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Amazon Unveils New Fire TV Stick Models – A Deep Dive into the Upgrades

Earlier this month, Amazon announced the upcoming release of their next generation of streaming devices – the all-new Fire TV Stick Lite and an updated version of their Fire TV Stick. Slated to hit the market on September 30th, these new models offer both minor and more significant changes.

But should existing Fire TV users upgrade to the latest sticks? And how exactly do they stack up against competitors like Roku and Chromecast?

As an avid cord-cutter myself, I decided to take a deeper look at what Amazon‘s new streamers bring to the table. Here‘s a detailed breakdown of the key specs, features, pricing, and expected performance of the Fire TV Stick Lite and 3rd Gen Fire TV Stick.

At a Glance: How the New Fire TV Models Compare

Before jumping into the specifics, let‘s briefly compare how Amazon‘s latest streaming devices size up:

Fire TV Stick Lite

  • Price: $29.99
  • Resolution: 1080p Full HD
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Processor: Quad-core 1.7 GHz
  • Remote: Alexa voice remote (no TV controls)

3rd Gen Fire TV Stick

  • Price: $39.99
  • Resolution: 1080p and 4K Ultra HD
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Processor: Quad-core 1.7 GHz
  • Remote: Alexa voice remote with TV controls

Fire TV Stick 4K (previous model)

  • Price: $49.99
  • Resolution: 4K Ultra HD + HDR/Dolby Vision
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Processor: Quad-core 1.7 GHz
  • Remote: Alexa voice remote with TV controls

At first glance, the Light model stands out as Amazon‘s attempt to deliver an affordable 1080p streaming option to compete with Roku Express, Chromecast, etc.

The upgraded Fire TV Stick appears nearly identical to the existing 4K model, albeit with a slightly improved Alexa voice remote. Let‘s explore each in more detail.

Introducing the All-New Fire TV Stick Lite

The Fire TV Stick Lite offers a compelling value proposition as an entry-level 1080p streaming stick. At just $29.99, it‘s priced to move – edging out the Roku Express HD by five dollars.

Fire TV Stick Lite

Key specs and features:

  • Streams video in 1920×1080 Full HD resolution at 60fps
  • 8GB of internal storage for apps and games
  • Quad-core processor clocked at 1.7 GHz delivers 40% better performance than the 2nd gen Fire TV Stick
  • Includes 1GB of RAM
  • Dual-band WiFi supports 5GHz networks in addition to 2.4GHz for smoother streaming
  • Bluetooth 4.2 LE connectivity
  • Alexa voice remote allows hands-free control of your Fire TV using Amazon‘s voice assistant
  • No TV controls for power and volume on remote
  • No support for Dolby Atmos audio passthrough

The most notable omission here is the lack of 4K streaming capabilities. For an additional $10, Amazon‘s 4K Stick delivers four times the resolution and HDMI 2.0a output for 4K TVs.

But for cord-cutters still on 1080p TVs, the Fire TV Stick Lite promises zippier performance than the past entry-level model. The improved 1.7 GHz chip should load apps quicker and navigate Fire OS smoother.

Gaming may still struggle a bit given the limited RAM, but video streaming from Netflix, Disney+, etc. should be solid even for Full HD.

Alexa voice functionality remains useful for searching content, controlling playback, and smart home integration. But the remote loses the dedicated power/volume buttons that many buyers find convenient for controlling their TV.

Overall, at just thirty bucks the Fire TV Stick Lite stands out as a cost-effective way to stream HD content. But 4K-ready viewers may want to spend a tad more for the resolution bump of the Fire TV Stick 4K.

Comparing the New Fire TV Stick to Previous Models

The 3rd generation Fire TV Stick is essentially a repackaged version of the existing Fire TV Stick 4K, now with an improved Alexa voice remote.

3rd Gen Fire TV Stick

Here‘s a detailed breakdown of how the specs stack up:

3rd Gen Fire TV Stick

  • Streams 1080p Full HD at 60fps; 2160p 4K Ultra HD at 60fps
  • Quad-core 1.7Ghz processor (same as 4K model)
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • Dual-band WiFi (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz) with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • HDMI 2.0a output supports 4K UHD, HDR and HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision passthrough
  • Dolby Atmos capable
  • New Alexa Voice Remote includes power, volume, and mute buttons

Fire TV Stick 4K

  • Streams 1080p Full HD at 60fps; 2160p 4K Ultra HD at 60fps
  • Quad-core 1.7Ghz processor
  • 1.5GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • Dual-band WiFi (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz) with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 5.0
  • HDMI 2.0a output supports 4K UHD, HDR and HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision passthrough
  • Dolby Atmos capable
  • Alexa Voice Remote includes power, volume, and mute buttons

Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen)

  • Streams 1080p Full HD at 60fps
  • Quad-core 1.3Ghz processor
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • Dual-band WiFi (2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz) with MIMO
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • HDMI output (up to 1080p)
  • Alexa Voice Remote (no TV controls)

At a high level, both the latest model and existing 4K stick share the same core processor, streaming capabilities, Dolby tech support, and storage space. Even RAM is nearly identical at 1GB vs. 1.5GB on the 4K version.

The main divergence is the upgraded remote on the new Fire TV Stick that adds convenient hardware buttons for TV power and volume control. No longer do you need to use voice commands or tap through menus to adjust those settings.

But otherwise, performance and specs remain largely the same. Amazon seems to have taken the "if it ain‘t broke, don‘t fix it" approach here.

