Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite full review
Amazon is continuing to grow its line of Fire TV sticks with the introduction of an entry-level streaming device – the Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite is the cheapest model available so far, but it does come with some sacrifices to keep the costs down. It also features the new version of the Fire TV interface introduced at the end of last year – also seen on the 2020 version of the Fire TV Stick.
But are the compromises worth the lower price? Let's find out.
Design and Build
The Fire TV Stick Lite boasts an almost identical design to its brethren, with a compact rectangular shape. It can be plugged directly into your TV or attached via the HDMI extender which is included in the box.
The stick is powered by being plugged into the mains via the USB-C slot, though if you have a USB port with enough power, you can power it directly via your TV. To set up the software you’ll need a Wi-Fi connection. If this isn’t possible, Amazon does offer an ethernet adaptor.
All-in-all, the Fire TV Stick Lite itself is rather discreet and can be hidden away neatly. The matte black finish is inconspicuous and will blend in with most TV setups.
Set-up is extremely easy – simply plug it in, log in to your Amazon account, connect to your Wi-Fi network and then choose which apps you want to download.
Alongside the stick, you also get the all-important remote. On here you can control playback (playing, pausing, forwarding and rewinding), navigate to the homepage, go back a step, turn on the Alexa voice assistant, bring up the settings and scroll through the various bits of content on the homepage.
Whilst the design looks refined, I would say that the buttons on Roku remotes are much better for accessibility because of their colours and chunky look and feel. However, Amazon does support voice control directly through this remote – something that the budget Roku ones do not.
The remote on the Lite version has some key differences to the traditional Fire TV Stick - namely that it has no volume controls and no power button.
This means that you can’t use the Lite remote as your sole controlling device. You’ll either have to use it in conjunction with your classic TV remote, or with your phone using the Fire TV app. If you’d prefer to control everything on the Amazon interface with just one remote, then consider one of the more expensive streaming sticks.
In addition, the device only goes into sleep mode either after a period of inactivity or by manually selecting it in the settings. Sleep mode isn't the same as powered off – if you want to do this you’ll have to unplug it or turn it off at the wall.
The Alexa voice assistant is mostly pretty responsive to most commands. I only had one occasion where it got confused, but otherwise, it recognised film titles, playback options, the ability to open apps and more.
Software, Compatibility and Performance
The stick can only steam content at either 720p or 1080p at 60fps with support for HDR, HDR10+ and HLG. If you have a 4K TV and want to get the most out of the resolution, you’ll need a 4K Fire TV stick.
Audio is another compromise on the Fire TV Stick Lite. The standard Fire TV Stick has support for Dolby Atmos, whilst the Fire TV Stick Lite only supports Dolby Audio via pass-through HDMI.
Depending on your TV and audio setup, the difference may not be that noticeable – but if you have a good sound system or are a real audio buff, it's worth spending the extra dosh for the standard Fire TV stick.
The Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite has 8GB worth of storage for all the apps and games that you want to add. The most popular ones are all available here - Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, Now TV, BritBox and YouTube.
In the UK you can also watch local catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4 and more. Meanwhile, users in the US can stream the likes of HBO Max, Hulu, Starz and Sling.
The interface of the Fire TV Stick Lite boasts a clean grid layout. The main menu sits in the middle of the screen when you first load up, and you get tabs for your featured apps and games, recommended video channels, recommended apps and more. The home screen also keeps track of your six most-used apps for quick and easy access.
You can manually search for titles by using the ‘Find’ tab, however, it's much quicker and easy to do this via Alexa voice control than spending the time typing out a show/movie via the on-screen keyboard.
In addition, there is a ‘Live’ tab, which will open the standard TV apps which you can use to watch live broadcast TV (iPlayer, ITV Hub) as well as any Twitch channels that you’re following.
You can add profiles to Amazon Fire TV so you can sign in and keep your tastes tailored to what you’re watching. There’s room for up to six profiles on one account, and you can quickly switch between profiles by clicking on the icon on the top left.
This may seem obvious, but you’ll only get the most out of Amazon Fire TV if you have an Amazon Prime Video subscription. Lots of the recommended content on the interface is from that particular streaming service, and this may get annoying if you’re not already a Prime account holder.
There’s a sponsored tab right in the middle of the interface with some odd apps on there, including Just Eat and Now Music. It was annoying that this took up room on the homepage, especially considering that they were quite niche apps for Fire TV.
If there’s a website that doesn’t have an App equivalent on the Fire TV Stick, then you can use the Amazon Silk web browser to get it up on the big screen. However, it is quite awkward to use and video playback can be glitchy.
There was the odd occasion where the stick took ages to recognise my home Wi-Fi network after being disconnected from the internet. It did so eventually – but this is something to be aware of.
Pricing and Availability
The Fire TV Stick Lite comes in at a price of ￡29.99/US$29.99 - the cheapest streaming stick offering from Amazon. During sales in the past, the price of the stick has dropped as low as ￡17.99 – an absolute steal.
However, the main Fire TV Stick is only ￡10/$10 more expensive than the Lite version. With that, you get better audio compatibility, volume controls and a power button.
If we’re looking at price equivalents, the main competitor here would be the Roku Express. However, this remote doesn’t have built-in voice controls. In addition, Roku does lack some key apps that Amazon has, such as Twitch. On the other hand, the Roku remote includes hot keys to streaming services such as Netflix.
You can also check out our list of the best streaming devices.
The Fire TV Stick Lite is the streaming stick for you if you want the basics – you don’t have any need for 4K streaming, and you don’t have an advanced sound system. All you want to do is get the apps on your TV for the cheapest price possible.
However, the lack of volume controls and power button may be an annoyance to some. If these things are deal-breakers, then we recommend forking out the extra cash for the standard Amazon Fire TV Stick, as it's not a big jump up in price.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite: Specs
- Media streamer
- 1.7GHz quad-core processor
- 8GB storage
- 802.11ac Wi-Fi with MIMO
- Voice Remote included
- HDMI extender included
- Support for Dolby Atmos, Dolby Digital+
- Output: 720p or 1080p up to 60fps
- 86 x 30 x 13 mm
- One-year warranty
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