Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: A cost-effective way to make your TV even smarter

Tech review: This latest update offers more storage and a few extra bells and whistles

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
    
Price: €82
Where To Buy: Amazon

Most televisions are smart these days but some are smarter than others. Perhaps you have an older smart TV that is struggling with apps. Maybe you hate the convoluted interface your TV maker has lumbered you with. Or it could be that there are apps out there that simply aren’t available on your system.

Bringing a more modern look and feel to your TV doesn’t take much, though. You don’t even have to spend a fortune; under €100 will get you all the smart TV you need, with a plug-in stick that will bring its own processor and a new interface that will remove the heavy load from your TV.

What’s even better is when the solution keeps things simple. No complicated instructions or requirements – just plug it in and go.

That is something that the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max (second-generation) does admirably.


The new Fire TV Stick looks remarkably similar to its predecessors: all the good stuff is on the inside. That means a faster chip and upgraded wifi capabilities, along with a larger capacity than the standard Fire TV Stick 4K. Plus all the support that you get with standard 4K model: high-quality video, support for Dolby Vision and Atmos, and HDR10+.

In other words, it is the one that you are going to want. It has everything – apart from a snappy name that rolls off the tongue, that is.

Amazon has thought of everything you need to get up and running in minutes and has put it in the box, even down to the batteries for the remote control.

Other than the few upgrades, the Fire TV Stick is pretty much what you would expect from the Amazon device. The compact stick connects to the HDMI port of your TV, and is powered by a USB cable connected to the supplied power adapter. It comes with an Alexa-enabled remote control, too, and an adapter cable if your TV set-up won’t accommodate a stick in the back of your TV.

Amazon has thought of everything you need to get up and running in minutes and has put it in the box, even down to the batteries for the remote control.

It’s a case of plug it in and wait for the inevitable software updates. These should be done in less than 10 minutes.

Once you are through the updates and the set-up process – which should only take a couple of minutes – it is then a matter of choosing what apps and services you want on the device.

Prime Video comes preloaded, but you aren’t tied into that. You can add a few more apps from Amazon’s own app store to bring more content to the stick. All the main streaming services have apps for the Fire TV Stick – Apple TV, Netflix, Paramount Plus, Now, Disney+ – alongside the news apps and games. You have 16GB to store apps, which is twice what the regular Fire TV Stick 4K offers.

The Alexa integration also means you can control your smart-home devices, too, as long as they are connected to your Alexa account

You can also side load some apps by bypassing the security settings to allow installations from unknown sources, similar to Android phones. That not only opens up a whole other world of apps to users – some of which may or may not work – but it can also be a security threat, so think carefully before you go down that path.

The device supports up to six different profiles, so you can have one for each family member. And if you have children, there are parental controls you can enable from the outset. That will restrict purchases, app launches and enable viewing restrictions for content rated teen and above on Prime Video so you can keep small children away from unsuitable viewing material. It does mean that you might have to punch in the PIN twice in the space of 10 seconds.

Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, is built in, too, so you can use voice commands to find content across the various streaming services. If you want to watch the Mandalorian, for example, just press the Alexa button, ask for it and Alexa will come up with some suggestions. It usually leads with the correct one, with some related suggestions underneath.

The Alexa integration also means you can control your smart-home devices, too, as long as they are connected to your Alexa account.

When you aren’t watching something on the TV or ordering Alexa around, the new Ambient mode on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max turns your TV into a giant screen saver with widgets that will show your sticky notes, smart-home favourites, music and TV recommendations.

All of that combined makes the new Fire TVStick a useful device to have, but is it essential? For most people, the answer is no. But if you have an older TV or just want a change in what is on offer – or the ability to install the apps you want – the Fire TV Stick is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your smart TV.


The Fire TV Stick 4K Max offers a decent array of apps from streaming services to games that you can quickly and easily add to any television. It costs less than €100, too, which is a relatively cheap way to boost your smart TV set-up.

Ambient mode is a nice addition, although not essential, and enables you to not only turn your TV into a work of art but also turn it into a digital noticeboard of sorts.


Is there enough on the 4K Max to make it worth buying over the regular Fire Stick or 4K models? The additional storage space is nice, but many of the key features of the new Fire Stick will depend on what you already have in your home. Wifi 6E compatibility won’t mean much if you don’t have similarly enabled wifi. The smart home controls will be redundant if your smart home devices don’t play nicely with Alexa.

Everything else

The 4K Max has 16GB of storage for apps and is powered by a quad core 2Ghz chip. It still uses micro USB for power, though, so don’t bin the old cables just yet.

When you buy the stick, be sure it is the international version; there are two available on Amazon’s site and one is UK only.


If you already have a new smart TV that fulfils all your needs, the Fire Stick will do little to improve that. But for those who need – or want – a boost, the Fire Stick 4K Max is a high-quality addition.

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist