Amazon Fire TV - 1st Generation
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Amazon Fire TV is a tiny box that connects your HDTV to a world of online entertainment. With a huge selection of TV episodes and movies, voice search that really works, plus exclusive features like Amazon FreeTime, it's the easiest way to enjoy Netflix, Prime Instant Video, HBO GO, Hulu Plus, low-cost movie rentals, music, photos, games, and more.
What's on Amazon Fire TV?
Amazon Fire TV combines all your favorite subscriptions and streaming services with Amazon's massive selection of digital content. Watch over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, rent videos from just 99 cents, or kick back with your favorite sports, news, music, and games.
Perfect with Prime
Prime members enjoy unlimited, commercial-free streaming of tens of thousands of popular movies and TV shows including The Hunger Games, Marvel's The Avengers, Downton Abbey, Justified, Dora the Explorer, and Amazon exclusives like Alpha House at no additional cost. Eligible customers can try Amazon Prime for 30 days for free.
Voice search that actually works
The Amazon Fire TV remote has a built-in mic so you can instantly search TV shows, movies, actors, directors, and genres using just your voice—no more typing with your remote to find what you want.
1080p HD video, Dolby Digital Plus up to 7.1, smooth gaming, and ultra-fast streaming—everything about Amazon Fire TV is fast and fluid. It's all thanks to a quad-core processor with 3x the processing power of Apple TV and Roku, a dedicated Adreno 320 graphics engine, and 2 GB of memory—4x that of Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.
Immediate video start with ASAP
The exclusive new ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) feature predicts what movies and TV episodes you'll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly. The more you use Fire TV, the more accurate ASAP becomes, dynamically adapting to your viewing habits.
Easy to set up and use
Amazon Fire TV arrives pre-registered to your Amazon account and sets up in minutes. A user-friendly interface makes it easy to browse popular movies, shows, and personalized recommendations straight from your home screen. Download the Fire TV Remote App to control your Fire TV with your mobile device. The app features voice search, simple navigation, and a keyboard for easy text entry, no more hunting and pecking.
Great for gaming, too
Fire TV is the easiest, most affordable way to game on your HDTV. Play blockbuster titles like Minecraft-Pocket Edition, The Walking Dead, Monsters University, the Amazon exclusive Sev Zero, plus great free games. There are over a hundred titles to explore, with thousands more coming soon. The average price of paid games is only $1.85.
Music, photos, and video
Stream millions of songs through Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. Fire TV also makes it easy to enjoy photos and videos from your smartphone or tablet, so you can share favorite moments on the big screen with family and friends.
Amazon Fire TV
with Audio (Dolby Audio surround sound)
|Optical audio out||
|Ethernet (wired connectivity)||
|Remote with no line of sight required||
|Amazon Instant Video||
|Number of Games||
Less than 100
Less than 75
|Optional dedicated game controller (sold separately)||
Amazon Fire TV Technical details
- Size and Weight: 4.5" x 4.5" x 0.7" (115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm). 9.9 oz (281 grams)
- SOC Platform: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064
- Processor: Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz
- GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 320
- Storage: 8 GB internal
- Memory: 2 GB LPDDR2 @ 533 MHZ
- Wi-Fi Connectivity: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0 with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP
- Cloud Storage: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
- Ports: 5.5 mm DC Jack, Type A HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDCP, Optical Audio (TOSLINK), 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0 Type A
- Audio: Support for Dolby Digital Plus, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch Stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1
- Content Formats Supported: Video: H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1. Audio: AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3. Photo: JPG, PNG
- Output Resolution Supported: 720p and 1080p up to 60fps
- System Requirements: High-definition television, HDMI cable
- TV Compatibility: Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz, including popular HDCP-compatible models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse
- Warranty and Service: 1-year Limited Warranty and service included.
- Regional Support: Certain services may not be available outside the U.S.
- Included in the Box: Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV remote, 2 AAA batteries, Power Adapter, Quick Start Guide
Fire TV Remote Technical details
- Size and Weight: 1.5" x 5.5" x .6"(38.3 mm x 139.9 mm x 16.1 mm). 68 grams or 0.15 lbs with batteries (45.5 grams or 0.10 lbs without batteries)
- Batteries: 2 x AAA (included)
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP
- Voice Search: Dual digital microphones with noise suppression technology integrated
- Buttons: Voice, 5-way Directional, Back, Home, Menu, Rewind, Play/Pause, Fast Forward
Features & details
- Amazon Fire TV is a tiny box you connect to your HDTV. It's the easiest way to enjoy over 250,000 TV episodes and movies on Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and HBO NOW, plus games, music, and more.
