Which Fire TV Device Should You Buy? Stick vs. TV vs. Cube, Compared
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With the release of the Fire TV Cube, Amazon now offers four distinct ways of using its Fire TV operating system:

  • The Fire TV Stick
  • The Fire TV
  • The Fire TV Cube
  • Smart TVs with Fire TV built-in (“Fire TV Edition” smart TVs)

If you’re in the market for a streaming device (and you’ve established Fire TV is the best streaming gadget for your needs), which of the four devices should you buy?

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Fire TV Stick with 1st Gen Alexa Voice Remote, streaming media player Fire TV Stick with 1st Gen Alexa Voice Remote, streaming media player Buy Now At Amazon $24.99

The Amazon Fire TV Stick is the entry-level device.

If you’re looking to add smart capabilities to other TVs around your home, it’s an excellent choice. However, if you’re looking to upgrade your main TV’s capabilities, it’s worth spending a few extra bucks on one of the more powerful models.

Your decision might also be influenced by where you live. There are two versions of the Fire TV Stick currently available. “Fire Stick Gen 2” was released in late 2016 and is only available in the US, UK, Germany, Japan, and India. The “Fire Stick Basic Edition” hit shops 12 months later and is available in most of the rest of the world.

Most of the two devices’ technical specifications are identical. Both have a maximum supported resolution of 1080p at 30fps, 8GB of internal storage, 1GB of RAM, and a quad-core ARM 1.3 GHz CPU.

The most significant hardware difference is the remote. The Gen 2 model ships with an Alexa-enabled voice-controlled remote. The Basic Edition doesn’t support Alexa or voice input. There are also some minor UI differences; the Basic Edition doesn’t include a Recommended By Your Apps section, doesn’t offer a search feature, and has a simplified app row.

If you live in a Basic Edition country and the missing features are important to you, you should look at the other options.

Amazon Fire TV

Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote (1st Gen), streaming media player Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote (1st Gen), streaming media player Buy Now At Amazon

The next model is the Amazon Fire TV. It’s a significant step up on the Fire TV Stick. According to Amazon’s calculations, it’s four times more powerful than its little brother.

It’s biggest selling point is support for 4K video. It can produce 3840x2160p output at 60fps and includes HDR10 support in rendering pipelines. All this adds up to better contrasts and more vibrant colors, ultimately giving you a richer viewing experience.

Remember, 4K videos on Netflix are not available on the cheapest plan How Much Is Netflix per Month? How Much Is Netflix per Month? How much is Netflix? What plans are available? Here's a look at how much money Netflix could cost you each month. Read More . You will need to pay $13.99/month for the Premium package. If you’re cable provider nor your streaming provider offer 4K, don’t be fooled into buying a 4K dongle unnecessarily.

Like the Fire TV Stick, the device offers 8GB of internal storage. However, it comes with 2GB of RAM and a quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU which can run up to 1.5GHz. The extra power will be useful for people who enjoy playing games on their device.

Although the device doesn’t have a native ethernet port, you can buy Amazon’s official ethernet adaptor and connect the Fire TV directly to your router. This generally leads to a faster and smoother streaming experience and is recommended for people with slow network speeds.

Amazon Ethernet Adapter for Amazon Fire TV Devices Amazon Ethernet Adapter for Amazon Fire TV Devices Buy Now At Amazon $14.99

Oddly, the Amazon Fire TV doesn’t support Miracast screen mirroring technology What Is Miracast? How to Use Miracast for Wireless Media Streaming What Is Miracast? How to Use Miracast for Wireless Media Streaming HDMI may be the standard for connecting media devices, but it has a lot of downsides. Here's how to use Miracast instead. Read More , whereas the Fire TV Stick does. If you plan on casting a lot of content from your computer or smartphone, the cheaper model might be the best choice.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Fire TV Cube | Hands-Free with Alexa and 4K Ultra HD | Streaming Media Player Fire TV Cube | Hands-Free with Alexa and 4K Ultra HD | Streaming Media Player Buy Now At Amazon

The Amazon Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s newest addition to the Fire TV family. It’s like a regular Fire TV device and an Amazon Echo Dot rolled into one unit; it steals some of the best features from both.

For example, it’s the only model in the Fire TV range that includes Alexa-based Hardware Controls, a built-in Speaker, and far-field voice control. All of these features are present on the Echo Dot.

It also supports 4K Ultra HD at 60fps, HDR10, and Dolby Atmos which are available on the previously-discussed Fire TV. It ships with a free ethernet adaptor.

The Amazon Fire TV Cube uses the same 1.5GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 CPU as the Fire TV along with 2GB of RAM. However, its specs differ slightly from the Fire TV thanks to its 16GB of internal memory.

The Fire TV Cube does not support Miracast.

The bottom line is that if you already own a Fire TV device and one of the many different Amazon Echo models A Comparison Guide to Amazon Echo Devices: Which One Is Best for You? A Comparison Guide to Amazon Echo Devices: Which One Is Best for You? Which Amazon Echo device is right for you? We compare the Plus, Dot, Tap, Show, Spot, Look, and Fire TV Cube to help you make up your mind. Read More , the Fire TV Cube is an unnecessary purchase. But if you’re new to the world of cord-cutting and personal assistants, the device is an excellent way to enter the market.

