Amazon Fire TV review: simply unbeatable value for 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos support

Alongside the Chromecast Ultra, it's great value for 4K HDR support - but you'll probably need Amazon Prime

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T3 Verdict

If you want 4K HDR and don't want an Apple TV, this is the best option - unless you're totally embedded with Google apps and services (in which case you probably want the Chromecast).

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Plenty of content

  • +

    So well priced

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    Alexa works very well

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    You really need to have Prime

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If you don't want 4K, HDR or Dolby Atmos support, then let us refer you to our Fire TV Stick review or check out the Chromecast.  If your life is iOS based, Apple TV will no doubt be for you. Check out our guide to all the best media streamers.

If you want 4K HDR, there are three options - Chromecast Ultra, Apple TV 4K and this, the new Amazon Fire TV. 

Amazon has opted to support HDR10 but not Dolby Vision for HDR - both the Apple TV 4K and Chromecast Ultra both support Dolby Vision. Weirdly, the Apple TV 4K doesn't support Dolby Atmos unlike the Fire TV. 

The Fire TV features decent specs with a 1.5Ghz quad-core processor, 8GB of storage, 2GB of memory and latest gen 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The previous Fire TV box already featured 4K, but there's now support for 60 frames per second 4K. It also now features HDR in addition. Once again there's Alexa support via the voice remote. 

The remote is certainly a reason to choose the Fire TV over Chromecast as the latter doesn't have a remote. While you can use your phone as a remote on both devices, we think there's no substitute for a physical remote. 

The new Fire TV has been completely resigned and is smaller than its predecessor. It's square but as the HDMI cable sticks out of one corner it appears more like a diamond. 

The microUSB power lead then escapes from the other corner. 

 Alexa on the Amazon Fire TV 4K

Alexa isn't just for scouring for content, either. Most of the capabilities or 'Skills' (third-party apps) are now accessible via the Fire TV, with the likes of weather and sports scores gaining a visual element. 

Alexa is pretty darn compatible  these days. So you can say "open Just Eat and ask for my last order" or "dim my lights" at will. 

So far so Echo, but Alexa does come into its own on the TV. It enables you to search for shows and movies, watch shows and movies and open apps and players like BBC iPlayer or Plex. 

However, while Amazon and Netflix content can be searched for and launched via the results, a lot of other apps require you to open them first. Alexa on the Fire TV also enables you to rewind and fast forward shows and movies. 

You can use Alexa to skip to the next episode, but you can’t go back or navigate to a particular episode, which is a shame. 

One thing that might be good in the future is for Alexa devices to work together, so if you've gone into the kitchen where your Echo is, you can still say "pause my movie" and it will understand what you mean. For now though, Alexa devices work pretty independently (things like alarms are only available on the Echo or Echo Dot you set them on, for example).

 If you have an older Fire TV device you can add voice control via the Fire TV mobile app, or by splashing out £20 on a new remote with a mic for it (NOT this one), if you prefer to rick your futuristic control methods in an old-school way. 

Amazon Fire TV setup

Once the Amazon Fire TV is plugged in, you will get a prompt to add in your Wi-Fi password (which the device asks you if you want your Amazon account to remember, we thought we'd done this before). Subsequently the Fire TV will download any relevant updates. 

When you are set up on to your network you can spend the next five or so minutes watching the animated video that guides you through the install process.  

You'll then have to sign into your Amazon account and choose whether to enable parental controls, but that's it. 

Amazon Prime will set you back £79 of course, but you do get unlimited one-day delivery for this and access to Amazon Video, the service that's a rival to Netflix. If you're set on keeping Netflix instead then don't worry as it works really well through the Fire TV.

Audio and video settings are automatically detected to give you the best picture, but you can configure this manually should you wish: 

Amazon Fire TV interface and apps apps

The Fire TV interface is a cinch to navigate and, rather like other FIre devices, features a top-line Home-Movies-TV Shows-Apps menu with cascading screens of content under each category. 

Prime content is consistently at the front of the user interface and things are split neatly between movie and TV content and you can deep search through genres. 

Away from Amazon Prime content there's a great selection available on Fire TV devices nowadays - check out this Fire TV apps and games directory

However, there is a bit of a miss as there's no Now TV support. There aren't many streaming devices that Now TV doesn't support, but Amazon streamers are some of them. 

Prime-owning people can add over 40 premium channels such as Discovery and Eurosport Player - all are available with individual subscriptions so you only pay for the channels you want. 

The other strands of Amazon Fire TV are music and gaming. Anything you have bought through Amazon will come up in the music section of the service and you can also stream from Amazon Prime Music, while there's also Spotify, Deezer, Vevo and various radio apps. Oh, and any stored Amazon Prime Photos will also appear.

Gaming remains under cooked. The device is powerful enough to be a micro console but the games available are essentially mobile apps. So this isn't a device to rival the PS4 - but you can buy an additional controller and pretend that it is. But we wouldn't really recommend it. 

T3 Verdict

So should you plump for the Fire TV 4K? The Chromecast Ultra and Fire TV are very similarly-priced and which you go for depends on which ecosystem you're more embedded with (as well as whether you want a physical remote). 

Do you use Amazon Video and Amazon Prime Photos? You need the Fire TV. Use Google Photos and rent movies from the Play Store? You need the Chromecast. 

If you are a Prime member, then the Amazon Fire TV really elevates the Prime service and so the Fire TV really will represent everything you want from a streamer.

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