If you want to buy an Amazon Fire TV device, the decision is overwhelming with five streaming devices on the market. We have the Fire TV Cube, which combines streaming TV with an Amazon Echo powered by Alexa. Then, we have four flavors of the Amazon Fire TV Stick: The Fire TV Stick 4K Max, The Fire TV Stick 4K, the Fire TV Stick, and The Fire TV Stick Lite.
If you are just looking for a streaming device, look at the Fire TV Stick. If you want a full virtual assistant that also streams movies and TV, then you’ll be interested in what the Cube offers. I’ll explain the significant differences between the Amazon Fire TV Cube and various Amazon Fire TV Sticks and help you decide which one is right for you.
Four Types of Fire TV Sticks
Currently, the following Fire Sticks are available from Amazon. I’ve listed the retail price, but Amazon usually has them for sale with a steep discount, sometimes as high as 50% off:
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Retails at $59.99 but is generally for sale on Amazon at a discount. (released in 2023)
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K: Retails at $49.99 but is generally for sale on Amazon at a discount. (released in 2023)
- Amazon Fire TV Stick: Retails at $39.99 but is generally for sale on Amazon at a discount. (released in 2020)
- Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite: Retails at $29.99 but is generally for sale on Amazon at a discount. (released in 2020)
Before we get into the Fire TV Cube, let’s look at the difference between Amazon Fire TV Stick, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, and Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
Fire TV Stick And Fire TV Stick Lite
The Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite are three years old, so you can usually find them priced under $20 on Amazon. They are an inexpensive way to watch TV without cable. I’ve done a full review of both Fire TV Stick and Lite. Here are the highlights:
Both Fire TV Stick And Fire TV Stick Lite have the following features
- Dual-band, dual-antenna 802.11a/b/g/n/ac MIMO Wi-Fi 5
- Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass-through up to 7.1
- The apps and available content are the same.
- Supports HDR 10, HDR10+
- CPU 1.7GHz, GPU 650MHz
- At least 1 GB of Memory
- at least 8 GB of storage for apps
These two sticks are identical except for the following two features.
- The remote control that comes with the Fire Stick has TV buttons allowing you to control the power and volume on your TV, while the Fire Stick Lite does not.
- The Amazon Fire Stick supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, and Dolby Digital+ surround sound, while the Lite version only supports those features via HDMI audio pass-through.
At the time of this article, the Fire TV Stick is $20 on Amazon, while the “Lite” version is only $15, making it an excellent gift for a friend or relative looking to break free of their cable TV bill. Remember that these devices stream in 1080p HD, but not 4K.
The 4K Fire Sticks
Both the Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Stick 4K Max were released in 2023. They are much more potent streaming devices than their 3-year-old counterparts. The Fire TV Stick 4K costs $10 more than the Fire TV Stick with all its capabilities and more. The highlights of the device is the addition of 4K streaming, Dolby Vision, and Wi-Fi 6 support. They also installed a beefier processor, upped the memory to 2GB, and added the ability to get a Picture-in-Picture live view of devices like security and doorbell cameras.
The next step up is the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, which has all the functions of the previous sticks but adds WiFi-6E support, an enhanced remote with TV channel buttons, ups the app storage to 16 GB, and introduces the Fire TV “Ambient Experience.” I compare these two devices in my review of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
Which Fire TV Stick is Best for You
If you are happy streaming movies and TV in 1080p, go with the Amazon Fire TV Stick. However, if you want the picture quality of 4K in HDR, choose the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. I feel the features the Fire TV Stick 4K Max provides doesn’t justify the higher price relative to the “Non-Max” 4K stick. The Ambient Experience is neat but more of a novelty. The added app storage in the Max is nice, but I doubt many users take advantage the full 8 GB of app storage in other Fire Sticks. Read on if you have questions about the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max providing better Wi-Fi coverage.
The Fire Stick Max Wi-Fi 6E Claim
Yes, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max uses the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard. The Wi-Fi 6E is a data rate improvement, but Wi-Fi 6 is already so fast I doubt many will notice. I’ve seen video reviewers online claim that the Fire Stick 4K Max’s Wi-Fi 6E will improve your ability to connect to your network if you have a weak network signal in the room where your TV is. This claim is false, and they are likely trying to upsell you to get a better commission from Amazon. Wi-Fi 6E operates at a higher radio frequency than Wi-Fi 6.
While a higher radio frequency provides better data rates, it decreases the distance the signal can transmit. If a Wi-Fi 6E device has trouble connecting, it will change to the spectrum Wi-Fi 6 operates in to connect. Ultimately, Wi-Fi 6 connects over a longer distance, while Wi-Fi 6E provides a faster data rate when you are closer to the router. Anyone telling you that the Wi-Fi 6E in their Fire TV Stick improved their Wi-Fi dead zone is misleading you.
Amazon Fire TV Cube
Price: $109.99 at publish time.
If you are merely looking for a streaming device, I recommend using the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. However, if you are looking for a streaming device that doubles as an Amazon Alexa device with a built-in speaker, you may want to opt for the Amazon Fire TV Cube. Here, I’m only providing a high-level view of the Fire TV Cube for the purpose of comparing it to the Fire TV Sticks. Check out my guide on the Fire TV Cube for more in-depth details.
The Amazon Fire TV Cube has all the Fire TV Stick 4K Max streaming capabilities with more processing power. It does lack the newly introduced “Ambient Experience.” However, the Cube is much more than just Amazon’s most powerful streaming device. It combines all the capabilities of an Amazon Echo device to control smart TVs, cameras, light bulbs, and more all around your home.
Fire TV Stick or Cube
Those looking to experiment with cord-cutting should look to grab one of the Fire TV Sticks. The low price makes it an easy investment. Most people have more than one TV, so you can always pick up another one for other TVs. For 4K streamers, I think you can save money by avoiding the “Max” version and go with the Fire TV Stick 4K.
If you can sacrifice watching video in 4K, you can save even more money and go with the Fire TV Stick. If you can go a step further and not have a remote that powers on your TV and controls the volume, you can save $10 with the Fire TV Stick Lite. However, if you are looking for a device that can stream and hub your smart home, you may want to go with the Amazon Fire TV Cube.