Given the maturity of Fire OS and the existing model‘s smooth 4K streaming and navigation, this incremental upgrade to the remote makes sense. Power users may miss the extra 0.5GB of RAM, but average streaming needs will be met fine with 1GB.

Lite vs. 4K Stick: Which Should You Buy?

So which of the two new Fire TV models is most appealing? It really comes down to your budget and TV setup.

If you only need crisp 1080p streaming, the Fire TV Stick Lite offers incredible value at just $29.99. This HD-only stick doubles the storage, boosts processor performance by 40%, and costs 20% less than the aging Fire TV Stick 2.

For buyers with 4K TVs, it‘s worth spending just $10 more for the new Fire TV Stick (or $20 more for the 4K model). The support for 2160p Ultra HD, HDR, and Dolby Atmos audio make a noticeable difference on high-end screens compared to the stripped-down Lite version.

Here‘s a helpful table summarizing the key differences:

|| Fire TV Stick Lite | Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen) | Fire TV Stick 4K |
| Price | $29.99 | $39.99 | $49.99 |
| Resolution | 1080p | 1080p & 4K UHD | 1080p & 4K UHD |
| HDR | ❌ | ✅ | ✅ |
| Dolby Atmos | ❌ | ✅ | ✅ |
| Processor | 40% faster than 2nd gen | Same as 4K model | 50% faster than 2nd gen |
| Alexa Remote | No TV controls | Added TV controls | Added TV controls |

Amazon clearly aimed the Lite model at first-time streamers and cost-conscious households where 4K playback isn‘t needed yet. But the price difference to gain 4K capabilities is minor enough that most buyers should probably spend a little more for futureproofing.

However, both of these upgraded Fire TV models pale in comparison to more powerful streamers with the added benefit of Dolby Vision HDR. Keep reading for a look at some compelling alternatives.

Fire TV Stick Alternatives for Serious Streamers

While suitable for casual HD streaming, Amazon‘s entry-level sticks can‘t match more premium options when it comes to 4K picture quality and snappy performance.

Here are three alternatives worth considering if you want best-in-class features:

1. Fire TV Stick 4K Max

Amazon‘s own flagship streaming puck released last year, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max, represents the best of Fire OS capabilities today.

Some key advantages over the 2022 models:

  • More powerful 2.0 GHz quad-core processor and 2GB RAM cuts down on lag
  • WiFi 6 support for fast and reliable wireless streaming
  • Dolby Vision and HDR10+ for improved picture quality
  • UHD streaming at 60fps feels ultra-smooth
  • 8GB storage standard

Priced at a very reasonable $54.99 given the premium specs, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is my top recommendation for space-conscious cord cutters. Shoppers wanting the smoothest Fire TV experience should invest in this model over the basic 1080p and 4K sticks.

2. NVIDIA Shield TV

Serious home theater enthusiasts may want to consider the NVIDIA Shield TV, arguably the most powerful streaming box available today.

Perks like AI-enhanced upscaling, advanced gaming capabilities, and a speedy processor make it a premium 4K media hub.

Some highlights:

  • Powerful Tegra X1+ processor and 3GB RAM eliminate lag
  • Dolby Vision HDR and Atmos support
  • Cutting-edge upscaling improves HD video quality
  • Google Assistant built-in
  • Smart home control hub
  • Stream games from GeForce NOW cloud service

Of course, the abundant power comes at a price – $199 for the current 2019 Shield TV Pro model. But for buyers wanting the ultimate streamer, it‘s hard choosing anything else.

3. Roku Streaming Stick 4K

If keeping costs down is important, the Roku Streaming Stick 4K provides strong picture quality and snappy performance for just $49.

  • Smooth 4K, HDR10, Dolby Vision streaming
  • Quad-core processor and 802.11ac WiFi 5
  • Roku OS is intuitive with extensive app support
  • Voice remote with TV controls

Roku also offers better access to certain apps like HBO Max that aren‘t available natively on Fire OS. For shoppers indifferent about Amazon‘s ecosystem, Roku remains a great cross-platform choice.

Boosting Your Fire TV‘s Performance

Whichever Fire TV model you end up choosing, there are ways to enhance the experience through settings adjustments and clever hacks.

Here are some of my top tips:

Sideload apps – Access restricted apps like emulators, media players, or app stores by allowing installation from unknown sources under developer options. This expands what your Fire stick can do.

Use adb commands – Connect to your stick via adb on a PC to forcibly output 4K resolution for sharper UI, remove bloatware, adjust animation speeds, and more.

Pair Bluetooth devices – For private listening, sync wireless headphones to your Fire TV. Certain sticks also support Bluetooth game controllers.

Use a third-party launcher – Customize the Fire TV interface with different color schemes, icon packs, widgets, and app layouts for a more personal feel.

Enable developer options – Tweak animation scales, refresh rates, debug details and more to eke out every bit of performance from your Fire TV.

With the right settings and accessories, even Amazon‘s budget-friendly sticks can deliver responsive navigation and solid streaming quality. The limits are up to your imagination!

I hope this comprehensive guide helps explain the new Fire TV models and how they fit into Amazon‘s lineup. The Stick Lite seems a smart entry-level competitor, while the refreshed Stick offers only marginal improvements.

Still, if Alexa ecosystem integration is important to you, Amazon‘s streamers merit consideration. But there are compelling alternatives available if you desire best-in-class features and UI.

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to chat cord-cutting and help fellow streamers pick the right gadgets for their needs and budget.


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