Android Central Verdict
This is the most powerful Fire TV Stick that Amazon has ever released, but there's one major caveat to be aware of: the endless ads.
Handles anything you want to stream
All of the best video streaming apps are easily accessible
Game streaming is even possible thanks to Luna
Irritating home interface
Ads everywhere you turn, no matter what you do
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Here's the thing: When it comes to the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max, it's easily one of the best streaming devices. But it has a major catch. I'm tipping my hand a bit here, but using the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has made me re-think my streaming home solutions entirely — though not for the reasons you might be thinking of.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Price and availability
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max debuted in October 2021, with revamped internals and a $55 price tag. Since its release, Amazon's flagship Fire TV Stick can regularly be found on sale, regardless of which retailer you regularly shop at.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: What you'll like
When I was approached with the opportunity to review Amazon's latest and greatest Fire TV Stick, I jumped at the chance. In my home, my wife and I are split on what ecosystems we enjoy, as we switch between an Apple TV and Fire TV Sticks. But in order to achieve the "happy wife, happy life" idiom, I wanted to have the Fire TV Stick 4K Max for the sake of cohesion and familiarity.
Now that I've spent more than enough time with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max to formulate my thoughts, there are a few things that I have taken away. My favorite "feature" of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the brand-new Alexa remote. Making voice requests through Alexa is a breeze, and it's snappier than ever, which is a nice touch. Even the setup process is pretty seamless, and Amazon tries to help you get all of the apps you want downloaded ahead of time, so you rarely have to dive into the App Store to download them.
In fact, everything is faster or snappier, including using the Fire TV Stick 4K Max itself. Now, I don't have a future-proofed TV complete with 8K resolution, but I do subscribe to pretty much all of the popular video streaming services. So I need to be able to pull up the app that I want, when I want, regardless of whether it's from Alexa or from the remote. Thankfully, Amazon nailed it here, as the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is easily the fastest and best Fire TV Stick that I've ever used before.
There's nothing special when it comes to the interface, as it's just the same on the most expensive Fire TV Stick as it is on the TV Stick Lite. But that's just fine, because like I said earlier, I was looking for some cohesion and this fit the bill.
But there's a glaring problem with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which has completely changed my mind on the platform.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: What you won't like
It really should come as no surprise when picking up any of the best streaming devices that you'll have to deal with ads. But the upgrades that Amazon made to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max feel like they were only made to make it easier for those ads to appear on your home screen.
Something that has completely driven my experience into the ground has been when I already rent content through Prime, only for me to see ads to rent the SAME movie again later on. It's completely unnecessary and just ruins the experience, and ultimately it has made me look into investing elsewhere for a home streaming solution.
Another irritation that happened on more than one occasion came when I actually took the time to organize my Fire TV home screen. Moving apps around is clunky, but that's to be expected when using a physical remote. But I assumed that if I ignored the inconvenience and put my most-used apps at the top of the page, I wouldn't have to wade through all of the ads so often.
But after turning it on one morning, the entire home screen was completely reset, with my "favorite" apps automatically removed from my favorite list. Forcing me to deal with the frustrating, ad-filled UI all over again.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Competition
No matter how you look at it, there are plenty of different options out there when looking for the best streaming devices. It's only when you start trying to separate options by pricing tiers that things can get a bit hairy. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is extremely difficult to beat for its price point.
Arguably, Amazon's biggest competition, for now at least, is Roku. The Roku Streaming Stick 4K matches up almost perfectly with Amazon's offering. Both offer a compact form factor and can stream your favorite movies in beautiful 4K HDR. Plus, they're both similarly priced, regardless of different deals that may be available.
Google's Chromecast with Google TV has seen its fair share of issues since it was launched. However, it still remains the best budget option if you're looking to move into the Google TV ecosystem. At that point, it just comes down to whether you prefer using Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You want the best Fire TV Stick money can buy
- You're entrenched in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem
- You plan on (or are already) streaming with Amazon Luna
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't want ads everywhere you turn
- You want Chromecast or AirPlay support
The Fire TV Stick 4K Max has a lot going for it, as Amazon made the right moves to improve performance. The Alexa Voice Remote makes accessing Alexa easier than ever, without needing something like an Echo in your living room. And despite Amazon Luna's small library of games, it's still nice to be able to stream cloud games from your TV.
Unfortunately, Amazon's inability to practice some self-control in the ad placement department makes this an extremely frustrating experience. Plus, people who prefer Google Assistant or Siri will be out of luck when it comes to casting from their phones.
If you can get past the annoying sponsored ads at every turn and the potentially-frustrating interface, this really is one of the best streaming devices available. It takes on the ever-popular NVIDIA Shield TV in many aspects while coming in at $100 cheaper.
Stream in 4K HDR with Fire TV
With the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max, you're getting the best that the Fire TV ecosystem has to offer. But that also means you'll have to deal with Amazon throwing ads in your face constantly.
Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.