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The way we watch television has truly changed. I’m not just speaking about the screen size, but also the broadcasting. The internet accessibility has inspired streaming media players like Fire TV Stick 4K and “Smart TV” that offer online streaming services. So, you don’t have to rely on the predefined television broadcast to watch your favorite shows.
Regardless, a TV Stick and Smart TV are two different systems. Yes, the functionalities are pretty much the same, but the former is more flexible as we shall see later in the article.
Needless to say, many people are going for Smart TVs as they’re platform-neutral. In my case, for instance, I have an LG 43” Smart 4K UHD TV, which I picked in early 2019 because of the built-in Wi-Fi. Like others from the brand, the TV came with Google’s YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and the option to download various apps.
After some time, though, I ended up adding a Fire Stick to my TV and up to date, there’s nothing to regret about. As a matter of fact, I hardly switch back to the TV mode, unless I want to watch local channels- which is like once a month. YouTube and Netflix are my favorite channels, and since the Fire TV Stick is easier to navigate with the Alexa setting, I decided to stick with it.
Therefore, every detail on this post is from my personal experience with the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K. If your device doesn’t do all on the review, it’s possible what you have is not what it says.
|Feature||Fire Tv Stick 4k|
|Supported Video Resolution||2160p (4K), 1080p (Full HD), & 720p (HD)|
|Video Content Formats||Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10, HLG, H.265, & H.264|
|Alexa Voice Control||Yes (via Remote or Fire TV App)|
|Bluetooth Support||YES (v5.0+LE)|
|System Requirements||Internet connection via Wi-Fi|
|Best Free Apps||YouTube, Netflix, UFC, WWE, Twitch, Firefox for Fire TV, Daily Workouts, Deer Hunter Classic, & Downloader|
|Best Free Games||Hill Climb Racing, Asphalt 8 Racing, Crossy Road, Hungry Shark Evolution, PAC-Man 256, & RED Ball 4|
|What’s in the purchase box||Fire TV Stick 4K, Alexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen), HDMI Extender cable, 2 AAA batteries, Quick Start Guide, & USB Cable and power adapter|
|Start Streaming Now|
Fire TV Stick 4K: The Various Features and Capabilities
To begin with, the story of Fire TV Sick in Kenya is only known by a fraction, who possibly came across an ad or from friends. However, some users- especially in Nairobi have been using it back in 2015 when there was only the first generation version.
After Amazon released the new version, Fire TV Stick 4K, its glory was finally in the Kenya Market. This is also the time many Kenyans came to know about Netflix, but, sadly, Smart TVs were still costing the earth. So, the TV Stick was like an economical solution to turn your analog digital TV into a smart tv and start online streaming.
As more technology brands sprout out, the Smart TV price in Kenya started to drop, including top brands like Samsung and LG. However, some of these television sets are not always convenient when it comes to streaming, thereby calling for external streaming devices.
Of course, a Smart TV also has a built-in streaming media player for your online streaming. But for the external devices, in our case Fire TV Stick 4K, the computing resources and software are primarily for streaming purposes. So, you can even watch a higher resolution movie without your flatscreen ever freezing.
More on that let’s now look at the beauty of Amazon’s Fire Stick TV 4K in detail, starting with the most obvious.
Just like the original Fire Stick TV, the new 4K is compact enough to hide in the back of the TV. The stick is like a large flash drive that connects to the TV via an HDMI port. However, the device’s quite fat, in which case the neighboring ports might become inaccessible if plugged in directly.
Regardless, Amazon packs the Fire TV Stick 4K with an HDMI extender cable that you can connect to the telly instead. Hence, leaving some room for the other ports.
For the remote, on the other hand, the creator has also redesigned the controls a bit. Different from the previous model, the new 4K stick has a standby button and volume control controls (including mute). So, you won’t need to have two remotes while watching your series or listening to music.
As I mentioned, external streaming media players are specifically designed for streaming purposes. Whether it’s Apple TV, Fire TV Stick, Google Chromecast, or Mi Box, they all have dedicate computing resources and highly tuned software. So, they perform far much better than the Smart TVs that have to deliver the “local” broadcasting and online streaming.
Even better, the app developers of external streaming devices usually update their software once in a while. Their business is on streaming, which means poor performance could lead to low sales and maybe desertion.
Meanwhile, Smart TVs tend to have client software (like Netflix, Amazon, Google video Play…) programmed. The good thing is that the TV is platform-neutral, in which case it will support as many online streaming services as possible.
But since the manufacturers are after the sales of the new Smart TV, there’s no solid incentive to update firmware/ software. In which you’ll notice some apps that were initially there no longer work since their developers did an update that doesn’t support older TV firmware.
Still, many smart TVs don’t have a powerful processor for heavy streaming, which can cause slow and buggy performance. But since a device like Fire TV Stick is purposely for streaming, the processor is powerful and speedy in nature.
For a model, the Fire TV Stick 4K has a 1.7Ghz quad-core processor, which is like the 8th-Gen Macbook Pro Core i7 (without Turbo Boost) and 8x faster than the non-4K Fire TV Stick. This explains why even the large app files like Asphalt 8 Racing Game downloads in about a minute with stable internet.
Just as the name, the Fire TV Stick 4K has the support of 4K HDR, which translates to sharper and vivid images. HDR (High Dynamic Range) ensure you can still get videos rich in details when using increasingly brighter screens with shadows.
The Fire TV device also does support HDR10, HDR10+, as well as Dolby Vision formats. I won’t lie that I know how to set any of these settings to my TV. But according to videophiles, Dolby Vision can enhance your viewing experience by adding the high Ultra-HD pixels with extra colors and brightness. Hence, displaying the content just as if you’re looking outside the window.
