Fire TV Hardware Winners and Losers of 2023 — The best and worst Fire TV devices released this year

Each year brings with it new Fire TV devices and accessories, both from Amazon and 3rd-party manufacturers, and 2023 was no exception. This year saw the release of new Fire TV Sticks from Amazon, many new Fire TV Smart TVs from numerous TV manufacturers, and some Fire TV accessories from both Amazon and others. Here’s a look back at the best and worst new Fire TV hardware released in 2023.

Best Amazon Fire TV Hardware of 2023

Winner: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2nd-gen)
It was difficult to decide between the two new Fire TV Sticks released this year, but my winner for the best Fire TV hardware from Amazon in 2023 is the new Fire TV Stick 4K. While the 4K Max is, technically, a better device in several ways, the regular Fire TV Stick 4K provides more than enough to fill the needs of the vast majority of people looking for a great 4K streaming device. Its specs are practically identical to the 1st-gen Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which was a fantastic device, yet it’s an even better deal thanks to a list price that is $5 less than the old 4K Max. The new Fire TV Stick 4K not only swiftly received a 50% discount already, but it did so earlier than any previous Fire TV model, establishing itself as the ultimate bang-for-your-buck streaming device in Amazon’s lineup.

Honorable Mention: Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max (2nd-Gen)
While the regular Fire TV Stick 4K takes the win due to its unbeatable value, the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max is more than worth mentioning for its unbeatable specs in such a compact form factor. Amazingly, the performance of the much loved 2nd-gen Fire TV box is now available in a “Stick” model. Not to mention that it’s the first non-Cube Fire TV model to offer 16GB of storage and next-gen WiFi 6E capabilities, all while remaining cheaper than every non-Stick Fire TV before it.

Best 3rd-Party Fire TV Hardware of 2023

Winner: TCL Fire TV Smart TV Lineup (Q6, Q5, S4, and S3 Class)
When it comes to non-Amazon hardware carrying the Fire TV name, TCL easily takes the cake for 2023. Thanks to regulatory pressure last year against Google’s anticompetitive practices that prevented TV manufacturers from making both Android TV and Fire TV Smart TVs, TCL came in swinging in 2023 with a full lineup of Fire TV Smart TVs that spans across four unique models in numerous sizes each. TCL first released its high-end Q6 Class QLED Fire TVs in 55, 65, and 75-inch sizes. That was followed by TCL’s mid-tier S4 Class Fire TVs in sizes ranging from 43 to 75-inches. TCL then released its budget-friendly S3 Class of Fire TVs a few weeks later in 32 and 40-inch sizes. Lastly, TCL released a final Q5 Class Fire TV exclusively at Costco. The infusion of so many new Fire TV Smart TV options from TCL this year makes it the winner of the best 3rd-party Fire TV Hardware.

Honorable Mention: 75-inch Hisense U6HF QLED Fire TV Smart TV
While TCL’s large selection of new Fire TV Smart TVs was great to see in 2023, it didn’t release any truly premium models with features like full array local dimming. For that, we have Hisense, which did release what is likely the most premium Fire TV hardware in 2023. The new 75-inch Hisense U6HF Series QLED 4K Fire TV is as close as you’re going to find to a premium Fire TV, thanks to its Quantum Dot QLED panel, support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, a variable refresh rate, and full array local dimming with 220 zones that can reach a peak brightness of 600 nits, which is the best of any Fire TV Smart TV.

Worst Amazon Fire TV Hardware of 2023

Loser: Amazon Fire TV Soundbar
Easily the worst new Fire TV hardware from Amazon is the new Fire TV Soundbar. While it’s not a terrible soundbar, it has no business whatsoever carrying the “Fire TV” name as it has no Fire TV-specific features or perks compared to any other soundbar on the market. Couple that with the fact that it’s overpriced for what you get, even when it’s on sale.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Amazon 2-Series Fire TV Smart TV
The new 2-Series Fire TV Smart TVs introduced by Amazon this year were supposed to be the budget-friendly models in Amazon’s growing TV lineup. While I’m sure they’re fine TVs, they’re losers because these TVs didn’t deliver the one thing they needed to, which is a low price. The 32-inch 720p model never dropped below $109.99 and the 40-inch 1080p model never dropped below $179.99 in 2023. For comparison, the Insignia 32-inch 720p Fire TV was regularly available for $79.99, which is 27% less than Amazon’s comparable 2-Series Fire TV. Even worse, the 40-inch TCL 1080p Fire TV dropped to $99.99 during Black Friday, which made it 45% cheaper than Amazon’s comparable “budget” 2-Series Fire TV.

Worst 3rd-Party Fire TV Hardware of 2023

Loser: Fire TV Stick Power Cables
There are numerous micro USB power cables claiming to be specifically made to connect a Fire TV Stick to the USB port on a TV that are both inadequate and a rip-off. For starters, they do nothing to prevent the risks of using a TV USB port for power, as the cables actually certified by Amazon do through the use of built-in batteries. Even if you trust that your TV’s USB port is safe to use with a basic USB cable, these Fire TV Stick-specific cables are overpriced at around $10 each when any generic short micro USB cable will do the same thing for less than half the price. Not to mention that twist-tying the cable that came with a Fire TV Stick behind your TV achieves the same “clean” setup at no additional cost.

