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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Review: A Reliable Choice

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Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Review: A Reliable Choice


Amazon introduced its first Fire TV Stick in India in 2017. Back then, smart TVs were expensive, fewer brands were manufacturing them, and the proliferation of over-the-top (OTT) streaming platforms was relatively low. In such a market, a streaming device that can be plugged into any television with an HDMI port to access not only streaming apps but also games was a lucrative proposition.

Things, however, have changed significantly in 2024. On the one hand, OTT platforms have massively grown in number and offer a wide range of exclusive content. On the other hand, smart TVs have become relatively cheaper, and many new brands have entered the market, making them more accessible to the masses. As per a report by the Internet in India Report 2023, conducted by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar, a massive 707 million users in India engage with OTT platforms. The total number of streaming platforms has also grown to 57, according to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

In conditions like these, where it would appear that the usefulness of a third-party streaming device might be reduced, Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K made its debut. Priced at Rs. 5,999, the device supports 4K resolution content (2160p) along with HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and more. It also offers the entire Amazon Appstore library with more than 12,000 apps.

For the last fortnight, I have been using the streaming device to find out whether what it offers is enough to make it relevant at a time when it faces competition not only from other streaming devices but also from the growing number of smart TVs that offer the same experience integrated within the television. So, let’s get down to the brass tacks.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Design and Remote

The basic design from the first generation of the Fire TV Stick has yet to see many upgrades over the years, and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K continues the tradition. You get the same matte black rectangular device (which now gets curved edges) with the Fire TV logo on the top and an HDMI port at the front. If the HDMI port doesn’t easily plug in, an HDMI extender gives you that extra bit of flexibility.

The new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K remote

 

On the side, there is a Micro-USB port for power. Some TVs might be able to power the device using the USB port if it provides enough power. Mine could not, so the charger in the box came in handy, and I was able to power it by plugging it into a power source.

The remote has also seen minor improvements compared to the previous Fire Stick 4K that came out in 2019. It now features dedicated app buttons for Prime Video, Netflix, and Amazon Music. A fourth button directly takes you to the installed apps. A live TV button and a dedicated Alexa button replace the older voice control button. The functionality remains the same; however, I found Alexa much more capable.

In the previous review, Gadgets 360 found that if the searched content was not from Prime Video, the virtual assistant would only pop up the app at best. However, now, it can bring up the title card from Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, Jio Cinema, and YouTube (these were the apps I frequently used). Apart from that, the rest of the remote is pretty standard.

In terms of installation and usage, Fire TV is very easy to use. The installation process, including all the OS-based updates, took me about 15 minutes. All you have to do is plug it into your TV, connect the power source, and follow the instructions on the screen. It is a device that is meant to be plugged in and forgotten.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Interface

Running on the Fire OS, the user interface is not drastically different from the standard Android TV experience. You get the same tile-based layout and horizontal scrolling interface showcasing shows, movies, and apps. There are Home, Find, and Live TV sections and an easy-to-access app library. The Settings icon is also placed conveniently on top, and since the remote does not have a Settings button, its placement helps switch around stuff.

fire tv stick2 4k Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K interface

 

Amazon also has a good recommendation algorithm that suggests content from different OTT platforms, even if you have not installed them. You will see recently watched shows, recommendations from Netflix, free movies and TV programmes, and genre-wise categories. However, being an Amazon product, there is a bias for its content. For example, only the Prime Video content is labelled 4K on the home screen. For everything else, you will have to click on the content’s tile and check the details.

You can also directly jump to Prime Video content from the recommendation section on the home screen, but for any other app, you’ll encounter a description screen first. Also, Prime Video dominates the top half of the page where featured content is shown.

However, I did not find any of it an inconvenience since I watch a fair bit of shows and movies on Prime Video. The integration helped me discover newer content to watch and allowed me to play it quickly. Those who are not fans of the Prime Video library might be better served by Mi TV Stick or the default Android TV/Google TV.

