Amazon Fire TV Stick (2020) Review: The Cheapest Amazon Prime Streaming Stick
Amazon currently sells its Fire TV Stick for just $39.99.
Also, the latest Fire TV Stick 4K is only $49.99.
To save you money, they offer bundles that include other Amazon products. You can choose the Fire Stick 4K + Accessories Bundle, priced at $82.97 and including a remote cover, a USB power cable for the stick (eliminates the need for the wired power adapter), and a 1-year complimentary Food Network Kitchen subscription.
You can also get the Fire Stick 4K along with an Echo Dot for $79.98.
Exploring Your Fire Stick TV Options
There aren’t many options to choose from in the Amazon Fire TV Stick catalog, but there is also not much to change on the devices that updates won’t do. In the US, the lineup includes the original 1st Generation Fire TV Stick, Second Generation Fire TV Stick, and the newer Fire TV Stick 4K (also known as the 3rd generation), which was released in 2018. You’ll also find a Basic Edition stick (same as 2nd Generation but no “Alexa-infused” remote) that is basically a stripped-down version for worldwide compatibility.
For remotes, the latest sets like the Fire TV Stick 2nd Gen. (2019) incorporate the newer 2nd Gen. Remote, which is also currently used for the 3rd Gen. set. The remote also has 1st and 2nd Gen. releases. Does this information seem confusing? It is. The original 2nd Generation set’s remote did not include the LED or the power button but did include The Alexa functionality. Now, Amazon doesn’t sell the 1st Gen. Fire TV Stick anymore but offers an updated replacement remote.
Other Cheap Fire Stick Options
Other than buying a new Fire TV Stick at low prices, you can save money by purchasing one of Amazon’s refurbished Fire TV Sticks, assuming you don’t mind those types of products.
Aside from refurbished, discounted Fire Sticks from Amazon, you can shop for used Fire Sticks on eBay, Mercari, and more.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any used Fire Sticks on Amazon except for refurbished models sold directly from Amazon.
This scenario could be due to their buyback system, or people don’t want to deal with the complexity of creating a seller account when they already have eBay or other third-party selling accounts.
Some prefer not to choose refurbished electronic items based on issues they’ve had in the past while others claim they experience no problems at all. Besides, refurbished doesn’t necessarily mean that the product required repairs; It just cannot be sold as new. But, be aware of the risks associated with such a purchase before making your decision.
Amazon also offers Fire TVs in partnership with other companies like Toshiba and Samsung, plus Fire TV cubes and Fire TV boxes.
Fire TV Stick 4K 2018 Specifications
The latest Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K supports 4K HDR video at up to 60fps and it is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core processor. The stick also supports Dolby Atmos surround sound and Alexa voice control through the included Alexa Voice Remote, like the 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV Stick. The only difference with the remote in the 2nd and 3rd Generation Fire Stick models is that Alexa is built into the stick rather than only working with an Alexa-enabled device, as found in the Fire TV Stick Generation 1 remote that communicated with Fire TVs and Echo devices.
Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Latest (2018) features a newer quad-core 1.7GHz CPU
In 2018, Amazon released the Fire TV Stick 4k. Compared to the 2nd Generation model, Fire TV Stick (2018) came with a faster processor, which made it more responsive. The Fire Stick 4K also included upgraded 1.5GB DDR4 RAM compared to older models with 1GB, which helped speed up the responsiveness and actions. Amazon is still selling the same version.
The new, more graphically intensive user interface of the 4k model offsets the performance gain somewhat, but it still feels responsive and zippy, and apps and games launch far quicker than before. Storage includes 8GB of space just like previous Fire TV Stick models.
Perhaps more importantly, though, Fire Stick 4K is super quick to buffer up and it displays Full HD resolution quickly and smoothly, perhaps due to its 4K capabilities. If you ever noticed, a Blu-Ray player usually reads slightly scratched DVDs better than a DVD player, even though it has both DVD and Blu-Ray lenses. Therefore, it only makes sense that a device capable of 4K resolution can easily handle Full HD without much trouble. Regardless, The Fire TV Stick 4K is marginally quicker than Chromecast so you’ll be spending less time twiddling your thumbs and waiting for your favorite TV shows to start.
Fire Stick 4K Design Changes
There was no change to the physical design of the 3rd Gen. 4K stick or the way it’s powered―you still need to power it via a spare micro-USB port on your TV or an adapter that goes into an outlet on the wall, and it’s still a little too wide to squeeze into a crowded bank of HDMI inputs.
Amazon’s Fire TV 4K Stick (Latest) now comes with 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
The new Fire TV Stick has better Wi-Fi, with a 2×2 stream, 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac wireless adapter built-in, which is a huge upgrade over the 1st Gen. Fire Stick’s 802.11 a/b/g/n.
According to Amazon Fire TV Stick specs pages, it shows the same 3rd Gen. Wi-Fi capabilities for the 2nd Gen. stick. You can click the “blue box” dropdown in the link above to view the different Fire Stick models, and you’ll see the differences between the three Fire Stick versions.
