The Amazon FireTV stick is an underrated device. Across the world it has made millions of televisions, and thus households, smarter, weaning them away from dull content that has come to infest live television. And the fact remains that the FireTV is still one of the most affordable, and reliable, ways to amp up your entrainment options at home. And now, the latest upgrade gives it some much needed muscle.
I might sound a bit biased for I have been using a FireTV on my old LG smart television for years now. The 2020 version brings in a more powerful quad core processor along with support for HDR video and Dolby Atmos audio, provided you have the TV and audio support for these two features. The rest of the device remains almost the same when it comes to experience, though Amazon has added support for Live TV through some apps recently. This shows up as a separate tab when you are on the home screen.
The overall experience, moving from the second to the third generation, was smooth but not that much different for me to say this appeared faster or smoother. I guess those moving from the first generation will see a bigger difference. But apps seemed to load faster, especially the Prime Video app which I always felt took a few extra seconds compared to other OTT apps.
My television is Full HD, but from the pre-HDR era and hence I could not really see how the picture quality had changed. But to test out the Dolby Atmos capability I had the Echo Studio at home. It is a bit complicated, but I spent a few minutes configuring a home theatre grouping on the Alexa app of the new FireTV and the Echo Studio. This meant the sound could not be played on the very capable speaker that the Studio is.
Before this grouping, the app did not let me select Dolby Audio as an option for playback in settings and would go back to the ‘best available’ which was the speaker of my old TV. But with FireTV paired with the Echo Studio, the entire room became a soundscape for The Haunting, and I could hear voices all over the room. Also, it was a real pleasure playing Amazon Music and JioSaavn playlists via the Studio, the latter let me even see the lyrics I scrolled.
The FireTV has the same remote as before, but still as functional and easy to use. In fact, since I first got the FireTV, the voice controls via the remote microphone have before really cool. For instance, I could ask Alexa to show me movies featuring Fahad Faasil or Robert Downey Jr. I can even ask Alexa to rewind or fast forward to a precise spot in a movie while playing on apps like Prime Movies and YouTube.
At Rs 4,999, the new Amazon FireTV stick is a good deal. And today, with a deal price of Rs 2,499 as part of the Amazon Great Indian Festival, this becomes great value for money purchase for even those who already have a smart television at home. Pair this with the Echo Studio or a Dolby Atmos enabled sounder and you suddenly have a home theatre at home.