So you spent a lot of money on that new 4k
TV set but didn’t really consider that you would probably want something to compliment
it and your budget is pretty much blown. The ultimate media player set-up may be out
of your reach for now but you definitely need something for the mean time. The Fire TV Stick 4k may just be your answer. At $49.99 its one of the cheapest media players
on the market and allows a bit of freedom outside of its major competitors. So what are we looking at in terms of basic
specs: For the processor, we have a 1.7ghz quad core
cpu A power VR ge8300 GPU
8gbs of storage 1gb of ram
and dual band wifi with speeds that are said to support up to 866 megabits per second
A usb c connector provides power for the device and can be used with a multifunctional OTG
cable for additional storage or wired Ethernet support. Immediately, my first inclination was to test
out the wireless signal. On my 300 megabit connection, I peaked out
at 300 mpbs dwn and 240 u when I was in close proximity of the router. Taking it further out about, 40 feet from
the signal, I did see a significant drop in speed with it registering about 40mpbs d and
u. My only problem with the firestick’s dual
band wifi comes with not being able to select the initial frequency I want as one tends
to be much faster than the other. Even with that being said these initial findings
were definitely a good sign that I at least would be able to stream videos at a decent
quality. The fire tv 4k stick does boast a ton of supported
features like HDR and Dolby Atmos but unfortunately, my tv and receiver does not support many of
the new features available. Connecting the firestick directly to my receiver
lowered the resolution to 1080p which meant taking advantage of the ARC feature was the
only way to get higher resolution from my tv and sound out of the receiver. Doing this seemed to leave me with just a
basic dolby digital 5.1 option. My first streaming test outside of Amazon’s
basic offerings was with my HDHomeRun OTA device and after an update, things ran pretty
smoothly…A little more on this later. Of course, to push the FireStick even further,
I had to look to unsupported applications like that of KODI, and RetroArch for some
of my personal media playback. If you are unaware of this, Amazon devices
run on a modified version of the Android operating system and as such, can be used with other
apps found on the google play store and across the web. Using the Downloader app allowed me to install
these programs without hassle. KODI was my main test bed when looking at
just how much the FireStick can take and well…it does ok baring a few tweaks. Kodi’s latest verion Leai has been in the
wild for some time. The official release did have a few issues
with the firestick but much of this has been fixed with the RC1 update. Audio files are fine for streaming both on
a local and network attached storage but videos on the other hand can vary. The DVD ISO format works great, though load
times may vary based on the signal of your wireless router. When I first started a video in this format,
it exhibited some choppy behavior. Fortunately, this was simply fixed by turning
off the hardware codec. On the other hand, DVD MKVs with the mpeg-2
codec seem to run fine either way. The Blu-Ray vc1 codec sadly struggles with
stuttering plackback but converting to the H.264 format plays the movie without an issue. Ultimately, you may want to rely on Plex or
Emby’s transcoding media software if you want to avoid the long wait times it will
take to convert Blu-Rays but just remember you will need a good piece of hardware with
the server application to pull this off. The HDHomeRun plug-in for Kodi had some audio
sync issues for me but it may be a receiver or signal strength issue. The official add-on app seemed to work fine
for the most part. Gaming on the FireStick was quite the toss
up. Though the device supports several wireless
controllers, it may come down to the luck of the draw for you in terms of compatibility. As the owner of a PS4 controller, I was disheartened
to find out that only version 2 will work with the stick. Even with an otg cable, the controller would
just not pick up which meant biting the bullet and purchasing one that would. This lead to me purchasing a matricom G-pad
BX which happens to be the cheapest solution out of the initial choices I found on the
internet. Once paired, the controller was pretty flexible,
though it did require some additional setup to use with other applications. Searching for games in Amazon’s marketplace
was a pretty dull affair. A few retro titles are littered throughout
but there aren’t nearly enough titles available and some of them are ridiculously overpriced. To test out the hardware, I chose the free
to play racing game asphalt 8 as it seemed to be one of the few titles available that
could really show what the firestick was capable of. It did pretty well though the 30fps gameplay
gave me a hint that things were going to be presentation over performance for any game
of this level. With such a lack luster offering on the amazon
market place, emulation definitely comes to the rescue in this case but just how far can
the new firestick go? Results find the firestick getting up to at
least the 6th generation of gaming as I witnessed the stick handle some fairly demanding 3d
accelerated games. Using RetroArch, two android emulators, and
a popular Kodi front end, I managed to come up with a pretty pleasing setup making the
selection for each game a walk in the park. RetroArch’s Run Ahead latency reduction
feature worked surprisingly well but I did find a few odd occurrences when using it with
certain games. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any opportunities
to upscale the resolution to test out just how much the FireStick could handle as the
supported cores did not have the options available to do so. So what are we ultimately looking at when
it comes to the new Fire TV stick 4k? I have to say a lot of bang for your buck
baring you don’t have to pick up any additional items to help heighten the experience. You certainly want to save up for something
better but for something in the mean while or an addition to a bedroom or a secondary
space in your dwelling, I think it is well worth the asking price. Getting the most out of it takes some setting
up but you can really have a fairly seamless experience if you plan accordingly. Well this concludes our first media player
overview. Make sure to give me some feedback or recommendations
in the comment box below. If you want to figure out how I made all of
this possible, I’ve left some links in the description box which should help you in this
endeavor. I also have an initial setup video for the
FireStick stick on the way so stay tune and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t
already. With that being said, this is thecore your
resident entertainment techie signing out.

Fire TV Stick 4K Review: Best Budget Media Player On The Market?!!
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