Top positive review
Finally an update to the 4K Fire TV stick. Excellent performance
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 October 2021
I have had almost all versions of Fire TV sticks except the Cube. After having used them you just get used to their menus and interface and cant be bothered to learn when you buy new TV's so I just plug one of these in.
What I have noticed is a Fire TV stick will always be stuck on the same underlying base Android OS version even though the frontend shares the same skin. Few Examples:
Fire TV Stick - 2nd Gen (2016-2019) - Fire OS 5 (Android 5.1)
Fire TV - 3rd Gen (2017) - Fire OS 6 (Android 7.1)
FireTV Stick 4K (2018) - Fire OS 6 (Android 7.1)
Fire TV Stick Lite - 1st Gen (2020)- Fire OS 7 (Android 9)
FireTV Stick 4K Max (2021) - Fire OS 7 (Android 9)
As you can see from above list FireTV Stick 4K was due for an upgrade. New android versions will provide better 3rd party app support. For example I used mouse app that allowed me to use the Fire TV remote to move cursor around the screen to click buttons. This allowed me to use various android APK's not designed for Fire OS interface (Hik-connect, smart control, CCTV, apps). Not to mention newer OS is faster as well.
I have Facebook Portal that also runs on android base OS and I always found its interface much faster and responsive than all the previous Fire TV sticks. You click on Netflix app and within an instant you are in, something I never experienced on the pre-2020 Fire TV sticks. The new FireTV stick 4K Max is definitely nippier when moving around the menus.
Background and benefits of Fire TV OS and user interface applicable to all Fire TV ecosystem:
I originally bought into the Google ecosystem to the point where I refused to buy anything with Alexa in it like the Ring bell. Then we were provided with a FireTV stick with a new Sky TV connection in our holiday home in India. I set it up just for the sake of it and fell in love with it. I will list some of its benefits,
1. Nice sized remote, supports full functions, including Alexa with a button (Alexa is not listening all the time)
2. Remote controller controls the TV's on/off with source selection and volume control with the built in infrared.
3. The interface is zappy, intuitive and simple.
4. Been using for years, never seen it lag beyond reason or crash.
5. Better than your TV's smart interface. (I own/owned 4K - Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Unknown/ Sony Android TV's)
6. Supports various apps like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Sky News, etc., in 4K and more can be downloaded from built in store.
7. Based off android so you can side-load several unsupported apps too,
a. I use Hik-Connect to view all my 4K Hikvision cameras spread across two countries.
b. I use Synology NAS apps - DS Video, DS Photo to view my personal video and photo library.
c. Installed IP TV apps, that allows you to view 1000's of live view channels. Follow YouTube for instructions.
d. Mouse Toggle APK (search Google) allows to switch to mouse mode. Useful for 'unsupported' android apps.
8. Unlike other Smart TV's the Fire TV receives regular updates so you can be certain you get best supported apps.
9. Will breathe new life in your old non-smart TV's. We had a 44" Samsung Plasma TV that lay unused for over 10 years and with this Fire TV stick, it works like a brand new TV!
I have now purchased and installed Fire TV stick for all the TV's I have access to, including one at my work place. Its so small, you can carry it with you and use it to give you access to your customised entertainment at hotels, relatives place, etc., without having to share your passwords on TV's not owned by you.
I mostly prefer to get this Fire TV stick 4K model as opposed to the non 4k 3rd gen just to be future proof. Even though the back-end Android OS version are different between the non-4K (Ver. 5.x) and 4K model (Ver. 6.x), they both work and appear the same. I find the 4K Max model to be a bit faster in unsupported apps but works just fine for the standard apps.
Remember to use the original supplied USB Power adapter for full speed performance. I was using another 2.4A USB adapter and discovered it would lag or stutter while playing HEVC or some HD or 4K videos. You see not all USB sockets deliver same power regardless of what the label says!