Until a few weeks ago, the Australian edition of the Amazon Fire TV Stick has only been available as a 1080p HD resolution model, with the overseas 4K UHD capable models not being compatible with our various streaming TV/Movie services.
A brand new 2021 edition of the Fire Stick has now been released in Australia though, which boasts a 4K UHD picture quality but, for the moment, there are only 2 apps on it that have been upgraded to include 4K capabilities. Amazon Prime Video, and YouTube.
The Fire Stick’s main menu will happily show which movies and TV shows are available to stream in 4K from the likes of Disney+, Netflix, and Stan, but once you go to the individual apps to watch these 4K streams, the apps themselves will only give you a HD stream.
Clearly Disney+, Netflix, and Stan are still using the Fire Stick apps in Australia that were created when the Firestick wasn’t capable of streaming a 4K video in our country, and the apps need to be updated to allow for 4K streams on the newly released 4K streaming device.
As I mentioned, the Amazon Prime Video and YouTube apps both happily offer 4K content. It’s just the other three major players who don’t.
After managing to contact the various streaming companies to find out about this, Disney+ says they are aware of the issue, but don’t know when or if it will ever be fixed, while Netflix and Stan simply say that they’re going to get their tech people to look at it.
A lot of people who have purchased these new 4K Fire TV Sticks wouldn’t even be aware that they’re not viewing a proper 4K stream, as the stick constantly puts out a 4K picture, regardless of the actual picture quality. For HD streams, the image is just stretched to fit the larger screen size, which doesn’t miraculously change the HD stream to be a full 4K quality picture.
The only way to know you’re not getting full 4K UHD/HDR is to go to the main menu for the TV show or movie you want to watch, in the streaming app, and look to see what the actual streaming quality will be if you watch it. Where my 4K disc player will show that something is going to be shown as a 4K UHD/HDR stream, using the streaming apps built in to it, the Fire Stick shows that it’s only going to be a HD stream for maximum quality…
I tried to write a review on the thing over at JB HiFi, which pretty much said that there aren’t many 4K compatible streaming apps for the new 4K Fire TV Stick available on launch, and they decided to reject it rather than publish it. My first rejection from them.
Hopefully, Disney+, Stan and Netflix will pull their fingers out and update their Australian Fire Stick apps and it won’t just end up an expensive gimmick that doesn’t live up to its promises so far as streaming picture quality is concerned.