Amazon Fire TV — All Devices Compared — Which is the Best?

Comparison of all Amazon Firestick devices: Channels\Apps | Features | Costs | User interface | and more…
best amazon firestick vs. amazon fire tv 4k vs. amazon fire tv cube
Published: 19th Aug 2020
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By Rohan Tandon

Rohan is a passionate tech journalist with a degree in English literature. He's worked as a commissi Read More..

1. Summary of Amazon Fire TV Devices

2. Similarities of Amazon Fire TV Devices

3. Differences between Amazon Fire TV Devices

4. Verdict: Which Amazon Fire TV Device Should I Buy?

 

Amazon’s Fire TV is currently one of the most popular and affordable streaming devices on the market. Fire TV’s popularity is obvious — it has built-in reliability and name recognition as Amazon’s primary streaming device. Furthermore, it provides access to popular streaming platforms and channels at the best visual quality.

Additionally, since Fire TV is an Amazon device, it stands to reason that some of their devices come with inbuilt Alexa speakers. As such, you can control your Fire TV and other smart home devices with your voice.

Over the years, Amazon has developed several generations of Fire TV devices. As of writing, there are three Amazon Fire TV devices on the market — Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire TV Cube. While these devices have certain similarities, they differ greatly in content quality, design, and features.

In this article, we provide a detailed comparison of all Amazon Fire TV devices to help you select the best one.


Summary of Amazon Fire TV Streaming Devices

Fire TV Stick — Bare-Bones Excellence

amazon firestick hd

Fire TV Stick is the cheapest Fire TV streaming device. It has an incredibly fast interface and all the regular features, apps, and channels available in the Fire TV OS. However, Fire TV Stick is a bare-bones device without inbuilt Alexa capability and only Full HD video output without HDR — as opposed to Ultra HD video with HDR support.

Fire TV Stick 4K — 4K HDR Minimalism

amazon firestick 4k

Fire TV Stick 4K is a notch above the Fire TV Stick in its functionality. As the name suggests, this streaming device only has one additional feature — better video output. Fire TV Stick 4K supports Ultra HD (4K) video output with HDR (High Dynamic Range) support. However, you’ll also need a 4K HDR-compatible TV to access such high-quality video.

Fire TV Cube — Alexa Streaming Device

amazon fire tv cube with alexa

Fire TV Cube is currently the most advanced of Amazon's streaming devices — perhaps even among all streaming devices, even outside the Amazon ecosystem. Fire TV Cube provides Ultra HD video output with HDR support. Additionally, it also doubles as an Alexa device, allowing you to access far-field voice control. Furthermore, you can use this as a substitute for Alexa devices like Echo Dot.


Similarities of Amazon Fire TV Streaming Devices

OS & Interface

Internal aspects of the Fire TV ecosystem, which include the OS and user interface, remain unchanged across all the Fire TV devices. No matter which Fire TV device you choose, you’ll be able to access all streaming platforms, channels, web browsers, games, etc. Even the menus are designed similarly. The only difference is that the 4K content will play in regular Full HD if you don’t have a 4K HDR-compatible streaming device and TV.

Amazon Fire TV Interface Features

  • Menu: Amazon Fire TVs have complex menus that favor Amazon Prime content. The banner menu features content from Amazon Prime, followed by menus for recommendations, a list of Amazon Prime movies and TV shows, ongoing content, apps, and other menus. The menus are automatic, and you can’t adjust them.
  • Search: You have several means of searching for content — through the search bar, voice search from your remote, voice search from Alexa, or the mobile app. You can search for actors, directors, movies, TV shows, genres, and more. However, most of the recommendations come from Amazon Prime content.
  • Smart Playback: All Amazon Fire TV devices have a smart playback feature, also known as “X-Ray.” You can immediately check all the actors (leads, supporting, or even extras) involved in any scene by just pausing. You also get information on background music. You can tap the Up button on the remote to also access all of those actors’ details and other movie recommendations.
  • Private Listening: All Fire TV devices facilitate private listening with Bluetooth headphones or Bluetooth speakers. You have to go to the Settings menu to pair your Bluetooth device. Once you pair the device, the sound will divert from the soundbar to the paired Bluetooth device, allowing you to listen to content privately.

amazon fire tv fireOS user interface

Remote Control

Previous generations of Fire TV devices had a pretty minimalist remote. It didn’t even include features like a microphone button or the ability to control your TV. As such, you needed two remotes simultaneously — one for the TV and one for the Fire TV device. Initially, the Amazon Fire TV Stick came with the older remote while the newer devices came with the new remote. However, that difference has been nullified. All Fire TV devices now come with the same remote.

