What Is The Best Fire Stick? Which One To Buy

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is one of the best options on the market if you are looking for an affordable streaming device. You can get a better-quality streaming device for cheaper than most other brands, and it comes with lots of advanced features such as voice controls. Plus, if you buy from Amazon, subscribe to Prime, or use the Alexa smart speaker, ths streaming device will fit nicely into your entertainment ecosystem. Which one is the best Fire Stick, though?

Gone are the days when you say you want to buy a Fire Stick and people know exactly what you mean. The original Fire Stick was released in 2016, and there have been various updates and improvements to the device since then. How do you know which one you want now? Read our comparison review below to find out.

Spoiler Alert! The latest Fire Stick 4K Max is by far the best Fire Stick on the market, but that doesn’t mean it is the right choice for everyone. For example, if you don’t have a 4K TV you don’t need a 4K device and you can get one for half the price.

Fire Stick Comparison Table

Fire TV Stick Lite

Fire TV Stick Lite

$19.90
Fire TV Stick

Fire TV Stick

$24.99
Fire TV Stick 4K

Fire TV Stick 4K

$29.99
Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Fire TV Stick 4K Max

$39.99
Memory1GB1GB1.5GB2GB
Storage8GB8GB8GB8GB
Picture Quality1080p Full HD1080p Full HD4K4K
Audio QualityDolby-encodedDolby AtmosDolby AtmosDolby Atmos
HardwareCPU 1.7GHz GPU 650MHzCPU 1.7GHz GPU 650MHzCPU 1.7GHz GPU 650MHzCPU 1.7GHz GPU 750MHz
Alexa RemoteLite version: does not control the TV or other peripheralsFull Alexa Voice RemoteFull Alexa Voice RemoteFull Alexa Remote
Wi-FiDual-band, Dual antennaDual-band, Dual antennaDual-band, Dual antennaWi-Fi 6
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0, Bluetooth Low EnergyBluetooth 5.0, Bluetooth Low EnergyBluetooth 5.0, Bluetooth Low EnergyBluetooth 5.0 + LE

About The Fire Stick

Before looking at each of the individual Fire Sticks, it is worth noting what they all have in common.

The Fire TV Stick is a streaming device that runs the Amazon Fire OS. This means that rather than downloading apps from the Google Play Store like you would with an Android TV Box or streaming device, you download from the Amazon App Store. The selection is more limited but is specifically tailored to streamers, unlike the Google App Store.

You can also jailbreak a Fire Stick if you want and sideload apps. You can read our guide to sideloading apps onto Fire TV devices here.

The user interface is also Amazon-powered, and while tweaked to look good on your big screen and work with just a TV remote, it does feel a bit like browsing the Amazon store. They push the products that they want you to buy, rather than necessarily what you are looking for.

This is the one major complaint that many users have about the Fire Stick. When they are searching for content, they are shown Amazon products first, even if they have to pay for the Amazon version but they have free access to the content via another subscription. While this is annoying, it is easy to work around if you know it happens.

With Fire Sticks, you also get the Alexa remote. This remote gives you voice control, and (with the exception of the Lite remote) can be used to control your television and other devices that have IR learning.

If you have an Alexa smart speaker, you can also link your Fire Stick to your smart home system and ask Alexa to find programs for you and do other things.

That is basically what you get with a Fire Stick, but things such as picture quality, sound quality, and functional power will vary depending on which of the four sticks on the market you choose to go with.

Fire TV Stick Lite

This is the most affordable Fire Stick, coming in at under $30. The major thing to remember with it is that you don’t get a 4K picture, only 1080p HD, and rather than coming with the full Alexa remote, you get a lite version that does less.

  • 1080p HD maximum picture quality
  • Lite remote that does not control TV

The Lite remote is designed specifically to work with the Lite Fire Stick, including full voice command, but it is not designed to do anything else. Unlike with the full remote, you can’t control your TV with it, so you can’t adjust the volume or turn the TV on or off. This means that you will consistently have to use more than one remote.

The other thing missing is Dolby Atmos sound, which is a feature of all the other Fire Sticks. This lite version only comes with Dolby-encoded sound, so it just is not as good.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • No 4K picture or Dolby Atmos sound
  • Limited Lite remote

There is no denying that this Fire Stick is pretty poor quality when compared to the others, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for it. Most people who have 4K TVs have smart TVs, so they might not even need a streaming device to access Netflix or YouTube.

It is often the people who don’t have 4K TVs that need extra hardware to smartify them, and this stick is designed for those users. If you don’t have a 4K TV or a Dolby Atmos-compatible sound system, you don’t need these features on your Fire Stick either.