Truthfully, there’s nothing difficult when it comes to using the Amazon Fire Stick 4K. Once done with the initial setup, the device is plug-and-play while using its remote for the controls.
Like I said, Amazon engineers did add some extra buttons on the remote body, taking out the TV’s remote from the equation. If it’s to adjust the volume (TV or soundbar), the Fire TV remote has the “plus” and “minus” buttons on the bottom of the control panel. Then, there’s also a mute button that can come in handy in case you want to cut the audio for a short moment- let’s say when making a phone call.
Similar to the Smart TV, the Fire TV Stick remote allows you to browse through the platform using the navigation and select button. Then, control your media with others, including Fast Forward, Play/ Pause, Rewind, Back, Home, and Menu. Just like with the usual TV remote, this one also doesn’t have the buttons for the letters of alphabet. So, you’ll have to search your movies and songs using the on-screen keyboard, which no doubt can be irksome.
Thankfully, however, the 4K streaming device has the smart Alexa integration that you can use to search the extensive library by voice. As for me, I really like the feature since I finally got some company to speak with. It’s both fun and time-saving since you just need to press the voice button and tell the lady what you want to open. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an app, game, music, radio, movie, or if you want to know the time and weather.
In addition to that, Amazon has the Fire TV app, which lets you use your phone as a remote control. So, you can still access your device even after your remote battery dies, and maybe you didn’t have extra for replacement.
In my case, I didn’t think much about this app as my remote is still intact and functional. However, I did download it to test how it works, and let me say it’s a replica of the remote. There are controls for playback, navigation, voice search, as well as Fire TV settings. Better than the provided remote, though, with the app, you can fill the text entry much simpler since it’s just like writing a text.
Still, the mobile app does show all the applications that you have installed to your Fire TV Stick. If it’s Netflix or YouTube, therefore, you can quickly open it by just tapping on the app displayed on your phone.
The Fire TV Stick 4K is straightforward and quick to set up for your TV. In my case, it took me approximately 25 minutes to start watching movies. At the time, I was using ZUKU’s sluggish internet, so it could have been faster if was on a speedy connection.
In any case, after plugging your TV stick into the port, the first thing you’ll need to do is enter your Wi-Fi credentials. Immediately after the device is connected, it will check if your firmware is up to date, and if not it download and install the updates.
After that, the device will take you to the login page, whereby you can log in to the platform, just like with any other online streaming service. In this case, the Fire TV Stick 4K is a product of Amazon. So, you’ll need to enter your Amazon account details to start using the device. There’s nothing to worry about if you don’t have an Amazon Account.
I also didn’t have one then, but in less than five minutes I had created one and at no cost. Next, I synchronize my Amazon account with the Fire TV device, which now opened the homepage where it has thousands of apps and games.
Although these applications are all preinstalled on the streaming player, you can’t start playing them directly. Once you click to open, they will give you the option to download, which will take about 30 seconds to save.
Again, the Fire TV Stick 4K has thousands of applications- games and apps that you can choose. This is yet another reason many Smart TV owners are getting the streaming device as those integrated to the television itself are only several.
Of course, big boys like Youtube, Amazon, Twitch, and internet browsers are available on most of these Smart TVs. But like I said, TV manufacturers are more driven to make sales on their new Smart TVs. So, apps like NASA, UEFA.tv, WWE, UFC, Gaia, Asphalt Racing, or Daily Workouts you’ll mostly find them in dedicated Fire TV devices.
Smart TV doesn’t have a very powerful Processing core (CPU and GPU), remember? So, you shouldn’t expect intensive games on your TV.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K price in Kenya is currently at Ksh 6,000. This no doubt is a fair cost, considering the flexibility, voice search, and high-quality images that the device offers. Furthermore, providers like Elyetu usually offer the system as a complete kit, featuring the Fire TV Stick, HDMI Extension, Charger Adapter, and Charging Cable. So, you can continue to use the device straight from the box without making any other purchases.
Still in that Ksh 6,000 that you pay, there is a quick guide to get you started. The pamphlet also includes the details about your streaming device and the information about the One-Year Warranty that Amazon offers in case you encounter problems
Despite the powerful and cinematic entertainment, there are two things I didn’t like about my Fire TV Stick 4K.
First, Amazon includes the package with a power adapter, which I was frustrated at first because I didn’t have the plug. Despite its small size, the device tends to use significant power. I tried supplying it via the TV USB port, but I received the error that the power supply is not enough and I should use the recommended charger.
At the long last, however, I checked the charger adapter rating and realized it matched with a Samsung charger head I had in the drawer. Thus, decided to improvise, which, luckily, worked and it’s what I’m using until today. Regardless, it would be better for Amazon to consider and provide the charger that they recommend while complete (with an adapter plug).
The other thing that I think Amazon needs to improve across its streaming devices in the future is the storage space. with the Fire TV Stick 4K, for instance, there’s only 8GB space, with 5GB being the only available apps.
Yes, a tech-savvy like me has a way to go around it and expand with local storage… But for a non-techie, it means you’ll have to keep an eye on the apps you install and or update. Otherwise, you’ll exhaust the given space, which in turn may cause abnormalities since the streaming device doesn’t have the room to breathe.
Other than the two drawbacks, however, the Fire TV Stick 4K serves all my entertainment needs. Netflix, YouTube, and countless games. I have also installed the Firefox browser, which means I can easily watch my DSTV channel from anywhere without requiring the decoder. Furthermore, the Fire TV device can fit in my pocket just like any other flash drive. So, it’s not a hassle to carry it with you during your vacation or when visiting a friend.
After all, you could use your phone as the remote control, which means you won’t even need to carry the manufacturer’s provided.