Amazon makes a plethora of Fire TV Sticks and many of them have similar names. How do you pick which one is right for you? We’ll help you break them down.
Most people who watch TV these days own at least one streaming device, as these little gadgets have become a crucial part of the movie-and-TV experience. Of course, most new TVs come with smart features built-in, allowing you to use platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime without an extra device. However, TV smart features typically don’t offer the best experience, being both slower than a dedicated streaming device and also lower quality. That’s why you need a streaming device of your own. Roku makes some of the most popular streaming players, but the company is starting to face stiff competition from streaming devices by Apple, Google and Amazon.
Amazon in particular has pushed aggressively into the streaming market by producing an array of Fire TV-branded streaming devices. We’ve reviewed them all, and found that we tend to like Roku products best for their easy use and their platform-agnostic approach — Roku’s menus don’t favor one service (like, for example, Prime Video) over others. That said, Amazon’s Fire TV devices are highly capable too, especially if you want Alexa voice integration.
Amazon’s range is robust and runs the gamut from the basic Fire TV Stick Lite to the midrange Fire TV Stick 4K Max to the top-tier Fire TV Cube, as well as a bunch of models in between. If this sounds confusing, don’t worry. Our guide to the best Fire TV streaming device will help you pick out the right model for you.
How we test Fire TV devices
Every Fire TV Stick we review receives hours of hands-on testing. Typically, this involves installing the device on multiple TVs, evaluating the setup process, adding popular streaming channels and using the product as if it were our own. We use all of the major features available and note how they stack up against other Fire TV models in the company’s lineup. To do this, we hook up multiple Fire TV streaming devices to the same TV so we can switch back and forth easily to compare the experiences.
Our metrics that we look at to rate a device include hardware design, distinctive features that differentiate models, remote capabilities and design, overall ease of use, effective layouts and design, search capabilities, privacy settings, the number of apps and their performance and the overall speed and reliability of the system.
Fire TV FAQs
What’s the difference between a Fire TV device and a Fire TV television?
A Fire TV device, like the ones in this list, is a small stick-shaped or square piece of hardware that plugs into an HDMI port at the back of your TV. This gives your TV access to Amazon Fire TV software and content, no matter what brand of TV you own.
Amazon also makes Fire TVs, which are televisions that come with Fire TV software preinstalled. 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 FireTV?
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. Spectrum cable users, however, do not have access to the Spectrum app on Fire TV.
Do I need an Amazon Prime membership to use Fire TV?
No, though you will need a free Amazon account in order to set up the device. While you don’t need to pay for a Prime membership to use Amazon Fire TV, it is useful and recommended. Membership comes with a selection of Prime Video content, including access to shows such as The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Expanse and Wheel of Time. These shows and other Amazon-branded content are heavily advertised in the Fire TV system and a Prime membership makes it easier to check out all that Amazon has to offer.