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Amazon debuts its first Fire TV soundbar and faster Fire TV sticks

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

At Amazon’s fall event, it announced a new Fire TV soundbar, a new Fire TV Stick 4K, and a Fire TV Stick 4K Max with support for Wi-Fi 6E.

The Fire TV Soundbar is available starting today for $120 in the U.S. and Canada, and available for preorder in Mexico. It’s expected to ship within a week. It’s been designed as an easy-to-set-up companion speaker for all Fire TV devices and Fire TVs with Bluetooth, immersive sound, crisper dialog, and improved bass, according to the company, and has three selectable EQ modes: movies, music, and dialogue.

Amazon Fire TV Soundbar.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Though it’s called “Fire TV Soundbar,” the 40-watt speaker has no Fire TV or Amazon Alexa functionality built-in — it’s just a speaker.

The soundbar uses a two-channel sound system with support for DTS Virtual:X and Dolby Audio. Measuring just 24 inches wide, it will fit in front of even the smallest Fire TVs, or you can wall-mount it. When not watching TV, you can connect your phone, tablet, or any streaming device via Bluetooth.

The photo above makes it look like the soundbar connects wirelessly to the TV, like the TCL Alto R1 for Roku TVs, but sadly, you’ll still need a cable: HDMI ARC/eARC or optical. If you connect the soundbar to a Fire TV, you’ll be able to use the TV’s remote to control both devices, but the soundbar also comes with its own dedicated remote too.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K 2023.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K 2023. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

The new version of the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, which has a new curved body, is priced at $50 and is available for preorder globally starting today. With a 1.7 GHZ quad-core processor, it’s nearly 30% more powerful than the previous generation and now includes support for Wi-Fi 6. Amazon says apps will start faster and run smoother while they provide 4K Ultra HD streaming.

It continues to support Dolby Vision, HDR and HDR10+, and Dolby Atmos audio.

Amazon Fire TV 4K (2023) and Fire TV 4K Max (2023).
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K (2023) and Fire TV Stick 4K Max (2023). Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

The latest version of the Fire TV Stick 4K Max also sports the new curves of the refreshed Fire TV Stick 4K and will cost $60. Amazon says it’s the first streaming stick to support Wi-Fi 6E, for lower latency, faster speeds, and less interference from other Wi-Fi-enabled devices. The more powerful 2.0 GHz quad-core processor will offer an even smoother experience than before. On-device memory has been increased to 16GB for more content and channel storage.

The Max has also grabbed a feature that was previously only available on the Fire TV Omni QLED Series: the Fire TV Ambient Experience, which can turn a connected TV into a smart display, with artwork and information.

This can include Alexa calendars and reminders, sticky notes, plus interactive panels that control smart devices like a thermostat or Ring doorbell. Additional options include playing audio from services like Amazon Music, Spotify, and others.

Ambient Experience also works as an on-screen art gallery, with a growing collection of more than 2,000 “gallery-quality” pieces of artwork with work from artists from France, Spain, Italy, Japan, and Australia, and collections from Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Museo del Prado in Madrid, and Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Florence.

Some of the items are landscape art, personalized and always-evolving dynamic art, and personal photos, plus motion graphics as well.

As with the previous generation, the 4K Max supports Dolby Vision, HDR, and HDR10+, and also includes support for Dolby Atmos audio.

Amazon Fire TV conversational search.
Amazon’s Daniel Rausch introduces the new Fire TV generative AI-powered voice search. Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

Amazon will also enhance the way you search for something to watch on Fire TV devices using generative AI-powered voice search. The feature, which uses the same large language model (LLM) technology that Amazon is rolling into Alexa, will be coming to Fire TV devices in the U.S. later this year.

Instead of asking for a specific title, or TV show, you’ll be able to engage in a conversational experience with Alexa, by asking questions like “Find me a movie with the actor from Better Call Saul.” You can also ask for things like “action movies with car chases,” “comedies for a rainy day inside,” or “animated movies that are free to me.”  Really not sure what you want to watch? You can also tell Alexa what you are in the mood for and choose from a selection of recommendations personalized to your Fire TV profile.

A new “Continue Watching” row on the Fire TV interface will include content from streaming providers including Amazon Freevee, Disney+, Hulu, Max, MGM+, Peacock, Starz, and Tubi. The new row puts an emphasis on watched content, with a focus on recency, making it easier for you to find and stream your favorite content. Fire TV will continue to add content from streaming providers over time.

Amazon is also running a special promotion for U.S. buyers who purchase a new Fire TV streaming media player or smart TV on Amazon or in retail stores: you’ll get a free six-month subscription to MGM+.

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