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New Amazon Fire TV Stick (2017) UK Review: Enhanced and super quick

Written by  Nov 24, 2017

Amazon’s updated TV stick now comes with an Alexa voice-control remote, plus a quad-core processor as standard, making it much faster than its predecessor.

Amazon is only charging £39.99 for the updated Fire TV Stick, so you’re only paying an extra £5 for a much better device and you can still install Kodi.

This is purely a hardware update, no apps are different, so you’ll still be able to stream Netflix, Amazon Prime and scores of catch-up TV apps from this device. There are only three main differences: 1. The Fire TV Stick is now much faster; 2. You can now use voice control to open apps and check Alexa-related information; and 3. The User Inerface is a little different. Whcih will be explained further on.

Specs

Fire TV Stick

Old

New

Price

From £34.99

£39.99

Processor

Dual-core

Quad-core

Memory

1GB

1GB

Storage

8GB

8GB

Voice remote with Alexa support

£10 extra

Included

Supported resolution

Up to 1080p

Up to 1080p

Wi-Fi connectivity

Dual-band, dual-antenna

802.11n (MIMO)

Dual-band, dual-antenna

802.11ac (MIMO)

The new Fire TV Stick comes with an updated User Interface. It’s similar to the previous layout, and it's cleaner. The biggest change you’ll notice here is that the top half of the screen is now a cinematic slider that suggests programmes to watch. After a few idle seconds, this transforms into a silent trailer. It’s all very slick.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 2017 2

Design and remote

As you can see from the pictures, not much has changed physically. Both the dongle and remote have increased in size a little. However, some R&D has evidently gone into updating the remote: its curved back now nestles nicely into your palm, with its minimalistic buttons sensibly spread out.

Also see: The best legal UK Kodi boxes

Alexa integration

Alexa integration adds huge potential to the Fire TV Stick. It means you can now use the voice remote to control smart devices in your house, check your diary, discover local dining options, follow your football team… and so on.

But it struggles in other ways e.g. Ask it “what’s the weather like today?” and you’ll get a quick response with a lovely graphic that displays the forecast. Ask “how long will it take me to get home from work?” and you’ll get no response. It’s a bit of a guessing game as to what questions it can answer. Still, since you now get the voice-controlled remote as standard, you’re future-proofed to a certain degree at least.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 2017 3

Using Alexa

Accessing Alexa's voice-activated features is easy. Just press and hold the Voice button on your Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote or the Fire TV Remote app and say what you want Alexa to do. Alexa then answers back directly through your Fire TV. Many features open in a separate display on your TV screen, so you can both see and hear Alexa in action.

When an Alexa display is open on your TV screen, press the Back or Home buttons on your Fire TV remote to return to the previous screen.

The language you can use to control her is also pretty flexible. She’ll respond to “fast-forward two minutes” in the same way she does “skip ahead two minutes”, which makes using it feel much more user friendly.

Apps

Amazon’s Appstore lets you add extra media services to the Fire TV Stick's homescreen. The popular apps are available, including Spotify Connect, YouTube, Sky News and BBC Sport. There’s even a Netflix app, so if you’re a subscriber to Amazon’s rival streaming service, it can be your single point of access to both huge media libraries.

Or you can play your own content, using apps such as Plex; it’s good to see that the Plex for Fire TV app includes access to Plex Cloud Sync servers, which isn’t available on all platforms. DLNA and AirPlay streaming are supported too, using third-party apps such as AirPlay/DLNA Receiver.

You can also download games from the Appstore and play them using your remote, or invest in the optional Fire TV Game controller. The Fire TV Stick isn't at the same level as the Fire TV set-top box, but you can enjoy the sort of games you'd usually find on your smartphone.

Of course, since file explorer apps are readily available, you can install your own third-party apps, such as Kodi on the Fire TV Stick (but be careful what you access as not all apps are legal).

 
Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote | Streaming Media Player £39.99 amazon uk

New Amazon Fire TV Stick (2017): Verdict

The first-generation Fire TV Stick was great tool, but just wasn't quite snappy enough. This new stick is more versatile, and with a quad-core processor it’s really quick. Alexa is a great addition too, and at £39.99 it great value for money, nothing matches it.

Also see: Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and HDR is available for £69.99

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