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Amazon Fire TV Stick 3rd Gen Review: Quality Audio-Video Streaming On Budget
Amazon is back with another affordable 'Fire TV Stick' to help you give a smart makeover to your old TV. The 3rd generation Fire TV stick brings some much-needed improvements and faster processing speed for smooth user-experience. It offers Dolby Atmos audio support (requires compatible content and speaker setup), dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi support and HDR content playback. The 2020 Fire TV stick is claimed to be 50% faster than the previous generation Fire TV stick and brings along an improved Alexa-enabled remote controller with dedicated power, volume, and mute buttons for better control over your TV-viewing experience.
- Smooth And Lag-Free Interface
- Dolby Atmos Audio Support
- 1080p 60Hz And HDR Ready
- Improved Alexa-Enabled Remote Controller
- No 4K Streaming Support
- No USB and Audio Out (S/PDIF) Port
The Fire Stick 3rd gen. is selling at Rs. 2,499 which is an amazing price for the features and improvements it brings to the table. We tested the new Fire TV stick to evaluate its performance on a non-smart 1080p LED TV. Here's how it performed.
Design And Setup Process
The Fire TV stick 3rd gen. has the familiar rectangular dongle-shaped design that easily plugs into the HDMI port of your old TV and stays hidden. Amazon offers an extender in the box to ease up the plugging process if the TV unit is wall-mounted. The stick measures 3.4 x 1.1 x 0.5 inches and has the HDMI port on the front end and a micro-USB port on the side to connect the power cable. Unlike the Mi Box, the Fire TV stick does not offer a USB and Audio Out (S/PDIF) port.
1) Plug the streaming stick directly into TV's HDMI port or use the bundled HDMI extender.
2) Connect the included charger to the stick via micro-USB port and plug it into a wall outlet.
3) Switch on the TV, select your Wi-Fi network and Log in to your Amazon account.
4) Setup is complete.
Box Contents And Specifications
The package includes Fire TV Stick (3rd Gen), Alexa Voice Remote (2nd Gen), USB cable and power adapter, HDMI extender, 2 AAA Alkaline batteries, and a quick start guide. The 3rd gen. Fire TV stick promises 50% better processing speed. It is powered by a 1.7GHz Quad-core chipset and has an 8GB internal memory. The new streaming stick supports dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO), Bluetooth 5.0 and is compatible with HD TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50 Hz. The output resolution supported is 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps.
One Remote Controller For Both TV And Streaming Stick
Amazon has addressed one of the most annoying issues with the TV-viewing experience on the Fire TV. The new companion controller has a power button, mute button and even volume buttons which is a big relief in a day-to-day routine as you won't have to juggle with two remotes. Additionally, the remote has a dedicated Alexa button and usual controls such as directional pad, home button and playback controls.
UI Performance And App Ecosystem
The Fire TV stick 3rd gen. has given a new life to my decade-old 32-inch Samsung LED. The familiar smart TV UI feels buttery smooth and there's no lag whatsoever in UI navigation and while opening/closing of apps or streaming content on the popular OTT apps. The new 1.7 GHz quad-core processor makes the UI extremely responsive. Apps fire up instantly and play shows without a lag or any glitches. Even the 1080p 60 fps videos run smoothly on the decade-old LED TV.
The top bar of the UI has a horizontal menu that shows Home, Free movies, TV shows, Live TV, Apps and Settings menu. The media content is shown on the main screen in tiles format and as expected from a Fire TV stick, the Prime Video content is largely kept in focus. Nevertheless, you will easily find the content you want to watch as the intuitive UI is complemented with a rich app ecosystem. You can also add live channels to the Favorites tab for easy access.
Rich App Ecosystem
While setting up the Fire TV, you are given app recommendations which include all popular streaming apps such as Prime Videos, Netflix, Discovery Plus, Sony Liv, etc. You can also install more apps from the app store. The companion remote controller makes it a joyful browsing experience. The settings menu allows you to customize Picture and Audio settings. You can set the streaming stick to play the content at 1080p 60fps
Alexa Search, HDR, 1080p 60Hz And Dolby Atmos Support
The Alexa-enabled remote controller allows you to give voice commands to the Fire TV. It worked wonderfully and delivered quick and accurate results. You can ask Alexa to stream media content from various apps, find popular food places around you (Zomato results), show temperature reading of your geo-location and stream music on Amazon Music, Spotify and other music apps.
Useful Software Features
Moving on, you can set parental controls on the Fire TV, personalize screensavers, configure display resolution to run videos at 1080p 60Hz/50Hz, 720p 60Hz/50Hz or simply let the streaming stick decide the resolution. Also, you can select the color depth depending upon your TV panel's configuration (up to 12 bits max settings) and choose the color format (Auto, RGB and YCbCr).
The Fire TV Stick 3rd gen. also supports Dolby Atmos Audio but you would need a compatible audio setup to take full advantage of the surround sound. Importantly, Amazon has also added HDR support (HDR10 and HLG standards) giving you more immersive viewing experience on compatible displays. The only feature that seems to be missing here is the 4K video resolution support; however, it shouldn't concern you much if your old non-smart TV only has a Full HD panel. If you have bought one of those dumb Android AOSP 4K TVs, you should invest in Amazon's 4k compatible Fire TV stick.
The launch price of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 3rd gen. seems slightly higher considering that it still lacks Ultra High Definition support. However, what makes it a no-brainer deal is the current sale price, i.e. Rs. 2,499. This is undoubtedly a great deal for a newer generation 1080p 60Hz HDR-enabled Fire TV streaming stick with faster processing speed, better Wi-Fi connectivity, all-in-one remote controller, and Dolby Atmos support. Buy it before the sale offer ends to give a new life to your old and dumb LED/LCD TV.
And if you have already invested in Google ecosystem, you can consider buying the recently launched Mi Box 4k. It is currently selling at Rs. 3,499 and offers 4K resolution support, Google Chromecast, 3.5mm audio jack and even a USB port. It's a great alternative if you have a 4K non-smart TV at home.