By now, you’ll assume that there are already sufficient streaming sticks, dongles, and bins to serve our wants. However simply as is the case with telephones, the machine by no means stops, as there’s all the time room for enchancment. That is the mantra that Amazon has been dwelling by, as evidenced by the corporate’s most up-to-date Gadgets & Providers occasion, the place the Amazon Hearth TV 4K Max (2023) was unveiled, alongside fairly a couple of different gadgets and bulletins.
For my part, Amazon is doing the appropriate factor with its launch cadence, seemingly choosing a two-year launch cycle, versus simply releasing an up to date model every time. On the floor, the “new and improved” 4K Max appears to carry a couple of significant upgrades, however let’s take a deeper look that will help you resolve whether or not it’s value upgrading out of your present streaming gadget.
Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2023): Worth and availability
Amazon introduced the 2nd Technology Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max in September 2023 earlier than releasing it every week later. The announcement got here as a part of the corporate’s Gadgets & Providers occasion, the place quite a lot of different gadgets have been introduced.
The Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen) is priced at $59.99, which is simply $5 greater than its predecessor. Nonetheless, choose Amazon Prime members might be able to save $20 when buying this new streaming stick, bringing it down to simply $39.99.
Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2023): What you may like
Arguably, the most important improve that Amazon delivered to the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen) is a rise in storage. As an alternative of the measly 8GB of storage that we see throughout most of the greatest streaming gadgets, you’ll now have 16GB to obtain much more apps and video games in case you so select.
Maybe extra importantly, this provides Amazon a bunch of wiggle room to supply updates, together with probably introducing new options. All of the whereas, it additionally removes any issues about forcing you to delete issues simply to verify your Hearth TV Stick is up to date with the newest firmware.
One factor that the additional storage does enable for is the brand new Ambient Expertise that was first launched on Amazon’s Hearth TV Omni QLED Collection. Mainly, it turns your TV right into a digital wallpaper, much like what you’ll discover with Samsung’s “The Body” TVs. It’s enabled by default, and together with having the ability to use your individual Amazon Pictures library, there are a sequence of widgets that seem, which embrace the next:
- Alexa Climate
- Calendar and Reminders
- Cookpad Recipe of the Day
- Reside TV
- Music and Audio
- Sensible House Favorites
- Sticky Notes
- What Ought to I Watch
- What to Eat
- Your Deliveries
A few of these require a little bit of configuring, reminiscent of setting which sensible gadgets you wish to seem throughout the Sensible House Favorites widget. However all-in-all, I’m completely happy to see the Ambient Expertise come to the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen), because it’s a a lot better different than simply having your TV flip off after a couple of minutes.
Whereas I contact extra on this within the subsequent part, I used to be genuinely stunned to see that Amazon has managed to optimize the software program to the purpose the place you’re not slowed down with the entire advertisements that seem. Maybe this may be attributed to the upgraded 2.0GHz processor powering the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen), or possibly it’s only a mixture of optimization, a quicker processor, and extra storage. However, I’ve but to run into any stuttering, even scrolling by way of the limitless variety of motion pictures and exhibits looking for one thing to observe.
As for truly controlling the whole lot, Amazon consists of its Alexa Voice Distant Enhanced, which is designed to have the ability to management extra than simply the Hearth TV Stick. As an alternative, you may also use it (and Alexa) to regulate the quantity to your linked soundbar whereas additionally together with a shortcut button to take you to the “Reside TV” part.
Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2023): What you will not like
For those who return by way of any of my evaluations of Hearth TV gadgets from the previous few years, there’s one recurring theme that seemingly has no finish in sight. I do know that the world is run on ads, however I used to be actually hoping that we’d have gotten a shock with an ad-free model of Amazon’s second-most costly streaming stick. I suppose I ought to’ve identified higher after my Hearth TV Dice assessment, however nonetheless.
Amazon has thrown advertisements in all places and anyplace it might, as is custom, that means you’ll see them in banners alongside the kind, apps which might be pre-installed, and within the numerous sections that seem on the House Display. A few of these may be genuinely helpful to have, reminiscent of having the ability to have a bunch of Sci-Fi motion pictures on the prepared in case you can’t choose one thing. However be ready to see motion pictures that haven’t any enterprise being surfaced from the depths of the digital dumps.
My favourite half in regards to the advertisements is that there’s completely no strategy to eliminate them. You may’t press the Menu button after which conceal these “sponsored” sections from showing, which is extraordinarily maddening. On the intense aspect, you’ll be able to a minimum of conceal or delete the pre-installed bloatware apps which might be clogging up the App Library.
