The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K has been released today. Before digging into the performance of the new streaming device, here’s a comparison of how it physically stacks up against previous Fire TV Sticks as well as a look at what comes with the Fire TV Stick 4K. Of course, one of the items included is the new Alexa Voice Remote, which now includes power and volume buttons for the first time, so here’s a comparison of the new and old remotes as well.
Included with the Fire TV Stick 4K is the new Alexa Voice Remote, an HDMI extender, a USB power adapter, a USB-A to micro USB cable for power, a pair of AAA batteries for the remote, and documentation. The micro USB cable is just shy of 5 ft long.
Right off the bat, you can see that the new Fire TV Stick 4K is longer than both the 1st and 2nd generation Fire TV Sticks. The body of each model is essentially been as long as the body + HDMI plug of each previous model. While the length of the Fire TV Stick 4K is getting close to the maximum size device that I’d like to have hanging on a horizontal HDMI port, its size is not nearly as concerning as the Fire TV 3 (pendant) or something like a compute stick. At 53.6 grams, the Fire TV Stick 4K is noticeably heavier than the 32 gram 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick, so there may be, for the first time, metal heat sinks inside.
The width of the Fire TV Stick 4K is thankfully the same as the 2nd-Gen Fire TV Stick, so it won’t be any harder to fit it next to adjacent HDMI ports, but if that is a concern, then the included HDMI extender should solve the issue. The new Fire TV Stick 4K is ever so slightly thicker than the older Sticks, but not enough to really matter in any way.
Even though the Fire TV Stick 4K is part of the “Stick” family of devices, it has replaced the 3rd-gen Fire TV (pendant) in Amazon’s lineup. At 53.6 grams, the Fire TV Stick 4K weights much less than the Fire TV 3’s 87.1 gram weight. While the Fire TV 3’s weight was within the allowable HDMI port specification, many people were still concerned with it dangling off of their TVs and resorted to taping it to their TV or using a mount.
The HDMI extender that is included with the Fire TV Stick 4K seems more premium than the on that came with previous Fire TV Sticks. The new one is a little bit slimmer, which should help it fit into tighter spaces. The center cable connecting the male and female ends is notably thicker and less flexible on the new extender. This causes the Fire TV Stick 4K to hang more horizontally when connected to a side HDMI port, instead of just flopping down into a vertical position. This might help keep the Fire TV Stick 4K further away from other TV components and improve WiFi signal strength.
The Fire TV Stick 4K comes with the same 5 Watt / 1 Amp that previous Fire TV Sticks and other Amazon devices use. This should mean that you can power it off of the USB port on some TVs, although you really should use the included power adapter instead. Amazon has printed “IMPORTANT – For best performance, use the included power adapter and USB cable” on the plastic wrapper of the Fire TV Stick 4K. While it may seem like the Fire TV Stick 4K is initially working fine while powered from the USB port of a TV, certain power-hungry operations may fail or cause issues.
The new Alexa Voice Remote that ships with the Fire TV Stick 4K and the new Fire TV Cube bundle will feel right at home for anyone with one of the more recent Fire TV models. That’s because the microphone button, directional circle, and first row of buttons (back/home/menu) are in nearly the exact same position as the previous Alexa Voice Remote. This is great because you won’t have to rewrite your muscle memory if you’re coming from the old remote, which is surprisingly annoying to do, as anyone with a Fire TV Edition television remote will tell you. The playback control buttons (RWD/Play/FF) have been shifted up to make room for the new vertical volume and mute buttons. With your finger on the directional circle, which is where mine usually rests, the new power button in the top left is easy to reach.
The most significant physical exterior difference between the new and old Alexa Voice Remote is that the bottom of the remote now angles inward instead of outward. My guess is that this was done so that the battery door now slides downward instead of upward. The battery compartment on the new remote is much easier to open. Many people had trouble getting to the batteries of the old remote. So much so that Amazon starting printing instructions on the remote’s plastic wrapper for where to hold and push the old remote. The front of the new remote now has a shiny black cover for the IR emitters to function, since the new remote can control your home theater equipment.