There’s little to say about the design if you’re familiar with the Fire TV Stick. It looks the same–although 23 mm longer–and has the same microUSB connector for power and comes with a short HDMI extension in case your TV design does not allow the Stick 4 K to directly connect to an HDMI input.
Since the processor in the Stick 4 K is 80 percent faster than the non-4 K Stick, trying to power it from one of the USB ports on your TV is not recommended. Amazon bundles a power adapter and a microUSB cable in the box. You may need to use a USB extension cable or buy a longer microUSB cable, so it’s not very long.
There is built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but this one has a redesigned internal antenna that is optimized to stream 4 K video unlike the cheaper Fire TV Stick. If for some reason you are unable to use Wi-Fi, the optional Ethernet adapter will need to be purchased.
Probably the most interesting part of the design is the new remote. You’re holding down a mic button to talk to Alexa. That’s not new, of course, but there are the power and volume buttons. These are configured to use infrared during setup to control your TV or sound bar and make the remote much more useful.
About HDR content
Amazon has added up to 60 frames per second, not just 4 K support. It also supports HDR10+ and Dolby Vision as well as the less demanding standard HDR10, plus HLG for television broadcasting. HDR10+ is specific to some Samsung TVs, but the point here is that it supports all existing HDR standards.
Plus, the Stick 4 K supports the cheaper version of Dolby Atmos. Of course, if you want to hear it, the appropriate surround-sound system atmosphere will need to be attached to your TV.
You can ask Alexa to show 4 K shows and movies, but a 4 K section for Prime Video is also available on the main interface. Admittedly, it is exclusively populated with originals from Amazon but there are still plenty of good things to watch including the Grand Tour, Bosch and Lost in Space.
Asking Alexa for 4 K TV shows and movies will also bring results from Netflix, but in order to access 4 K Netflix you will have to pay for the top-tier subscription.
The biggest source of free 4 K content is YouTube, and although the ongoing feud between Amazon and Google still causes problems, it is perfectly possible to use and watch YouTube on the 4 K Fire TV Stick. You will be prompted to select a web browser: Firefox or Amazon’s own Silk browser when you first launch the YouTube.com app (after installing it from the app store).
The good news is that the normal web interface doesn’t end up with you: it’s like the usual YouTube app. You can log in and see all your subscriptions to your account, so everything works as you would expect. But there’s no way for those in the U.S. to access YouTube TV, which might be a deal-breaker.
With iPlayer andiTV Hub, all4, UKTV Play, Demand 5, and Disney Life, you’re fine for all the other apps. There is no British catch-up television in 4 K, but it’s not the fault of Amazon.
Amazon is to blame for the unnecessary amount of self promotions and space dedicated to Amazon’s shows and advertising services, plus real advertising like the Porsche strip below. The Stick 4 K is designed as a portal for Prime Video, Prime Music and others. The pure space for Amazon ads, however, begins to be grated quickly.
Navigate the FireTV interface smoothly and the quad-center processor will definitely do a great job. The Amazon Prime 4 K video streams start with you quickly, and don’t hesitate to ask Alexa “save two minutes ahead,” or “go back 30 seconds.” Of course, picture and audio quality will vary from factor to factor, but you’re thoroughly impressed with a fast internet connection and good TV. The Grand Tour in UHD HDR, for example, seems incredible.
You may wonder why you really need the 4 K Fire TV Stick. After all, most 4 K televisions have apps like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime. If your TV can do that, yes, there isn’t really a big deal in the Fire Stick’s shelling. Do not overlook, however, the advantages that Alexa brings in terms of rapid content search and playback control. Some TVs are stronger, and your TV processor may be too slow to be satisfied when browsing YouTube or Amazon Prime Video. It could not be 4 K reliable and it can be worth spending the amount on the 4 K Fire Stick in all these cases