(Dis)Honorable Mention: Generic Fire TV Remotes
Amazon has become flooded with generic 3rd-party Fire TV remotes this year. While some are a decent bargain, relative to paying Amazon’s price of $29.99 for a replacement remote, others are absolute junk that may not even work as claimed. That is because many of the 3rd-party remotes are IR-only, which means they have limited functionality with Fire TV Smart TVs and don’t work at all with Fire TV Sticks/Cubes, even though many incorrectly claim they do. Many of these remotes don’t have functioning voice capabilities and just bring up the text search when you press the Alexa/Mic/Search button. The best way to get a replacement Fire TV remote is to buy a Fire TV Stick when it goes on sale. This way you get a genuine remote for around $20 or less. Otherwise, you need to carefully read reviews of 3rd-party remotes to understand which Fire TV capabilities they do and don’t support.

  1. Rik Emmett says:

    I’d like a remote without voice capability. Can you list the ones that don’t have voice capability.

  2. Bob Cor says:

    I wonder if Amazon has reduced their prices to sell more of their devices just as they are planning to change their operating system to Linux so that everyone will have to purchase different devices to use their Linux system. Will our old devices work on the Linux system? Amazon has gotten sneaky lately and not to be trusted. Thank you.

    • I would be absolutely shocked if any Fire TV running Fire OS gets switched to the new OS. Doing so would immediately break so many apps on existing devices that there’s no way Amazon would be that dumb to try it. Plus, Amazon doesn’t even update devices from one major version of Fire OS to another (e.g., Fire OS 6 to Fire OS 7), so, because of that, it seems even more unlikely they would jump a device to an entirely new OS. If the new Linux/Vega OS comes to Fire TV, it will surely be on a brand new model that never ran Fire OS. So all existing Fire TVs up until that point will continue working on Fire OS as usual.

      • Bob Cor says:

        Thanks for your response. So it looks like Amazon will be selling new devices, making their customers buy different devices making them more money.

        • tech3475 says:

          It would be better for them to restrict the new OS to newer hardware IMO, existing Fire OS based hardware is likely to continue to be supported anyway and it would cause more problems if they were to strip functionality from them i.e. remove the ability to run Android apps.

          Certainly I would be annoyed, especially since I bought Fire TV devices instead of Rokus or just use the built in Smart TV apps because of Android app support.

        • Mark says:

          That isn’t what Elias said at all.

        • Kary says:

          No one will be forced to buy new devices for a long time given Amazon’s policy of providing security updates for four years from when the device was last sold. Not sure why you’re looking so hard to find a negative.

          • Bob Cor says:

            Fire stick value has been drastically eroded with the ads they are now forcing upon us. I just miss the freedom of usage we used to have. Thank you.

          • Kary says:

            Suggesting things to view hardly is an intrusive ad, especially if they don’t have moving video. Many of the streaming services are far worse because they do show moving video and audio (the latter of which you can typically turn off). It’s not like they are showing ads for products to buy.

            Even Google and Android TV devices show “ads” if you use your definition, and that was actually a selling point of one of those devices when they started tracking your viewing and making it easier to find things you wanted to watch.

        • Kary says:

          Also, Amazon doesn’t make much if any money off the devices. They might even lose money. They want people to continue using the devices.

  3. Kary says:

    1. By limiting it to devices released this year the best device is excluded: The Fire Cube.

    2. I’m not so sure the soundbar is that outrageously priced given it has both HDMI and optical inputs. What else is there that is only $99? I’m in the market for my travel trailer.

    3. I discovered how bad the third party remotes can be. I wanted a simple remote to replace the more complicated one that comes with the Fire Cube, and ended up with something that was sometimes unusable due to glitches.

    • For $80 you can get this TCL soundbar that comes with a sub, just to name one. There are plenty of well-reviewed sub-$100 soundbars on Amazon’s best selling list, most of which give you something more than the Fire TV soundbar.

      • Kary says:

        Thanks, although since that’s a sales price (too), again I don’t think the $99 for the “Fire” device counts as outrageous. I’ll keep that one in mind for my travel trailer. The subwoofer might have a use in the trailer in addition to providing better bass. For the main speaker I just want something small that will sound better than the small BT speaker I use now (which does sound better than the monitor speakers by far).

        • The Fire TV Soundbar’s price isn’t outrageous and I’ve never said it is. It’s just overpriced since established soundbar makers, like Sony, TCL, Vizio, and others all give you more in a soundbar for the same price. I try not to focus on the value of an Amazon device because that’s up to each person to decide for themselves. Had the Fire TV Soundbar offered anything at all that was unique, I would mostly ignore the price, but, when a product is as generic as they come, all that’s left to critique is the price.

  4. Keith says:

    The new 4k max is absolutely essential. You need 16GB storage to do pretty much anything with a firestick. anything less and you repeatedly deleting apps, clearing data and/or cache or resetting the stick to gain storage back.

  5. Keith says:

    2nd Gen FireTV Max is definitely the winner for me – only because of its’ 16GB storage – 8GB of the regular sticks is just not enough (it fills up over a month or two and you have to clean it out incessantly).

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