Thinking of Buying an Amazon Fire TV? Read This First!

·9 min read
Photo credit: Amazon
Photo credit: Amazon


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If you’re thinking about buying a new streaming device to make your TV a bit smarter, you've probably heard of the Fire TV.

If not, a Fire TV is an affordable and easy way to stream your favorite TV shows, movies, music, games, and sports, from apps like Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, and Netflix.

It plugs right into one of the HDMI ports on your TV, connects to the internet, and has a much more intuitive interface than you’re probably used to. Amazon offers a variety of Fire TVs that vary significantly in pricing and features.

Best Amazon Fire TV of 2021

We want to help you decide which one is the best Fire TV for your home, so you can spend more time actually streaming shows and movies than deciding what device you’re going to watch them on. Check out our guide to the key differences between each version, and get ready to enjoy a whole new streaming experience.

What to Consider

When shopping for an Amazon Fire TV, the first thing to consider is where you plan to use it. Some Fire TVs are about the size of a pack of Bubblicious gum so you can easily take them with you to hotels or vacation rentals. The Amazon Fire TV Cube is about the size of a small alarm clock and would be better suited atop your entertainment stand.

Another essential thing to consider is your TV's resolution. Most new TVs support 4K resolution and high dynamic range video playback. This just means they provide better overall picture quality. Not all Fire TVs support 4K playback, however. If you own a 1080p television, there's no need to spend the extra money on a 4K-supported Fire TV.

Besides video quality, if you're an audiophile (also known as fans of high-fidelity sound reproduction), you'll want to ensure your Fire TV supports Dolby Atmos audio — a feature that adds overhead audio effects to create a more immersive listening experience.

Best Overall

Key Specs

Chip: 1.7 GHz Quad-core processor
Storage: 8GB
Audio:
Dolby Atmos support
Video: 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR-10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
Other: Bluetooth, voice remote with TV controls

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is a great pick for buyers looking for a small and speedy streaming device to watch 4K and HDR content. It plugs into an open HDMI on your TV, stays out of sight, and promises the best video quality that services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video have to offer.

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K features a zippy quad-core processor, making it a great option for those who plan to install a bevy of apps. Speaking of apps, you get 8GB of storage space, which should be plenty of room for them and all of your downloads.

What we like most about the Fire TV Stick 4K is that it offers an intuitive and well-polished interface, with plenty of apps to install and stream from. The included remote is comfortable to hold and easy to use, too.

You can find something to stream with your voice and a simple press of a button. For instance, you can queue up your show just by saying, “Alexa, play Stranger Things.” Or, you can ask Alexa to control smart lights, thermostats, and other compatible smart home devices. The remote can power your TV on and off, control volume, and change channels on some cable boxes.

Unfortunately, you do need to purchase an adapter separately for a wired internet connection. The Fire TV does pair to your Echo smart speaker, though, so you can control playback and start shows using your voice without the remote. If you don't want to invest in an Echo speaker, you can also buy this nifty accessory to control your TV's power and volume with your voice.

Best Cheap Fire Stick

Key Specs

Chip: 1.7 GHz Quad-core processor
Storage: 8GB
Audio:
HDMI pass-through for Dolby Atmos Audio
Video: 1080p Full HD, HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG
Other: Bluetooth, voice remote

Amazon's entry-level streaming device is about the size of a small pack of gum, and it has a built-in HDMI jack for easy installation anywhere. We think the Fire TV Stick would make an excellent gift or travel companion for those who don’t need 4K or don’t want to be held back by a hotel TV’s limited channels.

Like the original Fire TV, this device boasts access to tens of thousands of channels and apps for instant streaming. It also requires a separate adapter for hard-wired Internet access (don't worry — it still has Wi-Fi!). However, its included voice remote does not have controls for turning your TV off and on and adjusting its volume. You can always bundle the Fire Stick with an Echo Dot for using your Fire TV hands-free, too.

The Fire TV Stick also limits resolution to 1080p, so if you want to watch in 4K, you should purchase the Fire TV Stick 4K or Fire TV Cube instead. Still, it’s an excellent value and a great performer that’s 50% faster than the previous-generation Fire TV Stick.

