Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Excellent Media Streamer
PC Magazine|November 2021
Wi-Fi 6 is capable of higher speeds and better performance than the Wi-Fi 5 we’re used to, especially in crowded network environments, and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the first media streamer under $100 we’ve seen to support the standard (the $180 Apple TV 4K also uses it).
WILL GREENWALD

The $54.99 Fire TV Stick 4K Max is just like the $49.99 Fire TV Stick 4K, but with a Wi-Fi 6 radio and a slightly faster processor. For just $5 more, it certainly seems like a good deal, but 4K video can be improved by bandwidth only to a certain extent, and Wi-Fi 5 already exceeds that. So unless you have a Wi-Fi 6 router, an incredibly fast internet connection, and optimal wireless conditions, the standard Fire TV Stick 4K will suit you just fine and remains our Editors’ Choice winner.

THE SAME STICK

Physically, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is identical to the Fire TV Stick 4K. It’s a plain, rectangular black stick measuring 3.9 by 1.2 by 0.6 inches (LWD), with an HDMI plug sticking out of one end. The side of the stick holds a micro USB port, just like the Fire TV Stick 4K. A newer USB-C port would have been nice as it’s easier to plug in, but since it’s used only for power, it’s understandable that Amazon didn’t bother to even change the stick’s plastic casing to accommodate a different port. There are no other connections on the device, and no indicator lights or controls.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

PROS

Fast performance. Lots of apps and services. Amazon Alexa voice control. Wi-Fi 6.

CONS

4K HDR media streaming can’t really take advantage of Wi-Fi 6. No Apple AirPlay or Google Cast.

BOTTOM LINE

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max is an excellent media streamer that adds Wi-Fi 6 compatibility for just $5 more than the standard model, but you probably won’t see a difference outside of very specific use cases.

While it doesn’t feel any different, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max has some small upgrades over the Fire TV Stick 4K on the inside. A Wi-Fi 6 radio (801.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax) is the most obvious addition, but it’s a bit more powerful as well. It features a 1.8GHz CPU and a 750MHz GPU compared with the Fire TV Stick 4K’s 1.7GHz CPU and 650MHz GPU, and has half a gigabyte more memory, for a total of 2GB. For comparison, the $119.99 Fire TV Cube, which offers hands-free Alexa voice control, has dual CPU cores (2.2GHz and 1.9GHz) and an 800MHz GPU.

The stick is intended to be powered by the included USB-to-micro USB cable and wall adapter. Amazon doesn’t recommend trying to run it off of your TV’s USB ports, which might be underpowered. Aside from the power cable and adapter, the stick includes a short HDMI extender, in case the ports on your TV are too tightly packed.

The included remote is standard Fire TV fare, a flat black wand with a prominent circular navigation pad near the top. Power and Alexa buttons sit above the pad, along with a pinhole microphone. Menu, playback, and TV volume controls can be found below it, with dedicated service buttons for Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix farther down. The remote can directly control your TV’s audio over HDMI-CEC.

FIRE TV FUNCTIONALITY

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