Digressing from the advertisements for a bit, I used to be fairly stunned to see Amazon nonetheless utilizing a micro USB to USB-A cable in late 2023. It’s one thing I anticipate to see on the Hearth TV Stick Lite and even the “common” Hearth TV Stick. Nonetheless, I anticipated Amazon to carry USB-C to its higher-end streaming sticks, but it surely simply wasn’t meant to be.
This isn’t actually that massive of an issue, a minimum of in the interim. Positive, Amazon ought to positively get with the occasions, particularly on a tool that prices as a lot because the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen). Nonetheless, the bigger drawback is definitely two-fold, with the primary being that your TV’s built-in USB-A port may not output sufficient energy for the streaming stick truly operate correctly.
After the preliminary setup, the whole lot appeared to be working simply high-quality with the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max plugged into the LG C2 that’s hanging on the wall of my dwelling workplace. However each infrequently, I’ll see a notification telling me to plug the dongle into the included wall wort, one thing that’s not precisely all that attainable with my present association.
The opposite a part of the issue with micro USB is that this implies there’s nonetheless no strategy to develop the storage of the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max, even in case you wished to plug in a USB hub. It’s only a very head-scratching and irritating resolution and is one thing that we shouldn’t have to fret about in 2023.
Lastly, I wished to circle again to the entire distant state of affairs. I complained earlier than about how Amazon didn’t embrace its greatest Alexa Voice Distant with its most costly streaming gadget. Effectively, that pattern is constant with the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max, as you’ll nonetheless need to spring for one more $35 if you’d like the Alexa Voice Distant Professional. Contemplating that the fee distinction between the “Enhanced” and “Professional” remotes is just $5, this looks like one other oversight, or is simply Amazon making an attempt to keep away from giving its customers the very best out-of-box expertise?
A part of my frustration with this resolution comes right down to the shortcut buttons on the distant itself. The Alexa Voice Distant Enhanced consists of shortcuts for Prime Video and Netflix, which make loads of sense. However you’ll additionally discover DirecTV and Peacock, that are two streaming providers that I actually wouldn’t have anticipated to see. The worst a part of all of it is which you can’t customise the shortcut buttons, which is, once more, one thing reserved for the Professional distant.
Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2023): The competitors
At $60, Amazon’s “strongest 4K streaming stick” is priced only a bit greater than its closest opponents within the Chromecast with Google TV 4K and the Roku Categorical 4K with Voice Distant Professional. Each of those provide completely different viewing experiences, because the Chromecast clearly depends on Google TV, whereas Roku makes use of its personal interface to serve you advertisements and supply entry to your streaming providers.
Nonetheless, Amazon has a reasonably large benefit over arguably the greatest Google TV gadget, because the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max gives double the storage (8GB vs. 16GB), a quicker processor, and Wi-Fi 6E help. To not point out that the 4K model of the Chromecast with Google TV is greater than three years previous at this level, however that would change within the close to future.
Roku’s Categorical 4K with Voice Distant Professional simply debuted again in September 2023 and is definitely solely obtainable from Amazon. You may’t even purchase it immediately from Roku, which looks like an odd resolution. Nonetheless, the brand new Categorical 4K doesn’t provide issues reminiscent of Dolby Imaginative and prescient or Dolby Audio, two options which might be each obtainable on Amazon’s gadget. However we’d argue that Roku’s Distant Professional is kind of a bit higher, and never simply because you’ll be able to truly customise the buttons.
Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2023): Do you have to purchase it?
You should purchase this if:
- You need essentially the most highly effective Hearth TV streaming stick.
- You don’t care about advertisements clogging up your expertise.
- You want extra storage than what’s in your present streaming gadget.
- You have already got a bunch of Alexa and Echo gadgets.
You shouldn’t purchase this if:
- You don’t really feel like coping with a bunch of advertisements.
- You’re completely happy along with your present streaming gadget.
- You wish to have the flexibility so as to add or use your individual storage answer.
- You’re on a funds
I really feel as if we’ve virtually reached the purpose the place Amazon’s streaming gadgets aren’t actually lacking a lot in the way in which of options. Ignoring issues like the entire advertisements and even the distant, the Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2nd Gen) has been fairly darn good about dealing with all of my streaming wants.
The query actually comes down as to if you’re prepared to throw $60 at Amazon with the intention to have issues just like the Ambient Expertise or compatibility with the very best Wi-Fi 6E routers. And in case you are, I’d advocate ready a bit longer, as it will most likely be a sizzling ticket merchandise when Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll round.
However in case you’re studying this outdoors of the vacation season and are in want of a brand new streaming gadget, I’d nonetheless advocate grabbing this one.
Amazon Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2023)
Those that need the very best streaming stick, and are okay with ponying up the dough, would possibly simply wish to try the brand new Hearth TV Stick 4K Max (2023).