Best Fire TV Stick in 2021

This story is a part of Christmas Guide 2021, our list of ideas, by topic, by recipient and by price, to help you find the perfect gift.

The market is full of streaming devices these days and it’s easy to see why. The cheap little sticks can turn just about any TV into an entertainment center where you can easily access all your favorite shows. Roku is one of the most popular manufacturers of streaming players, but big companies like Apple, Google and Amazon also make their own streaming boxes and sticks.

Amazon in particular has pushed aggressively into the streaming space by producing a host of Fire TV-branded streaming devices. In general, we tend to like Roku products best for their ease of use and their platform agnostic approach – Roku menus do not favor one service (such as Prime Video) over others. That said, Amazon’s Fire TVs are also very capable, especially if you will Alexa voice integration.

Read more: Roku vs. Amazon Fire TV: Which streaming device is best in 2021?

Amazon’s selection includes the basic Fire TV Stick Lite for $ 20, the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max for $ 35 and the Fire TV Cube for $ 75, as well as a lot of models in between. If this sounds confusing, do not despair. Our guide to the best Fire TV streaming device will help you choose the right model for you.

Sarah Tew / CNET

If you are looking for the best Fire stick on the market, Fire TV Stick 4K Max is it. Max is fast and loads apps almost instantly, and navigation around the system is fast and smooth. Even better, Max supports Wi-Fi 6 and almost all the latest playback standards, including Dolby Vision. The downside of Max is its Fire TV platform and the fact that ads are prominent everywhere. We just do not appreciate the TV becoming a giant rotating billboard for content or ads when in screen saver mode. But this is a great choice for those looking for the best and fastest Amazon Fire TV stick.

Read our review of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite is our favorite budget streaming device best suited for Roku Express. Little expresses Expressen in features-for-the-money. This Fire TV’s biggest advantage is a remote control with built-in voice search and control powered by Alexa. The cheapest Roku with voice remote control is Express Plus 4K, which uses Roku’s more basic voice system, not Alexa. The Four Sticks remote also does not need a line of sight to work. If you want to spend as little as possible on a streaming player, Lite is your best bet.

Read our review of the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Fire TV Cube does more than most media streaming devices. It will give you access to all your standard movies, shows and streaming services, but it also comes with a built-in microphone, speaker and Alexa features. This means that it can act as a smart home hub. You can use your voice to search for broadcasts and adjust the volume and input on your TV, dim the lights, make Zoom calls, stream music and check the weather – all hands-free without using the remote control. It also has a hexa-core processor and 2 GB of memory for lightning-fast streaming in 4K UHD image, as well as audio support for Dolby Atmos.

Read our Fire TV Cube review.

Sarah Tew / CNET

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K debuted in 2018 at $ 50 and today it swings around $ 30. While we generally think it’s worth upgrading to the Max, the original Fire TV Stick 4K is still a great choice for those who want 4K streaming without paying for the latest bells and whistles, namely Wi-Fi 6 and lightning velocity. The voice features are impressive and Echo and Dot owners can control it with Alexa. Its app and game selection is excellent, and the responses are still fast, though not as fast as on Max. The remote control can control the volume and turn on TVs and soundbars.

Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K review.

Amazon

While Lite is a better value, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is another great choice for those who still rock regular HD TVs. The biggest difference between the Fire TV Stick and the cheaper Fire TV Stick Lite lies in the remote control. The Fire Sticks remote control has buttons for volume, mute and power, so you can control these functions on your TV. Little lacks these options and is therefore a little cheaper. If you have a 1080p TV and do not bother to pay a little more for a remote control that can control the volume of your TV, then the Fire TV Stick is a good choice for you.

Read our review of the Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Ry Crist / CNET

Fire TV Recast is not a streaming stick, but is an important accessory for cable mowers that have a Fire TV Stick and are looking for an over-the-air DVR – basically a box that lets you record aerial TV broadcasts from channels like ABC, CBS and PBS in your area. Fire TV Recast is our favorite OTA DVR period due to its combination of features, flexibility and lack of monthly fees. It is a network streaming DVR, which means it does not connect directly to a TV. Instead, it streams to TVs, your mobile device and more. Fire TV Recast is relatively expensive, but if you want to record programs from an antenna, it is a good choice.

Read our Amazon Fire TV Recast review.

Four TV frequently asked questions

What is the difference between a Fire TV and a Fire TV?

A Fire TV device, like the ones on this list, are small stick-shaped or square pieces of hardware that plug into an HDMI port on the back of your TV. This gives your TV access to Amazon Fire TV software and content no matter what TV brand you own.

Amazon also makes Fire TV, which is television that comes with Fire TV software pre-installed. This means that your TV will automatically have access to the Fire TV interface without the need for an additional streaming device.

What streaming apps are on Fire TV?

Fire TV offers a long list of streaming apps, including Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV, Hulu, HBO Max, Paramount Plus, Peacock TV, Tubi, Pluto TV, Showtime, Discovery Plus and others. However, Spectrum cable users do not have access to the Spectrum app on Fire TV.

Do I need an Amazon Prime membership to use Fire TV?

No. Although you do not need a Prime membership to use Amazon Fire TV, it is useful and recommended. The membership comes with a selection of Prime video content, including access to shows like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Expanse and Wheel of Time. This and other Amazon-branded content is heavily advertised in the Fire TV system, and a Prime membership makes it easier to check out everything Amazon has to offer.

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