Assuming your home network uses the latest Wi-Fi technology, you’re surely going to get a faster, more stable connection from the 4K stick with less buffering while streaming your favorite content.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Models and Specifications
|Fire TV Stick Version||1st Gen. (2014 Version) with Alexa voice remote||2nd Gen. (2016 Version) with Alexa built-in||3rd Gen. (2018 Version) with Alexa built-in|
|Current Price Range||Used items only||From $39.99 and up||From $49.99 and up|
|OS Version||Fire OS 5||Fire OS 5||Fire OS 6|
|CPU/Processor||Broadcom Capri 28155 Dual Core ARM Cortex A9 up to 1 GHz||Mediatek 8127D, Quad-Core ARM 1.3 GHz||MTK8695+MT7668 Quad-Core 1.7 GHz|
|Memory||1GB RAM||1GB RAM||1.5GB RAM|
|Remote with Voice Support||Not originally, but accepts one||Included||Included|
|Resolution||Up to 1080p||Up to 1080p||Up to 4K and 60 fps|
|Wi-Fi Connectivity||Dual-band, dual-antenna, 2×2 Wi-Fi (MIMO), 802.11 a/b/g/n/||Dual-band, dual-antenna, 2×2 Wi-Fi (MIMO), 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac||Dual-band, dual-antenna, 2×2 Wi-Fi (MIMO), 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac|
2nd and 3rd Gen. Fire TV Sticks Feature built-in Alexa voice search
As briefly mentioned before, Amazon has brought its voice assistant, Alexa, to the 2nd Gen. Fire TV Stick (2016) and the 3rd Gen. Fire TV 4K Stick (2018). To deliver Alexa functionality, the remote includes voice-enabled controls.
Not only will this allow you to search for movies, TV, and music using your voice, you’ll also be able to use Alexa to order yourself a pizza, turn your Philips Hue lights on or off, and add things to your Amazon shopping list. Just hold down the microphone button, speak your keyword, and Alexa responds in exactly the same way as it does on an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, except that, since there’s a screen involved, you also get an info card with the spoken response.
How to use Amazon’s Alexa on the Fire TV stick
If you ask Ask Alexa about the weather today, for instance, you’ll also get a seven-day weather forecast displayed onscreen. If you want to know about a specific upcoming football game, the card shows the crest of the two teams involved, complete with the date, time, and location of the match.
You can also control playback via the voice remote. If you’re interrupted during a critical part of your program, it’s now possible to go back several seconds simply by saying “rewind 30 seconds.” Likewise, if you need to resume from a half an hour into a movie, you can also say that, instead of having to fuss around with buttons or dealing with fast-forwarding delays.
Accessing Alexa’s voice-activated features is easy. Just press and hold the Voice button on your Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote or the Fire TV Remote app on your Android or iPhone, and say what you want Alexa to do. Alexa answers back directly through your Fire TV. Many features open in a separate display on your TV screen, so you can see and hear Alexa in action.
One important thing to note about the Fire TV Stick’s Alexa implementation, however, is that it’s not always listening like an Echo or Echo Dot. You have to press and hold the microphone button, but you don’t need to say “Alexa” at all.
When an Alexa display is open on your TV screen, press the Back or Home buttons on your Fire TV remote to return to the previous screen.
The language you can use to control Alexa is also flexible. She’ll respond to “fast-forward five minutes” in the same way she does when you say “skip ahead five minutes”, which makes using it feel much more natural.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 2020 Review: Apps and Content
The one big thing that doesn’t change much with the new Fire TV Stick 4K, or even the 2nd Gen. Fire Stick, is the content. It’s primarily designed as a great, affordable way to watch Amazon Prime content, but there are also loads of 3rd-party apps you can access.
Fire TV Stick 4K Popular Apps
Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix are available, plus YouTube is now officially supported in the US. Furthermore, you’ll find a host of special interest channels.
If you want to stream across your local network, there’s Plex, too, and a selection of apps that let you stream via DLNA and Apple AirPlay sources. A larger part of its appeal, however, resides in its ability to support Kodi.
Fire TV Stick 4K Incompatible Apps
There are, unfortunately, some lacking features in the 4K 3rd Gen. Fire TV Stick’s app capabilities that you need to be aware of. Most notably, the 3rd Gen. model lacks direct support for Google Play Movies, but you can watch those through the now-supported YouTube app.
While you can use the Amazon App Store, you cannot use the Google Play Store, but that is expected since it is an Amazon device. There are possible ways to sideload the Play Store, but it may affect performance and reliability.
The above inconveniences make sense, however, because the apps are from a competitor known as Google. Regardless, it’s a disappointing situation, especially in light of Amazon’s superlative cross-service keyword search capability. Overall, the Fire Stick is an Amazon device. Amazon does try to integrate important applications that many users want, which is why YouTube is now supported directly without sideloading it or using the browser.
Fire Stick 4K Gaming Options
You can also enjoy gaming on the Fire TV Stick, whether you need to entertain children or yourself. There is a wide selection of games available, but remember that this is NOT a game console, so you won’t find the latest AAA titles.
Fire Stick TV Game Controllers
If you add a Fire TV-compatible game controller, your stick becomes a seriously cheap gaming system.
Several Bluetooth Controllers work with Fire TV Sticks, but most, do not work with the latest Fire Stick 4K model. Amazon offered a Fire Stick game controller but has discontinued it. However, the controller did not work with the 3rd Gen. 4K sticks but did perform well on 2nd and 1st Gen. Fire Sticks.
Alphr could not find any controllers that work 100% with the latest Fire Stick 4K model. Some websites list the 4K model as compatible, but customer reviews show that it doesn’t work. Others report that they got a connection, but end up losing it after a few minutes, repeatedly. Furthermore, there have been reports of customers using Dualshock 3 controllers and Xbox 360 controllers for the latest Fire Stick, but there is no evidence that it reliably works.
If you want gaming functionality, you may want to opt for the Fire TV Stick (2nd Generation) model. The controller in the image above works great, at least for now until a future update possibly breaks it.