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Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite review: Exactly what you expected


It doesn’t take much time with Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite to understand what they’re all about.

The $40 third-generation Fire TV Stick is an overdue upgrade to Amazon’s best-selling streaming player, replacing its four-year-old processor with one that’s much faster. The $30 Fire TV Stick Lite, meanwhile, is a naked attempt to achieve price parity with Roku’s budget Express streamer, with the same performance as the standard Stick but a major compromise to its remote control: There are no TV volume or power buttons onboard.

Of the two, the Fire TV Stick is much easier to recommend than the Lite version. I’ve said it before, but having TV controls built into the remote really is worth the extra $10.

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best media streamers,  where you’ll find reviews of competing products, plus a buyer’s guide to the features you should consider when shopping for this type of product.

Whether the new Fire TV Sticks are worth buying over other budget streamers is harder to say, because Amazon is preparing a major software overhaul for later this year. We’ll update this review after said software arrives. For now, those who enjoy the Fire TV experience can expect more of the same—just without as many speed bumps along the way.

Similar sticks

Held next to one another, the new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite look identical. Both plug directly into your TV’s HDMI port (a short extension cable is included if you need more clearance around the TV), and both have a quad-core 1.7GHz processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, and dual-band Wi-Fi 5 support. While the two sticks have no extra ports beyond micro-USB for power, a cheap USB-OTG cable would allow for thumb drives and other USB accessories.

Performance-wise, they’re a big improvement over the previous Fire TV Stick (which first launched in 2016), with much shorter loading times and less herky-jerky scrolling through menus, and they bring speed roughly up to par with other budget streamers. Roku devices tend to feel a little faster—if only because they’re better at showing partial menus or loading icons instead of just momentarily freezing up—but in terms of loading times, it’s pretty much a wash.

Jared Newman / IDG

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K (pictured at rear) is a bit larger than the identical-looking Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite

Both Fire TV Sticks can also supply 1080p video and support high dynamic range in the HDR10, HDR10+, or HLG formats, though neither support 4K video or Dolby Vision HDR. (You’ll need to step up to Amazon’s $50 Fire TV Stick 4K for those features.)

The only other difference on the spec sheet is on the audio front: Where the Fire TV Stick supports decode for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital/Digital+, and DTS, the Fire TV Stick Lite only supports passthrough for those formats.



Source: TechHive Reviews, Author: Jared Newman

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