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Oct222021

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max - should you buy it?

Category: Comparison

 

Okay, Amazon recently released the $55 Fire TV Stick 4K Max recently. We couldn’t wait to test it.

Now, for people who are new, there are four major upgrades in the new Firestick 4K Max:

- 40% more powerful than Fire TV Stick 4K - so your app should open faster and navigation should feel smooth.

- It packs 500MB more RAM compared to Fire TV Stick 4K - so you don’t have to wait for apps to completely reload as often.

- It now comes with Wi-Fi 6 - so assuming you’ve got a router that supports Wi-Fi 6, you should get more internet speed.

- And finally, you get a newer Alexa voice remote with quick access buttons - so it should be easier for you to navigate between popular apps like Netflix, Prime Video, etc.

Now, these are all the claims made by Amazon. But here at Smart DNS Proxy, we are not going to take Amazon word for it, rather we’re going to test it independently and will also compare it with similarly priced streaming sticks.

So, after the end of this video, you will know - if AMAZON FIRE TV STICK 4K MAX is really worth the extra $5 or should you rather go with AMAZON FIRE TV STICK 4K.

Without any further ado, let’s begin.

Unboxing

Before we test it, let’s quickly compare the specs of Firestick 4K vs Firestick 4K Max.

But specs are spec, we need to test the real-world performance, so let’s see what you get in the box.

The content is pretty much similar to any Firestick, you get the Firestick 4k max - which is exactly the same looking as the regular Fire TV Stick 4K. The only thing that differentiates them is that, the older Fire TV Stick 4K only has the Amazon "smile arrow" logo, while the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has a smaller version of that 'smile' with the 'Fire TV' branding above it.

Now, what we really didn’t like is, still no type USB-C port in 2021. I mean Amazon, come on. A Micro USB port in 2021? Really? On the brighter side, all your older Firestick accessories will work with this too.

Moving on with the unboxing, you get a new remote, which is definitely bigger and has way more button than older Firestick 4K remote. We’ll come to that in a bit.

Then you have a standard micro USB cable and a HDMI extender. And, of course, there are also batteries and a wall adapter.

Okay, now that we know what we get in the box, let’s quickly set up the Firestick.

To do so, simply plug the Fire TV Stick 4K Max into a free HDMI port on your TV, power it on, from the nearby USB port, or it’s recommended to power Firestick from a nearby wall adapter because it delivers more power, now put the batteries into the remote, and you will see the regular Firestick setup screen, from here you can simply click on next and setup the Firestick.

Okay now that we have everything setup, let’s see what’s new in the Firestick 4K Max one by one. And the first thing we want to talk about is the UI experience and performance.

UI and Performance

The interface is completely redesigned for this new Firestick and instead of yellow and blue theme, you get this premium looking gold accented UI that looks ultra-premium.

And apart from looks, Amazon claims that the new Firestick 4K Max is 40% more powerful than Fire TV Stick 4K -  Thanks to its more powerful CPU, GPU, and additional RAM. So, let’s put it to test.

Both sticks stream at 4K UHD at 60 fps, and both support the high-end video quality Dolby Vision, HDR 10 and HDR10+ formats, which should ensure stronger and bolder colors.

To test them in similar situations, we tried opening similar apps on both Firestick 4K and 4K Max and check the boot time, and here are the results.

YouTube opens considerably faster on the newer Firestick. And the same is the case with Prime Video or Netflix, the extra RAM does make the whole experience much smoother.

Now, it also has Wi-Fi 6, but since we don’t have a Wi-Fi 6 router at hand (and neither do most people as of now) we can’t test the Wi-Fi speed difference right now.

Remote

Okay, so the performance is certainly better than the older Firestick. The next major upgrade is the remote.

So, if you see the old Firestick remote side by side with the new Firestick 4K Max remote, the voice assistant button is now blue and has an Alexa logo.

And you’ll also find four branded shortcuts for Prime Video, Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu. You can reprogram them just like you did with the Shield TV remote, using a button mapper app – check out our previous video on that!

Rest, you get the usual buttons like home, go back, pause, play, etc.

FireOS 7

The newer Stick 4K Max ships with the current FireOS 7. Here are couple of things that have changed in the FireOS 7.

So, you get the regular banner ads on the home screen and it’s a bit too intrusive this time. It’s possible to get rid of them, if you install ad blocking DNS like Pi-hole but most people will never do it, so let’s skip that for now.

Also, if you have a Dolby Atmos compatible soundbar, you will be glad to know, Netflix now supports Dolby Atmos in FireOS 7. For some absurd reason, Netflix has decided that only devices running FireOS 7 will support Dolby Atmos in Netflix, even though there are plenty of apps supporting Dolby Atmos on Fire OS 6 devices. We’ll leave link to the aftvnews news article for more info.

Another new thing we notice in the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is now, you can set your home camera is a picture-in-picture view, which is not possible in older Firestick. However, I think, Amazon can push this update in older Firesticks as well.

Okay, who should buy it?

Well, before we come to that, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Firestick 4K Max.

Well, it’s definitely faster, and the remote is definitely an improvement. There’s also future-proofing with Wi-Fi 6, but most people still don’t have Wi-Fi 6 router to take advantage of the extra speed.

But on the cons side, there’s still no USB-C type port, the ads are slightly more noticeable.

Now, coming back, should you buy it or not?

Well, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K cost $49.99, while the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is just $5 more expensive than it. For that extra $5 - you get good performance and future-proofing with Wi-Fi 6, So, it’s an easy recommendation for most people.

However, during the upcoming Black Friday sale, if you get a better deal on Firestick 4K and the price difference is more than $12- $15, then get the Firestick 4K instead.

What is your opinion? Please, let us know in the comments section.

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