With this article, I will discuss the three devices of Fire TV that are currently available, namely the FireStick, FireStick 4K, and Fire TV Cube (third generation), and compare them to determine which one I would recommend purchasing.
A Little Background History
FireStick (2nd Gen) is part of the streaming devices that are most popular worldwide, and it was released in October 2016. Later in 2018, Amazon issued an updated version that had 4k support, named Fire TV Stick 4K or FireStick 4K (the third generation of FireStick). Even now, both models of FireStick are accessible from the general public and you can purchase them from Amazon and other retailers.
Moving onto the Fire TV Cube, the first model was announced in June of the same year and had the Echo Dot built-in. But, this model was terminated, and an improved version like the 2nd Generation of Fire TV Cube was released in October 2019.
FireStick TV vs. Fire TV Cube vs. FireStick 4K
The comparison and evaluation of these devices will be based on a few different factors, so let’s take a look at them below.
1. Voice Support and Alexa Integration
All Fire TV devices have the Alexa Integration. What Alexa does is take commands from you to do different tasks. Alexa has the ability to answer to your commands like when you request a movie to play, set an alarm, make online orders, or find the location of a restaurant. She will also tell you a joke upon your request, and she has some good ones. All devices come with a remote that enables Alexa. All you have to do is press and hold the Alexa button (mic) on the remote so you can enable voice support.
However, remember the Echo Dot I mentioned earlier? Fire TV Cube reaches another level when it comes to voice support by using Echo Dot. It clubs Echo Dot and the regular streaming hardware into one and comes with near-field and far-field support. This means that you can access Alexa and give commands without having to lift the remote. It will also be able to hear you even over loud noises. Furthermore, via Echo Dot, you can control your other smart devices, including your lights, TV, door, and a lot more. It also works with IoT gadgets. This device provides a built-in speaker that you might use separately from your TV.
In conclusion, if you are one of those people who prefer enhanced voice support, Fire TV Cube is the right device for you.
2. Performance and Speed
I will start by saying that the Fire TV Cube is the fastest. The device has more processing power than its two opponents due to including the amazing Hexa-core processor made of the Quad-core (2.2 GHz) and Dual-core (1.9 GHz) wrapped into one. However, the Fire TV Cube’s problem is that it has the Alexa Echo Dot built-in, which is vigilant all the time, and therefore the Fire TV Cube seems to have a performance that is not as good as FireStick 4K’s due to the ongoing work it has to do.
Nonetheless, the difference in speed is evident when compared to the other two devices.
The second place for speed goes to FireStick 4K that has a Quad-core 1.7 GHz compared to the Quad-core 1.3 GHz that FireStick 2nd Gen has. The numerical difference between them might not seem big, however, they have a big difference when it comes to their processor since Fire TV Stick 4K provides a 64-bit processor and the Second Generation FireStick relies on a lower one – 32-bit processor. You might be wondering what these technical words mean. It means that while having the same apps installed and the same settings options, FireStick 4K works a lot smoother and has overall better performance.
Fire TV Cube becomes the undoubtful winner since it has 2 GB worth of RAM, but it faces struggles since it has Echo Dot built inside and therefore needs to work twice as hard to make sure everything runs smoothly. The second place goes to FireStick 4K that has 1.5GB of RAM. While the difference between this one and the FireStick 3K is small, there is another difference that makes them distinguishable. FireStick 4K supports a technology named DDR4, while FireStick (second generation) supports an older version called DDR3. This technology makes FireStick 4K a better option to have the most high-quality performance.
After taking all of this into consideration, we see that while Fire TV Cube is the fastest when considering the processor and the RAM memory, it is penalized due to its built-in Echo Dot; this makes FireStick 4K better due to the more decent performance it provides.
3. Value for Money and Pricing
The best FireStick device when considering the value for money is FireStick 4K. Even though FireStick (second generation) is the cheapest, the $10 difference is worth all the better qualities FireStick 4K has – faster processor and resolution. And, if you want the device only for streaming purposes, you do not need to buy the Fire TV Cube, which is more expensive.
Above I mentioned that if you had a TV that supported a resolution of 1080p maximum, only FireStick (second generation) would be suitable for it. However, if you think about it, buying FireStick 4K or even FireStick TV Cube would be a smart purchase since they would be suitable for when you decide to upgrade your TV. Furthermore, if you own a Dolby Atmos audio system, you could have a superior cinematic experience with the 4K version, even if the video resolution goes only up to 1080p.
