There is a new version of the brilliant Amazon Fire TV With 4K box and we took it out for a ride. It is an early preview so we are not sure if the final version will be identical to the one that we’ve got. While the old version was a very good streaming device, it is now discontinued and not sold anymore. Let’s take a look if the new one is much improved and what are the major differences.
Amazon Fire TV 4K Review
What are the differences between the new and the old Amazon Fire TV?
There are a quite a few major differences between the new Amazon Fire TV and the old device:
- The new device is a dongle rather than a set-top box
- New processor – Amlogic 1.5GHz Quad Core processor versus the old quad-core MTK CPU
- Full 4K support at 60 Herz
- HDR (High Definition Range) Support
- New graphics chip – Mali450 MP3 instead of the old Power VR GX625
- Updated Bluetooth – Bluetooth 4.2 + LE vs 4.1
- Alexa Support
- HD Antenna Option
- No Ethernet Port
- No USB Port
What is the same?
- Same storage – 8GB for both
- Same memory – 2GB for both
- Same remote control
The New Amazon Fire TV 4K Hardware
The new Amazon Fire TV is a solid contender for the best Android TV box ever made. It is reasonably priced, has all the bells and whistles of much more expensive TV boxes and it comes with Amazon’s excellent customer support and returns policy. The 2GB RAM ensures fluid operation without sacrificing multitasking abilities. According to Amazon, the new Amlogic processor is about 40% faster than the old one. I couldn’t tell for sure if that is correct, but the box felt much more responsive versus the old one. Voice control is much quicker and accurate too – we could easily switch between shows and movies by using Alexa. It takes less time to do so too.
The new processor and graphics ensure adequate performance. They are both very similar in terms of the number of cores they have and energy consumption. The new processor does feel quicker though. The only major difference is the 4K resolution support at tear-free 60 Herz. The old Fire TV could only manage 4K playback at a 30Hz refresh rate. That means that you will see the picture tearing during TV shows and another programming. It is usually fine for watching cinematic movies as they are usually shot at 24 frames per second, but TV shows are usually recorded at 50 or 60 frames per second. Watching 60 fps footage at 30 Herz ( roughly 30 frames per second) means that your TV can not process the full show and it will only show every other frame and tearing will occur.
The problem is solved with the new Fire TV – it supports full 4K at 60Hz due to the upgraded graphics and HDMI port.
That is one of the major differences between the two devices. The old Fire TV had some voice search support via Fire TV Voice Remote or an additional app that you can install on your phone, whether it is an Android or iOS device. The new Fire TV is basically an Echo Dot in a Fire package.
The new Fire TV comes with a full-blown Alexa support. You can use Alexa for almost anything in your home – from your Alexa enabled router to smart bulbs and mesh WiFi devices. You’ll have to have smart devices all over your house prior to that, of course, but you can automate and voice control almost everything in your home by telling Alexa what to do. Imagine coming home after a long day at work and you don’t feel like getting up from the couch. Now, you can tell Alexa to adjust the thermostat to heat the house up, to dim the lighting, turn on the TV and start watching the next episode of your favorite show. How cool is that?
Kodi Streaming Support
As we all know. the Fire TV devices are running a modified version of Android which makes them almost automatically compatible with the Kodi TV streaming software. While some Kodi streams might be illegal and they might (eventually, in a few very rare cases) get you in hot waters, the app itself has nothing illegal about it and it is a superb home entertainment software that you can use to stream local content, downloaded movies, and TV shows and much, much more.
While Kodi cannot be installed on the Fire box straight out of the app store, it can be easily sideloaded if you are a bit on the technical side of things. It is not 100% confirmed just yet since the Fire TV is not out officially just yet. Once it is out in the open I am sure there will be plenty of guides on how to sideload your Fire TV with Kodi.
Is It Worth To Upgrade From The Old Amazon Fire TV?
I’d say yes to upgrade, but with a few “ifs”.
If you need proper 4K support and your old device does not support it and you see tearing when streaming content – yes, by any means. If you are a heavy HDR user and you want to take full advantage of HDR content –
If you are a heavy HDR user and you want to take full advantage of HDR content – yes, by any means.
If you want to have the best and the latest tech – yes, no questions there – we know you have to dough!
Any other scenario – I’d say no. It is not that major of an upgrade over the old Fire TV. It has the same number of processor cores with very similar performance, same RAM, very similar graphics performance too. The new one doesn’t have ethernet port built-in so you’ll have to shell out for an adapter that costs close to 15 bucks. If you are not yet convinced that there are enough 4K shows and movies to justify the upgrade there is no need to upgrade at all – the old Fire TV is perfectly capable of handling any 1080p content you throw at it.
Overall I feel that if you have the old Fire box there is really no rush to upgrade to the new one just yet unless you are a die-hard 4K content consumer.
Review VerdictAs a new purchase, the new Amazon Fire TV with Alexa is a fantastic buy. It comes with Alexa voice control which can be very useful if you have lots of smart devices in your home that you can connect to. It features faster hardware and support but it is not that much better than the old device except for proper 4K support. The major downside is that the new Fire TV is turned into a dongle rather than a set-top box. Some people might not like that and I can completely understand them. Dongles are not as neat as boxes and it might add an unwanted amount of cable clutter behind your television set. Another downside is the disappearance of the ethernet port. The old version comes with one but the new one doesn’t. If you have a wire going to your TV and you want to use it you’ll have to purchase a separate USB ethernet adapter that Amazon sells – the same one that can be used for the Fire Stick. It is not cheap by any means. There is another negative too – there is no USB port on the new Fire TV. You can’t connect an external hard drive to the new Amazon Fire TV.
Overall it is a recommended device for 4K enthusiasts, especially if this is the first Amazon Fire TV device to buy. We gave it 4 out of 5 stars due to the scrapping of the ethernet and the USB ports. We are not big fans of the dongle design either but overall it performs better than the old one and it thoroughly deserves its spot on the best Android TV box comparison that we have.