels oregon IMDb TV - which Amazon besides owns.

There's past a substance of Prime movies, alongside recommendations from different apps you person installed, but the ratio is much oregon little Prime oregon IMDb TV gets 3 lines of recommendations and past you'll get different source. It's not acceptable successful chromatic though, it does change. There are besides adverts that get inserted, from clip to time.

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It's visually engaging, however, and casual to navigate, giving the accidental to observe caller content. Of course, erstwhile you unfastened an app, you'll past get the interface you're much acquainted with from each provider.

There's besides options to adhd parental controls, truthful you tin PIN support purchases oregon acceptable a PIN against ratings of content, though this lone applies to Prime Video. You'll person to setup parental controls successful each idiosyncratic app - though immoderate (like Netflix) volition conscionable transportation done existing profiles. You tin besides setup profiles for anyone successful your Amazon Household, including a PIN to fastener kids into their country truthful they can't flight into watching connected your big profile.

Overall, determination are much options for customisation and power of the UI present than you get connected a Roku device, akin to the Chromecast with Google TV, though determination are immoderate evident differences - the deficiency of enactment for Google contented being the evident one.

Verdict

Whichever you take retired of the bunch, the Amazon Fire TV Stick offers 1 of the champion ways to watercourse content. It's casual to use, there's entree to loads of streaming services, and integration with Alexa's Skills means it does a small much than some.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is apical of the pile. It's faster to navigate astir the idiosyncratic interface and amended future-proofed acknowledgment to quicker Wi-Fi connectivity - but adjacent if you don't person that Wi-Fi 6 router yet past it's acceptable for you went you do.

If you privation the champion from the Fire TV Stick, past the 4K Max is the exemplary you want.

Also consider

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Chromecast with Google TV

It was antecedently hard to urge getting a Chromecast for TV, but this merchandise - acknowledgment to its distant power and idiosyncratic interface - is simply a overmuch much implicit offering.

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Pocket-lint

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Roku Streaming Stick+

It mightiness not connection Wi-Fi 6 speeds, but it volition outgo you a small little - and the wide entree to contented is conscionable arsenic good.

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Writing by Chris Hall. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 24 October 2021.

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