Amazon’s Fire TV Stick Gen 2: Streaming just got better

November 12, 2023
3 mins read


Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max Gen 2

The first Fire Stick was a standout dongle for streaming television but PAT PILCHER reckons its successor has notable improvements.


Fill in the reader survey at the bottom of this page to go in the draw to win an Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Gen 2!Amazon’s latest streaming stick reminds me of a line from that old show, The Six Million Dollar Man,  “Better, stronger, faster”. It’s an apt description for Amazon’s 2nd-generation Fire TV Stick 4K Max. Thanks to a refresh of its innards and adding more storage, it delivers on the promise of 4K video goods while barely breaking a sweat.


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The Amazon Fire TV Stick Max supports 4K video and Dolby Vision for HDR, along with all the other HDR flavours you’ll ever need. You get Dolby Atmos, too, so the video looks crispy and everything sounds fab. Thanks to an intuitive “getting started” guide, getting set up is a cinch, and consisted of plugging the Fire TV Stick Max into a spare HDMI port on the telly, connecting the bundled micro-USB power supply, pairing the remote, and connecting the stick to my Wi-Fi network. The total setup time was under 10 minutes.

In use, the Fire TV Stick Max felt quick, ran smoothly and, above all, was responsive. A lot of this comes down to the fact that Amazon plunked a faster MediaTek MT8696T CPU, clocked at up to 2.0 GHz, and paired that with a quicker GPU. While this doesn’t change video quality hugely compared to the earlier Fire Stick 4K, navigating menus and jumping around the UI feels far much smoother. Another nice addition is extra storage. The Fire TV Stick Max now comes with 16GB, meaning there’s more room for apps. Last, the Fire TV Stick Max also gains Wi-Fi 6E support, which makes streaming 4K HDR and Atmos-encoded video stutter-free.

The other big win with the Fire TV Stick Max is that it isn’t as locked down as the Google Chromecast streaming dongle. By enabling developer mode and the “install from unknown sources” option, I could easily install Kodi (one of the best media players around) and SmartTube, an open-source YouTube client that blocks pesky YouTube adverts.

The bundled remote control has also had some minor tweaks. It now has a Recent Apps button and a channel Up/Down control for channel surfing, which I couldn’t see a use for.

Amazon has kept the big, blue Alexa button at the top of the remote, which allows you to give voice commands to drive smart home widgets, set timers/reminders and find video content. As useful as these tweaks are, the engineers at Amazon forgot to add backlit buttons to the remote, which would have been really useful.

The Fire TV Stick Max user interface is less cluttered and still slanted towards Amazon Prime video streaming. That said, its layout has been streamlined. Amazon and third-party apps can now be pinned to the home screen for easier accessibility. If you’re a Prime Video subscriber, the good news is that the Fire Stick does a great job of learning your viewing preferences over time, presenting you with a list of shows that it thinks you’ll like, which should prove super handy.

The other nifty feature baked into the Fire Stick Max is the TV Ambient experience. Essentially a screen saver on steroids, you get a wide choice of artistic backgrounds that can be static or have motion. Adding widgets (some of which can be customised) provides a handy at-a-glance view of the weather, upcoming appointments, recommended shows and smart home status. At the time of writing, there were 10 widgets available from Amazon. Here’s hoping the widgets gain wider third-party support to become even more versatile.

The Fire Stick 4K Max has huge appeal, which will doubtlessly be helped along by its reasonable sticker price, tidier interface, faster operation and its Ambient Experience. If you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, the Firestick 4K Max is a complete no-brainer, given its seamless support for Amazon Prime Video/Amazon Music/Amazon Photos. For those who don’t subscribe, its seamless Alexa integration, hackability, and super affordable $129 sticker price still make it a great option for adding smarts to a TV.


Fill in Witchdoctor’s brief Readers’ Survey and be in the draw to win an Amazon Fire Stick Max!

Click here to start the survey!

Pat has been talking about tech on TV, radio and print for over 20 years, having served time as a TV tech guy and currently penning reviews for Witchdoctor. He loves nothing more than rolling his sleeves up and playing with shiny gadgets.

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