Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K: Best Device for Cord Cutters

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In this review, we will discuss all the ins and outs of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, and whether it is a viable solution if you are currently planning to finally cut the cord and are looking for an affordable but high-quality streaming solution to access your OTT content.

The Amazon Fire TV 4K is among the most affordable 4K OTT streamers: you only need to spend less than $50 and you can enjoy 4K content right away, without needing to pay that expensive cable TV subscriptions. Better yet, the Fire Stick 4K supports HDR10 Dolby Vision, includes a very intuitive advanced remote, and being an Amazon product, native integration with Alexa.

So, is the Fire Stick 4K being too good to be true? Or is it really worth the hype? Let us answer those questions together in this review.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K: Overview

Resolution: Up to 4K

HDR support: HDR10, HLG, HDR10+, Dolby Vision

Connections: USB, HDMI

Dimensions: 10.8 x 3 x 1.4cm

Weight: 54g

Amazon used to offer a pretty wide selection for its streaming products, but quite recently streamlined its product lineup into just two products: the standard Amazon Fire TV Stick, and the Fire TV Stick 4K, although there’s also the premium Amazon Fire TV Cube. Just a few days ago, Amazon added an even more affordable Fire TV Stick Lite.

As the name suggests, the Fire TV Stick 4K is the only one of the three that supports 4K (2160p) content, which is its main selling point. Considering it is sold for below $50, the Fire TV Stick 4K is one of the most affordable streaming solutions that supports 4K.

If you are familiar with Amazon’s past products, the Fire TV Stick 4K is a direct replacement for the Amazon Fire TV streaming box from back in 2017. So, you can directly access OTT services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube TV as well as OTT TV platforms like Sling TV, fuboTV, and more. As a side note, Google and Amazon used to have a feud back in April 2019, and back then YouTube TV was not available on Fire TV Stick products. However, the â€ban’ has been lifted and now YouTube TV is available on all Amazon products.

Yet, keep in mind that although Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K does support third-party streaming platforms, it is mainly optimized for Amazon Prime Videos.

Below, we will dig deeper into the features offered by the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Cost

The Fire TV Stick 4K is offered at $49.99, $10 more expensive than the standard Fire TV Stick, and $20 more expensive than the recently introduced Fire TV Stick Lite.

However, out of the three, the Fire TV Stick 4K is the only one offering 4K capabilities, while also supporting HDR and Dolby Vision, sought-after 4K formats.

To compare with the competitors’ products that also supports 4K resolution, Roku Streaming Stick+ is also priced at $50, while Apple TV 4K starts from $179.

So, the Amazon Fire Stick TV 4K is priced reasonably well and is among the most affordable streaming solutions that offer 4K streaming (not counting cheap, low quality, and/or knockoff products). If cost is your main consideration, then the Fire TV Stick 4K is definitely a winner.

Installation and Ease of Use

If you are an Amazon Prime (can link to older AmazonPrime article?) or Prime Video member, then installing the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is going to be a breeze. In fact, you can order a Fire TV stick 4K via your Prime membership account, and the Fire TV stick will ship with your Prime credential already set on the unit. In this case, your Fire TV Stick 4K would be virtually plug-and-play, a great convenience.

Even if you are not ordering with your Prime account, however, setting up the Fire TV Stick 4K is still very easy to do: simply plug the Fire Stick TV 4K to your TV’s USB slot and turn them on. The first time you boot the Fire TV Stick 4K, you’ll get a step-by-step pointer on how to set up your stick, and tutorials on how to search for apps and content. This is actually a pretty helpful and intuitive tutorial.

Again, worth noting is that Amazon actively promotes Amazon Prime Videos with their Fire TV products, and the Fire TV Stick 4K is no exception. The Amazon Prime Video branding is really prominent on the home screen, and you’ll get ads for Prime Video content from time to time. These ads are pretty bearable, however, and shouldn’t be a dealbreaker even if you are not planning to subscribe to Amazon Prime Videos.

Content

This is probably going to be your main consideration in purchasing a streaming stick.

Fire TV Stick 4K, fortunately, supports all streaming apps most people use, including but not limited to:

  • Netflix: everyone’s favorite OTT streaming platform with thousands of shows and movies including Netflix-exclusive content
  • Sling TV: a popular OTT streaming television due to its budget-friendly plans and the ability to watch local channels like ABC, Fox, NBC, and others, depending on your location
  • fuboTV: the popular sports-focused OTT platform, great for sports fans but also offers live TV and local TV content
  • Kodi: the open-source media center platform
  • YouTubeTV: YouTube’s take on live TV streaming service that is gaining popularity in recent years. As briefly discussed above, Fire TV Stick used to not support YouTube TV back in early 2019, but the issue has since been resolved.

