The new 4K Fire TV only supports 4K video, not a 4K interface or 4K apps, and thats a good thing

One of the best features of the new Amazon Fire TV is that it supports 4K video playback. However the interface, apps, and games will not be displayed in 4K. Here’s why that’s a good thing, as well as everything else you need to know about the 4K aspect of the new Fire TV.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of the new Fire TVs 4K capabilities, I’ll preface this article by saying some of the information contained was obtained from a trusted source at Amazon, while other information from is from Amazon’s website.

The new 4K Fire TV supports a resolution of 3840 x 2160 (2160p UHD) at a frame rate of 30fps. It, of course, also supports a resolution of 1920 x 1080 (1080p HD) at a frame rate of 60fps. The important specification to key in on is the frame rate. The new Fire TV cannot display 4K video at 60fps. While it would be great if it could, here’s why it’s probably a good thing that it can’t.

The main reason you need 4K support is for 4K movie and TV show video playback. You’re not going to be playing 4K games on a device like the Fire TV when consoles like the XBox One and the PlayStation 4 don’t even support it. Sure it would be nice if some apps, like weather and photo apps, could be displayed in 4K, but where you need it most is with video, and that’s where the new Fire TV has you covered. Since pretty much all video is shot at 30fps or less, the new Fire TV’s 30fps 4K support is more than sufficient. Any app, like Netflix, will be able to switch into 4K video playback. It’s not limited to just Amazon video.

The other place you won’t see 4K being displayed is with the Fire TV’s interface. That will be output at 1080p and 60fps just as it is on the 1st generation Fire TV. Sure, Amazon could have probably chosen to display the interface at 4K and 30fps, but trust me, you don’t want that. If you use the trick I discovered to force Fire OS 5 developer preview into 30fps, you’ll immediatly see how horrible the interface becomes. At 30fps, the animations and transitions are noticeably choppy. I’ll take buttery smooth 1080p over choppy 4K anyday.

The big upside to the approach that Amazon chose of reserving 4K strictly for video playback is cost. Supporting 4K at 60fps, even if just on the interface, would have required much more processing power and significantly increased the cost of the new Fire TV. Amazon has pulled off a sub $100 4K streaming device by not trying to do too much and spending money only where you need it most.

The downside to this approach, other than not being able to display everything in 4K, is that you’ll see a short delay when playing and stopping 4K video. When you start a 4K video, the new Fire TV will switch from 1080p to 4K. The screen will go black for a few seconds when that happens. The amount of time that the screen stays black is dependent on how fast your 4K TV can change resolutions. You’ll see the same black pause when returning to the Fire TV interface after stopping a 4K video.

Seeing how this is new Fire TV of the first 4K capable streaming boxes, there are bound to be compromises, especially when the device is priced as low as the new Fire TV is. Most people only need 4K support during movie and TV show playback, so if you ask me, Amazon made the right choice limiting the new Fire TV’s 4K capabilities in exchange for a lower price point.

  1. Edgar says:

    That is pretty smart to do. I don’t have a 4k tv yet. Planning on it next year. I just hope my tv is fast enough to change resolutions so that the change is seamless. Either way, smart for amazon to do.

  2. Koying says:

    Does your trusted source know if it will support h264@4K and HEVC? seems not having been updated, yet…

  3. xnamkcor says:

    I noticed on the official Amazon Product page for the “Gaming” edition, it compares the “new” Fire TV to the Stick. What?

  4. MrG says:

    First let me acknowledge how spot on your predictions were. Well done!!! I also like how you are clearly stating what is known and what are still speculations in your articles recently.

    Now to the nitty gritty, the other point that should be made is the bandwidth requirements of streaming 4K. It is a bummer for those you have 4K TVs (I don’t) that they can’t stream local content to the new FireTV at 60fps, but I totally agree with your analysis that for the first mainstream device to handle 4K there had to be compromises.

