Amazon Fireplace TV Stick Lite overview: Succesful streamer, low-cost worth

Roku is the most important identify in streaming {hardware}, with seven completely different streamers out there proper now, and much more TVs and soundbars. Amazon has been gunning for Roku’s slice of the pie ever for the reason that first Fireplace TV appeared. However what Amazon hasn’t had is an ultracheap choice, till now. The $30 Amazon Fireplace TV Lite is the corporate’s newest try and compete with Roku’s most cost-effective participant, the Roku Specific. In case you needed an ultracheap Amazon streamer for the worth of a DVD, it is lastly right here.

LikeDirt-cheapIncludes Alexa voice remoteWide vary of streaming appsIntegrates nicely with Echo audio system

Do not LikeVoice instructions do not work with each appMore complicated menus than RokuHDR with out 4K is kinda pointless

Amazon launched not one however two new streamers on the identical time — the opposite was the up to date $40 Fireplace Stick — however I’d argue that the Fireplace Stick TV Lite is the higher deal. The principle distinction is that the costlier Stick has a distinct distant with energy, quantity and mute buttons to manage your TV. In case you’re solely utilizing this streamer on an inexpensive TV anyway, it is price saving the cash, except you actually need TV management.

So is the $30 Fireplace TV Lite higher than the $30 Roku Specific? They largely have the identical number of apps, except for Peacock — NBC’s new service that is not but on Fireplace TV. The 2 greatest variations are in menu techniques and voice assist. The Lite’s built-in entry to Alexa is an enormous benefit for those who like talking as a substitute of typing once you seek for exhibits and launch apps. Ultimately, I favored the Fireplace TV platform a bit higher, though Roku remains to be a superb alternative too. In case your TV has an HDMI port, the Fireplace TV Stick Lite is an effective way to equip it with a wealth of streaming for not a lot cash.

What’s it?
Sarah Tew/CNET

The Fireplace TV Lite is a USB stick-sized machine which plugs right into a spare HDMI port in your TV. For 30 bucks it provides numerous options, together with that devoted voice distant that enables integration with the Alexa voice assistant. There’s additionally dozens of supported streaming companies amongst its hundreds of accessible apps.

The distant hasn’t bodily modified a lot for the reason that first Fireplace TV and I did not like the texture as a lot because the Roku distant or the new Google TV distant. Amazon’s clicker additionally lacks the shortcuts to Netflix or different often-used companies, nevertheless it does embody a brand new dwell TV button. 

The Lite distant ought to look acquainted to Fireplace TV customers.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Urgent that new backside button brings up a grid-style dwell TV information populated by default with “channels” of free exhibits from Pluto TV and Starz. Unusually Amazon’s personal IMDb TV isn’t a part of the dwell TV grid, regardless that it has its personal program grid when you open the app. In case you occur to subscribe to YouTube TV, you may additionally see exhibits and channels from that service within the information, though it did not work with Sling TV (subscribers should use the Sling app as typical).

The stick itself comes with an influence adapter. When you might use the USB ports in your machine to energy it I recommend you utilize the adapter as a substitute, or the unit might behave unusually. For instance, Dolby Atmos content material would not work in any respect when plugged right into a TV USB port, regardless of the machine declaring “Dolby” — the sound got here out as 5.1.

One characteristic on the Lite’s characteristic record appears a bit of misplaced: HDR compatibility. That is the primary machine we have seen to supply HDR however not 4K decision, and it raises the query of what sort of TV it is designed for. There are a whole bunch of 4K HDR TVs on the market however, based mostly on a search of the Finest Purchase web site, there are solely 4 1080p TVs that may do HDR. For most individuals with 4K HDR TVs, we might suggest getting a streamer that may really do 4K as a substitute of a 1080p streamer just like the Lite.