Amazon Fire TV Remote Features

  • TV Buttons: The new Amazon Fire TV remote control features TV buttons. The remote automatically syncs to your TV, allowing you to control the TV’s power on/off and volume features with the same remote.
  • Microphone Button: The new Amazon Fire TV remote control also features a microphone button. The microphone connects you to Alexa — you can tap and hold the button to access voice control.

Mobile Apps

All Amazon Fire TV devices come with the same mobile apps for iOS and Android devices. However, the Fire TV app is unanimously buggy and inefficient. Syncing the Fire TV app to the Fire TV device takes time and often fails. Furthermore, the app only serves as another remote without additional features. The only advantage of using the mobile app is that you can search for content by typing on the phone’s keypad, which is often more convenient than using the TV’s keypad through the remote control.

Amazon Fire TV App Features

  • TrackPad: The Fire TV app features a trackpad with which you can navigate the Fire TV interface.
  • Search: You can use the phone’s keypad to search for content.

amazon fire tv smartphone app


Differences Between Amazon Fire TV Devices

Design

The Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K have the typical streaming stick style — they look like USB devices. The Fire TV Stick measures 3.3 x 1.0 inches. The Fire TV Stick 4K measures 4.0 x 1.2 inches.

The Fire TV Cube transforms the aesthetic. As the name suggests, this device is a cube measuring 3.4 inches each side. As an Alexa device, the Fire TV Cube also has an LED light at the top that glows blue when voice control is activated.

Summary

  • Fire TV Stick: 3.3 x 1.0 inches
  • Fire TV Stick 4K: 4.0 x 1.2 inches
  • Fire TV Cube: 3.4 square inches

Installation

The two Firestick devices (Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K) have a pretty simple installation. You can connect them to the TV’s HDMI port and lead a small USB cable to the TV’s USB port for power.

In some cases, the TV’s USB port may not have sufficient power for the Firesticks. In that case, you’ll have to connect the Fire TV devices to another power outlet via the provided USB cable and adapter. Connecting the devices to an independent wall outlet will also provide a smoother interface.

Fire TV Cube is an advanced Fire TV device with a hexa-core processor and inbuilt Alexa. As such, it needs a lot more power than the Firesticks, which means the TV's USB port will be insufficient. This means that Fire TV Cube must be connected to an independent power outlet at all times.

Fire TV Cube may also need greater internet speed because it processes 4K HDR content. As such, it’s the only Fire TV device that comes with an ethernet adapter and ethernet cable. You can connect Fire TV Cube through an ethernet connection if you need more speed.

Summary

  • Fire TV Stick: Independent Power Outlet/TV USB Port
  • Fire TV Stick 4K: Independent Power Outlet/TV USB Port
  • Fire TV Cube: Independent Power Outlet

Video Quality

The Fire TV Stick supports maximum Full HD video output with no HDR support. The Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube support Ultra HD 4K video output with HDR support. That’s the key difference between the three devices in terms of video quality.

Full HD and Ultra HD refer to the video’s resolution. The latter accommodates a lot more pixels than Full HD, resulting in far sharper videos with greater overall clarity.

HDR (High Dynamic Range) relates to the content’s contrast and color vibrancy. HDR content has greater depth, with deeper shadows and brighter highlights. It also has a greater gamut of colors, providing clearer and more natural images.

It’s also worth noting that Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube are currently the only two streaming devices compatible with the complete range of HDR formats, including HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision. Most other streaming devices max out at HDR10.

However, Fire TV is also compatible with Dolby Vision, which is far superior to all other formats. HDR10, for example, supports 4,000 nits peak brightness and 10-bit color depth, while Dolby Vision supports 10,000 nits peak brightness and 12-bit color depth.

Both Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube are incredibly future-proofed.

However, you can only access such brilliant content standards if you have a compatible TV. Your Fire TV devices will only provide Ultra HD and HDR content if you have a 4K HDR-compatible TV with an HDMI capable of 2160p and HDCP 2.2 port.

If your TV maxes at 1080p, you’re better off with a Fire TV Stick.

Summary

  • Fire TV Stick: Full HD
  • Fire TV Stick 4K: Ultra HD + HDR (HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision)
  • Fire TV Cube: Ultra HD + HDR (HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision)

Audio Quality

The Fire TV Stick supports Dolby Audio. The Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube support Dolby Atmos.

