In this post, we will take a look at the three Fire TV devices available in the market presently – FireStick vs FireStick 4K vs Fire TV Cube (3rd Gen). The purpose of this article is to help you choose the best Fire TV streaming device for your needs.
Released in October 2016, FireStick 2nd Generation is one of the most widely used streaming devices across the world. In October 2018, Amazon released an upgraded version of FireStick (3rd Gen) with 4K support, called FireStick 4K or Fire TV Stick 4K.
Both, FireStick 2nd Gen and FireStick 4K are in the market and sold at Amazon and various retail partners.
The first Fire TV Cube with built-in Echo Dot was released in June 2018. However, this model has been discontinued and an upgraded Fire TV Cube 2nd Generation started selling from October 2019.
Here are the three devices we will talk about in this article:
- FireStick 2nd Gen (NO 4K)
- FireStick 4K
- Fire TV Cube
FireStick vs. FireStick 4K vs. Fire TV Cube
In the following sections, we will evaluate the three devices based on Speed and Performance, Storage, Resolution and Video Quality, Audio Support, Alexa Integration & Voice Support, Remote Controller Support, and Pricing and Value for Money.
I hope this comparative analysis helps you choose the best streaming Fire TV device.
Speed and Performance
|Device / Specs||Processor||CPU Width||RAM / Memory|
|FireStick 2nd Gen||Quad-Core 1.3 GHz||32-bit||1 GB DDR3|
|FireStick 4K||Quad-Core 1.7 GHz||64-bit||1.5 GB DDR4|
|Fire TV Cube||Hexa Core (Quad-core 2.2 GHz + Dual-core 1.9 GHz)||64-bit||2 GB DDR4|
Fire TV Cube specs include a Hexa-core processor with Quad-core (2.2 GHz) and Dual-core (1.9 GHz) packed into one. This device definitely has more processing prowess than the other two. However, with built-in Alexa Echo Dot, which is always listening, Fire TV Cube also has more work to do. Nevertheless, it is faster and the difference is notable.
FireStick 4K with a Quad-core 1.7 GHz processor is faster than FireStick 2nd gen with a Quad-core 1.3 GHz. The difference of just 0.4 may not seem like much. However, the fact that Fire TV Stick 4K has a 64-bit processor and FireStick 2nd Gen relies on 32-bit makes quite a bit of difference.
With the same installed apps and same settings, FireStick 4K feels smoother.
On the RAM front, Fire TV Cube is a clear winner with 2 GB memory. However, again, due to built-in Echo Dot, Fire TV Cube has to work a bit harder.
Fire Stick 4K has a slightly larger capacity RAM at 1.5 GB. Yet, it tends to offer better performance due to DDR4 technology as compared to FireStick 2nd Gen, which still relies on DDR3.
Overall, Fire TV Cube is the fastest, but FireStick 4K offers decent performance.
|FireStick 2nd Gen||8 GB|
|FireStick 4K||8 GB|
|Fire TV Cube||16 GB|
When it comes to storage, there is nothing to choose between FireStick 2nd Gen and FireStick 4K. Both offer the storage capacity of 8GB (almost one-third of which is reserved for the OS and preinstalled apps).
Storage has always been a challenge with the Fire TV devices. Fire TV Cube does a little better in this department by extending the capacity to 16 GB. However, in my opinion, even that is not a lot.
You can increase the internal storage by attaching an external storage device. Though the process is slightly complicated and you must buy the storage device additionally.
Resolution and Video Quality
|FireStick 2nd Gen||Up to 1080p|
|FireStick 4K||Up to 2160p|
|Fire TV Cube||Up to 2160p|
If you have a TV that supports UHD (4K) and you are looking for a rich cinematic experience, you will either want FireStick 4K or Fire TV Cube. Both these devices offer up to 2160p resolution, while FireStick 2nd Gen will do 1080p at best.
But, that is not all. Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube also support HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, which are the two major content formats these days. These formats offer much richer and crisper colors and overall dramatically better video quality.
Buy FireStick 2nd Gen only if your TV supports a max resolution of 1080p. If you have a 4K TV or planning to buy one, I would recommend at least FireStick 4K.
|FireStick 2nd Gen||Dolby Audio with 5.1 surround sound, Up to 7.1 HDMI audio pass-through, 2ch stereo|
|FireStick 4K||Dolby Atmos with 7.1 surround sound, up to 5.1 HDMI audio pass-through, and 2ch Stereo|
|Fire TV Cube||Same as Firestick 4K|
FireStick 2nd Gen supports Dolby Audio, which limits the surround sound to 5.1. On the other hand, FireStick 4K and Fire TV Cube support a much superior Dolby Atmos technology with 7.1 surround sound.