    Overall, I am very very pleased with what Amazon has done with the new box, it’s clearly a major leapfrog over the uninspiring new AppleTV. And this is coming from a longtime Mac user (and AppleTV owner, including 1st gen of that). The FireTV is head and shoulders above the latest offering from Apple and for less cost!

    • Wakey says:

      Is it really head and shoulders above though? It’s perfectly possible the new AppleTV could support 4K, atleast the same crippled 4K that Amazon are supporting on this device and it comes with atleast 24GB more of internal storage. Some will say the external storage offsets that but internal is always preferable as it’s quicker and even with external you still need some of it installed on the internal memory. Siri on the face of it seems better than the voice on the FireTV, Alexa may change that but the initial reports seem to suggest Alexa is crippled on this device compared to the Echo so atleast at this stage it seems Siri will be stronger. Also the AppleTV remote seems a little more functional although obviously the FireTV also has the gamepad option.

      I can’t help to think atleast on the face of it that if anything Amazon have dropped the ball here. They seem like they have looked only at how to stay ahead of the likes of Roku who have never really made massive leaps in each version so have assumed this is more than enough to stay ahead not expecting Apple to actually put some effort into the AppleTV

      • MrG says:

        I have a number of Apple devices, again longtime Mac guy, and if Siri worked correctly I’d agree with you. However, cost, functionality, expandibility, openness (side loading apps, etc.), yes (but again this is my personal opinion), this box is head and shoulders above the AppleTV

        • Wakey says:

          Siri on the AppleTV though seems to be a massive step up from what we see on the iPhone though as shown in the demo and confirmed by those who tried it after the event. Alexa should help a little but as it seems to be a reduced version of Alexa on the Echo it’s not even going to be Echo level at this point let alone up to the AppleTV Siri functionality.

          And yes the FireTV is cheaper but it also seems to be lower speced (we obviously need to see how the CPU/GPU perform on each but I would imagine they are in the same ball park which makes the extra internal storage a major plus in the AppleTV’s column).

          And what exactly in functionality terms has the FireTV ahead of the new AppleTV? 4K seems to be the only thing at the moment but apart from that functionality is basically identical.

          As for expandability that’s all well and good if that what you really get but on android based system you don’t really. What you get is access to a noticeably slower storage type that still requires part of any app to still be stored on the internal memory. In the android world having memory expansion possibilities seems to be an excuse for manufacturers to under equip devices with internal memory by selling the expansion slot potential but really what this expansion is really suitable for isn’t really apps as you do still run out of internal space even if you stick everything onto a card and you get performance issues (which are noticeable and annoying on some apps, others less so. i had to move WatchESPN back onto internal memory to watch the USOpen tennis as the buffering running it off USB caused fairly regularly buffering where as internal fixed that). What it’s suitable for and should be used for is more as media storage but Amazon have even limited that currently because it can only store files under 4GB, it may be different with the MicroSD slot which if so would be an improvement but it is in no way a justification for skimping on the internal storage which would have been a major benefit for everyone. Even if they only doubled it to 16GB it would have been a significant benefit. People need to realise there is a reason why Google didn’t want to include support for removable storage, haven’t included it in most of their nexus devices and why they don’t allow their own apps to be moved to it and that’s it lowers the user experience.

          On the openness I’m not sure for openness that Amazon’s the best, they are more open than Apple yes but it’s not like you can install Kodi and access it from the main screen. You need to go into settings and load it from the or install a launcher or use llama and then use another app as a sacrificial app (and manually replace the logo). Yes it’s good that with a little effort you can put Kodi on where as it’s unlikely you will be able to on the new AppleTV but IMHO Amazon still make it difficult enough that it’s not the killer feature it could be and there are platforms that do better than Amazon does.