A Midrange Streamer With TV Controls

Key Specs

Chip: 1.7 GHz Quad-core processor
Storage: 8GB
Audio:
Dolby Atmos Audio
Video: 1080p Full HD, HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG
Other: Bluetooth, voice remote with TV controls

Amazon's mid-tier streaming device is almost identical to our budget Fire TV Stick pick, making it one of the best Fire TVs out there, with two minor differences. This one's included remote control has buttons for turning your TV on and off and adjusting its volume, and for more easily accessing streaming apps. There's also a "Channel Guide" button that brings up a menu to watch live TV if you have that set up. Not only that, but the Fire TV Stick also has support for Dolby Atmos audio, which provides a more immersive audio experience.

Just like the Fire TV Stick Lite, the resolution is limited to 1080p HDR content, meaning this streamer doesn't let you stream 4K video. This model is worth spending the extra money on over the Fire TV Stick Lite if you want to be able to use its voice remote to turn off your TV and adjust its volume. But if you're fine with juggling multiple remotes, the cheaper Fire TV Stick Lite might be the best Fire TV for you.

For Hands-Free Voice Controls

Key Specs

Chip: 2.2 GHz Hexa-core processor
Storage: 16GB
Audio:
Dolby Atmos 7.1 and HDMI audio pass-through up to 5.1
Video: 1080p Full HD, HDR, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision
Other: Bluetooth 5.0, voice remote with TV controls, ethernet jack, built-in speaker, and microphone

If you're looking for the most top-of-the-line, featured-filled streaming device, the Fire TV Cube is for you. The Fire TV Cube marries the voice functionality of an Echo speaker with the video-streaming capabilities of a Fire TV streaming device. Plus, it streams both 4K and HDR video, and it supports Dolby Atmos surround sound. It's the only Fire TV that lets you turn your TV off and on, change channels, and switch inputs using your voice. It also comes with the same remote as the Fire TV Stick 4K for those moments when manual and quieter navigation is necessary. You can also manually adjust your TV's volume or turn the power off and on with the included remote.

Besides that, the Cube is equipped with an Ethernet jack for faster, more reliable wired connections. What makes it stand out, though, are its built-in microphones and speaker that allow for far-field voice control. You can shout "Alexa, order popcorn!" in the kitchen, and the Fire TV in the living room will order popcorn from your Amazon account to be delivered straight to your doorstep for your next movie night.

You can also use the microphone to control the playback of your TV, control your home entertainment gear, and interact with other smart home products that work with Alexa. It's a powerful and sleek-looking option that'll change the way you interact with your television. However, if you already have an Echo speaker in your home, the Fire TV Stick 4K makes more sense to purchase, considering that it offers all of the same Dolby and HDR support and costs significantly less.

Best for Cord-Cutters

Key Specs

Chip: 1.7 GHz Dual-core processor
Storage: 500GB or 1TB
Audio:
Dolby Digital
Video: Up to 1440-by-720p resolution
Other: USB 3.0 port, TV antenna input, ethernet

The Fire TV Recast is a DVR that lets you watch and record over-the-air TV in tandem with a Fire TV, Echo Show, or smartphone — with no additional monthly fees. It works by connecting an HDTV antenna to it, so you can capture local channels such as ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox (among others) in high definition for free.

We think this DVR is the perfect solution for those who don't want to pay for cable or satellite TV. It even includes a digital video recorder that allows you to record either two or up to four live TV shows at once, depending on which variant you select. The less expensive variant's hard drive is large enough to store up to 75 hours of HD programming, and the more expensive option holds 150 hours. It's worth mentioning that the Fire TV and HD antenna are sold separately.

If You Need a New TV

Key Specs

Chip: Regza Engine 4K
Storage: 8GB
Audio:
DTS Virtual:X, DTS-HD, Dolby Audio, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus
Video: 4K HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR 10, 60 Hz refresh rate
Other: WPA3 Wi-Fi, four HDMI inputs

The Toshiba Smart Fire TV comes with an Amazon Fire TV built right in! It delivers a phenomenal picture despite its low price. It even supports HDR10, which produces a bright, lifelike image that's full of color. The TV includes access to the Alexa voice assistant, it packs four HDMI ports, a USB jack, has a slim bezel, and comes with a stylish stand.

Its included remote lets you search for shows or movies with your voice, and it adds a volume rocker, mute, and live TV button below its playback controls. We think that this TV from Toshiba is an excellent value, considering its superb picture, slew of smart features, numerous ports, voice controls, and ease of use.

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