Picking The Right Fire TV Device: 5 Current Models Compared

We recently explored the world of Roku and now it’s Amazon’s turn. We’re taking a tour of the current Fire TV streaming device lineup, from budget, 1080p models and up, including the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

If you are shopping for some of the streaming gifts in the Fire TV world, this guide should come in handy.

And while this roundup includes streaming devices Amazon previously sent us free for their original reviews, we’re under no obligation to provide a proper account for any of them. Our opinions remain one hundred percent.

(Editor’s note: This article is based on our recent video, which you can check out at the link embedded below.)

Current Fire TV lineup

So while you can grab a smart TV with Fire TV software built into it, Amazon also offers a selection of dedicated streaming devices that can add streaming intelligence to most any TV.

These options range from the budget end of $30 or so up to $120, with various stops along the way. And we’re talking regular pricing here, so you may find these devices are on sale for a much lower price, including during the holiday shopping season.

This includes models that may or may not remain in the current lineup for a long time. (More on this in a second.)

First, let’s check out Amazon’s current selection of Fire TV streaming devices, starting with the more affordable end.

Budget-wise, the Fire TV Stick Lite regularly retails for $29.99, though again, keep an eye out for discounts.

Being the most expensive Fire TV streaming device, Lite does not offer the highest specs or features. In fact, it beats 1080p resolution and offers a more basic remote control than you’ll find anywhere else in the Fire TV lineup.

For more money, you will find the very similar Fire TV Stick. This is the third generation of this particular model and it was introduced alongside its close twin Fire TV Stick Lite.

In fact, the Fire TV Stick and Lite offer essentially the same hardware and capabilities, with a few exceptions. For example, the Fire TV Stick offers Dolby Atmos support on board, and it also comes with Alexa Voice Remote, which includes TV controls and a set of preset shortcut buttons for select streaming service apps. As we’ll see, the overall performance between these two is very similar.

Next up is the Fire TV Stick 4K, which is still available despite the recent release of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

Here during the 2021 holiday shopping season, we see that the Fire TV Stick 4K is usually $49.99 at a massive discount — it’s currently down to $29.99 as of publication.

We’re not sure how long 4K will be on sale now that Max is here. This current deal could simply be a way for Amazon to get rid of inventory. However, if you are looking for an affordable 4K Fire OS option, it is worth looking into.

Next up is the latest entry for the Fire OS. It’s the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which usually retails for $54.99. The Max represents an upgrade in hardware and overall performance over its predecessor, the Fire TV Stick 4K. This new model features an updated CPU and GPU, and support for the new WiFi 6 standard. If you’re curious, we recently reviewed Max, and you can check it out here.

Finally, rounding off the Fire TV lineup is the Fire TV Cube. At a regular $119.99, Cube offers the highest performance among the Fire TV line, as we’ll see later in this article. And yes, there’s a good chance you’ll find it discounted for the holidays.

In addition to the different form factor, the Cube also features built-in microphones so you can control more features via Alexa, even from a distance from the device.

And while the device hasn’t been updated in a few years, it’s still fully capable of running the latest Fire OS software and comes bundled with a third-generation Alexa remote control, just like the Fire TV Stick, 4K, and 4K Max.

Compare hardware specifications and features

Click on the image to view the graph in a separate tab.

While checking out the different specs and features, you may notice that there isn’t much that separates the two 1080p options – the Fire TV Stick and the Fire TV Stick Lite. So if you’re trying to choose between these two options, consider whether the onboard Dolby Atmos support or a more feature-rich remote control might be worth the extra money.

Elsewhere, you have two 4K stick mode options with similar features, but different levels of performance. And since the Max is a much newer device, it will likely support more future software updates than the older 4K device.

However, if you don’t really care about better performance and more scrutiny in the future, and just want an affordable 4K streaming device right now, the older 4K is a compelling buy while it’s on sale.

Finally, the Fire TV Cube takes up little space in your entertainment center – unlike the remote design of Fire TV Sticks. But you also get built-in microphones for Alexa voice support. The Cube also comes with an Ethernet adapter for a wired connection if wireless connectivity is a concern.

Performance Standards

To measure performance, we run each device through a series of apps to see how fast it loads. Our test suite starts and ends with Netflix to see if the device can open the app faster the second time around. If possible, it’s an overall good indication that a streaming device can better juggle multiple apps and open them faster, which can make everyday user experience more enjoyable.

So let’s see how these Fire TV devices work.

Click on the image to view the graph in a separate tab.

Unsurprisingly, the less expensive options tended to perform the slowest in our tests.

As expected, Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick are more similar than they are different. In fact, if for some reason the Disney+ app doesn’t consistently load faster on Lite (versions of the app are the same on both devices), these two devices will be closer in overall times.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been bragging about the Fire TV Stick 4K Max’s performance improvements over older 4K resolutions, and our tests seem to prove it. Then the high-end Fire TV Cube reigns supreme on the charts.

Other Fire TV Options to Consider

If you’re not in the mood for a dedicated streaming device, there are a number of Smart TVs that have Fire TV smart devices built in. You can browse among a number of manufacturers, including the brand Toshiba, Pioneer, and Best Buy Insignia. Amazon also offers its own smart TVs, including the new Omni series.

Elsewhere, Anker makes a soundbar option with Fire TV built into it. They call it the Nebula Soundbar Fire TV Edition and it offers 2.1 channel sound with a built-in subwoofer and 4K Fire OS support. It regularly retails for around $179.99, though sales should be kept in mind.

wrap everything…

As with the recent Roku report, we hope you found this article helpful. The current Fire TV lineup offers a solid variety of options at attractive price points, so highlighting each should help ease your buying decisions.

Again, if you’re reviewing this article during the busy holiday shopping season, don’t forget all the assorted deals that Amazon loves to offer. You may find many of these devices at much cheaper prices.

And for any other festive season live streaming and cord-cutting gifts, don’t forget the Deals Hub, where you can stay up to date with the latest discounts.

Current Fire TV lineup:

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