Features / Tech

Gift Guide 2022: Fire TV Stick 4K Max, Echo Dot (5th Gen), All-new ultralight Kindle, and Ring Indoor Cam [Reviewed]

It’s certainly that time of year again and, so, our Gift Guides return for 2022! Tonight we’re beginning with an assortment of effortless tech for your life, the handy things to make it easier, safer or just more entertaining. Yes, these are all available on Amazon and, yes, we all use it as much as each other, and so I’m jumping in early for you because there are fantastic prices available as well.

Over the coming week, keep an eye out for Scalextric escapism, the latest must-have records and soundtracks on vinyl, two outstanding collectable figures from Mondo, excellent coffee-table books and other exciting gift ideas!

Fire TV Stick 4K Max 

If some you know needs a new uncompromising streaming stick, and 4K I must recommend (just check out all our 4K UHD reviews here) then this all-new Fire TV Stick 4K MAX is where you want to head. Amazon promise that it’s their most powerful so far, and they’ve implemented next gen Wi-Fi 6 – to get the best possible picture it can for you. This MAX is only a fiver more than the normal one, and you get the Alexa remote control with voice activation.

We initially assessed it with the new Prime Video Christmas film Your Christmas or Mine, starring Asa Butterfield and Cora Kirk, and it worked to perfection. No streaming issues. Quality top notch, crisp and clear as well as it being a proper feel-good film for all dysfunctional families over Christmas and I say that specifically because… that’s all of us, surely? It’s a clever story, with an ensemble cast that includes Daniel Mays, Angela Griffin, Alex Jennings, and more!

So, as well as the latest movies, and there are non-seasonal ones of course, you can also access BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Video, NOW, and Disney+, plus millions of songs on Amazon Music. These were tested and the stick picked up every option as quickly as you can down a turkey dinner. If you’re not already accessing channels through an Xbox or PS5, or one of the slow apps that usually come with your TV, this is definitely a fine fresh option for you or a loved one in your life. There’s also the option of adding subscriptions for the likes of BT Sport, Sky News, or Eurosport. Plus free your mind with the usual gabble of ITV Hub, All 4, PlutoTV, YouTube, Freevee and beyond.

If you’re worried about the Wi-Fi 6, you’d need the appropriate router to give it everything, but this works fine with anything you currently have as well – think of it as being one step ahead, as we all know how quickly tech changes and develops. Oh, the stick is also 40% more powerful than the old one to give you a distinctive home cinematic experience, so watch what you can in 4K UHD and there’s even support for Dolby Vision, HDR, HDR10+ and immersive Dolby Atmos audio – which you might need separately in your specific setup.

To help you make your mind up, as they’re trying to be more Planet-friendly, the device itself is made with 50% post-consumer recycled plastics, and there’s 20% post-consumer recycled plastics in the remote, which is a start.

Pick it up here for £54.99 and enjoy 4K films: https://amzn.to/3XTTCwr

Echo Dot – 5th Gen

Somehow, I’ve tracked the life of the Amazon Echo Dot on Critical Popcorn, and this new 5th Gen version isn’t too different from what’s come before BUT it does have a few obvious changes, and an important update to the bass in the device itself. First up, there’s now no Aux/cable connection on the back of the Echo Dot itself, so there’s just the power cord connector, and it also weighs a tiiiiny bit more but unless you’re carrying it around like a puppet, unlikely to be noticeable in any real form.

Upon a fine test with The Smile, and a bassy-dream-of-The-Smoke, once again Amazon have upped the range, reach and clarity of that internal sound. Every time, there’s a little less ‘tinny’ blasting out, and I particularly noticed this developed whilst playing both the 4th Gen and 5th Gen together, on the same track. So, while I’m not the biggest fan of Amazon Music’s new setup with the shuffle gone haywire (it’s not that user-friendly yet), you can get your music out there if you want to hear it this way. It definitely sounds clearer.

The 5th Gen also has a little ‘touch’ addition, which means you can tap the top of the device to stop an alarm (snooze it) or pause music. I mean, this is fine, but I spend a lot of time hollering at Alexa from across the room to do these things, although it could mean that if you buy the one with the clock, then you can snooze in distinct ways – and who doesn’t want that with a good snooze? Those sensors also offer up temperature guidance if you desire, and let’s not forget to mention the Echo Dot does have the privacy option intact, which is enabled by a button on top to silence ‘her’ from listening.

The Echo Dot 5th Gen is a great device for any household, you can connect them if you’ve got them around the house to play music everywhere, you can drop in on other people if you need to give them messages, you can use them for music, alarms, lists, reminders, making your Smart Heating/lighting work and more. While for this one, the sound and bass is the most grandiose update, I’m impressed again. As you’ll see, I got a midnight black one, over the old grey, and it’s a slick design which remains modern and slots into any household who loves their tech.

On an environmental and energy side, it’s got a low power mode, 55% of the plastics are post-consumer recycled plastics, and a much more impressive 95% of the fabric used is post-consumer recycled fabric!

