fire tv stick 4k max lifestyle
CNN  — 

One of the most popular streaming sticks out there is about to get better. The new Fire TV Stick 4K Max is a more powerful version of Amazon’s top-selling 4K streaming device, promising a better binge-watching experience for only a few bucks more than the standard model.

We’ll be putting this speedy new streaming player through its paces as soon as we can, but in the meantime, here’s everything you need to know about the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max preorders, price and release date

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is available for preorder now for $54.99, and is slated to release on October 7. You can also pick up a $99.99 Fire TV Stick 4K Max and Luna Controller bundle, which gives you everything you need to enjoy Amazon’s cloud-based Luna gaming service on your TV right out of the box.

Subtle upgrades for better streaming

Fire TV Stick 4K Max (1)

So what puts the “Max” in Fire TV Stick 4K Max? According to Amazon, this new streamer is 40% more powerful than the standard Fire TV Stick 4K thanks to a new 1.8GHz processor under the hood, which should result in a more responsive experience when jumping between apps and commanding Alexa with your voice.

The Fire TV Stick 4K Max is also the first streaming player in its price range to support the Wi-Fi 6 standard, meaning it can deliver extra-fast internet connectivity when connected to compatible routers. That hopefully means a buffer-free experience when bingeing Netflix and responsive, crisp gameplay while playing Amazon Luna titles from the cloud, even when other people in your household are online all at once.

Amazon’s latest streaming stick supports all the essential standards such as 4K output, HDR and HDR 10+ for vibrant color and brightness, and Dolby Atmos for immersive audio. It also delivers many of the key features found on Amazon’s new Fire TV Omni Series televisions, including the ability to monitor any connected smart cameras in picture-in-picture mode, or pair your Amazon Echo speakers for a fuller home-theater audio experience.

Amazon Luna gets new games, features and more

Luna hero image

The new Fire TV Stick 4K Max sounds like an especially good way to play games on the cloud-based Amazon Luna service, which is also getting a few key upgrades. The service just got a new Family Channel, which gets you access to 35 kid-friendly games — like SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom and Garfield Kart: Furious Racing — for $2.99 per month. That joins the core $5.99 Luna+ channel, which has a mix of top blockbusters and indie games, as well as the $14.99 Ubisoft+ channel, which contains popular Ubisoft titles like Assassin’s Creed and Watch Dogs. Amazon also plans to roll out a retro-focused channel in the coming months featuring games like Another World and King of Fighters, though there’s no word on pricing or availability just yet.

Luna is also getting a major upgrade in the form of Luna Couch, which makes it easier to play games online with friends. This feature lets you send an invite code to anyone — even if they’re not a Luna subscriber — which they can open up on a supported device and immediately start playing with you as if they’re in the same room. Like the PlayStation 5’s Share Play feature or the PC-based Parsec app, Luna Couch is neat because it brings online functionality to titles that might otherwise be limited to local play. Luna is also finally available on Fire tablets, meaning that the service is now playable on all Amazon devices without an early access invite.

Let’s recap

If you’ve yet to pick up an Amazon Fire TV Stick, the $55 Fire TV Stick 4K Max is looking like the one to get. For just $5 more than the previous model, you’re getting a faster processor for smoother navigation, Wi-Fi 6 for better streaming and cloud gaming, and new features like picture-in-picture camera monitoring. The only real reason to opt for the standard Fire TV Stick 4K is to save some cash, as it’s currently discounted to $34.99 and may drop further over time.

The Fire TV Stick 4K was once our pick for the best budget streaming stick, and we’re eager to see if the new Max model can take the throne back from the excellent Chromecast with Google TV. We hope to get our hands on Amazon’s new streamer in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.