- With voice search, simply say the name of what you want to watch and start enjoying in seconds
- 2 GB of memory, dedicated GPU, 1080p HD video, Dolby Audio surround sound, and Android-based Fire OS
- Fast quad-core processor and expandable USB storage for playing best-selling games like Minecraft, Game of Thrones, Crossy Roads, and more
- No more waiting for your movies and shows to buffer, ASAP learns what movies and shows you like so they start instantly
- Fire TV lets you fling your favorite apps to your TV to free up your small screen for other uses. Or mirror your phone or tablet to your TV.
- Amazon Prime customers get unlimited access to popular movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, including The HBO Collection and original shows like Transparent, plus Prime Music
|Product Dimensions||4.5 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches|
|Item Weight||9.8 ounces|
|Item model number||CL1130|
|Is Discontinued By Manufacturer||No|
|Date First Available||April 1, 2014|
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First is Apple TV which is easy to use (interface) but Apple limits the content you can get greatly (including no Prime Streaming built in) and it lacks a lot in features as well and is slow. The reason for selecting Apple TV is if you have other apple products that unlock features (like Amazon's content).
The second option you could consider was Roku--which really means a Roku 3 box since it is heads and tails better than past Roku boxes in terms of remote and speed. Now Roku stands out with the most content and the most features of any box with the Roku 3. It is for that reason you will see me address the Roku 3 so often in this review.
I have added quick summaries of other options to make sure everyone knows about the other options out there.
WDTV: Are great for streaming your own content but not very user friendly.
Chromecast: Is very cheap at $35 but requires other items to use (no remote included!), is limited to 16 channels according to their own site with other content broadcast via Chrome's browser not at the same quality level. This does allow you to browse the internet on your tv and is amazing for the cost but is more of a niche market than FireTV/Roku/Apple TV. But if you can live with the short comings, it is worth a look at 1/3 the price of these devices.
Smart TVs: Most of these are FINE for occasional use but not nearly as pleasant to use daily like separate boxes. Normally you pay $150-$400+ extra for features that are found in these $100 boxes. I have not found a smart tv that is decent and is also a good value for what you are getting. The advantage is that you can use your TV remote to access the content. (and that is about it!)
HTPC: These are desktop computers or Mac Minis or Android Sticks that you load software on to stream video to your TV. These can add content that no normal streaming box can access, without giving up quality but they are only recommended for something comfortable with technology that doesn't mind fixing the issues that come up from time to time.
Video Game Consoles: Xbox/Playstations can access some of the content that streaming boxes do and have plenty of power to deliver the streams. The downside is the cost (unless you already have one) and the interfaces. These consoles are not designed to stream video exclusively so the interfaces are decent but can be clunky.
(You can use other options but frankly they aren't worth the hassle for the amount of hair pulling you would do.)
Now this Amazon product has changed everything. It might not be the box for you...but honestly there is a good chance that it SHOULD BE. This is a brand new category for Amazon and they got a lot right, but there are a few shortcomings (at least at launch) as well so read all of this to see what those are.
Amazon's Fire TV box
+ Nothing else is this fast. While Roku 3 impressed the world, this raises the bar dramatically. With a quad core processor and 4 times the memory of any other streaming product, it speeds through menus, boots quicker, starts videos quicker and honestly has the muscle to not struggle with higher end resolutions and surround sound like other boxes can do at times. The best way I can explain it, you will have extra hours at the end of the year because this box is THAT much faster.
+ Voice search is amazing. It really works. Less using a four directional keypad to enter in titles is a real time saver and makes you wonder why this wasn't done before but it is only for Amazon content and VEVO (music videos) (at least for now). You can not use the voice search with Netflix for example.
+ Ready for gaming, well at least once you spend another $40. The $40 gaming controller feels a bit pricy for this type of gaming and really should be $25 or less in my opinion. That being said, this box has real games you would actually want to play instead of a VERY limited selection on Roku 3 but it is not a "REAL" console at $100 and honestly shouldn't be compared to them.