Amazon Fire TV Edition

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Amazon is partnering with several electronics manufacturers to produce Amazon Fire TV Edition smart TVs. These are television sets with Fire TV built into them, thus saving you from having to buy a seperate device.

Toshiba’s Amazon Fire TV Edition smart TV is a 4K Ultra HD LED TV that comes in three different sizes and is reasonably priced considering its technical specifications.

These Fire TV Edition smart TVs are Amazon’s answer to the Roku-enabled TVs which are becoming increasingly popular.

The Fire TV Edition TVs offer the best aspects of the 4K Fire TV dongle, including 3840x2160p resolution at 60fps, HDR10 support, 2GB of RAM, and 8GB of storage. Unfortunately, however, they do not offer Dolby Atmos sound or Miracast.

The Fire TV Edition smart TVs differ slightly from the Fire TV in their sign in process. Unlike all the other Fire products, you do not need an Amazon account to use the operating system. You can still access Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, and all your other favorite apps without logging in to an OS-wide account.

The Fire TV Edition smart TVs are also Alexa-enabled, so you can use your voice to control the TV, your smart home devices, and more.

Clearly, you’re not going to buy a new TV just to add smart capabilities to your living room. However, if you’re already familiar with the Fire TV OS and do need a new TV, the Fire TV Edition models are high-quality and well-priced options.

A Better Alternative to Amazon Fire TV Devices

Fire TV devices are not right for everyone; they do have some disadvantages. For example, Amazon’s ongoing spat with Google means there’s no native YouTube app (though Amazon does provide a browser-based workaround).

Furthermore, the Fire TV’s reliance on the Amazon Appstore means you don’t have access to the same number of Android apps as you do on Android TV devices. Again, there are workarounds that allow you to sideload apps on the Amazon Fire TV Stick, but it’s not an ideal situation.

Check out the essential list of Amazon Fire Stick channels The Essential Amazon Fire Stick Channels List The Essential Amazon Fire Stick Channels List What are the best apps for watching videos and listening to music? Here's our comprehensive list of Amazon Fire Stick channels. Read More for an idea of the entertainment that awaits you.

Explore more about: Amazon, Amazon Fire Stick, Amazon Fire TV, Buying Tips, Media Streaming.

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  1. Nicholas Duva
    August 3, 2018 at 6:01 am

    I like you coverage of these but would love a comparison of streaming services cost vs benefits. As an example is amazon prime video rate better on a price feature vs say netflix if you are only going to subscribe to one. On the surface i would think prime might be better value due to your getting video, misic, prime free shipping vs netflix.

  2. likefunbutnot
    August 3, 2018 at 2:21 am

    I own a Shield TV, a single Cube, multiple v2 FireTVs, a v1 FireTV and probably two or three Sticks. Here's what I'm going to say:

    The Cube (and by extension the v3 FireTV) needs help. It's not quite fast enough. Mine has observable audio sync issues, especially for 4k content, even when the source is on my LAN. The v2 FireTV has faster hardware and does not have those issues, but it also doesn't have the microphones and AV controls built in. The v2 FireTV is just a better piece of hardware. It has a real ethernet port and will play anything you throw at it.
    FireSticks are fine for less discriminating needs. Not everyone is going watch TV on a giant 4k screen with a 100Mbps+ internet connection. They deserve more credit than they get because they have very good remotes and a solid user interface. It's really easy to load third party Android software on them. They're fast enough for most purposes and they are or can be extremely inexpensive, especially compared to other low-spec devices like a Raspberry Pi.

    It is absolutely trivial to add software from outside the Amazon App Store, but other than Kodi, most people probably won't have many complaints about what's available (unless they have ambitions of Android Gaming, I guess; Amazon DOES sell a gamepad for the FireTV, and relatively few games are marked as compatible with the FireTV remote otherwise). I do like a third-party Youtube client called Smart Youtube TV, but there's nothing wrong with just using Firefox for Youtubing needs.

    The thing about the Shield TV is that the damned thing costs too much. Yes, you can stream games from a PC. Yes, you get a gamepad. Yes, it's a Plex Media Server. The thing is, I never do any of that stuff and I suspect most people who are in the market for a set top box won't be doing any of it either. If you're looking for a quasi-console device and are satisfied with the options of Android gaming and/or streaming something off your PC with a high end nVidia GPU, knock yourself out. But the extra value of the Shield vs. the FireTV v2 in particular just isn't there.

    While I'm at it, I'm going to non-stop crap on Roku's laggy UI and limitations in dealing with local media, the fact that the Chromecast doesn't have a dedicated remote, AndroidTV's similarly small list of compatible apps and AppleTV for being an extremely expensive device that doesn't do much of anything to justify its cost compared to everyone else's hardware.

    The FireTV devices aren't perfect, but between cost, hardware quality and user experience, I think they're the best option for most people most of the time.