Overall, the interface is snappy, responsive, and quite reliable over extended usage. I rarely encountered any glitches or issues.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Performance

Now, let’s get to the performance. On paper, this is the most powerful streaming device by Amazon available in India. It supports up to Wi-Fi 6 (both 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz bands) and Bluetooth 5.0. It also gets up to HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and Dolby Atmos audio support to pair with the 4K Ultra-HD video quality support. The device offers an inbuilt storage of 8GB.

fire tv stick3 4k Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

IPL 2024 finale using Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

 

I have been using this device for more than two weeks on my Redmi Fire TV and have been pleased with its consistent performance. Whether I was catching up on episodes of Shogun, enjoying the comedy-drama Laapataa Ladies, or binge-watching Spy x Family anime, the video quality was crisp and bright, and the lighter and darker areas could be distinguished very easily. Even the darker scenes were well-lit and made for delightful viewing. Surprisingly, the OS performance of the Fire TV Stick 4K was snappier than my inbuilt Fire OS.

However, note that 4K video support will require faster internet connectivity, and the video stream may struggle if the connection is not stable or slow. Further, the overall video quality depends on the TV you’re using. It goes without saying that a premium TV with 4K support will present better visuals than a TV without it.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Verdict

As stated above, my goal with this review was to understand if the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K really offers enough to make the device a relevant and necessary purchase. After using it extensively, my answer is a resounding yes.

Even in a world where smart TVs can be found for less than Rs. 15,000, they are not all built equally. Some have poor memory, while others are affected by sub-par OS experience. With many people still using TVs with old-smarts and no-smarts, Amazon’s streaming device fills the gap of needing to replace reliable television hardware for software deficiencies.

The Fire TV Stick 4K offers solid performance with its OS interface, performance, and picture quality. But even more than that, what it truly offers is reliability. While I have experienced glitches with my Redmi smart TV and even my parents’ Sony Bravia, I never faced even a small issue with it. From navigating across different apps to watching shows and movies, the experience was seamless. A good streaming device, in my opinion, should be unnoticeable when watching the TV, and the Fire TV Stick 4K did exactly that.

If you do not own a smart TV or are struggling with a few-year-old smart TV that has started slowing down, the Fire TV Stick could be a good way to extend the TV’s life without compromising the viewing experience.


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Wakefit Brings Temperature-Control Mattress, Contactless Sleep Tracker

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Wakefit Brings Temperature-Control Mattress, Contactless Sleep Tracker


Wakefit unveiled its AI-powered sleep solution suite dubbed Wakefit Zense on Wednesday. The Zense range features Regul8, a temperature-adjustable mattress, and Track8, an artificial intelligence (AI) contactless sleep-tracking device. With these, the company said it aims to integrate technology into the sleep environment to help users optimise sleep quality and improve sleep health. Both devices come with dual-zone sensors to create a custom sleep environment on each side of the bed. The Wakefit Zense range of sleep solutions is currently available for pre-booking.

Wakefit Zense Regul8, Track8 price and availability

Regul8, under the Wakefit Zense range, can be purchased at the price of Rs. 44,999. The mattress is available in Queen (78×60 inch) and King (78×72 inch) sizes. Track8, the sleep tracking sheet, is priced at Rs. 10,499. Both devices can currently be pre-booked on the official website for Rs. 499 each, or Rs. 899 combined.

Wakefit Zense Regul8 features

According to the company, the Regul8 mattress features a water-based system to control the temperature of the mattress surface. The mattress’ temperature can be set between 15-degree and 40-degree Celsius using the companion app. Regul8 has a dual-zone temperature controller, which allows the user to set different temperatures for each side of the bed.

Regul8 also comes with integrated temperature sensors that can monitor the temperature of the mattress surface and make real-time adjustments to keep it consistent throughout the night. It also features five different presets — Neutral, Cold, Warm, Ice, and Fire — to easily set the desired temperature. Wakefit claims that the Regul8 mattress consumes 60 percent less energy than a 1.5-ton AC.

Wakefit Zense Tack8 features

Track8 is a sleep solution under the Wakefit Zense range, which can track users’ sleeping patterns and other metrics without any contact. The device, which is a thin rectangular sheet of fabric with two sheet sensors, is placed under the mattress. It has dual-zone sensors, one for each side of the bed, and can track two users at the same time. The device directly sends the collected data to the companion app, which then processes the information to present a detailed sleep report.

The company claims the device uses AI and machine learning algorithms to capture data around sleep stages, respiratory rate, movement, sleep and wake up time, on and off bed time, and snoring. Once analysed, it also offers an aggregated sleep score.



