When Ethernet is not the best choice for a streaming stick

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It’s one of those things that is so simple, it’s almost embarrassing that I haven’t thought about it before. But take two seconds to figure it out, and it’s very clear: Ethernet isn’t always the best choice for an Internet connection these days.

Here’s the scenario: It was time to start our Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max test. My entertainment center is a bit of a rat’s nest made of cables, dongles, sticks and boxes. There’s a lot going on in there because I’ve had to use all the streaming options over the years. So the easiest thing to do was to unplug the Fire TV Stick 4K 2018 and plug in the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. No hassle, no fuss and no hassle with the Wi-Fi at first, as I had always plugged it into a powered Ethernet adapter. “Ethernet is always better,” the voice in my head said. One of the voices, anyway.

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max
Phil Nickinson / TechToSee

But not all Ethernets are created equal. Of course I have a gigabit fiber connection that connects to a Eero Pro 6, with a gigabit switch in between. It’s fast. But the Amazon Ethernet adapter? This is called a 10/100 adapter. It operates at either 10 megabits per second or 100 Mbps. The same goes for Google’s own adapters for Chromecast.

And so the look on my face must have been a little funny when I saw this new one Fire TV Stick 4K Max only pulling about 90 Mbps in a speed test. It’s slower than almost any other device in the house. It’s unworthy to be connected to my network. It offended my family and the Shaolin Temple.

It also makes perfect sense why (besides the sheer cost) Amazon didn’t include its Ethernet adapter with any of its Fire TV devices. The simple fact is, it’s slower. After arriving at Wi-Fi 4 (formerly known as 802.11n), the theoretical speed of the adapter was slower than the wireless network. Something like 6 times less, in fact.

That’s not to say that the 90 Mbps I was getting is slow. It’s fast enough to stream 4K videos. That’s very fast for the Amazon Luna cloud gaming service on the Fire TV Stick 4K Max. But it’s also slower than the US average broadband speed of 199 Mbps, as reported by Ookla for August 2021.

The point is this: Unless you find yourself in a strange network situation where you just have to be plugged in – and especially if you have fairly new network equipment and a good connection – it is best to no longer bother with an Amazon Ethernet adapter. . Don’t bother, or at least make sure you don’t get really slow speeds.

Unless you just like to feel a little dumb and then write about it on the internet.

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