Also, remember that Amazon does support HDR10 and Dolby Vision (and Dolby Atmos audio), and you can get HD and 4K content from Netflix, YouTube (and YouTube TV), Apple TV, Disney+, Sling TV, and obviously Amazon Prime Video, among others. Most 4K shows you’ll get are offered by Prime Video and Netflix at the moment.

Although as you can see, you can access virtually all popular streaming platforms on the Fire TV Stick 4K, the whole interface of the Fire TV stick (more on this below) and the home search functionality is biased towards Amazon Prime Video. To search for content from third-party platforms, you’d have to open the respective app.

Overall, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is versatile enough in the content department. The interface’s bias towards Prime Video might take some time getting used to, but shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Interface

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K’s interface is relatively ad-heavy (especially for Prime) and might be too cluttered if you haven’t got used to it.

However, if you do have Amazon Prime Video, the Fire TV Stick’s interface is natively optimized to Amazon’s service, and the Prime Video’s content is intuitively curated in the home section. So, it’s a bit of a dilemma: for Prime Video, the Fire TV Stick is simply the best, interface-wise, but for other platforms like Sling TV or Netflix, for example, the interface might be a little too busy.

A great thing about the Fire TV Stick’s interface is the suggestion feature. It’s really intuitive in suggesting new content for the users. While, as you might have guessed, it mainly suggested Prime Video content, you will also get suggestions from other platforms you’ve subscribed to.

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t provide us with the ability to customize/filter these suggestions. It works well most of the time, just doesn’t provide you with that extra personalization.

All in all, pretty good interface. Can be too cluttered at times especially when you are not using Prime Video, but is manageable.

Remote

Another great thing offered by the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is the voice-enabled, advanced remote. The voice-enabled feature is actually not just a gimmick, since being an Amazon product, the Fire TV Stick’s remote is natively integrated with Alexa (as we know, one of the most advanced and most popular smart assistants in the world today.)

It does the core function of an advanced remote really well like using voice command to instantly find content, but the key highlight here is the Alexa integration: you can do things like asking Alexa for the weather, latest sports scores, read the news, and more while you are browsing for the next content to watch.

Works with 2 AAA batteries (included), a pretty decent remote, but the native Alexa integration brought it to the next level.

Integration

As discussed, a huge plus point for the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (and any Amazon’s hardware in that regard) is the native Alexa integration. However, that’s not the only integration the Fire TV Stick 4K offers.

First, there’s the Amazon Appstore that offers useful apps and games besides your standard apps for streaming platforms (Netflix, YouTube, etc). You can play various Android-based games directly on your TV, which might be a great feature if you have children, and you can also use useful apps like VPNs (more on this laters), Allcast for Fire TV, and Downloader.

If that’s not enough, since Fire TV Stick’s Fire OS is an Android-based OS, you can actually install apps that are not available on Amazon Appstore, which is known as sideloading. This is mainly done by using the Downloader app that we have briefly mentioned above.

Sideloading is actually pretty easy to do on Fire TV Stick 4K (or any Fire OS devices for that matter), and you can do it with the following steps:

  1. Go to Settings and My Fire TV, then go to Developer Options
  2. Then, go to Install Unknown Apps option, find Downloader, and toggle its setting to ON
  3. Open the Downloader App on your Fire TV, and click Allow when it asked to allow access to files on your device
  4. Google the APK file for the app you’d want to install, then enter the URL for where the APK file is located on the Downloader app. Use your remote to find the download link and click
  5. Install APK when it’s properly downloaded with your remote
  6. Voila! The app is now installed. You can now delete the APK file if you want to save space. The installed app should shos on your Fire TV’s list of apps, or you can hold the Home button on your Fire TV remote and select Apps

With Amazon Appstore and the sideloading ability, Fire TV Stick 4K is among the best streaming solutions when we’re talking about versatility and third-party integration. You can, for example, use the sideloading functionality to install third-party IPTV services that are otherwise unavailable to enrich your content.

Security and VPN

An important trend in OTT TV streaming is using a VPN on top of the OTT streaming solution, which will mainly provide two key advantages. The first is to provide an extra layer of security: you are streaming your content over the internet, so VPN can help protect your sensitive data and let you surf and stream anonymously.

