Tech Stuff: New Firestick 4K, TV Helpers

I’ve had my regular Firestick for quite some time now, but, when it comes to certain broadcasts, I’ve been using my uber-smart Hisense TV for more and more. For some programming, especially TV shows from IMDB, I get these little stutters, and then have to restart and restart because the audio gets out of sync with the video. This will also happen with stuff from Amazon, Tubi, Peacock, and others. The NHL app would be a mess, with lots of buffering, even though I have a cable running straight from the modem to the Firestick. I do not have these issues with the TV itself.

And the ESPN app, which I have for the NHL package (the NHL moved the broadcasts to ESPN from in the US, and it’s less expensive), while it loads quick, still buffers. Further, you can’t switch from what you are watching on the Android TV to a video input and back, because the app from the TV will close. So, if I wanted to switch back and forth between the Devils game and the Dodgers game (I did), that would not work. But, will work between the Firestick, using the ESPN app, and the cable box. So, was time for a new Firestick.

I purchased the 4K, which was on sale for $34.99, down from regular price of $49.99. I couldn’t see the value of the 4K Ultra, mostly just getting a 1.8mhz processor vs 1.7 in the 4K (other firesticks run around 1.5. My old one may have been a 1.3), for $54. Nor the Cube, which is a 1.9, but, does have 16gb of memory, vs 8 in other Firesticks, for the sale price of $95. The speed and memory is nice, but, not that nice, and I have zero need of another Alexa device, since I have a Dot in the living room. The remote is nice, as it now can turn the TV on and off, plus control the volume. The Hisense remote can also control the Firestick.

Nice thing is it has Dolby Vision, so, it attempts to upscale the video, much like a Bluray attempts to upscale regular DVDs, even when there is no DV (few programs use it). Stuff with HDR10+ will switch to that, which I’m noticing in the picture settings for the TV. The TV will do this, as well. Those are video codecs, haven’t tried something with Dolby Atmos for audio yet, there’s no more than 10, probably less, shows/movies on Amazon that have that. Netflix is reportedly about the same. I’ll leave it up to you to see what those mean.

Interestingly, I did notice that stuff that claims to be 4K is not really 4k. I picked 47 Meters Down Uncaged to check 4k on the Firestick, and was wondering why it was 1920×1080, not 3840×2160, which is the resolution for 4k. Sure, it looked better, especially with HDR10+, but, not 4k like, say, The Expanse and the 2006 The Omen, among others.

How do you tell? Many TVs will have an “info” button which will let you see. Switching between inputs will often pop up a message on a TV (for instance, you’ll notice most ESPN is in 720p, not 1080). Some, like Hisense, require you to go into the Help menu, or About, and look for something like Signal Information.

If this matters to you. It’s information I like to know, because that’s the techie in me. Heck, I sat there comparing Pirates of the Caribbean 2 between the Bluray and regular DVD. Yes, it makes a big difference.

Also, I’ve had my JVC receiver since the late 80’s, with Bose 301 speakers. Friends, my mom, also ask why I don’t replace it. Why would I? I don’t use it that much, and, it works. But, the TV, like so many, doesn’t have an RCA output. It does have a 3.5mm headphone jack, but, that sounds not good, overly bassy. Since I use HDMI ARC to run audio from TV to soundbar, I have a free Optical cable output. I ran that to a Mosou Digital converter, can convert either optical or coaxial cable to RCA. Now I get great sound from receiver, can use Bluray as a DVD player (one of the people who’ve done work on my AC in the attic to my CD player). Problem solved. I try to avoid using the stereo with horror movies with lots of screaming, at least while my neighbor is at home.

More: was playing around, and I could have sworn I was getting 4k on the Firestick, but, anyhow, went into some settings, and you are supposed to change some video settings to get 4K. It would be nice if the setup or instructions would tell you. Hit this link for it. Only difference is the 4k Firesticks can do 12 bit color setting, might as well save that.

I also noted that some programs take longer to flip into 4k. The aforementioned 47 Meters did flip into 4K after about 20 seconds.

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One Response to “Tech Stuff: New Firestick 4K, TV Helpers”

  1. Zombies are Cool says:

    For whatever reason, you can’t get cable in 4K. The high-resolution format has been around for a long time, but it’s generally useless if you’re just watching cable TV. Some set-top boxes support 4K streaming and video downloads, but don’t let the cable company fool you, cable TV maxes out at 1080p.

    You can stream from a blue ray or other devices but an actual signal coming via cable is going to be 1080 max. Unless you are in a fiber optic zone, which has been hit or miss around the USA.

    As for 4k TV.

    Here is your solution. Different streaming services claim different minimum requirements, but generally you should be able to stream 4K content from any provider (Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Video, etc.) as long as you have at least 25 Mbps WiFi (down).

    Wireless is the way to go right now to stream 4k content. I currently have a 1 gig download and 100 mb upload. The more MB down you have the better. So if your running generally 200mb-400mb you should be fine in bypassing cable and going stricly wireless. Then it just depends on the actual show or movie as to whether it is 4k or not.

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