Comparison l January 8, 2019

Amazon Fire Stick vs Fire Stick 4K: What's the difference?

So, this is the new Fire TV 4K streaming stick. Just like previous gen version its slick hardware is small enough to hide behind your TV and provide you with a premium TV experience in 4K for 10$ for more dollars. The only competition for 4K is Apple TV and it’s expensive. How good is the new Fire TV stick? Here’s everything you need to know about the new Amazon Fire TV 4K stick.

1. Fire TV stick 4K is bigger in size than previous generation. Which makes sense, because it not only supports 4K but also packs with better Bluetooth 5.0 (vs 4.1 on the current Stick) and 50% more buffer memory. Though there is one downside - this 10cm-long Fire TV Stick 4K will protrude from the edge of many wall-mounted TVs; thankfully, you can fix that with HDMI extender that comes in the box.

Overall, the new stick is significantly bigger as it offers better performance. So much so, Amazon claims the new dongle is 80 percent faster than the standard Fire TV Stick, but how good is their claim? Well, let’s test it.

Here, I’ll factory reset both of devices and test them on the same television.

Results: As you can see, the new Fire TV 4K stick is definitely faster than the previous generation, although, there is no way to tell if it’s 80% faster.

2. While the Fire stick supports 4K, finding Ultra HD content on Amazon Prime Video or Netflix isn’t going to be easy, as there are no separate categories for 4K or HDR content. Thankfully, you can search for 4K content using the Alexa remote. For example, you say: “Alexa, show me movies available in 4K” and then it will show you the ones available in 4K.

Though do keep in mind, streaming in 4K requires more bandwidth and, in the case of Netflix, a more expensive plan. Amazon recommends 15Mbps as ample for 4K streaming, while YouTube and Netflix recommend 20Mbps.

3. Besides 4K, perhaps, the biggest improvement is the Alexa remote, The power button on the remote can not only turn on the TV, but it also has a volume control that was missing in the previous gen Fire stick. And that’s not just it. The new Fire TV 4K stick can automatically switch the current HDMI input.

For example, say my TV is ON and someone before me, was watching live cable TV. Now, all I do is click the home button on the Alexa remote and the remote switches the receiver to the correct fire stick! There is no need to touch the TV remote at all.

And not just that, with HDMI-CEC correctly setup, you can issue a single voice command to turn on your TV, turn on the Fire TV Stick 4K and start playing an episode of, say, Jack Ryan.  

4. So, these were the thing that has improved in Fire stick 4K, however, one thing that no one is talking about it is screen mirroring. Yes, the mirroring features in the previous gen Fire stick weren’t all that great, but, as it turns out, Amazon has completely removed the screen mirroring option in the latest Fire stick which is in 4K. So, if mirroring is something you need, you better stick with the old Fire stick or go for Chromecast.

5. That said, few things still remain the same, for example, YouTube. Fire TV is the only major platform that doesn't support YouTube TV. Though, you can get it working by using Firefox and Silk browser, just like the previous generation of Fire stick.

6. Another thing that remains the same is the Voice control with.

Now, this might sound confusing to some of you, as Amazon advertises the new Fire TV 4K stick with all new Alexa voice remote which lets you ask for weather (like, say: “Alexa, what’s the weather in London?”), or general navigation commands (“Alexa, launch Netflix”).

But then again, with new software updates, all of these features also work on old Fire TV sticks as well. We tested it on old Fire stick and it worked just as fine as it did with the new Fire stick 4K.

Overall, the new Fire TV 4K stick is a much faster dongle with 4K/HDR support and the much-needed power and volume control on the Alexa remote. The only thing you are missing out on is the screen mirroring feature altogether. It was a little bit buggy but it doesn’t mean that it should be removed altogether.

So, if you are considering buying a 4K streaming device, be it Apple TV or Fire TV stick, I would recommend going with Fire TV stick 4K, because it’s only $50.

While you’re at it, check out Smart DNS Proxy if you’re keen to unblock geo-restricted content on sites like Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Video. There’s plenty of other sites you can unblock, especially in 4K.

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