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Apple’s tvOS 18 Gets InSight, Automatic Subtitles and Other New Features

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Apple’s tvOS 18 Gets InSight, Automatic Subtitles and Other New Features


Apple announced several new features for tvOS 18 – the latest operating system for Apple TV devices, at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 on Monday. One of the key highlights is a new feature known as InSight, which provides the user with information about the content that is currently being played. In addition to InSight, Apple announced improvements to existing Apple TV features such as a smarter Enhanced Dialogue, automatic subtitles and support for a new aspect ratio. Apple said that new screensavers will also be available to users soon.

tvOS 18 Updates

At its developer conference, Apple announced InSight – a feature which displays real-time information about the currently playing content, such as the characters, cast and the music playing. To get further information, users can select a specific actor and bring up their background and filmography page, the iPhone maker revealed.

Moreover, tvOS 18 is also said to offer the ability to add the currently playing music to the user’s Apple Music library. The Cupertino-based tech giant also announced that the InSight information can now be accessed on the iPhone while using it as an Apple TV remote.

Stan Ng, Vice President of Apple Watch, Audio, Health, and Home Product Marketing, said, “This fall, tvOS 18 and our services take entertainment in the home to the next level by bringing timely information to fans about their favourite characters and scenes.”

With tvOS, the Enhanced Dialogue feature is claimed to have become smarter, leveraging machine learning (ML) and computational audio to provide better vocal clarity. This feature can now be taken advantage of when playing supported content through the TV’s in-built speakers, Bluetooth-connected audio devices and AirPods, Apple said.

Subtitles are also said to receive improvements, with Apple claiming they now automatically appear in places where the audio does not match the device language. In addition to new screensavers such as films, TV shows, portraits and even Snoopy, Apple is also introducing support for a wider 21:9 aspect ratio for video playback on projectors.

Apple also announced updates to the Home interface, with users now able to share control when playing music through HomePod and HomePod mini using SharePlay and Apple Music. Furthermore, Live Captions will be coming to the US and Canada to read what others say during FaceTime calls when using the iPhone as a Continuity Camera on Apple TV.

The iPhone maker claims to have also introduced a new look for the Apple Fitness+ app to “help users make the most of its robust library, stay motivated, and keep consistent with their fitness routine.”


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Siri May Soon Be Able to Control Robot Vacuum Cleaners for You

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Siri May Soon Be Able to Control Robot Vacuum Cleaners for You


Apple Home will gain support for robot vacuum cleaners with the upcoming iOS 18 update, the company announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2024 keynote on Monday. The app enables users to control their smart home accessories such as lights and security devices, using a HomePod or Apple TV as a smart hub. When the iOS 18 update arrives, the Cupertino-based tech giant will also introduce a new a guest access feature, granting users temporary access to smart home devices located in a household.

Apple Home App Updates

At WWDC 2024, Apple announced that it will soon allow users to control their robot vacuum cleaners via the Home app. After the functionality is rolled out later this year, commands may be relayed to the vacuum cleaners via Siri. These include commands to clean floors, change cleaning modes, or check the battery status.

The core functionality of robot vacuum cleaners will be supported via the Apple Home app, according to the company. These include managing power controls, setting the cleaning mode, and performing vacuum and mop cleaning, and checking charge status.”

Guest Access on Apple Home

Device owners will be also able to provide guest access to smart home devices to those people who don’t visit their homes too often. In addition to that, they can also set schedules for when guests can access their homes with smart home keys utilising the ultra wide-band (UWB) technology, it further added.

This functionality will be rolled out when iOS 18 is released to the public, which Apple says will happen in the Fall. As per the previous trends, this might coincide with the launch of the upcoming iPhone 16 series in September.

iOS 18 Eligible Devices

While iOS 18 is bringing upgrades to existing features in addition to new ones, not all iPhones will be eligible. As per the company, only the iPhone XR and newer models up to the iPhone 15 Pro Max (as of now) will receive the update. This means the iPhone models that received the iOS 17 update last year will also be updated to iOS 18.

However, the newly announced features powered by Apple Intelligence (or artificial intelligence) will only be available on handsets running on the A17 Pro SoC, which means the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, according to the company.


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