Numerous streaming apps (however no Peacock or HBO Max)

The Fireplace TV Lite helps a variety of apps.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like different streaming gadgets the variety of companies that Amazon Fireplace TV helps is enhancing on a regular basis. It may well entry virtually the entire main streaming apps, together with Amazon Prime Video ($9 at Amazon), Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Crackle, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify and lots of, many extra. With so many companies supported it is virtually simpler to record the companies the adapter would not have: particularly NBC’s Peacock and HBO Max ($15 at HBO Max) (although it does have a vanilla HBO app). Roku and Chromecast with Google TV each supply Peacock and the latter additionally consists of HBO Max. 

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Voice assist is good nevertheless it did not work with each app I attempted, together with Netflix. Asking for “Umbrella Academy” failed and I simply received a “verify your abilities” message (there may be no official Netflix ability within the Alexa app). YouTube TV would not appear to permit voice search but both; I requested for “Battle Bots” and all I received have been YouTube and Amazon “purchase” hyperlinks. Amazon Prime video labored nicely with Alexa voice, nevertheless, and I appreciated having the ability to use both the distant or an Alexa speaker.

In distinction, Roku could not have the identical sturdy voice capabilities, however textual content searches through the Roku distant are typically extra focused towards free or included applications slightly than merely “purchase now” hyperlinks.  

The brand new Stay button on the distant summons a grid-style program information.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET
What it is like to make use of

The wholesome complement of options, tightly built-in voice instructions and its relative velocity makes for a successful mixture. Basically opening apps was speedy, and solely navigating the house web page tiles might give a really occasional slow-down, however nothing that spoiled the expertise. 

Utilizing the Fireplace TV Stick Lite distant is straightforward, and Alexa searches with the microphone button have been extra responsive and related than utilizing the Echo as a go-between. Solely every so often did I want for a mute button, and that was often in the course of the autoplay movies that accompany the tiles on the house web page.

Image and sound high quality have been additionally superb, however the lack of an audio format management past “Finest Out there” might result in some odd issues. For instance, The Legend of Korra on Netflix utilizing the Lite solely gave me stereo sound (although it must be able to 5.1), whereas the brand new Fireplace Stick did give me the anticipated 5.1. Different applications, together with Jack Ryan on Amazon, have been performed in Atmos on the Lite so it wasn’t seemingly a {hardware} functionality situation. Extra seemingly a Netflix one, however I’ve reached out to Amazon for clarification. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are two completely different faculties of thought on the subject of how streaming gadgets set up their content material. App-centric menus like Roku and Apple TV simply present you a grid of apps, so you’ll be able to’t really browse for one thing to look at with out clicking by means of to every app. Amazon Fireplace TV and Google TV take a extra content-focused strategy, surfacing numerous titles on the house web page itself. 

In case you wish to graze for content material, the Fireplace TV is perhaps extra interesting, though the “dwell tiles” autoplay video will be jarring. If you understand what you need already, or no less than what app you need to watch, Roku might be a more sensible choice, partially as a result of Amazon’s search outcomes skews closely towards its personal (typically user-pays-extra) content material. 

Amazon has promised an interface replace later in 2020, which can come first to each the Lite and the 2020 Fireplace TV. It provides a redesigned essential menu and improved searching, plus a brand new part known as Alexa Discover with new recipes, inventory reviews and extra.

Do you have to purchase it?

If you need an ultracheap, succesful streamer and are embedded with Alexa and the Amazon universe, this product makes numerous sense. It’s possible you’ll or could not miss the TV management features however the Stay TV Information button is an actual bonus for cord-cutters specifically. At $30 it is a worthy streamer and an awesome stocking filler.

If, alternatively, you’ve gotten the 2019 Fireplace Stick, there’s completely no cause so that you can purchase both of the 2020 variations. Dolby Atmos and/or Dolby Imaginative and prescient are bizarre add-ons for 1080p gadgets, and you probably have an honest 4K TV then you need to get an actual 4K streamer — it is simply one other $20. 

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