          Gen 1 is my favourite box on the market at the moment and Amazon had the opertunity to hit it out of the park as they have a massive lead over the ATV3 but by skimping internal storage, not using all the dev time on the echo to include a killer voice control system rather than a cut down echo as well as removing the optical connection (it was something most of us on here were picking up as an error on Apple’s part with the new AppleTV and Amazon have no repeated it. It’s not as if the MicroSD card needs to be visible, it’s not on our phones after all so they could have put that behind a panel somewhere rather than needing the optical connectors space) what they have done is taken a safe step forward rather than making the revelationary step forward that we saw them do last year when they launched the device.

          I’m not an Apple fanboy, I’ve owned 4 apples devices in my life, an original version iPod, and iPod touch and two iPads. My computers are all windows and Linux, my phone is android and For streaming boxes I have a FireTV, chromecast and a Roku but if you look at what they presented both on stage and demonstrated to the attendees afterwards has rasied the game on the software usability side especially
          Siri, they will almost certainly have more apps than Amazon (as despite being fairly easy to port apps to Amazon to Android it seems many developers are holding off), the performance shouldn’t be that much worse than the new FireTV based on the benchmarks with the chip in other devices and they have quradrupled the internal storage on the base model. Ayes it’s more expensive but I would have paid more for a FireTV with even 16GB than The 8GB one costs (and you are going to spend extra buying a microSD card anyway)

          • MrG says:

            Wow you really have a lot to say. Let’s just leave it at agree to disagree.

          • Spawn says:

            Would like to correct your comments about sideloading….you can sideload 3rd party apps (Kodi)
            to the new Apple TV with Xcode7 which is free to download. Although you need a mac to use it.

          • Wakey says:

            I would prefer not to agree to disagree because I’m genuinely curious about what exactly makes you think this is head and shoulders better than the new AppleTV. You have been vague in your answer. Apart from the half baked implementation of 4K I can’t see anything this box does that the the New AppleTV doesn’t (Apart from sideloading which they try and make as hard as possible for people to really use sideloaded apps).

          • xnamkcor says:

            “Siri on the AppleTV though seems to be a massive step up from what we see on the iPhone though as shown in the demo and confirmed by those who tried it after the event.”

            Voice Control is a novelty, not a real feature.

            “And yes the FireTV is cheaper but it also seems to be lower speced”

            Doesn’t Apple use custom hardware? What specs? GHz?

            “extra internal storage a major plus in the AppleTV’s column).”

            About as “major” as getting a computer with 750GB instead of 500GB when it has a free SATA port.

            “And what exactly in functionality terms has the FireTV ahead of the new AppleTV?”

            4k, and it’s based on Android.

            “What you get is access to a noticeably slower storage type”.

            What does Apple use that’s faster than SDHC/XC?

            “that still requires part of any app to still be stored on the internal memory.”

            How dare they!

            “In the android world having memory expansion possibilities seems to be an excuse for manufacturers to under equip devices with internal memory”

            Better than selling different versions of products with different internal memory sizes at horrible price increments.

            “you get performance issues”

            Stop using bad SD cards

            “the buffering running it off USB”

            2nd Gen doesn’t use USB storage. Also, stop using bad USB sticks.

            “Amazon have even limited that currently because it can only store files under 4GB”

            Amazon did not invent the FAT file system.

            “On the openness I’m not sure for openness that Amazon’s the best”

            Better than Apple.

            “it’s not like you can install Kodi”

            You can.

            “and access it from the main screen”

            You win some, you lose some.

            “it’s unlikely you will be able to on the new AppleTV”

            “rather than needing the optical connectors space”

            Optical audio requires hardware, it’s not just something that takes up space.

            “if you look at what they presented both on stage and demonstrated to the attendees afterwards”

            I prefer to rely on the performance of the device, not the performance of actors and stagemen.