+ Better image quality? I know you are thinking I am imagining things or have changed my setup but both myself and my wife have noticed that generally (in different apps) the video is slightly sharper and clearer. We are using the exact same tv, settings, even the same HDMI cable that we used with the Roku 3 until we switched it for the Fire TV box. We have noticed that especially on poor quality feeds that the image quality is noticeably better than under the same feeds with Roku 3. Now I don't know if there is better graphic chips or if the bigger processor can do more tweaking while streaming but it seems to be something. As image quality is a huge deal for most folks (and normally us streamers have to suffer with "decent" quality) this is certainly worth noting. So far we have noticed this under Netflix, VEVO and Plex.
- It lacks soul. Yes, soul. The Fire TV box and remote are built like a dvd player or appliance--cold, fast, efficient. Unlike Roku 3 where the box seems to have a bit of the personally of TiVo--it feels warmer, more inviting. Everything about this box is business like, including the interface and the lack of options to change it.
- The interface is more than merely "cold". It is simply less flashy/pretty than the Roku 3 interface. While fast, I am less tempted to wander around like I do on Roku 3. It seems like they are being pretty dependent on the voice search function which is great but it leaves you missing out on the random items you find along the way with the Roku 3 interface. I will update this more upon extended use.
- The voice search only works for Amazon's own content (and VEVO) and not most 3rd party channels like Netflix.
- The remote is not ready for gaming use, compared to the Roku 3 remote with gaming buttons when you turn the remote sideways and more sensors for detecting movements/motion.
- Another feature about the remote I don't care for is the use of Bluetooth instead of WIFI. Roku used to use Bluetooth on their former high end box but instead replaced it with wifi to increase battery life and to add the headphone jack in the remote. It will likely take a few weeks of use to report battery life but this has me concerned.
- No headphone jack function like Roku 3. Now to be honest, if you use that on the Roku 3 it can be a battery drain but it is a cool feature.
- Missing some popular channels at launch. There is no M-Go and no Vudu. In addition, the channel count is much less than Roku's at launch. (UPDATE: They now have HBO GO!)
- Channels operate differently on FireTV than the do on Roku 3. See my notes below for more information.
This Fire TV box took so much from other company's products with only a few missing items. They focused on delivering smooth, fast performance with less frills than Roku 3 for the same price. While there are missing channels and features, the biggest failure for me PERSONALLY is the cost of the gaming controller. Without it, this box isn't ready for gaming but adding 40% more for the ability to try out the functionality seems pretty steep. Had Amazon included it with every Fire TV box, they would have sold a lot more games and had everyone calling the Roku 3 a poor value.
If you do not have any streaming box yet, I would HIGHLY recommend this box over every other product on the market right now. I don't make this endorsement lightly. I currently own 3 Roku 3 boxes because I liked them so much, until I used this Fire TV box. This box means Roku will have to really work on improving their product for Roku 4 or they will lose the high end market. (An update, my wife officially asked to replace the Roku 3 boxes with more Fire TV boxes tonight. Yes, these things are that good folks!)
If you have a Roku 3 box, really look at the missing channels and features--are they something you could give up for faster performance? (Also look at my notes on the features of the various common apps.) If the answer is yes, then grab one of these and try it. If no, wait to see if Amazon adds features/channels. At the very least, consider an Fire TV box for your next box.
I do not personally recommend Apple TV as they are still too slow and lack too many features and functions. Apple keeps promising something amazing but delivering minor improvements.
If you are on a budget and have an Android based tablet, consider Chromecast. It is a good value for the price but you do give up features and content to save on the cost compared to Roku 3 & Fire TV.
I am giving this box a 4.8 rating, compared to a 4.2 for Roku 3.
I will update this review regularly for a while, so check back for more information! Also if you have questions or comments, please feel free to ask them in the comments section. Either myself or other helpful people will do our best to respond to them.
Based on comments, I wanted to add a few points.
Regarding comments that I received the item free or are paid by Amazon to write this review, etc.
I paid the full list price and local sales tax for this box (grrr). Nothing was provided to me nor was I paid anything to write about this device. I do not work for Amazon, I own my own company. For this item, I am just a customer. In fact, I didn't expect to even purchase a Fire TV prior to it being announced because I figured it would only deal with Amazon's own content which I feel is much weaker than Netflix. In fact, I have talked two different family members into getting Netflix over Amazon's Prime Streaming service in the past month alone.
See below, but it is now supported!!!
