Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite review: Capable streamer, cheap price

Roku is the most important title in streaming {hardware}, with seven different streamers obtainable proper now, and much more TVs and soundbarsAmazon has been gunning for Roku’s slice of the pie ever because the first Fire TV appeared. However what Amazon hasn’t had is an ultracheap choice, till now. The $30 Amazon Hearth TV Lite is the corporate’s newest try and compete with Roku’s most cost-effective participant, the Roku Express. Should you needed an ultracheap Amazon streamer for the value of a DVD, it is lastly right here.


  • Grime-cheap
  • Contains Alexa voice distant
  • Big selection of streaming apps
  • Integrates effectively with Echo audio system

Do not Like

  • Voice instructions do not work with each app
  • Extra complicated menus than Roku
  • HDR with out 4K is kinda pointless

Amazon launched not one however two new streamers at the same time — the opposite was the up to date $40 Hearth Stick — however I might argue that the Hearth Stick TV Lite is the higher deal. The primary distinction is that the costlier Stick has a distinct distant with energy, quantity and mute buttons to regulate your TV. Should you’re solely utilizing this streamer on an affordable TV anyway, it is price saving the cash, until you really need TV management.

So is the $30 Hearth TV Lite higher than the $30 Roku Specific? They largely have the identical choice of apps, except Peacock — NBC’s new service that is not but on Hearth TV. The 2 largest variations are in menu techniques and voice assist. The Lite’s built-in entry to Alexa is a giant benefit in case you like talking as an alternative of typing if you seek for reveals and launch apps. Ultimately, I appreciated the Hearth TV platform a bit higher, though Roku continues to be a wonderful alternative too. In case your TV has an HDMI port, the Hearth TV Stick Lite is an effective way to equip it with a wealth of streaming for not a lot cash.

What’s it?

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The Hearth TV Lite is a USB stick-sized gadget which plugs right into a spare HDMI port in your TV. For 30 bucks it provides quite a lot of options, together with that devoted voice distant that enables integration with the Alexa voice assistant. There’s additionally dozens of supported streaming services amongst its 1000’s of obtainable apps.

The distant hasn’t bodily modified a lot because the first Hearth TV and I did not like the texture as a lot because the Roku distant or the new Google TV distant. Amazon’s clicker additionally lacks the shortcuts to Netflix or different often-used companies, however it does embody a brand new dwell TV button. 


The Lite distant ought to look acquainted to Hearth TV customers.

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Urgent that new backside button brings up a grid-style dwell TV information populated by default with “channels” of free reveals from Pluto TV and Starz. Unusually Amazon’s personal IMDb TV just isn’t a part of the dwell TV grid, although it has its personal program grid when you open the app. Should you occur to subscribe to YouTube TV, you will additionally see reveals and channels from that service within the information, though it did not work with Sling TV (subscribers should use the Sling app as common).

The stick itself comes with an influence adapter. When you might use the USB ports in your gadget to energy it I counsel you employ the adapter as an alternative, or the unit might behave surprisingly. For instance, Dolby Atmos content material would not work in any respect when plugged right into a TV USB port, regardless of the gadget declaring “Dolby” — the sound got here out as 5.1.

One function on the Lite’s function checklist appears slightly misplaced: HDR compatibility. That is the primary gadget we have seen to supply HDR however not 4K resolution, and it raises the query of what sort of TV it is designed for. There are a whole bunch of 4K HDR TVs on the market however, based mostly on a search of the Greatest Purchase website, there are solely four 1080p TVs that can do HDR. For most individuals with 4K HDR TVs, we might suggest getting a streamer that may truly do 4K as an alternative of a 1080p streamer just like the Lite.

A lot of streaming apps (however no Peacock or HBO Max)


The Hearth TV Lite helps a variety of apps.

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Like different streaming units the variety of companies that Amazon Hearth TV helps is enhancing on a regular basis. It will probably entry nearly the entire main streaming apps, together with Amazon Prime Video ($9 at Amazon), Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Crackle, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify and plenty of, many extra. With so many companies supported it is nearly simpler to checklist the companies the adapter would not have: specifically NBC’s Peacock and HBO Max ($15 at HBO Max) (although it does have a vanilla HBO app). Roku and Chromecast with Google TV each supply Peacock and the latter additionally consists of HBO Max. 

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Voice assist is sweet however it did not work with each app I attempted, together with Netflix. Asking for “Umbrella Academy” failed and I simply acquired a “test your expertise” message (there’s no official Netflix skill within the Alexa app). YouTube TV would not appear to permit voice search but both; I requested for “Battle Bots” and all I acquired have been YouTube and Amazon “purchase” hyperlinks. Amazon Prime video labored effectively with Alexa voice, nevertheless, and I appreciated with the ability to use both the distant or an Alexa speaker.

In distinction, Roku might not have the identical sturdy voice capabilities, however textual content searches by way of the Roku distant are usually extra focused towards free or included packages moderately than merely “purchase now” hyperlinks.  


The brand new Dwell button on the distant summons a grid-style program information.

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What it is like to make use of

The wholesome complement of options, tightly built-in voice instructions and its relative pace makes for a profitable mixture. Usually opening apps was speedy, and solely navigating the house web page tiles might give a really occasional slow-down, however nothing that spoiled the expertise. 

Utilizing the Hearth TV Stick Lite distant is simple, and Alexa searches with the microphone button have been extra responsive and related than utilizing the Echo as a go-between. Solely every so often did I want for a mute button, and that was normally throughout the autoplay movies that accompany the tiles on the house web page.

Image and sound high quality have been additionally superb, however the lack of an audio format management past “Greatest Accessible” might result in some odd issues. For instance, The Legend of Korra on Netflix utilizing the Lite solely gave me stereo sound (although it must be able to 5.1), whereas the brand new Hearth Stick did give me the anticipated 5.1. Different packages, together with Jack Ryan on Amazon, have been performed in Atmos on the Lite so it wasn’t seemingly a {hardware} functionality challenge. Extra seemingly a Netflix one, however I’ve reached out to Amazon for clarification. 


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There are two totally different colleges of thought in terms of how streaming units set up their content material. App-centric menus like Roku and Apple TV simply present you a grid of apps, so you may’t truly browse for one thing to look at with out clicking by means of to every app. Amazon Hearth TV and Google TV take a extra content-focused method, surfacing a number of titles on the house web page itself. 

Should you wish to graze for content material, the Hearth TV is perhaps extra interesting, though the “dwell tiles” autoplay video might be jarring. If what you need already, or a minimum of what app you wish to watch, Roku might be a more sensible choice, partially as a result of Amazon’s search outcomes skews closely towards its personal (typically user-pays-extra) content material. 

Amazon has promised an interface replace later in 2020, which is able to come first to each the Lite and the 2020 Hearth TV. It provides a redesigned primary menu and improved looking, plus a brand new part referred to as Alexa Discover with new recipes, inventory studies and extra.

Do you have to purchase it?

In order for you an ultracheap, succesful streamer and are embedded with Alexa and the Amazon universe, this product makes quite a lot of sense. You might or might not miss the TV management features however the Dwell TV Information button is an actual bonus for cord-cutters specifically. At $30 it is a worthy streamer and a terrific stocking filler.

If, alternatively, you’ve gotten the 2019 Hearth Stick, there’s completely no motive so that you can purchase both of the 2020 variations. Dolby Atmos and/or Dolby Imaginative and prescient are bizarre add-ons for 1080p units, and in case you have an honest 4K TV then you need to get an actual 4K streamer — it is simply one other $20. 

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Ty Pendlebury