Amazon’s latest streaming media player launched earlier this fall, delivering the new flagship deemed the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. With onboard Wi-Fi 6 and faster performance to deliver Dolby Vision playback and Dolby Atmos audio, we’re taking a hands-on look to see just how worthy of a home theater upgrade Amazon’s latest really is.
Hands-on with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Having launched back in September, Amazon refreshed its lineup of in-house streaming media players with a new flagship offering. Arriving as the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, a mouthful of a name if there ever was one, the streamer managed to stand out from not just Amazon’s stable, but nearly all of the competition, as well.
Packed into a streaming dongle design, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max doesn’t fall too far from the tree in terms of what we’ve come to expect from Amazon in the past. The design take more of a simplified approach, only delivering the essentials in the dongle form-factor.
Included in the box, you’re also getting a microUSB cable to power the streamer, as well as a USB wall charger for those who are looking to upgrade a TV that lacks its own. You’ll also find an HDMI extender in case you’re like me and have a television that can’t accommodate the size of the streaming stick plugging directly into the back panel.
And to round out the package, there’s also the included Amazon Voice Remote that lets you actually control the TV; be it with the physical buttons or using your voice.
Old form meets new function
Even if the Fire TV Stick 4K Max may not look it just from the form-factor, this new release earns its spot at the top of Amazon’s streaming media player lineup. Housed within its boxy design is a more capable processor which is said to deliver 40% more power than the existing 4K Stick. In order to put that to use, Amazon has delivered just about all of the features you’d expect, including Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+ and immersive Dolby Atmos audio.
To keep up, you’re also getting Wi-Fi 6 support, which is one of the better inclusions. This lets the Fire TV 4K Max actually keep up with all of the newfound visual and audio features when it comes to pulling in content, so slower Wi-Fi speeds won’t get in the way of enjoying buffer-free, 4K content. There’s also the really neat feature of Live View Picture-in-Picture, which is exclusive to the 4K Max.
Otherwise, you’re getting all of the expected features from an Amazon streaming media player. You can of course pull in content from Amazon Prime Video or dive into some gaming via Luna, but there’s also support for Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, and all of the other services.
After spending some time with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, it’s clear that Amazon put all its focus on delivering a notable experience for actually watching television. Everything from the packaging to the actual design teeters more onto the side of just the basics rather than going above and beyond, and that’s perfectly okay. After all, this is going to be a device that lives behind your TV for its entire life.
So while other manufactures will put more focus and subsequently more money into a nicer hardware package, Amazon knows that its actual feature set is the real selling point.
That being said, there are some areas where the more barebones approach rears its ugly head. The most notable of these is that the included Alexa Voice Remote hasn’t been refreshed to match the flagship status of the streamer itself. That’s more specifically to say that it feels a bit cheap in the hand. That won’t matter to everyone, and it’s a symptom of the greater Amazon ecosystem than this model in particular.
So all told, I am quite impressed with the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. I’ve been on the Apple TV train for the better part of a decade at this point, and getting to check out the latest flagship from Amazon definitely shows that the grass really is always greener on the other side. At least when it comes to the price that is.
Entering at $55, the recent television upgrade is already one of the more compelling options on the market. That’s even better when considering the $35 sale price we’ve been tracking as of late, which makes this the most value-packed streamer you’ll find. It may not have all of the bells and whistles, but it delivers just where it counts.
So whether you’re looking to upgrade an existing model to try out Wi-Fi 6 and all the other improvements, or want to grab a media player for a family member who will be set up with a future-proof offering, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is an easy recommendation.
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