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Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max review

We put the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max through its paces to see if it's worth your cash. Here's what we found.

Published: Thursday, 3rd March 2022 at 4:49 pm
A star rating of 4.0 out of 5.
Our Rating
GBP £54.99 RRP

Our review

The Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max is Amazon's top of the line streaming stick. It comes with a wealth of content options and offers 4K HDR10+ streaming across a broad range of films and TV.

Pros

  • Good selection of apps
  • Easy to set up and use
  • 4K HDR10+ streaming quality
  • Alexa voice controls

Cons

  • Needs mains power
  • Remote feels a little cheap

This is Amazon's best Fire Stick — the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max offers better streaming quality and easy usage, all powered by an improved processor and topped off with WiFi 6 support. Really, it just does what it says on the tin, but it does it very well.

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You'll find a wide range of apps that are easy to install and use on the Fire Stick 4K Max, offering you plenty of choice in viewing terms. Remember though that to access many of these apps you'll need pre-paid subscriptions on top of the cost of the stick itself. However, there are a few free options like All 4 and Spotify.

It's also the perfect device for turning a non-smart TV into a smart TV. Simply slot it into the HDMI port, plug it into the mains and off you go. Suddenly, your old television has so much more functionality and offers easily navigable menus with a wealth of content.

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Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max review: summary

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

The Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max is Amazon's best-equipped, highest spec streaming stick. It sits at the top of the table in the Fire TV Stick family and offers 4K HDR10+ streaming quality.

There's a wide range of apps including Disney Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime, All 4, BBC iPlayer, Spotify and many more. It's not hard to find something to suit your tastes.

Setting the stick up is simple too, it plugs into the HDMI port on your TV and also into the mains power. Then, you calibrate your remote, install some software and you're ready to go.

During testing, we experienced no issues with the reliability and streaming quality of the 4K stick. Of course, remember, it's also dependent on the quality of your television.

Menu navigation is pleasingly snappy, thanks to that upgraded processor and we didn't have the irritating waiting times sometimes associated with streaming.

There's also the option to play games on your Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max if you have a subscription to Luna, that is.

What is the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max?

The Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max is a streaming device from Amazon. It's a great way to turn a non-smart TV into a smart TV, offering a range of streaming services, including Amazon's own — Amazon Prime Video — alongside Netflix, BT Sport and many more.

It's got full HDR support and offers 4K streaming — as the name suggests. That 4K selling point makes the stick a direct competitor to the Roku Streaming Stick 4K, which impressed us in testing.

How much is the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max?

The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max currently costs £54.99 direct from Amazon. Of course, to make the most of it you'll need a couple of subscriptions to streaming services too.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max design

The one slightly irritating design flaw of the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max is that it needs to be plugged into the mains, rather than being able to use your TV as a power source via a separate wired connection. The equivalent Roku stick does this and earns a few points in the head-to-head as a result.

Other than that small irritation, the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max delivers exactly what you'd expect. The stick is easy to set up and use and comes with a charging cable, plug and remote. The remote does feel slightly on the cheap, plastic-y side but it gets the job done. It's no great beauty, but it will be plugged in behind your telly anyway, so it's not a piece of tech you'll look at often.

The main homepage shows off content from a range of sources and allows you to make up a watch list from a variety of apps, which is always welcome. This can help to minimise the time you spend jumping from one app to another, searching for your favourite shows.

The more you use the stick, the more Amazon will tailor the homepage suggestions to suit your preferences and viewing habits. That said, during testing the stick definitely had a predisposition to put as much Amazon Prime Video content on that home screen as possible — unsurprisingly.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming quality

Once we got the stick connected up to a WiFi network, we encountered no interruptions and streamed content from several providers with consistent picture quality and connection.

All-new Amazon original documentary, Rooney, perfectly showed off how Amazon's Fire TV sticks and Prime Video service can work seamlessly together.

It works just as well with other streaming platforms too. We fired up Netflix and experienced no issues while streaming The Witcher and Stranger Things.

The addition of 4K HDR-compatible streaming is the main selling point of the stick. It's an iterative improvement on its predecessor but this is an improvement that's worth making.

Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max set-up: is it easy to use?

When you set up your Fire Stick 4K Max you'll need to connect it to the mains power. Connect the TV's USB port and you'll get a message saying that mains power is needed. A power cable and plus are provided for this but it might be a slight irritation if you've already got a huge tangle of wires and plugs behind your TV, as so many of us do.

The Fire TV Stick will also install new software, ask you to select a language and then help you set up your remote. After that you select the apps you'd like installed and there's a pretty good choice — oddly Sky News featured but not Sky Sports, though BT Sports, UFC and several other options appear for sports fans. It's all fairly straightforward, especially if you already have an Amazon account.

What's the difference between Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max?

Roku Streaming Stick 4K

The Roku Streaming Stick 4K and the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max are natural competitors, but the differences between the two are — from a functional perspective — quite minor.

Firstly, as we've already discussed, you'll need to plug the Amazon stick into the mains, whereas the Roku stick can cope using a wired connection to your TV. This is a small win for the Roku Streaming Stick 4K.

The Roku streaming stick also offers more in the way of free content than the Amazon equivalent, through the ad-funded Roku channel. Much of the content on the channel is filler, but we found some entertaining shows and films there too and it's good to have more free options. The Fire TV Stick combats this by offering gaming through the subscription-based Luna app. Conversely, the Roku stick lacks a notable gaming option.

The Fire Stick 4K Max is compatible with VPNs from the get-go, which Roku streaming sticks aren't. That will be a real plus for some viewers. The Amazon stick is a little bigger than its competitor and needs mains power. The remote feels slightly cheap and tacky too, whereas the Roku one is slightly more tactile. These are all minor setbacks and really there's not too much to choose between the pair for most users.

Our verdict: should you buy the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max?

The VPN compatibility of the Fire Stick 4K Max is a notable win over the Roku stick, but there are some downsides too — the cheaper-feeling remote and the need for mains power.

Overall, we liked the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max. It's really easy to set up and use and offers a great range of content, plus high-quality streaming. If you find the VPN and gaming options appealing, it's likely to be the choice for you over the Roku device. However, the Roku streaming stick will persuade some with its additional free content.

The Amazon stick doesn't have too many bells and whistles, but neither do most competitors. It's a fantastic way to level up an older television and access some top-notch entertainment.

Where to buy the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max

We've listed pricing and availability for both the Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max and the Roku Streaming Stick 4K below. They're such close competitors that a good deal might be the deciding factor.

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Want more information on how the Amazon Fire TV devices compare? Read our Roku vs Fire TV Stick guide. Or, head to our best smart TV guide. 

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