Lastly, Fire TV Cube would be suitable for all those customers who would like to have a more futuristic experience and who enjoy the AI experience. By having the Echo Dot built-in, you can take control of all the smart devices you have in your house – which are only adding up as time goes on due to the fast innovations that are happening. Of course, due to having a bigger RAM, faster processor, built-in Echo Dot, Fire TV Cube is the most expensive option of the three. With this being said, I believe it is worth the price for those people who enjoy having control over their devices in a simple remote (or their mobile phone).
4. Video Quality and Resolution
Depending on the max resolution that your TV supports, you will have to decide which model you will purchase. If you own a TV that can support 4K (UHD) and you want that cinematic experience, Fire TV Cube or FireStick 4K will do the job for you. They both provide support for resolutions that can reach even 2160p.
Furthermore, Fire TV Cube or FireStick 4K also support the biggest content formats of today’s that are Dolby Vision and HDR 10. They manage to provide many vivid and pigmented colors and higher video quality.
Deciding on which device to purchase can be hard. If you have a TV that only supports 1080p resolution, your best choice can be FireStick 2nd Generation. Although, I have to admit that it is not the best decision as you will see in this article. If by any chance, you are planning on purchasing a TV that supports 4K, or you already own it, FireStick 4K would be the right way to go.
Storage has been quite a difficult task for Fire TV devices. FireStick 2nd Generation and FireStick 4K both offer a storage capacity of 8GB (even less to use since almost one-third of it is reserved for the OS and the preinstalled apps). Fire TV Cube offers a little more storage by providing a capacity of 16GB. However, it is still not a lot when we take into consideration what it will be used for and the fact that the OS and the preinstalled apps will take up some space.
Fire TV devices offer the option of using an external storage device to increase the capacity of the internal storage. The problems with this include the fact that you have to buy an additional storage device and that you might find complications with the installing and attaching process.
6. Remote Control
All the FireStick and Fire TV devices use a similar remote that comes standard. They have all the typical buttons: Menu, Home, Rewind, Forward, Alexa, and more. Furthermore, it also features infrared control buttons for TV that include Volume UP/DOWN, Mute, Power ON/OFF. For those who bought the controller of the FireStick Second Gen a couple of months ago, these infrared buttons are missing. Nonetheless, if you decide to purchase a new remote, the infrared buttons will work perfectly.
Talking about buying a new remote. If you lose your controller or if your controller has started having glitches, you can purchase a simple remote control without the control buttons for only $27.99 or decide to upgrade and get the one with the control buttons for $29.99. For the small price difference, I would suggest buying the remote with TV control buttons. While it might be expensive, it is good for its function.
If you do not think that the price is reasonable, there are numerous cheaper alternatives you can find on Amazon. Nonetheless, users have seen for themselves that there is a difference between them. Fire devices are able to work better with Amazon controllers instead of these third-party remotes. Although, another option is to use your tablet or phone as a remote with the app that Amazon provides to use as a controller for Fire TV. The app is free and is available on iOS, FireOS devices, and Android. Yet, you should keep in mind that the application does not provide TV controls on its own.
7. Audio Support
The difference in the audio support system is not very evident among these devices unless you own a good audio system – a home theater, for example. FireStick (second generation) supports Dolby Audio, which sets a limit of 5.1 to sound in the surrounding environment, while the two others support a much more superior Dolby Atmos that goes to limit the surround sound to 7.1. I have to mention that FireStick 4K would be better as it could be very helpful in different situations when it comes to noise reduction. The change might be little, but it will surely be evident in certain situations.
Which one is the best option for you?
Firstly, to decide which one is the best option for you, you should take into consideration all the aforementioned factors.
If you worry about the price, but you also want a good device, FireStick 4K is a device worth its money. It is like a middle ground between all three options. You could get a good max resolution, a good processor, and better performance for a $10 addition to the price of the FireStick (2nd generation). For that price difference, you get Dolby Atmos audio, Dolby Vision, HDR 10 support. While these might seem simply technical terms that mean nothing more than a marketing boost, they make a big distinction between the cinematic experiences both devices offer.
If you want a FireStick device simply for streaming reasons, FireStick TV 4K is your go-to.
The situation is different if you are a person that values technology advancement. While it is a bit more expensive, Fire TV Cube is worth every penny, so you can have every smart appliance in control over your remote.