It needs to be said that some channels require cable/satellite subscriptions (to those channels) like HBO Go, Showtime, ESPN, etc. Even if you have HBO, it does not mean that your provider allows the HBO Go, so look into that before purchasing any box with that in mind. I do like the Bloomberg TV (not available on Roku 3) App which actually features a LIVE TV feature.
NETFLIX APP: Is the "older" style with the tall covers (like VHS boxes) instead of the "new" Netflix interface that uses short wide covers (like on Roku 3). Netflix has said they are moving everything to the new software but the Fire TV box doesn't have it yet. That makes comparing performance harder from Roku 3 to Fire TV. On my ISP provider Comcast (Netflix recently agreed to pay Comcast so they have faster streams to customers) I do not see a HUGE improvement in performance in buffing like you see on other channels. What it does seem to do is start in better quality and/or speed the improvement in quality. My guess is that the Netflix app needs to be tweaked to maximize the performance of this hardware. One positive with the FireTV app is that it plays the entire TV episode BEFORE switching to a small window with the countdown starting for the next episode. I can't tell you how many times I had to click, click, click and click just to see the end of an episode under Roku 3.
Also, the FireTV Netflix app has two features that were removed from the updated Roku app. Before going into a TV show, FireTV tells you how many total episodes that Netflix has. On the Roku it shows you the number of seasons instead. I personally prefer the number of episodes but clearly that is a personal preference. Another point worth mentioning is that the FireTV Netflix App shows you how many items you have in your list and what item number you are on. That information is missing from the Roku 3 Netflix app.
AMAZON PRIME CONTENT: Does not loop--a "feature" they should add (and likely will). This means once you get to the end, it just stops instead of keeping going.
Voice search DOES cover some 3rd party content, despite everyone reporting it works on Amazon's content only. I have repeated confirmed it supports the VEVO app and will find music videos in that app. That may mean that other 3rd party apps are covered as well, or certainly might be able to be in the future. If you search for something that has PRIME content and VEVO content, it will default to the option with the most options. To switch to the other, simply arrow up and either left or right to see the music videos or PRIME search results.
I noticed this box featured an optical out port but normally run everything through my LG TV (via HDMI) and then use an optical out to my receiver (so I never have to change the receiver's settings) so I wasn't excited about this addition to the Fire TV box over my Roku 3 boxes. I stand corrected. I decided to run my audio via the optical cable into the receiver directly from this Fire TV box (something that I can not do with Roku 3) and it fixed all random lip-sync issues I have from time to time on the Roku 3 box (and the same with the HDMI output on this box).
Now I know this is not a typical setup for many people but I do know that tons of people have lip-sync issues with HDMI connections so being able to bypass the HDMI minefield is much more important than I expected.
This app works better than the Roku 3 app performance wise...one quick example is that some content simply fails on the Roku 3 app--try watching Britney Spears's Work B**CH (don't make fun of me!). Vevo can play this video fine on YouTube and on the Fire TV app but struggles on Roku 3's app. SOME of VEVO's content is also available via VOICE SEARCH too.
I do miss the jump back button on the remote that Roku 3 features. It is a tiny thing but it once you are used to jumping back to see that painting in the background or catch that line that you didn't hear because the phone rang, or someone was talking, you feel lost without it. UPDATE! They did include this feature but hid it abit. You simply double click the reward button to skip back. I haven't seen anyone else mention this tip so you saw it here first people!
I do like that the "enter" button is back in the center of the directional keys. This is the way it used to be on Roku boxes before someone at Roku decided to move it below the directional keys, so you have to move your thumb oddly to press it.
What multitasking you ask? Since you haven't seen this advertised or mentioned elsewhere, I can understand your confusion but try this: Load a Pandora stream...then click on the HOME button and browse for movies/tv you want to watch. As long as you are in the Home/Amazon Prime content, you can browse WHILE Pandora continues playing. Now Pandora dies when you enter another APP like Netflix but it shows you that Multitasking is built into the operating system and may be utilized in future features. (Again, this TIP is only found here!)
Another update: This tip also works when browsing PLEX content before you play something. So even when utilizing a 3rd party app, it can keep going. When it changes to a new song, a small window pops up on the lower right hand side of the screen to tell you know the new song title and artist.
Compared to the Roku app, PLEX for FireTV is totally different. There are some cool features, like the backgrounds, the screensaver using your photos and the MUCH faster menuing (night and day from Roku 3) but I do miss the channels not requiring a couple clicks to switch to ONLINE to see. I do miss that clicking the play button doesn't play a clip, instead you select it (click) and then play it (second click).