The second is that using a VPN allows you to virtually â€change’ your location so now you can access content that is geo-locked in your location. For example, by using a VPN to change your location to Japan, you can access content from Netflix Japan that is not available in your country.

This is where the Fire TV Stick 4K shines again. Not only there are plenty of VPNs available in the Amazon Appstore that is compatible with Fire Stick 4K, but again you can use sideloading to install your favorite VPN if it’s not available in Amazon Appstore.

Here are some recommended VPNs that support Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K:

1.ExpressVPN

Available on Amazon Appstore: Yes

Devices supported: 5

Server locations/countries: 160 locations, 95 countries, 3,000 servers

Content unblocking: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu

One of the most popular VPN apps available today due to its reliability with 3,000 servers and very fast connection, and versatility with servers in 160 locations and 95 countries. Express VPN has its own dedicated FIre TV app version, which can be navigated with your included remote.

ExpressVPN is certainly not the cheapest, starting from $6.67/month, but it does offer very reliable service, complete with 24/7 live chat support. When you launch the ExpressVPN app on your Fire TV, it will immediately recommend the best server location that will provide the best connection speed for you, which is really handy.

Based on our tests with the FireTV app, ExpressVPN successfully unblocks Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and also other OTT platforms. Also unique to ExpressVPN is that it provides a MediaStreamer DNS service that supports FireTV, which will allow you to unblock content even when you don’t turn on the VPN.

Express VPN offers a 30-day free trial with a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.

2.IPVanish

Available on Amazon Appstore: Yes

Devices supported: unlimited

Server locations/countries: 75+locations, 50+ countries, 1,500+ servers

Content unblocking: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube

Another great option, IPVanish is known for its really vast and reliable connection, with 1,500+servers in 75 locations and 50 countries. Similar to Express VPN, there’s also a dedicated Fire TV app for IPVanish that you can download right away from the Amazon Appstore.

It’s pretty basic with its features when compared to ExpressVPN, but there are some handy features like automatic IP switching and automatic server optimization, and was successful in unblocking Netflix, Prime Video, Hulu, and YouTube in our tests.

Slightly more affordable than Express VPN, starting at $5.20/month, and also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3.NordVPN

Available on Amazon Appstore: Yes

Devices supported: 6

Server locations/countries: 80+locations, 59 countries, 5,400+ servers

Content unblocking: Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, BBC iPlayer

A very reliable VPN, very fast speeds especially in shorter distances, although it’s also pretty reliable in longer connections with over 5,400 servers to choose from in 59 countries.

Also offers its own app version for Fire TV that is available on Amazon Appstore, NordVPN is especially a good choice if your concern is security. NordVPN offers double data encryption– where your connection is filtered by two separate VPN servers and supports all major security protocols.

It is more affordable than both ExpressVPN and IPVanish, starting from $3.71/month for its 24-month plan, but its monthly plan is expensive, starting at $11.95/month. In our tests, it can also unblock Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and iPlayer with success.

A great choice if you plan to invest long-term in a VPN due to the affordable 2-year plan.

Pros and Cons of Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Based on the factors we have discussed above, here are the pros and cons of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Pros:

  • One of the most affordable 4K streaming solutions available today
  • Supports 4K with HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos as standard audio quality
  • Native integration with Amazon Alexa
  • Optimized for Amazon Prime Video, so it should be your choice if subscribe to and primarily watch from Prime Video
  • Great menu navigation and reliable Wi-Fi Streaming
  • Intuitive interface with a great suggestion feature

Cons:

  • No Google Play apps and not all Android apps are available in Amazon Playstore, although you can use sideloading to tackle this issue
  • Doesn’t include an ethernet adapter
  • Biased towards Amazon Prime Video in its interface and built-in promotions

Verdict

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is among the most affordable 4K streaming solution available in the market today and is 100% the best choice if you are planning to watch your content from Amazon Prime Video. However, it also supports all major OTT live streaming services and live TV services like Netflix, Sling TV, fuboTV, Hulu, HBO Go, and others.

Another key advantage to the Fire TV Stick 4K is the native Alexa Integration, turning your TV into a functional smart home assistant. There are plenty of third-party apps on Amazon Appstore than can enrich your experience, and if they are still not enough, you can also use sideloading to install APKs that are not available on Amazon Appstore.

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