Here's some great news for fans of Amazon's Fire TV ecosystem.
Yesterday, September 20, 2023, the online retail giant announced a range of major updates to the product line. They include two refreshed streaming sticks, a new soundbar, better AI-based voice search, and the new TV Ambient Experience.
All-New Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Now with the Fire TV Ambient Experience, more processing power, 2x storage, and Wi-Fi 6E
The first new hardware is the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max that replaces the previous version of the same name.
This new 4K Max is the replacement hardware -- it seems Amazon no longer sells the original version. While that alleviates the confusion, the old hardware won't get what the new one offers via a simple firmware update.
The new 4K Max is slated to be the most powerful add-on Fire TV Stick yet. Per Amazon, it comes with an upgraded 2.0 GHz quad-core CPU, an 850MHz GPU, doubles the storage space to 16GB to hold more apps, and has enough hardware power to support 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos audio.
Additionally, it's the first stick that features Wi-Fi 6E with up to 2400Mbps of lag-free wireless connection speed and the new Fire TV Ambient Experience.
Fire TV Ambient Experience: turning your TV into an artwork display and more
Fire TV Ambient Experience, previously only available on the Fire TV Omni QLED Series, transforms the big screen into more than just a TV.
This feature can be activated via the Alexa button, voice command, or a shortcut on the menu to replace the blank TV screen with helpful information -- calendar items, reminders, sticky notes, control smart devices -- or beautiful artwork.
The latter functions similarly to the Netgear Meural without a subscription. Amazon says it currently has some 2,000 free, gallery-quality artworks from famous artists worldwide and notable institutions, including Musée d'Orsay in Paris, Museo del Prado in Madrid, and Galleria d'Arte Moderna in Florence. More arts are added regularly. Users can choose from motion graphics, landscape art, personalized and always-evolving dynamic art, and personal photos.
The Ambient Experience features will soon allow users to create art via AI Art. This free feature is slated to be first available in the US by the end of the year. You can use it to generate personalized backgrounds by giving Alexa a prompt, such as "Alexa, create an image of cherry blossoms in the snow," and watch that command being translated into a unique artsy result on the screen.
Overall, these updates make the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max the ultimate add-on streamer of the ecosystem. It's available now for pre-order for $60, and start shipping before the month is out.
Fire TV Stick 4K: A lesser hardware unit for less
If $60 seems high, you opt for the all-new Fire TV Stick 4K, which is $10 cheaper.
Amazon says this less hardware unit supports Wi-Fi 6 and "features an updated 1.7 GHZ quad-core processor, making it nearly 30% more powerful than the previous generation."
The Stick 4K doesn't have the cool Fire TV Ambient Experience feature above, but it has enough to deliver 4K Ultra HD picture quality with Dolby Atmos audio, Dolby Vision, HDR, HLG, and HDR10+. Alexa Home Theater enables it to wirelessly connect to compatible Echo devices for audio across multiple speakers and inputs.
Fire TV overall experience updates and a new soundbar
Besides the two new replacement streamers above, Amazon announced today its upgraded Fire TV experience via firmware updates.
The company says the new experience "enhances search, browse, and recommendations by combining generative AI with Fire TV's extensive entertainment content and app library—enabling customers to find and discover content in a natural, contextual, and conversational way."
You now can talk to the remote using open-ended questions about TV shows using natural and conversational language instead of using rigid commands, such as "action movies with car chases," "comedies for a rainy day inside," or "animated movies that are free to me." Or you can tell Alexa what you're in the mood to watch and view a selection of recommendations.
Finally, the Fire TV family gets an all-new Soundbar, a two-channel compact 24-inch companion device supporting DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Audio. Amazon says the Soundbar is simple to set up and compatible with all Fire TV devices. It can also be used as a standalone Bluetooth speaker.
Pricing and Availability
As mentioned, the new Fire TV Stick 4K Max and TV Stick 4K are available for pre-order today for $59.99 and $49.99, respectively. They'll start shipping before the month is out. The new Fire TV Soundbar is shipping today for $119.99.
Their prices will likely go down during special sale events.