Which Amazon Fire TV should you buy?

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (Image credit: Cordcutters)

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K is the best Fire TV device for most people. It has the most features (that you'll actually want) of any of Amazon Fire TV's offerings.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

It's got support for 4K resolution, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos. All for just $49.

Who should buy the Fire TV Stick 4K

Technically speaking, the Fire TV Stick 4K isn't at the head of the Fire TV family. That'd be the $129 Fire TV Cube, which has a microphone array, and Amazon Alexa built in, along with support for 4K and Dolby Atmos. But it's lacking Dolby Vision for HDR, which is our preferred format. The Fire TV Stick 4K has Dolby Vision — and costs about a third of the Fire TV Cube. Plus it comes with Amazon's new remote control, which features proper volume and power buttons.

Is it a good time to buy this stick?

Yes. The Fire TV Stick 4K was released on Oct. 31, 2018, and should remain so fresh and so clean for a good time to come.

A great streaming stick for $49 (if not less)

Traditionally, streaming sticks have been the bastard stepchildren of TV tech. They've been underpowered and under-spec'd, meant to be just good enough for folks to buy — and to pad a bottom line. And so I haven't recommended them.

But the Amazon Fire TV 4K not only gives you all the specs you need — 4K resolution, Dolby Vision for HDR (along with HDR10+) and Dolby Atmos for audio, plus Wifi 5 (aka 802.11ac) — it does it at just $49. (And that's before Amazon sale prices kick in.)

From my Fire TV Stick 4K review:

If you were to stop me on the street and ask which Amazon Fire TV device to buy, I'd say this one. The Fire TV Stick 4K.If you don't need a 4K-capable Fire TV device — I'd still recommend this one. Because one day you may have a 4K TV and want to use this. Better to spend an extra $10 today than an extra $49 to upgrade again later, right?It's got all the features you want. It's got a better remote. So long as you don't rely on YouTube TV (or YouTube proper, for that matter), you'll have everything you need, at a great price.

That's pretty much all there is to it. It's a good solid device. The only real downside is that it's a victim in the Great Google-Amazon War of 2016. And 2017. And 2018. That means no YouTube TV, and no real native YouTube. (There are some workarounds for the latter, of course.

Alternatives to the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K ain't the only 4K game in town. It's not even the only 4K game in the Amazon Fire TV family. Or, you could venture outside the Amazon ecosystem, if you want, and still stay in the same price range. Here are some options.

Roku Streaming Stick+

A great option at a good price.

Great Fire TV experience
Support for 4K, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
Improved remote control
Great price
Some apps are still slow

Roku is a self-contained ecosystem that has access to every streaming service that's on an Amazon Fire TV — including Amazon Prime Video — plus it's got YouTube and YouTube TV. If you can live without Dolby Vision, it's an excellent option.

Bottom line

It's hard to beat the value proposition of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. Except that it's missing a couple Google things — YouTube and YouTube TV, it's damned near perfect, with all the bells and whistles you need, and very little that you don't.

The only real strike against it? It's not as fast as the far-more-powerful Apple TV 4K or NVIDIA Shield TV. But it's also far less expensive.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide


Phil Nickinson is the editor of CordCutters.com, the Head Dad behind Modern Dad and Editor Emeritus of AndroidCentral.com. He's been a journalist since starting at his hometown newspaper in 1998, and with Mobile Nations since 2009. Follow him on Twitter: @Mdrndad.

Phil Nickinson