Amazon recently announced the release of an updated Fire TV Stick model for 2021. This new streaming device is being marketed as an "all-new" Firestick, but in reality, it is the 3rd generation version of the Fire TV Stick originally launched in 2020.
The only significant change with this latest iteration is the inclusion of Amazon‘s redesigned Alexa voice remote control. While the Fire TV Stick itself remains unchanged internally, the new remote includes added functionality for an improved user experience.
In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about the “all-new” 2021 Fire TV Stick and what it offers over previous models.
Overview of the New Firestick Remote
The main update with the 3rd generation Firestick is the inclusion of their latest Alexa voice remote. This enhanced remote control features:
Dedicated app buttons for popular streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. This allows quick one-tap access.
A new Live button to easily discover live TV programming from integrated apps.
An updated Alexa button that is blue when the microphone is active for voice commands. The button also allows toggling Alexa on and off.
Volume, mute, and power buttons to control TV functions directly from the remote.
Bluetooth connectivity and IR control hub for TV and soundbar.
Rechargeable battery with USB-C charging port.
Overall, the new remote provides added convenience through quick app launches and expanded Alexa capabilities. The voice functionality enables total hands-free control.
Fire TV Stick Lineup and Comparisons
There are now several options in Amazon‘s Fire TV lineup to choose from:
Fire TV Stick Lite – The most affordable at $29.99 but limited to Full HD streaming.
Fire TV Stick – $39.99 model capable of Full HD. The 2020 and new 2021 versions are identical except for the remote.
Fire TV Stick 4K – $49.99 for Ultra HD 4K streaming with Dolby Vision and HDR support. More power than lower-end models.
Fire TV Cube – Most advanced model at $119 offering 4K, built-in Alexa speaker, and Ethernet port.
The standard Firestick and 4K version offer the best value combination of price and features for most customers. Both can handle popular streaming apps, games, and screen mirroring smoothly. The lower-priced Lite model loses some capabilities, while the Cube is better suited for home automation control.
Stream Movies, TV Shows, and More
The Fire TV Stick plugs into your TV‘s HDMI port to provide instant access to a vast library of content. You can enjoy favorites from services like:
Netflix – Watch Netflix originals, movies, and TV series. Browse by genre or see recommendations.
Prime Video – Included with an Amazon Prime membership for originals like The Boys plus theatrical movies to purchase or rent.
Disney+ – Stream everything Disney along with Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic and 20th Century Fox content.
Hulu – Hulu‘s large on-demand library with movies, shows, Hulu Originals, and Live TV options.
HBO Max – WarnerMedia content from HBO, DC Comics, Cartoon Network, TCM and more.
YouTube – Watch videos, music, live streams, tutorials, and more on YouTube.
There are also lesser-known apps like Pluto TV for free live streaming channels, Tubi TV for free on-demand movies and shows, and IMDb TV for free movies with ads. The Firestick makes it easy to access thousands of apps and games.
Customize Your Fire TV Experience
The Fire TV interface allows you to customize your home screen rows and favorites for quick access to the content you love. You can also upload your own photos to display as screensavers.
Controlling the Firestick hands-free is easy with Alexa voice commands. Press the microphone button on the remote and make requests like “Alexa, open Hulu” or "Alexa, play Stranger Things". Alexa can launch apps, search for content, control playback, check weather, and more.
For additional personalization, you can pair Bluetooth speakers or headphones to your Firestick for private listening. This is perfect for late night viewing sessions.
Sideload Apps for More Functionality
A major benefit of the Firestick over some competitors is the ability to sideload apps outside of the Amazon Appstore. This “jailbreaking” opens up many new possibilities.
Some top sideloaded apps include:
Kodi – Media center to manage and play local/streamed video and audio. Highly customizable.
Stremio – All-in-one media center with free movies, shows, live TV, and add-ons. Streams torrents.
Cinema APK – Large catalog of free movies and TV shows to stream.
CyberFlix TV – Free streaming APK for movies, shows, live TV, and more.
