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Home / Features / What is the Amazon Fire Stick, and how does it work?

What is the Amazon Fire Stick, and how does it work?

Everything you need to know about Amazon's do-it-all media device

Fire TV Stick 4K Max

What is the Amazon Fire Stick? How does it work? If you’re seeking the answers to these questions, then rest easy. You’re in the right place. We’re going to guide you through everything you need to know about the Amazon Fire Stick, including the different types, their features and why you might want one. Oh, and don’t forget to check out our list of the best streaming devices if you want to browse other alternatives.

What is the Amazon Fire TV Stick?

best streaming device 2023 Amazon Fire TV Stick

At its core, the Fire Stick is best thought of as a mini computer that you can plug into your TV. It offers a huge number of streaming apps, including all the heavy hitters like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, YouTube, and more. It also features other extras like games, including access to Amazon’s Luna cloud gaming service.

As for why you’d want one? Well, it’s a quick and easy way to breathe life into an ageing TV or monitor, and is far cheaper than buying a new TV altogether. Or maybe you find yourself preferring the Fire Stick’s  UI and app experience, and would rather use it as your main source of entertainment for your TV. Whatever the reason, its compact form factor and range of affordable price tags make it a very appealing option for those looking to inject their screens with a modern media experience.

The fact that it simply plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port makes installation an absolute breeze, and it can be powered via a simple USB cable for added convenience. Each Fire Stick also comes bundled with a remote, some of which also have Alexa Voice capability, thanks to a built-in microphone. In other words, a Fire Stick is also a handy way of adding Alexa smarts to other rooms around your house.

Better yet, thanks to its miniature size, there’s nothing stopping you from chucking your Fire Stick in a bag while travelling, taking your entertainment portal with you wherever you are. Throw in apps like Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music and more, and you’ve got access to all your tunes too.

Which Amazon Fire Stick should you buy?

Christmas gift ideas for movie fans: Amazon Fire TV Cube

At the time of writing, there are four different models of the Amazon Fire Stick available. The right one for you depends on your needs and budget. The below table summarises their differences:

Fire TV Stick LiteFire TV Stick LiteFire TV StickFire TV StickFire TV Stick 4K (2nd gen.)Fire TV Stick 4K (2nd gen.)Fire TV Stick 4K Max (2nd gen.)Fire TV Stick 4K Max (2nd gen.)Fire TV Cube (3rd gen.)Fire TV Cube (3rd gen.)
PriceFrom: £34.99From: £44.99From: £59.99From: £69.99From: £139.99
Ratings4.7 out of 5 stars (33,680)4.7 out of 5 stars (103,004)4.7 out of 5 stars (5,851)4.6 out of 5 stars (3,926)4.4 out of 5 stars (2,188)
Best forEssential HD streamingHD streaming with convenient device controlsCinematic 4K streamingPowerful 4K streamingThe ultimate hands-free 4K streaming experience
Supported picture quality1080p Full HD (high definition)1080p Full HD (high definition)4K Ultra HD4K Ultra HD4K Ultra HD
Supported videoHDR, HDR10, HDR10+, HLGHDR, HDR10, HDR10+, HLGDolby Vision, plus HDR, HDR10, HDR10+, HLGDolby Vision, plus HDR, HDR10, HDR10+, HLGDolby Vision, plus HDR, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG
Supported audioDolby encoded audioDolby Atmos audioDolby Atmos audioDolby Atmos audioDolby Atmos audio
Included remoteAlexa Voice Remote LiteAlexa Voice RemoteAlexa Voice RemoteAlexa Voice Remote EnhancedAlexa Voice Remote Enhanced
Storage8 GB8 GB8 GB16 GB16 GB
Memory1 GB1 GB2 GB2 GB2 GB
Wi-Fi support & connectivityWi-Fi 5Wi-Fi 5Wi-Fi 6Wi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 6E + Ethernet port
Live View Picture-in-Picturecheck markcheck markcheck mark
Fire TV Ambient Experiencecheck mark
Hands-free with Alexacheck mark
Connect and control your devices (set-top box, game console, webcam, etc.)check mark
Release year20212021202320232022

If you’re not fussed about 4K or Alexa controls, then the cheapest Fire Stick Lite should be enough for your needs. As the price increases, you’ll get extra features, such as 4K, faster Wi-Fi, and more powerful components (which will be useful for those planning for heavy use/gaming).

It’s worth noting that there’s also a Fire TV Cube, which is a do-it-all box that has the advantage of hands-free Alexa, as well as acting as a rather handsome smart speaker in its own right.

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Esat has been a gadget fan ever since his tiny four-year-old brain was captivated by a sound-activated dancing sunflower. From there it was a natural progression to a Sega Mega Drive, a brief obsession with hedgehogs, and a love for all things tech. After 7 years as a writer and deputy editor for Stuff, Esat ventured out into the corporate world, spending three years as Editor of Microsoft's European News Centre. Now a freelance writer, his appetite for shiny gadgets has no bounds. Oh, and like all good human beings, he's very fond of cats.