            “they will almost certainly have more apps than Amazon”

            Since when was a device’s worth measured in how much software it happens to have? If that’s the case, then Windows CE/Mobile beats both Android and iOS

          • Wakey says:


            Wow what an idiotic reply that shows a complete lack of technical knowledge. It’s typical Android fan boy (even though Google themselves hate removable memory for the performance issues it causes. You will also notice that on Android Google don’t let you move their apps onto the removable storage). The bus speed on any removable storage is much slower than than internal storage, microSD theoretically is actually slower as well than USB2 so it’s perfectly possible that the move from USB app storage to microSD will actually make the issue worse. So it has nothing to do with using bad removable storage (I have used multiple USB devices from various companies at various price points and on my Android phone I have tried various microSD cards at various speed sand various companies and price points

            And you say sarcastically ‘How Dare they’ for still requiring parts of the app to be stored on but you are missing my point. What good is it sticking a 128GB card in if you can’t take advantage of it. I have a 32GB USB in my gen1 and 75% of my apps are stored on the USB currently but it’s used up just 1GB. My internal memory is down to 550MB. And this is the problem with the Android system that allows device makers to skimp on internal storage and use the removable storage as a feature even though it’s very limited. It’s certainly not the same as your example of getting a 750GB hard drive rather than 500GB but with the 500GB having a spare SATA port as the SATA port gives you full speed extendability that can be used for everything not a much slower extendability that can only store a portion of the app and still requires the rest to be installed on the main storage.

            On the specs I’m going on the rough benchmarks of the the chips when they have been used in other devices. They should both come out roughly the same when people have their hands on both to benchmark them. For anyone who wants a decent selection of apps though the microSD card is going to end up being the bottleneck. It’s fine having this faster processor over the gen1 but why limit it with making people rely on removable storage?

            On voice control have you used an Echo? That actually shows the real power in voice control and if Amazon here had built on that it could have been a killer feature as Alexa in the echo is really very good compared to Siri on an iPad/iPhone. As it is what we get is the fairly accurate but limited search capabilities we currently have and some of the extra information features of Alexa on the echo. It’s an ok addition but not the jump that Siri has made on the AppleTV. Just look at the Siri feature for example where you can say ‘What did they just say’ and it rewinds 15seconds and turns on subtitles for that period of time to ensure you pick it up the second time. On the FireTV that’s you hitting rewind, hitting play, then selecting subtitles, turning them on, watching the part again and then having to turn them off which is much more hassle. And I do agree much of the voice control we have no is a gimmick but with the echo and now what Siri is able to do on AppleTV it seems to be able to do it seems to be starting to turn the corner from the gimmick to the useful feature that we have been waiting for since Star Trek.

            On the 4K that could have been a major selling point but it’s crippled 4K. Only including a HDMI 1.4 port limits it significantly as there isn’t enough bandwidth on this version of HDMI which is why it’s limited to 30fps. It’s one of those annoying temp devices like all this ‘HD Ready’ TV’s in the early days that we soon had to upgrade to Full HD. If they had really committed to 4K then it would have been a killer feature but they are looking for getting people to buy now and then buy again in a years time when they release a proper 4K unit. And Android as a feature may have been a feature if it was running stock Android but running FireOS makes it less of the case.

            On the FAT system yes Amazon didn’t invent it but they didn’t have to use FAT. As I keep saying the benefit of the external storage isn’t the apps but for media so it would have made more sense to use a non FAT file system

            On the optical I know it requires hardware but so does the SD card. Unless the internals have changes significantly they could have fitted both with little trouble.

            “Better than selling different versions of products with different internal memory sizes at horrible price increments.”

            Yes the price increments on internal memory is a little steep especially on Apple devices but sticking an unsuitable amount of space on a device and relying on slower removable storage is just piss poor

            “I prefer to rely on the performance of the device, not the performance of actors and stagemen.”