Just as Dolby Vision is the gold-standard in HDR support, Dolby Atmos is the gold-standard in audio output. Dolby Atmos creates a theatrical moving soundscape experience that envelops you.

As such, Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube are future-proofed in the audio department as well. However, you’ll need a Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar to experience the enhanced audio quality.

If you don’t have Dolby Atmos support, you’re better off with a Fire TV Stick.

Summary

  • Fire TV Stick: Dolby Audio
  • Fire TV Stick 4K: Dolby Audio
  • Fire TV Cube: Dolby Atmos

Storage

Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K include 8GB storage space. Fire TV Cube includes 16GB storage space.

The storage space is necessary because you have to download apps for different programs to your streaming device. However, most people don’t need to concern themselves with the storage space because most apps don’t consume too much space.

Summary

  • Fire TV Stick: 8GB
  • Fire TV Stick 4K: 8GB
  • Fire TV Cube: 16GB

Alexa Support

Alexa support is yet another significant factor when choosing a Fire TV device. The Firesticks don’t have inbuilt Alexa. Fire TV Cube, however, doubles as an Alexa device.

You should, however, note that all Fire TV devices have full Alexa integration. Even the Firesticks are compatible with Alexa devices such as Echo Dot and Echo Show. Once you connect them to an Alexa device, you can control the Fire TV device, or other smart devices, with voice command.

However, the Fire TV Cube has an inbuilt Alexa receiver, which means you don’t need to get another Alexa device. The Fire TV Cube will allow you to control your Fire TV through voice command, and it will also fulfill all other smart home functions, like controlling your smart lights, thermostats, and other smart devices.

If you already have an Alexa speaker, the Fire TV Cube will be redundant. However, if you don’t already have an Alexa device, the Fire TV Cube will be incredibly useful.

Summary

  • Fire TV Stick: No Inbuilt Alexa
  • Fire TV Stick 4K: No Inbuilt Alexa
  • Fire TV Cube: Inbuilt Alexa Speaker

Quick Comparison of Amazon Fire TV Streaming Device

Fire TV Stick

Fire TV Stick 4K

Fire TV Cube

Specifications

Picture Quality

Full HD

Ultra HD + HDR (HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision)

Ultra HD + HDR (HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision)

Audio Quality

Dolby Audio

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos

Storage

8 GB

8 GB

16 GB

Processor

Quad-Core

Quad-Core

Hexa-Core

Wireless Connectivity

802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi

802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi

802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi

Ethernet Adapter

x

x

OS

Search

Remote + Voice + App

Remote + Voice + App

Remote + Voice + App

X-Ray

Private Listening with Bluetooth Headphones

Voice Control

Inbuilt Alexa

x

x

Far-field Voice Control

x

x

Alexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen)

Remote Control

Voice Search

TV Buttons

Mobile Apps

iOS & Android App

Keypad Search

TrackPad

Cost

$29.99

$49.99

$99.99


Verdict: Which Amazon Fire TV Device Should I Buy?

The key differences between the Amazon Fire TV devices can be summarized as such:

  • Fire TV Stick: Full HD + Dolby Audio
  • Fire TV Stick 4K: Ultra HD + HDR + Dolby Atmos
  • Fire TV Cube: Ultra HD + HDR + Dolby Atmos + Alexa Speaker

As you can see, there’s a clear trajectory of evolution between the Amazon Fire TV devices, each adding yet another key feature or functionality. However, most of these added functionalities are also dependent on other factors and hardware.

You should get a Fire TV Stick if:

  • You only need core streaming features.
  • You don’t need Ultra HD and HDR content.
  • Your current TV doesn’t support Ultra HD & HDR content.
  • You don’t need Dolby Atmos surround sound.
  • Your current soundbar doesn’t support Dolby Atmos.
  • You already have an Alexa speaker.
  • You have budgetary constraints.

You should get a Fire TV Stick 4K if:

  • You have a 4K HDR-compatible TV with HDMI HDCP 2.2 port.
  • You have a Dolby Atmos-compatible speaker system.
  • You want the best video and audio quality possible.
  • You already have an Alexa speaker.

You should get a Fire TV Cube if:

  • You have a 4K HDR-compatible TV with HDMI HDCP 2.2 port.
  • You have a Dolby Atmos-compatible speaker system.
  • You want the best video and audio quality possible.
  • You also need an Alexa speaker for your smart home.

If you follow these guidelines and assess your needs carefully, you’ll find the perfect Amazon Fire TV device for your needs.

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