CHOICE membership

Newly released 2021 Australian edition of the 4K UHD Amazon Fire TV stick doesn't play in 4K for most streaming services

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.

4 Likes

As long as it sells, and nobody gets too rowdy about the apps.

2 Likes

Is the new version which is 4K capable significantly more expensive than the previous?
Future proofing, or simply now a standard for the upgraded model that is mass produced for a global market? Amazon is just being practical might be a suitable response.

Is the marketing of 5G with mobile connected devices open to similar criticism?

Annoying as it is!
As consumers we can’t plead ignorance of everything. We are daily bombarded with offers of products we don’t need, or can’t make good use of. Providing they are fit for purpose, buyer beware.

1 Like

The new 4K version costs $99, whereas the previous HD edition, which was all that was available in Australia until a few weeks ago originally retailed for around $70, but can now be picked up for around $50 now that it’s been superseded by newer versions, including an up to date HD edition for $79.

2 Likes

Disney+, Stan, and Netflix have been streaming in 4K UHD for quite a while now via other 4K capable streaming devices. One of the main selling points for this particular 4K model is that it allows 4K streaming from the major players. The consumer has no reason to think, nor have they any warning, that these three streaming services are only allowing HD content on this particular device in Australia, where the same streaming services provide 4K content on other 4K capable devices. The average user wouldn’t even be aware that they’re getting a HD stream where 4K content would otherwise be available using a different device for the exact same shows from the exact same streaming services.

4 Likes

Thank you for providing the warning and here at least your review will not be declined, and is welcomed. Interesting that some providers of streaming services seem currently loathe to upgrade their apps for the device. Below are a few thoughts I had about it all.

If it actually uses the wording ‘allows’ or ‘supports’ it may be wording that gives them an ‘out’ of ACL. Used in the context of it will support 4K then they are only making the claim that if a provider eg Netflix decides to stream 4K via the device it will produce that 4K stream. If Netflix doesn’t support streaming to that device type then Amazon are not responsible is their probable take on the matter.

Further as it does provide real 4K streaming from some services it isn’t really a gimmick. It just means some streaming service providers maybe currently aren’t keen to provide their 4K services through a competitor who also competes in the streaming provision.

From what you have described it at least attempts upscaling for those streams not currently provided in 4K so no ugly bars around the picture. Not saying that this is a perfect outcome but better than no attempt.

As a good Corporate Citizen (whether you or I actually consider them one is up to us) I agree some warning that currently some providers are not yet working with them to upgrade their apps in the device would be useful for Consumers. Difficulty being that they may not have to because of the use of certain words in their disclosures if they have used them that allows them that discretion to do so or not to do so.

3 Likes

Shame I can’t see it. Neither my Internet nor my TVs can handle 4K. (Let’s just ignore for the moment that I also do not subscribe to any streaming services.)

When the current TVs die I might replace them with 4K, by which time 8K will probably be de rigueur and 16K will be the next hot tech - and the local FTTN NBN will still drop out whenever it rains.

Of course, I will also be expected to replace my current library with the new resolution. Strange that some TV manufacturers (Sony) also produce content - one is left to wonder which part of the business drives the other. (Of course I will never buy or trust a Sony TV.)

4 Likes

Yet they happily let their apps work in HD at least, and have done so on an Amazon device since the introduction of the Fire TV Stick Lite, a couple of years or so ago.

It would make more sense if they just pumped out the best quality possible for the hardware the app is being used with, as it would encourage more subscribers to their services. Disney+, Netflix, and Stan don’t have their own brand of streaming device, so even though this is an Amazon product, it’s no different to Telstra TV or Apple TV which also host other streaming services.

If I want to watch Netflix in 4K, then I have to switch to the app on my Samsung 4K disc player. I have no options to view Disney+ or Stan in 4K anywhere else because they don’t provide apps on the Samsung, which is one of the reasons why I invested in the Firestick. So far it’s been a waste of money in that department.

Amazon Prime has some of the same content as Netflix, but also has less in the way of 4K content compared to Netflix. Ghostbusters for example is available to stream in 4K on Netflix, but only in HD on Prime, and because Netflix won’t allow 4K content via the Amazon stick, it’s only available in HD for both streaming services unless I use a different 4K player to watch Netflix.

The plethora of streaming services that only allow a selection of content is ever growing…So you have to subscribe to ever increasing organisations to watch the variety wanted. This then is no different to them limiting what devices get what. An example is MS Store bought movies, they will only play on select devices, even though other services have some of the same shows or you can buy the DVD/Bluray disc that has the same show. Why? because the contract locks it that way, so ever more profit is made out of us who have varied likes in regards to what we watch and on what we watch them.

Consumerism, Capitalism are to blame.

3 Likes

Except in this case, it’s content that is readily available from Netflix, Disney+ and Stan as a 4K stream, unless you have a 4K Amazon Fire TV Stick, in which case the three streaming services provide the exact same content, but only as a HD stream. I don’t think it’s a licencing issue. They just haven’t bothered to upgrade their existing HD capable apps for the Fire TV Stick to be 4K capable apps now that Amazon has finally given us a 4K version of their product in Australia.

1 Like

Isn’t that a sign of the times. Think Mastercard Visa, Amex, Paypal, Googlepay, ApplePay, Afterpay, JCBCard, BPay, … , … all vying to process our payment.

It could be. Sometimes some licenses cost more than other licenses. Perhaps a 4K license is 50% more for ‘the stick’ than a 2K license, that is only 10% more than an HD license? We don’t know.

Remember the heady days when we had a choice of region locked DVDs except some were not available for our Region 4 or cost more than the same DVD for Region 1 or 2? That is how licenses and contracts (and P/L) work.

We can surmise anything, but @grahroll’s comments are plausible.

1 Like

BluRay has provision for region locking, it is just not used very often - and of course you can buy players that do not enforce it.

However with most, if not all, you can take a monthly and drop in and out as you please. I was on a 6 month hiatus from Netflix as there was nothing there I wanted to see. I’ve done a bit of catchup now, this month, and have already cancelled again. I’m doing the same with AppleTV and Disney+, I cancelled ATV before the end of my free 12 months because after See, and For All Mankind, I lost interest. Currently into The Mosquito Coast and that will take 2 months, then I will cancel again. Disney expires in July and I have no plans to renew that until The Mandalorian gets another season. I havent used Stan for over 18 months. My AppleTV serves well, I’ve never understood the TV stick thing at all. I also have a smartDNS service and can access the BBC, ITV, US ABC, NBC and Peacock. Then, theres iView and the marvellous SBS on Demand.

1 Like