            The journalists that got hands on though seemed to largely confirm the on stage performance. Obviously we need to see the more in depth hands on later on but we still also need to see how the new FireTV performs as well especially for 4K

            And finally apps are often key. It’s why Windows Phone has struggled due to lack of apps and not the crap ones we are talking about the quality ones. Even the FireTV currently is lacks some good apps because they haven’t been ported and it is a factor

          • CitrusFizz says:

            If you guys can afford a 4k TV, i’m sure you could afford both the new AppleTV and the new AFTV. so why compromise and just have both?

          • Mike Jones says:

            Actually, there is an icon for kodi on fire tv, no need for llama. Apple
            tv doesn’t have amazon tv. Also, the new Roku Ultra spanks both firetv and appletv with 4k 60p HDR, quadcore processor, ac wifi. But apple is the worst of the bunch, sorry but you’re in denial if you think otherwise.

    • crevz31 says:

      no need to “stream local content” – 4K videos are saved on USB or SD card and played directly

  5. Simon Gauduchon says:

    I’m lucky enough to have a Samsung 4K TV and with the Amazon app included on the TV I can already stream their UHD content, so if the new Fire TV only streams 4K is their any point in me upgrading ?

    • crevz31 says:

      Faster processing speed than the original AFTV you have, i dont know if you have kodi on it but im sure there would be some advantages with app processing and it seems it has a better graphics processor

  6. Rick says:

    Gaming edition does not include hand remote, so not a good a deal as it sounds.

  7. Pedro says:

    Since it is not listed anywhere, it could also mean it only supports HDMI 1.4

  8. fassfa says:

    But does it support high dynamic range? (The new standard)

    • Pedro says:

      It needs to be HDMI 2.0 to support it, since they pushed their service to support that, my guess is this has to support it, but I don’t see any mention of this in the product description page.

  9. Craig says:

    Wonder if it will be able to handle the x265 1080 codec? As the current model can’t due to hardware limitations!!?

  10. David says:

    “To whom it may concern”

    We would like to see Amazon Fire TV “Pro” version with:

    – HDMI 2.0 – 4k x 60 fps ( at least more than 4k 30 fps )
    – HDR
    – Gigabit Ethernet

    Between $150-200 price is totally justifiable with above spec.

  11. UHD says:

    We’ve seen
    – Mega Pixle war
    – Mega Zoom war
    – Big Screen war

    So why not add 4k @ 60fps, Gigabit Ethernet and beat the new Apple TV run for the money. (Amazon still has plenty of time ahead if the development start by now).

  12. Tony N says:

    How is 30fps crippling? Have you actually watched any 60fps content? It looks like crap. The motion blur of 30fps and 24fps is much more pleasing to watch. The most important factor, though, is that the file is TWICE the size as 30fps and h265 at this point is dependent entirely upon the CPU- there are no SoC devices out with GPU hardware decoding. H265 1080p@24p would push an ARM CPU’s resources to their max and frames would be dropped constantly. H265 4k@60p isn’t even a possibility.

  13. Carl McFarlsne says:

    I think it is more important that this box can do 24hz in 1080p and 4k for now, most films where shot in 24fps and to watch a film in 1080p at 60fps makes me cry, it’s just not natural, the same for 4k, most remasters of classic films need to keep 24fps, running them at some daft equation is going to make them look horrid, as more and more studios use 60fps then it will become an issue, by then we will be discussing the merits of another version of this box or other boxes.

  14. Ulises Rodriguez says:

    Has anyone noticed that the Official Amazon Power Adapter for the 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV comes now with 21W instead of the 16W that the Old one have?…=ATVPDKIKX0DER

    Although it appears that this NEW Adapter is more powerfull, 21W instead of 16W, Amazon have not yet confirmed, at the product description, if both of them have the same 6.25V or Not !…

    Since the 2nd Generation FireTV comes now with a NEW 4-Cores Processor, may be it needs a Higher Amperage and a more capable/powerful Adapter…

  15. Ulises Rodriguez says:

    The correct link for the Official Amazon Power Adapter for the 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV is:

  16. Max Miller says:

    So, does 24p flawlessly or not?

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