Fire TV Stick

The Fire Stick was the original Amazon TV stick and it was revolutionary in its day. When the 4K came out the original was considered the lite version, until the Fire Stick Lite was released in 2020. The Lite stick is basically a copy of this version, but with the Lite remote included to knock $10 off the price.

  • 1080p HD maximum picture quality
  • Dolby Atmos sound
  • Full Alexa remote

This Fire Stick comes with the full Alexa remote, so you can control your TV with the same remote control and you can link your Fire Stick to your Alexa speaker if you want and give it voice commands hand-free.

While this Fire Stick doesn’t deliver 4K picture quality, it does deliver Dolby Atmos sound. We assume that this feature was removed for the lite since most people who don’t have a 4K TV also won’t have this sound option.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Full Alexa remote
  • Dolby Atmos sound

Cons

  • Does not deliver 4K picture quality

This is the model of Fire Stick that is right for someone who doesn’t have a 4K TV and therefore doesn’t need to pay more for this functionality, but who wants to command their home entertainment system from a single remote and enjoys the novelty of asking Alexa to start playing something while you are still in the other room.

Fire TV Stick 4K

The Fire Stick 4K was released when 4K became a desirable asset in streaming devices, but aside from the improved picture quality, there is not much else to distinguish the 4K from the earlier version of the Fire Stick.

  • 4K picture quality and Dolby Atmos sound
  • Full Alexa remote

Aside from the Amazon-powered user interface, the other thing that people criticize most about the Fire Stick is that it is not very powerful. The original Fire Stick had just 1GB of RAM, and this was only updated to 1.5GB for the 4K version. Both have 8GB of storage.

This upgrade was enough for the Fire Stick to easily deliver 4K streaming within the limited context of using major streaming apps, but it means that the Fire Stick can struggle if you want to do anything else with it, such as run Kodi or games. You can find yourself staring at the loading circle of doom if you try to do too much with this stick.

Pros

  • Affordable for 4K
  • Full voice command and smart home integration

Cons

  • Limited memory and storage

This stick is still one of the most affordable 4K streaming devices on the market that will let you watch Netflix and Prime Video in 4K. Other streaming devices, even if they claim to be 4K, won’t let you watch these services in 4K for administrative reasons.

If all you are really interested in doing is watching Netflix and streaming live TV, then the Fire Stick 4K is an excellent choice and more than up for the job.

Fire TV Stick 4K Max

With the Fire Stick 4K Max, released in 2021, Amazon wanted to make their device more powerful while keeping it affordable and integrating some of the new technologies hitting the market into their product.

  • Full 4K picture and Dolby Atmos sound
  • 2GB of RAM
  • Full Alexa remote

One key update is that they have increased their RAM from 1.5GB to 2GB. While that might not seem like a big increase, it can make a lot of difference if you do want to sideload apps such as Kodi or start playing games. We would have liked to have seen a bigger increase, but also understand that they wanted to continue to keep prices down.

With this device, the Fire Stick has also been upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 +LE. While this won’t have much impact on the user experience today and won’t seem important to any but the biggest tech junkies, this is essential for futureproofing the device as technology continues to develop.

Pros

  • Increased memory and running capacity
  • Affordable 4K

Cons

  • Still an overall lightweight device

While that extra memory and the Wi-Fi tweaks may not seem like a big deal, if you are paying full price (there are often deals for each of these models), the 4K Max will only cost you an extra $5 on top of the regular 4K Fire Stick. This seems like a small price to pay for the extra power and futureproofing features, which is why the 4K Max is the best-rated Fire Stick.

The Verdict: Which Is The Best Fire Stick?

After all of that, what is the answer to the question of the best Fire Stick? The best Fire Stick is the most recently released Fire Stick 4K Max. Not only does it deliver 4K and Dolby Atmos sound, but it has more working memory than the other options, which makes it more powerful. That means an easier, faster, and better user experience.

That does not mean this is the right option for everyone. If you don’t have a 4K TV and sophisticated sound system, then 4K picture and Dolby Atmos sound won’t mean much to you since the rest of your hardware won’t be able to deliver. You can opt instead for the cheaper original Fire Stick or the Lite version.

Personally, I would go with the original to get the full Alexa remote that can control your TV as well as your Fire Stick. The kit only costs an extra $10, and I’m willing to pay that for the convenience. This is not true of everyone, though, which is why the Lite version was released in the first place.

Ultimately the best Fire Stick for you depends on your preferences and setup.

Which is your favorite Fire Stick and why? Share your thoughts with the community in the comments section below.

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