September 30, 2023

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is my streaming device of choice

I’m a fan of all things “smart home.” That’s obvious to anyone who’s ever set foot in my house — the entire space is wired through Alexa, from the table lamps to the TV. With that in mind, I hate unnecessary appliances in my bedroom, but I don’t like yelling loud enough for the Echo Show in my kitchen to hear me when I want to turn off the lights on the other side of the house. Enter the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. With this handy little device, I can ask Alexa to make my bids via the remote control, instead of raising my voice. It also has the added benefit of not having a built-in speaker, so the remote won’t wake me up with announcements or parcel delivery like an Echo Dot might. Right now it’s $30 off for Prime members.


Access over 1 million movies and TV shows with this intuitive, easy-to-use device. That simplicity starts with easy installation and configuration. It’s no wonder the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is my favorite new device.

$25 at Amazon

I grabbed this nifty little streaming stick as an afterthought. I wanted to test video game streaming through Amazon Luna, and the easiest way was through a Fire TV Stick. Since I already had a Roku, I didn’t expect a Fire TV Stick to be of much use to me. Turns out I was wrong. It has become one of my favorite purchases. The best news? Right now it’s only $35 on Amazon.

Fire TV Stick 4K: features and performance

Right off the bat, the main feature of the Fire TV Stick 4K is the inclusion of Alexa. At the top of the remote is a blue button that, once pressed, activates a listen function in the remote itself. Beyond that, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max makes it extremely easy to access all of my favorite streaming services. Prime Video is, of course, the most recommended service on the device (I mean, who would have thought?). Good thing one of my favorite shows – psych – is on Prime TV. Of course, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max and every major streaming service are also available. The only app I can’t find on Fire TV is Peacock.

However, it doesn’t just stream content. Any old streaming device can do that. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max offers support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision and HDR10+, practically guaranteeing a viewing experience almost comparable to a trip to the local IMAX (as long as you have a TV that can display those specs).

The inclusion of Alexa also gives it a host of other benefits. I can search for a show by asking Alexa to play it, and I can also display my security camera feed on the screen, check the weather, and much more. Ever hear the doorbell ring while you’re still in bed? Just ask Alexa to show you who’s at the door! Trust me, it’s great. It outperforms Roku in that respect and setup is just as easy.

My favorite type of device is one I don’t have to think about, and I’ve never had to care for the Fire TV Stick 4K Max beyond a few basic updates. Most of those are done automatically anyway – I’m just a stickler for making sure things are done the way I expect. In other words, this streaming device is plug-and-play, install it and forget about it.

Amazon Fire TV 4K stick

The Fire TV 4K Max is the smart and “smart” choice for (almost) all your streaming needs. (Photo: Amazon)

Fire TV Stick 4K: difficulties

OK, I may have stretched the truth small. There is one drawback: the remote control has no backlight. The design is simple enough to use (and you can even use an Echo Dot or similar device to control your Fire TV if you can’t find the remote), but I’d even prefer a dim amount of lighting for nighttime use . There are four buttons on the bottom of the remote that let you quickly load Prime Video, Netflix, Disney Plus, and Hulu without having to navigate menus, but I sometimes find myself accidentally touching those.

Another concern is not really with the device, but with the app. (I’m watching you, HBO Max!) I, like thousands of others, leave the TV on for background noise, and more often than not it’s just playing Friends again and again. For whatever reason, HBO Max sometimes loses video while continuing to play audio. The screen goes dark or the Fire TV gives an error, but I can still hear the episode in the background.

So far I haven’t really found a solution for this. A quick Google search shows that I am far from the only user encountering this bug, but the suggested solutions (updating the system OS, uninstalling and reinstalling the app, etc.) seem to be of no avail. Fortunately, I can work around the problem by going to the home screen and resuming playback. No problem. If it actually freezes, my surefire solution is to unplug the stick and put it back in the HDMI slot.

One last note: I said I picked this up to test game streaming. Although it is a certified device compatible with Amazon Luna, I did not find the experience satisfactory. I suspect most of that lies with Luna itself, rather than the Fire TV Stick. Wi-Fi doesn’t drop or struggle to maintain a connection – most of the lag comes from the games themselves. Please note that Amazon Luna is not a replacement for a game console.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K: Should you buy it?

I absolutely love the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, but that’s because I’m an almost perfect target for this device. My smart home is controlled entirely through Alexa, I do most of my shopping through Amazon, and I’m a Prime subscriber. However, if I didn’t fit that box so neatly, there isn’t one tons advantage to use this through Roku or Apple TV. In fact, I think the Apple TV actually has a better interface.

But like I said, if you’re an Amazon user, the Fire TV Stick is a great addition. The ease of controlling the smart home, the simple yet sophisticated remote control and just the quality of streaming and viewing options make it a great choice.


Whether I’m trying to squeeze in a few minutes of playtime or kick back and watch my favorite show, this streaming stick is my go-to choice.

$25 at Amazon

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