While watching movies and shows from your desktop browser or your phone can be convenient, only streaming media players can give you optimal viewing experiences. And Amazon Fire TV is one of the best options available if you’re in the market for streaming media players. The question is, which Amazon Fire TV device should you get, and how does Amazon Fire TV stand out from the competition?
This post gives you a detailed breakdown of everything you need to know about Amazon Fire TV devices so you can make an informed decision.
What is the Amazon Fire TV?
Fire TV is Amazon’s line of streaming media devices. They connect to your TV using an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port and display content from the internet on your TV screen. So it converts a regular TV into a smart TV, providing you with access to hundreds of streaming apps such as Hulu, Netflix, Prime Video, and Sling TV.
That means you can take advantage of your TV’s superior display to watch your favorite movies and shows as well as live TV programming. Keep in mind that having an Amazon Fire TV device doesn’t automatically give you access to services that require a subscription. Just like your TV doesn’t automatically let you watch cable without a subscription, you still need to pay for those streaming services to access them on your Amazon Fire TV device.
What are the differences between Amazon Fire TV models?
Currently, you can choose between three Amazon Fire TV models – Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Fire TV Cube. Although these three options have the same basic function, there are slight variations in additional functionality and design. This puts them at varying price points, so there’s a good chance you’ll find something to fit your budget.
Functionality of Amazon Fire devices
Functionality is where there’s a major difference between the three Amazon Fire TV devices. The most basic model, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, supports High-Definition (HD) streaming and Dolby Audio. But the other two models will let you watch videos in 4K Ultra HD and High-Dynamic Range (HDR) with Dolby Atmos audio, provided your TV comes with those features.
All three devices come with an Alexa-enabled remote, which allows you to control your streams using voice commands. But the remotes for the 4K Stick and the Cube come with a few additional functions such as dedicated buttons to change the volume, mute, or power on/off your TV. In addition, the Fire TV Cube has a built-in microphone so you can use voice commands to control it even if you don’t have the remote in hand.
Design of the Amazon Fire devices
In terms of design, the Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick 4K are essentially the same. They look somewhat like a flash drive and plugin directly to your HDMI port. But the Fire TV Cube, as the name suggests, is more like a cube-shaped set-top box that needs a separate HDMI cable to connect to your TV.
Prices of Amazon Fire devices
When it comes to price points, the Fire TV Stick costs the least as it offers the most basic functionality. It only costs $39.99, while the Fire TV Stick 4K will set you back around $49.99. But the price variation isn’t too drastic, especially considering that the Fire TV Stick 4K offers superior picture quality. The Fire TV Cube, on the other hand, costs about the same as some of the high-end Apple TV devices at $119.99.
How do they differ from competitors?
With comparable features and price points, the Amazon Fire TV devices don’t differ too much from other streaming media players. But you can still find some things that make them different from the competition and therefore, possibly more desirable to some people.
Since these three devices are Amazon products, the user interface puts an emphasis on other Amazon services. For instance, the menu highlights channels like Prime Music and Prime Video so that you don’t miss them. This makes Amazon Fire TV devices excellent choices for those who already subscribe to other Amazon services.
In addition, Amazon Fire TV devices have a more robust collection of gaming channels for advanced players compared to the competition. For instance, the Roku channel offers cutesy games like Bubble Shooter and Rainbow Dash. Amazon, on the other hand, provides options that would also appeal to hardcore gamers, including Badland, Machinarium, Minecraft,and Star Wars, among a few.
Fire TV features
Allows up to 4K HDR streaming
The main function of Amazon Fire TV devices is streaming high-resolution video so you can get vivid and clear images to enhance your viewing experience. The best part is that you get to watch your favorite movies and shows on a large screen, making it easier to enjoy streaming with the whole family. The large display and superior video quality beat streaming on smaller screens like phones and laptops.
While the most basic model doesn’t come with 4K HDR streaming, it lets you stream in up to 1080p. So you still get excellent video quality that beats what you get on smaller screens. And the 4K Stick and the Cube models allow you to stream in up to 4K HDR on compatible devices to get ultra-crisp images. Not to mention Dolby Vision support to provide rich and vivid colors.
Supports superior sound quality
To complement the outstanding picture quality, Fire TV devices also come with excellent audio for an immersive streaming experience. The most basic model supports Dolby Audio on compatible devices. This means you get crystal-clear sound, so you never miss any detail on the shows that you’re watching.
The 4K Stick and the Cube models support Dolby Atmos on compatible devices. This gives you rich and immersive sound in crystal-clear quality, so you can really get into the show. And this allows an equally enriching experience when you stream music or play video games using your Amazon Fire TV device.
Offers a robust selection of exciting games
While other media streaming players also offer a decent number of games, the lineup for Amazon Fire TV devices stands out. Most streaming devices focus on simple, kid-friendly games like Bubble Shooter, Rainbow Dash, SNAKE, and Tic Tac Toe. Amazon Fire TV, on the other hand, lets you play more advanced games that would appeal to hardcore gamers as well.
Some of the top games on Amazon Fire TV include Five Nights at Freddy’s, Minecraft, Riptide GP2, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Combined with the excellent picture and audio quality they offer, Fire TV devices enable you to enjoy these games with superior gameplay.
Allows easy controls using voice commands
Amazon Fire TV devices also come with a voice-enabled remote that lets you control the player using voice commands. So you just need to hold down the microphone button and use voice commands to browse through the menu, open an app, play a video, and more.
The two more advanced models, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and the Amazon Fire TV Cube, also come with an upgraded remote. This upgraded remote comes with buttons that let you control the entire TV set instead of just the Fire TV player. So you can use it to mute your TV, power it on or off, and turn the volume up or down.
Comes with Alexa integration for added convenience
All three Amazon Fire TV devices fully integrate with Alexa. This offers the added convenience of using voice commands to check traffic conditions, create playlists, get weather updates and sports scores, and more. You can even use it to manage your shopping lists without ever leaving your couch.
While you can use all three Fire TV devices for this, the Fire TV Cube offers better functionality because it comes with built-in Alexa speakers. So you can use just your voice to give commands and perform tasks on the player without having to hold down the microphone button on your remote.
The built-in Alexa speakers also allow your Fire TV Cube to integrate with your other smart home devices. That means you can easily turn up or down your thermostat or even control your lights through the device, and you won’t even have to get off the couch.
While the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick 4K will also let you do the same, you need to connect them with your Amazon Echo speaker to enable this function. The Fire TV Cube offers the function right out of the box.
The final cut
With features that allow enhanced TV streaming and gaming, Amazon Fire TV devices could be just what you need. The best option among the three devices, however, depends largely on your personal preferences.
If you’re looking for the most affordable option and don’t mind the basic features, you might want to go for the Amazon Fire TV Stick. But considering that there’s just a $10 price difference, it might be better to get the Fire TV Stick 4K if you have a 4K TV anyway. For those who want the most premium functionalities and don’t care much about the cost, the Fire TV Cube is obviously a good choice.