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The best Amazon Fire Sticks

Amazon Fire Stick in 2021
(Image credit: Amazon)

In the immortal words of Hey Duggie: stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick stick sticky sticky stick stick! We love the Fire TV Stick, which turns any TV with an HDMI port into a streaming powerhouse and adds not just Amazon’s own Prime Video streaming library but also the ability to stream Netflix, iPlayer, Disney+ and much more depending on the services you subscribe to. 

The current range includes some very powerful as well as some incredibly affordable options, and we think each model is best for very specific kinds of people. So let’s find out which Fire TV Stick is the best one for you.

Fire TV Stick 4K

(Image credit: Amazon)

1. Fire TV Stick 4K

The best Fire TV Stick for most people

Specifications
Resolution: 4K
Dolby Vision: Yes
Dolby Atmos: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
An excellent all-rounder
+
Great value for money
Reasons to avoid
-
Overkill for HD TVs
-
No Wi-Fi 6

This is the sweet spot in the Fire TV stick range: cheaper models lack the 4K resolution, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision support this Fire TV stick offers, and the features it lacks — Wi-Fi 6 and live Picture in Picture view — aren’t deal-breakers for most people.

The Fire TV Stick 4K has the same processor as its non-4K siblings, but it’s only slightly slower than the 4K Max Ultra HD and in normal circumstances, we doubt you’ll notice any difference. It’s noticeably faster than the previous generation. Like all current Fire TV sticks, it has Alexa built-in, although the Stick models don’t have hands-free listening — you activate Alexa from the included remote. This is the version we’ve bought with our own money — it covers all the streaming essentials extremely well.

Fire TV Stick 4K Max Ultra HD

(Image credit: Amazon)

2. Fire TV Stick 4K Max Ultra HD

The best Fire TV Stick for power users

Specifications
Resolution: 4K
Dolby Vision: Yes
Dolby Atmos: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
The only Fire with Wi-Fi 6
+
The most powerful Fire TV Stick
Reasons to avoid
-
Standard 4K is cheaper
-
The most expensive Fire stick

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max Ultra HD is the most powerful of all the Fire sticks: there’s a quad-core 1.8GHz processor, Dolby Atmos, 4K Ultra HD resolution and support for all the key formats: Dolby Vision, HDR 10, HDR10+, HLG and more. But the main draw here isn’t the marginally faster processor: it’s the Wi-Fi. 

This is the only model in the current Fire TV range that supports Wi-Fi 6, which delivers smoother, more stable streaming than previous Wi-Fi standards. It’s backwards compatible with previous Wi-Fi versions so you can use it now even if you haven’t got Wi-Fi 6 yet. If you already have a Wi-Fi 6 router or are likely to get one in the foreseeable future, this is the Fire TV stick to get.

Fire TV Stick

(Image credit: Amazon)

3 Fire TV Stick

The best cheap Fire TV stick

Specifications
Resolution: 1080p HD
Dolby Vision: No
Dolby Atmos: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
A good option for HD TVs
+
Slightly cheaper than the 4K
Reasons to avoid
-
It's HD, not 4K
-
No Dolby Vision

How much is 4K worth? At Amazon, it seems the answer is not much. There's a very small difference in price between this, the full HD Fire TV Stick, and the 4K model. They’re otherwise almost identical — although this one has half a gigabyte less RAM, so may feel slightly slower than its 4K sibling. No 4K means no Dolby Vision, but there’s still Dolby Atmos for immersive sound.

This is the Fire TV stick to get if you have an HD TV and no plans to upgrade it in the foreseeable future: spending a tiny bit more on the 4K version would future-proof it — but then your next TV may well have all the apps you need pre-installed, with no need for a Fire TV stick at all.

Fire TV Stick Lite

(Image credit: Amazon)

4 Fire TV Stick Lite

The cheapest Fire TV Stick

Specifications
Resolution: 1080p HD
Dolby Vision: No
Dolby Atmos: No
Reasons to buy
+
It's really cheap
+
It does all the essentials
Reasons to avoid
-
No 4K
-
No Dolby Atmos

If you want a Fire TV Stick for the lowest possible price, this is the stick you’re looking for. To achieve this ultra-low price Amazon has had to remove some of the features: in this case, it’s taken out the 4K, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos support. 

So clearly this isn’t a stick you’ll want for your state-of-the-art home cinema system or your OLED 4K TV but if you think of it as a cheap and cheerful way to make most standard definition TVs or HD TVs "smart" — for a tiny amount of money — then it makes a lot of sense.

Fire TV Cube

(Image credit: Amazon)

5 Fire TV Cube

The Fire TV stick for people who don’t want a stick

Specifications
Resolution: 4K
Dolby Atmos: Yes
Dolby Vision: Yes
Reasons to buy
+
The most powerful Fire TV
+
Use Alexa even when the TV's off
Reasons to avoid
-
It's relatively expensive
-
It's overkill for most

Amazon’s most powerful Fire TV is too powerful to fit in a stick. Although its feature set is largely the same as the Fire TV Stick 4K Max it has twice the storage (16GB) and a much more powerful processor and GPU — a Hexa-core 2.2Ghz CPU and 800MHz GPU compared to the Fire TV Max’s 1.8GHz and 750MHz. There’s no Wi-Fi 6 but you do get MIMO for strong connections, live picture-in-picture and hands-free Alexa control that you can use to command other smart devices even when your TV is switched off.

This is the one for serious TV streamers, with support for Dolby Vision, HDR, HRD10+ and Dolby Atmos and the most processing power of any Fire TV.

Former lion tamer, Girls Aloud backing dancer and habitual liar Carrie Marshall (TwitterGoogle+) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to .net, MacFormat, Tap! and Official Windows Magazine as well as co-writing stacks of how-to tech books. "My job is to cut through the crap," she says. "And there's a lot of crap."