Order yours here, currently with 51% off at £26.99: https://amzn.to/3gSvE4d

Amazon Kindle – 16GB [Denim]

This all-new 2022 Kindle is said to be the lightest and most compact one they’ve release and, folks, it’s literally handheld, as in it fits in the palm of your hand – depending on your hand-size, of course! I’m reviewing it not only for a gift idea but because I’ve had an in-between relationship with Kindles because I love my paper books. But, and with a breath in, I’m impressed by this Kindle. If you’re the type of person, or know someone, who has little breaks from time to time or just wants to scuttle away to a coffee shop or on a train, this fits in all sizes of bags and pockets and this might actually have been made for ‘people like me,’ so they’ve been doing their homework.

It’s an incredibly light and thin device, the 6″ screen is a 300 ppi high-resolution display, so barely registers as something in the way or clunky, and it’s so easy to read with a clear screen that’s not too bright. This special piece of kit also plays to my dislike of the overuse of my phone, and I’m sure I am not the only person with that known self-addiction. Because you can take this away from the bleeping tech, it’s a welcome distraction to take on journeys, and I’m on the train quite regularly.

You can access the Kindle Library on Amazon, and I do believe transfer anything you have their already, and it’s so fast to setup and link all those things. While it’s mentioned the storage for this Kindle is doubled to 16GB, I think that’s huge enough and you should never have any issues there. It comes with USB-C charging, which means it’ll plug into any USB plug you have already, and you’ll need one because they don’t give you a plug – something that’s becoming quite the norm in the tech industry with smaller devices. But one full charge can reportedly last 6 weeks, which is incredible and right for an item like this.

There’s a built-in adjustable front light and dark mode feature, which enables you to read in and outdoors a lot better than they did in the past, and supposedly any time of the day. Now, of course, the sunshine in the park isn’t that easy to find right now, but in most conditions here, it’s been fine for me.

I can see the benefits of the Kindle and reading, especially in an age of hyper-tech for everything. Kindles ever quite replace books? Thankfully not for the moment but they do save paper, they offer a similar experience, even if you can’t leave them too but maybe don’t take it into the bath or by the pool? As mentioned above, Amazon continue their effort to make a ‘greener’ product, and this one has 75% post-consumer recycled plastics in the Black device, 30% post-consumer recycled plastics in the Denim (sorry!), and there’s 90% recycled magnesium used – and packaging is 100% recycling, made from responsibly managed forests or recycled sources.

Pick it up here for a fair £84.99: https://amzn.to/3iFiMPq

Ring Indoor Camera

Finally, and a little off the usual, but with the trend of Video Doorbells back on-trend, how about a Ring Indoor Cam instead? This one can be used anywhere in the house, and I thought it’d be good for pet checking, when out and about – and also to offer extra peace of mind for security. The Ring Indoor Cam is one of the easiest things I’ve ever had to setup and the peace of mind it provides, in an anxiety age, when I’m out or away is phenomenal.

I’ve evaluated, checked and verified that it’s a genuinely simple piece of tech but with a mighty input. Even this basic one covers a wide scope of camera angle, depending on what you need, and it’s crisp, clear visuals when viewing both what’s recorded live (and watching it back), plus a highly satisfying live camera stream which gives an exceptional response, and picks up movement and even alters you as and when – so you can give the neighbours a nudge or local enforcement, if needs must.

It also functions easily with notifications and visuals on your phone via the app. So, not only all the recording of what it sees through the aforementioned movement, there’s nothing for you to do and the framing of wherever you place it, is genuinely excellent. With that in mind, you can effectively find it the perfect place in your home, and out of reach to pick up important moments, or even to watch your dog in-between helpful neighbour walkies – how good is that? Oh, and you could hear or speak to whoever is there from your phone, tablet or other Echo devices. Smart.

It’s an easy sell, it’s a good gift as well if someone you know has been mentioning that you could do with such a device, and it doesn’t cost the Earth.

Pick it up here at £49.99: https://amzn.to/3F7t5TR


6 thoughts on “Gift Guide 2022: Fire TV Stick 4K Max, Echo Dot (5th Gen), All-new ultralight Kindle, and Ring Indoor Cam [Reviewed]

  1. Pingback: Gift Guide 2022: The all-new Scalextric Back to the Future Vs Knight Rider racing set! | critical popcorn

  2. Pingback: Gift Guide 2022: The best coffee table books! Lady Gaga, Ghetto Gastro Black Power Kitchen, Christopher Nolan and The Art of the Batman | critical popcorn

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  4. Pingback: Vinyl Gift Guide 2022: Demon Music’s 90s Club Classics and Winter Wonderland; Jimi Hendrix Experience [Live in 1969] and Bond at 25! | critical popcorn

  5. Pingback: Vinyl Gift Guide 2022: Mondo Music presents Rogue One A Star Wars Story – Expanded Edition; Batman Returns and Wonder Woman 1984 | critical popcorn

  6. Pingback: Amazon launches its own QLED Smart TVs and cloud gaming service in the UK | critical popcorn

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