With streaming more popular than ever during the pandemic, Amazon's Fire TV family of streaming devices is getting an update. Or at least, a lower price of entry.
The new Fire TV Stick Lite is now the company's cheapest streamer at $30 (£30, AU$59), undercutting last year's $40 Fire TV Stick. The Lite still offers access to Fire TV's thousands of apps and games as well as a voice remote that lets you talk to Alexa by pressing the mic button, to search for TV shows, launch apps and control smart home devices. You can also pair it with an Echo speaker for hands-free TV control.
The Lite's price lets it better compete against entry-level devices like the Roku Express and Google Chromecast, both of which also cost $30. It's not hard to imagine it dropping to $20 or even less during Amazon's Prime Day sale, slated for Oct. 13.
Amazon also announced an update to the $40 (£40) Fire TV Stick. Unlike the Lite, its Alexa remote offers volume, mute and power buttons that can control pretty much any television, allowing you to ditch your TV's clicker. It also adds Dolby Atmos audio capability.
Both the Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick are available for preorder now in the US and ship on Sept. 30.
Both new streamers are 1080p, full HD only. Actual 4K resolution is reserved for the $50 (£50) Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, which will remain on sale unchanged. It continues to compete against our favorite current 4K streamer, the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, and could soon go up against Google's rumored $50 Chromecast replacement.
Now for the confusing part: Despite lacking 4K, the two less-expensive sticks do support high-dynamic range video, aka HDR. Most current streamers that can handle HDR will also deliver 4K, but not the new Amazon Fire TV Sticks. HDR promises improved picture quality with better contrast and color, but we've only tested it with 4K resolution signals so far.
Amazon claims both new products are 50% more powerful than their predecessors and use 50% less power. In a nod to its sustainability pledge, the company said the new devices would have a new low-power mode, a feature that could be rolled out to existing Fire TV devices as well.
In addition to new hardware Amazon is also revamping the Fire TV user interface, which hasn't fared well in CNET's reviews especially against Roku. The new "experience" includes:
- User profiles -- which are already available on Prime Video app
- Redesigned main menu and improved browsing to make things easier to find
- A new section called Alexa Explore with new recipes, stock reports and more
- The ability to see Ring camera feeds in a picture-in-picture display
- On Fire TV Cube, the option to a Logitech camera for Alexa video calls on a TV (Zoom and other services will be added over time)
The updated Fire TV menus will be available globally later this year and appear first in the new Fire TV Stick Lite and Fire TV Stick.