You won’t notice a lot of difference if your audio output is just the speakers of your TV. However, if you have a better audio system, say a home-theater with Dolby Atmos support, Fire Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube offer an appreciable difference in the audio experience compared to FireStick 2nd Gen.
Alexa Integration and Voice Support
|FireStick 2nd Gen||Yes||With Alexa enabled voice remote and Fire TV app (free to download on iOS, Android, and Fire OS)|
|FireStick 4K||Yes||Same as Fire Stick 2nd Gen|
|Fire TV Cube||Yes||Same as Firestick 2nd Gen + Near-field and far-field voice support with built-in Echo Dot|
Alexa integration is a given in any Fire TV device on sale now. You can command Alexa to show you the weather report, find the restaurants nearby, open any app you obtained from the Amazon Store, play movie titles, help you with your shopping list, and even ask her to tell you a joke.
The Alexa-enabled remote is included with all the three devices. You simply need to press and hold the Alexa (mic) button on the remote to get started with voice support.
However, Fire TV Cube takes the voice thing a few notches up. Fire TV Cube clubs Echo Dot and the regular streaming hardware into one. It comes with near-field and far-field support. Meaning, you can give commands to Alexa without having to lift the remote. And, Echo Dot will hear you even over loud noise.
In addition, you can control your smart devices with Echo Dot including smart lights, your TV, and a lot of other devices. Echo Dot in Fire TV Cube also works with the IoT (Internet of Things) gadgets.
Fire TV Cube also has a built-in speaker allowing you to use it independent of your TV.
So, if enhanced voice support is your thing, Fire TV Cube is the one for you.
All three devices come with the exact same out-of-the-box remote. Besides the Alexa button, the remotes have the standard Navigation Ring, Select/OK button, Back, Home, Menu, Rewind, Play/Pause, and Forward buttons.
In addition, the remotes feature infrared TV control buttons including Power ON/OFF, Volume UP/Down, and Mute.
If you bought the FireStick 2nd Gen controller a few months ago, it would not have the TV control buttons. However, all the devices feature the TV control.
If you lost your remote or it stopped working, you could buy a new one for $29.99 (with TV control buttons) or $27.99 (without TV control buttons). Yes, that’s pretty steep for a remote. But, that’s what it is.
If you are looking for something cheaper, there are plenty of cheaper, third-party remote controllers on Amazon. However, in my experience, your Fire TV device works best with the Amazon controllers.
You can also use your mobile or tablet as a remote controller with the Amazon Fire TV Remote app. This app is available for free on Android, iOS, and Fire OS devices. Remember that the Remote app does not feature TV controls.
Pricing and Value for Money
|FireStick 2nd Gen||$39.99|
|Fire TV Cube||$119.99|
|FireStick 3rd Gen||$39.99|
|Fire TV Stick Lite||$29.99|
Even though FireStick 2nd Gen is the cheapest of the three, I recommend FireStick 4K. The 4K version costs only $10 more and offers much better video and audio quality. It also has a faster processor and bigger RAM.
If you have a non-4K TV with max 1080p resolution, I would still say go for FireStick 4K. You wouldn’t have to invest in a new device when you upgrade your TV. Furthermore, if you have a Dolby Atmos compatible audio system, you will have a superior cinematic experience with Fire TV Stick 4K even if the video resolution maxes out at 1080p.
Fire TV Cube is a different league altogether. This device is designed to provide a more futuristic (or some may want to call it nerdy) experience. It is primarily meant for those who like the AI experience. With built-in Echo Dot, faster processor, and bigger RAM, Fire TV Cube obviously costs the most.
Which one should you buy?
If I were to pick one, I would say go for FireStick 4K.
Especially if you are struggling to choose between FireStick 2nd Gen and FireStick 4K, the latter is a clear choice.
For a price difference of $10, you get many new features including Dolby Vision, HDR 10 support, and Dolby Atmos audio. These features are not just any marketing gimmicks. They can be the difference between the average cinematic experience and an exceptional cinematic experience.
I would recommend Fire TV Cube only if you are into advanced voice support and AI. You can control smart devices and use the built-in Echo Dot independent of remote controller or TV. If that’s what you want, Fire TV Cube is a clear choice.
On the other hand, if streaming is the primary reason why you are looking for a Fire TV device, FireStick 4K is a reasonable middle-ground between FireStick 2nd Gen and Fire TV Cube.
I hope I was able to help you choose the best streaming device as per your requirements. You can buy any or all of these devices from Amazon.com. And don’t forget to bookmark our blog FireStickTricks.com for all your cord-cutting and troubleshooting requirements.
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- Best tips for Firestick cord-cutters
- Important Fire Stick settings you should know
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