FireTV has a screensaver that is honestly pretty cool in my opinion. I am not saying you can't do this with other boxes but no other box comes set up to display random photos (and includes a decent amount of beautiful photos as well.) This functionality covers 3rd party apps like Netflix and Plex too so you have a seamless slideshow no matter what you are using when it starts. This is the sort of thing you see on PCs not streaming boxes and it is a nice touch.
Many commenters have argued that this device is not gaming changing and many have rating my review not helpful because of that title.
I said "Nothing else is this fast" to which one commenter said, "Nobody cares how fast an streaming box is. That's not a game changer"
Actually using it you will see what I mean. This is the first time a company has put so much $$ into creating a very solidly made hardware device. Like a fast computer (which this basically is), it will depend on software that is written for it to fully show off its abilities.
When AMD created their first processor that competed directly with Intel's higher end processors, it was a game changer, correct?, because it changed the landscape of personal computers forever, lowered pricing, etc.
People will look back in 5 years at this moment and say Amazon's FireTV changed how consumer streaming video boxes were made (instead of barely enough processing power to stream, they became able to compete with HTPCs and Mac Minis). This is the beginning of a new generation of streaming boxes.
I said "Voice search is amazing." and they said "Not unique, by any means. My xbox, ps3, tablets, all have this, and all work amazingly."
Find one person who owns this that doesn't say this voice search works better than anything from Google, Apple or Microsoft. The fact that little old Amazon could out deliver those tech giants is SHOCKING. The fact this works via a tiny remote makes it very easy to get use to. There is no other product in this price range that does this and no other streaming box even offers it at any cost.
I said "Ready for gaming, well at least once you spend another $40" to which they said: "And stick to basic android games. No thanks. I have a REAL console (or a couple of them) that can play REAL games..."
This isn't meant to compete with more expensive game consoles. It is meant to bring gaming to streaming boxes, just like tablets/cellphones have brought gaming to millions. They have not replaced gaming consoles (and likely never will) just like this box will not have you ditch your gaming console either but instead it opens you up to tons of games you CAN'T play on that same console. Just imagine all the cheap under $5/free games you can enjoy on your FireTV box. As I said above in my main review, I think Amazon really should have thrown in the controller to really get peopling playing the games but I can understand why they needed to limit their losses.
Again, this is a best in class hardware device with real gaming and the best voice search on any tech device (and the only one for a streaming video box). Every future streaming box will be measured against this one. Tell me how that isn't game changing?
Please understand that everyone has different priorities and requirements so no one box is going to be perfect for everyone. I am attempting to do my best to address most of the many options and provide a decently balanced opinion of them.
While I don't have time to read and answer every question these days, many helpful people are helping and I wanted to thank them.
Here are a few big recent changes:
There is now an Fire TV app for this very desired service. I don't subsribe to HBO so I can't test the app yet but coming in April of 2015 you should be able to get HBO GO access without having the cable channel--a huge bonus to those cord cutters like me. Depending on cost, I might subscribe but I am not sure that it will be worth $10 or more to our household so we will have to wait on that one.
This launched after I wrote my first review. It currently allows you to play any songs you have digitally purchased from Amazon and most of them have lyrics that help create a near karaoke experience.
When that launched they still didn't have support for Amazon Prime free music but that has been added as well so now you can listen to commercial free, unedited music as part of your Prime service. You can select the actual songs unlike most free streaming services and you can skip or go back to any song you want--as much as you want.
This app has been updated to match the Roku 3 app. That is both good and bad. (I actually liked the "older" app style better but it is a personal opinion)
With the change of app, you now can listen to Pandora or other music like Prime while browsing netflix. (Can't do that on any other box).
They keep pushing minor updates regularly.
Fire TV Stick:
See my review below. And if it is helpful, please click on that button as it is getting buried right now so no one sees it. (Sad face)
Basically it is the best value around if you are on a budget unless you need the ability to surf the web on your TV like a Chromecast stick.
Everyone else has been sitting on their hands. There has been no substantial response to the Fire TV box or Fire TV stick that I know of. I have seen lots of discounts on Roku 3 like I predicted and some discounts on Fire TV box as well.
I expect we will start seeing some new products soon but I am a bit surprised that no one released a real challenger for the holiday season.
Hopefully this review has been helpful to you. If so, please let me know by clicking the button below. