If you've had your eye on the new Alexa-infused Amazon Fire TV Stick since it was announced back in February, the wait is over: it starts shipping today.
The new version of the Stick – Amazon's fastest-selling device ever in the UK – offers improved performance, with a quad-core CPU 30% faster than the previous version, support for HEVC, and better WiFi. Amazon also says the upgraded 801.11ac MIMO WiFi is the fastest of any streaming stick, but then the Chromecast 4K has ethernet, which the Fire Stick doesn't. Their 4K Fire TV box does, though.
You'll be able to use Alexa across the many apps available for the Fire TV Stick, saying "Alexa, open Netflix" or "Alexa, find musicals." But while the best feature is undoubtedly controlling playback by voice – "Alexa, go back 30 seconds," for instance – that only works on Amazon Video. You'll be able to issue all the usual Alexa commands to the Fire TV Stick as well, which is handy if you don't have an Echo.
At the time of announcement, being able to control your TV by voice was a novel thing in the UK, but even in that short time we've seen Sky Q introduce voice control, as well as the launch of Google Home on these shores. If you have a Chromecast, you can use Google Home to voice-control your TV – and unlike the Fire TV Stick, it works on Netflix playback too.
Still, Google Home is a fair bit pricier at £129, so if you'd rather spend £39.99 for an improved Fire TV Stick with Alexa remote, you can do that from today at Amazon, Dixons Carphone, Argos, John Lewis, and Tesco.