Roku is the most important title in streaming {hardware}, with multiple different streamers out there proper now, and much more TVs and soundbars. Amazon has been gunning for Roku’s slice of the pie ever for the reason that first Fire TV appeared. The $30 Amazon Fireplace TV Lite is the corporate’s most cost-effective streamer, a solution to the $30 Roku Express and as you’d count on its greatest benefit over Roku is the Alexa voice assistant.

Amazon additionally has a $40 Fire Stick however I’d argue that the Fireplace Stick TV Lite is the higher deal. The primary distinction is that the costlier Stick has a unique distant with energy, quantity and mute buttons to manage your TV. Should you’re solely utilizing this streamer on an inexpensive TV anyway, it is price saving the cash, except you actually need TV management.

So is the $30 Fireplace TV Lite higher than the $30 Roku Specific? They principally have the identical collection of apps, now that Fire TV has Peacock, so the essential variations are within the menu programs and voice assist. The Lite’s built-in entry to Alexa is an enormous benefit if you happen to like talking as an alternative of typing if you seek for exhibits and launch apps. In the long run, I favored the Fireplace TV Lite a bit higher, though the Roku Specific remains to be a wonderful alternative too. In case your TV has an HDMI port, the Fireplace 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 Fireplace TV Lite is a USB stick-sized gadget which plugs right into a spare HDMI port in your TV. For 30 bucks it presents plenty of options, together with that devoted voice distant that permits 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 for the reason that first Fireplace 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 providers, however it does embody a brand new stay TV button. 


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

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Urgent that new backside button brings up a grid-style stay TV information populated by default with “channels” of free exhibits from Pluto TV and Starz. Surprisingly Amazon’s personal IMDb TV will not be a part of the stay TV grid, despite the fact that it has its personal program grid when you open the app. Should you occur to subscribe to YouTube TV, you will additionally see exhibits and channels from that service within the information, though it did not work with Sling TV (subscribers must use the Sling app as standard).

The stick itself comes with an influence adapter which Amazon strongly recommends you employ. When you may use the USB ports in your gadget to energy it I discovered it may trigger the unit may behave unusually. 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 Atmos” — the sound got here out as 5.1.

One function on the Lite’s function listing appears just a little 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 lot of 4K HDR TVs on the market however, primarily based on a search of the Finest Purchase web site, there are solely four 1080p TVs that can do HDR. For most individuals with 4K HDR TVs, we might advocate getting a streamer that may truly do 4K as an alternative of a 1080p streamer just like the Lite.

A lot of streaming apps


The Fireplace TV Lite helps a variety of apps.

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Like different streaming units the variety of providers that Amazon Fireplace TV helps is bettering on a regular basis. It may entry virtually the entire main streaming apps, together with Amazon Prime Video, Peacock, HBO Max, Netflix, Hulu, Sling TV, Crackle, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Amazon Music, Pandora, Spotify and lots of, many extra. 


The brand new Reside 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 velocity makes for a profitable mixture. Typically opening apps was speedy, and solely navigating the house web page tiles may give a really occasional slow-down, however nothing that spoiled the expertise. 

Utilizing the Fireplace TV Stick Lite distant is straightforward, and Alexa searches with the microphone button had been extra responsive and related than utilizing the Echo as a go-between. Solely from time to time did I want for a mute button, and that was normally throughout the autoplay movies that accompany the tiles on the house web page.

I appreciated having the ability to use both the distant or an Alexa speaker for voice instructions, however utilizing an Echo speaker did not work with each app I attempted. Asking for “Umbrella Academy” on Netflix failed, for instance, and I simply received a “verify your abilities” message (there’s no official Netflix skill within the Alexa app). 

Utilizing the distant as an alternative of a speaker was extra profitable, however even that wasn’t infallible. On condition that YouTube TV is now tightly built-in I hoped that voice search would work higher than it does. For example I requested for “Battle Bots on YouTube TV” and all I received had been YouTube and Amazon “purchase” hyperlinks. Amazon Prime video labored nicely with Alexa voice, nonetheless.

In distinction, Roku could not have the identical strong voice capabilities, however textual content and voice searches by way of the Roku distant are usually extra focused towards the free/included packages fairly than merely pointing to “purchase now” hyperlinks.  

Image and sound high quality had been additionally superb, however the lack of an audio format management past “Finest Accessible” may result in some odd issues. For instance, The Legend of Korra on Netflix utilizing the Lite solely gave me stereo sound (although it needs to be able to 5.1), whereas the brand new Fireplace Stick did give me the anticipated 5.1. Different packages, together with Jack Ryan on Amazon, had been performed in Atmos on the Lite so it wasn’t seemingly a {hardware} functionality situation. Extra seemingly a Netflix one, and once I reached out to Amazon for clarification, a spokesperson confirmed the gadget helps each 5.1 and seven.1. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

There are two totally different colleges of thought in terms of how streaming units manage their content material. App-centric menus like Roku and Apple TV simply present you a grid of apps, so you’ll be able to’t truly browse for one thing to observe with out clicking by means of to every app. Amazon Fireplace TV and Google TV take a extra content-focused strategy, surfacing plenty of titles on the house web page itself. 

Should you wish to graze for content material, the Fireplace TV may be extra interesting, though the “stay tiles” autoplay video may be jarring. If you recognize what you need already, or at the least what app you wish to watch, Roku might be a more sensible choice, partly as a result of Amazon’s search outcomes skew closely towards its personal content material (typically at additional value). 


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Do you have to purchase it?

If you would like an ultracheap, succesful streamer and are embedded with Alexa and the Amazon universe, this product makes plenty of sense. Chances are you’ll or could not miss the TV management features however the Reside TV Information button is an actual bonus for cord-cutters specifically. At $30 it is a worthy streamer and an awesome stocking filler.

If, then again, you could have the 2019 Fireplace Stick, there’s completely no purpose 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 when you have a good 4K TV then it’s best to get an actual 4K streamer — it is simply one other $20.

First printed Oct. 8 2020, up to date June 2021 with addition of Peacock.

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