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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max review: Bells, whistles, and more
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Retail price: $54.99$54.99 at Amazon
What we like
What we don't like
Manufacturers use a simple trick to denote something as the best or most powerful — they add “Max” to the name. Think of the iPhone 13 Pro Max or the HBO Max streaming service. Now, Amazon is taking its streaming devices to the “Max.” Its new Fire TV Stick 4K Max is billed as the company’s most powerful streaming stick yet. Find out if the claims ring true in our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max review.
What you need to know about the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: $54.99 / £54.99 / €64.99
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a media streaming stick from Amazon that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. It slots in above the Fire TV Stick 4K in Amazon’s portfolio and costs just $5 more. You get some notable upgrades for that little extra cash. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is Amazon’s only streaming device to support Wi-Fi 6 right now. It also matches the Fire TV Cube with 2GB of RAM, and it carries a new quad-core 1.8GHz processor to get you streaming in a hurry and not stuck navigating menus.
Amazon’s premium streaming stick supports all of the most popular video streaming services and music services like Spotify. It also offers Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support, and you can tap into HDR and 4K Ultra HD quality as well, provided you have a sharp enough TV.
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Amazon introduced a new voice remote with the Fire TV Stick 4K, and it’s back for the new generation. You’ll find a blue Alexa button at the top for voice commands, as well as a series of hotkeys at the bottom. Our remote came with Prime Video, Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu.
The Amazon Fire TV 4K Max is looking to compete with the top sticks and dongles from Google and Roku — most notably the Chromecast with Google TV and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K. You can pick up the Fire TV Stick 4K Max from Amazon (obviously) and many other major retailers in the US, the UK and other regions in Europe, and many, many other markets.
Using the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a breeze from the minute you open the box. Everything is included — the stick, the remote, a pair of AAA batteries, a power cable, and even an HDMI extender for TVs with tightly packed ports. It runs through a series of updates before handing over control, and setting up the remote for TV power is extremely simple thanks to HDMI CEC support. You can also choose to restore your downloads if you had a previous Fire TV Stick.
Everything is fast in daily usage, too. I didn’t notice any lag or stuttering thanks to the improved internals. The addition of Wi-Fi 6 means streams start almost instantly, too, though you’ll need a compatible router to experience the benefits. Even if you don’t have one, you can be safe in the knowledge that the Fire Stick 4K Max’s connectivity suite is future-proofed.
Despite the upgrades, Amazon kept the price very competitive too. It’s $5 more than Roku and Google’s rival devices, but at $54.99, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is half the price of the Fire TV Cube, yet it’s a better fit for anyone that wants the Cube’s raw power without the smart speaker features.
As long as your router can keep up, Wi-Fi 6 is a secret weapon for 4K streaming.
The Amazon Fire TV interface has received something of a facelift as well. It feels smooth and polished, and it’s effortless to navigate your massive list of streaming apps. Like any device worth its salt, you can dig into any and all services. Amazon’s remote hotkeys make it easier to jump to some than others, but you should have no trouble finding and downloading your favorites.
Mentioning Amazon’s remote, it offers everything you need. It now packs 17 buttons for complete control over your TV, and the pairing process couldn’t be simpler. The blue Alexa button stands out more than it used to, and voice commands are the best way to navigate, provided you have your apps installed already.
Need some Fire TV apps? Here are a few of our favorites
What’s not so good?
There’s very little to complain about on Amazon’s latest streaming device. It offers speed, storage, and a great remote. However, the remote itself is starting to feel a little cluttered. Amazon has taken the button count to 17, yet the size and shape of the remote hasn’t changed much over the previous generations. Likewise, some will find them useful, but I also didn’t find myself using the hotkeys very often. It’s a shame you can’t remap them.
The once-simple Fire TV remote is starting to feel cluttered with buttons.
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max also falls victim to Amazon’s love of ads. As soon as you power it on, you’re greeted by a huge banner ad across the homepage. The interface also shoves quite a few promoted bars at you and prioritizes Amazon’s shows above all else. It’s not necessarily a surprise, but it could be toned down a bit.
If you like to cast shows and videos from your phone to your TV, you’ll be disappointed to hear that the Fire Stick 4K Max doesn’t support Google Cast or Apple’s AirPlay 2. You can still send videos and shows from your phone to your TV from Amazon’s own Prime Video app, though you won’t find quite as many options for the likes of Netflix and YouTube.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max review: Should I buy it?
Amazon’s streaming stick is nearing its final form. If you’re in the market for a new streaming device and already invested in the Amazon ecosystem, it’s hard to put too many above the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Sure, the name is a mouthful, but it offers high-quality streaming options across the board. The powerful remote is all you’ll need if you’ve cut the cord, and the new processor and extra RAM are immediately noticeable.
Learn more: Roku vs Amazon Fire TV — which is right for you?
However, the Fire Stick 4K Max won’t be a perfect choice for everyone. If you’ve built your smart home on a Google foundation, you may want to look at the Chromecast with Google TV ($49.99) instead. It comes with Google’s first-ever Chromecast remote and pairs seamlessly with the Google TV platform and Google Cast. You can also check out Roku’s new Streaming Stick 4K ($49.99). It nearly matches the Fire TV Stick, with HDR and Dolby Vision, and it throws in AirPlay 2 support, though you miss out on Wi-Fi 6.