Downloader – Easily install sideloaded APK files from other apps or file linked sources.
While a bit more complex than installing regular apps, sideloading only takes a few extra steps. Just download the APK on a computer, transfer to the Firestick via file explorer app, open using Downloader, and install. This massively expands your entertainment possibilities.
Mirror Mobile Devices or PCs to Your TV
The Fire TV Stick includes screen mirroring functionality that lets you beam content from other devices right on your television. This opens up even more viewing possibilities.
You can mirror entire Android or iOS screens for sharing videos, photos, websites, apps, and more. For PCs, the Firestick supports Miracast technology found on Windows 10 laptops and some desktops to mirror everything on the big screen.
If your computer lacks Miracast, you can buy a Lightning to HDMI cable or USB-C to HDMI adapter to plug into a Firestick‘s HDMI port. This cables all Windows, Mac, and Chromebook screens for mirroring.
Between the Firestick‘s native streaming apps and screen mirroring capabilities, you can enjoy virtually any content comfortably on your TV.
Why Choose the Firestick?
The Fire TV Stick has become so popular thanks to several key advantages:
Affordable – Streaming sticks provide smart functionality at a faction of the cost of a smart TV. The low prices make them very accessible.
Portable – Their ultra-compact size lets you easily bring a Firestick on trips to stream in hotels. The USB power options allow using almost any TV.
Intuitive interface – The Fire TV OS feels very responsive and easy to navigate with rows of personalized content.
Voice search – Alexa makes finding content extremely fast without having to type or hunt through apps. Just ask aloud for what you want to watch.
Remote control – The included Alexa remotes control TV power and volume along with the Firestick itself. No need for multiple remotes.
Of course, there are some limitations to be aware of like lack of support for some older TVs and no access to certain big streaming platforms like Apple TV+. But overall the Firestick delivers an amazing streaming experience.
Here are some key technical details on the latest generation Fire TV Stick:
- Quad-core 1.7Ghz processor
- 8GB storage
- 1GB RAM
- Support for 1080p Full HD streaming at 60fps
- Dual-band MIMO WiFi (802.11a/b/g/n/ac)
- Bluetooth 5.0 + LE
- Micro USB and USB OTG support
- Voice Remote powered by 2x AAA batteries
Troubleshooting Firestick Issues
Like any gadget, you may occasionally run into glitches with the Firestick. Here are some common problems and their solutions:
Buffering/Lag – Close background apps, restart the stick, check internet speeds, move stick closer to router, or lower streaming resolution. Slow internet is the main culprit.
Remote not working – Try re-pairing remote, check batteries, reposition stick antenna, or rule out Bluetooth interference from other devices.
Apps not loading – Reboot the Firestick and router, reinstall the problematic app, or delete/re-add your Amazon account.
Won’t connect to WiFi – Double check password, power cycle modem/router, try a different wireless band, move stick closer to router, or eliminate interference.
HDMI issues – Be sure TV input is set correctly, toggle CEC control, try another HDMI port, replace cord, or test stick on different TV.
Apps disappearing/freezing – This can happen if the Firestick is low on storage. Try clearing cache and data for apps, uninstall unused apps, or perform a factory reset if needed.
With some troubleshooting steps, most Fire TV issues can be easily resolved. Reach out to Amazon customer service for further support if needed.
Is the Upgrade Worthwhile?
If you already own a recent generation Firestick, the latest 2021 model does not provide many compelling reasons to upgrade. The hardware, software, and core functionality remain the same.
The main improvements are solely based around the Alexa voice remote. For some, the dedicated app buttons and enhanced Alexa control may be beneficial. But otherwise, you aren’t missing out on much by keeping an older Firestick.
On the other hand, if your Fire TV device is several years old, the faster performance and nicer remote of the newest model could be worthwhile. The remote batteries alone make a big difference in convenience.
Ultimately, only you can decide if upgrading is truly necessary. Given the minimal changes beyond the remote itself, it isn’t essential for most owners of semi-recent Firestick models. But if getting the latest technology is important, the 2021 edition is a great choice.