Fire TV Stick 4K vs. Fire TV Cube: Which should you buy?

Amazon Fire TV Cube and Fire TV Stick

Amazon has settled its Fire TV lineup quite nicely in as we work our way through 2020. It's got four models, from the Fire TV Cube on the high end, to the Fire TV Stick Mini on the low end. 

We're going to concentrate on the top two here — the Fire TV Cube and the Fire TV Stick 4K. There's a world of difference between the two — not to mention something like $70 when they're not on sale.

But you might be surprised to learn that we recommend getting the less expensive of the two. Because for our money, you'll get more out out of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K.

Here's why.

The two top picks are great, but different

Fire TV Stick 4K

  • Supports 4K resolution
  • Supports Dolby Vision for HDR and Dolby Atmos for Audio
  • Has TV controls on the remote control

Fire TV Cube

  • Supports 4K resolution
  • Only has Dolby Vision — no Dolby Atmos
  • Has a built-in microphone array for hands-free Alexa control

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

It's actually pretty hard to find something bad to say about the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. It's got all the specs you want to see — 4K resolution, HDR10, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision. It has access to nearly every streaming service you could want, and the vast Amazon App Store. (And, yes, it has YouTube and YouTube TV.)

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The best Fire TV device you can buy

Release year: 2018 | Form factor: Stick | Processor: Quad core @ 1.6 GHz | Storage: 8 gigabytes | HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG | Audio: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus | Networking: 802.11ac wifi, Ethernet with dongle | Alexa control: Via voice remote

Hits all the specs you want
Great price
Improved remote control
Doesn't have every streaming app

Amazon Fire TV Cube

The Fire TV Cube adds a microphone array for hands-free Amazon Alexa voice control. But it does so at a high markup, and that's a pretty high price to stomach. But the addition of Dolby Vision and faster on-device voice command processing makes it easier to swallow.

Amazon Fire TV Cube

Mostly good, plus Alexa

Release year: 2019 | Form factor: Cube | Processor: Hexa-core @ 2.2 Ghz, dual-core @ 1.9GHz | Storage: 16GB | HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG | Audio: Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus

Now has faster, on-device voice-command processing
Same great Fire TV experience
Added Dolby Vision for 2019
That hands-free Alexa support is expensive

It's an easy decision — how badly do you want hands-free Alexa support build into a Fire TV? (And how much do you want to pay for it?)

Don't overthink this one

For all intents and purposes, the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and the Amazon Fire TV Cube do the same thing. They turn your TV into a portal for Amazon Prime Video, along with apps and games and music — pretty much everything you'd want in a smart TV box, right?

Both of these devices have support for 4K UHD resolutions. That's important for pretty much any new TV you buy today. They differ a bit when it comes to other features, though.

The Fire TV Stick 4K and 2019 Fire TV Cube now both support Dolby Vision for HDR. (That's high dynamic range, and it basically makes your video look better. Colors are brighter and pop more, and darks are darker.)

The Fire TV Cube's differentiator is that it's got a microphone array built in, for hands-free access to Amazon Alexa. (The Fire TV Stick 4K also talks to Alexa, but first you'll have to hit a button on its remote control.) That's a big deal if you just have to have Fire TV and Alexa built into the same box. But it comes at a pretty big premium — $119, versus $49 for the Fire TV Stick 4K. And, in fact, you can bundle a Fire TV Stick 4K with a current-generation Amazon Echo Dot for just $79 , making the Fire TV Cube that much of a tougher sell.

Both devices are shipping with the new-and-improved Fire TV voice remote .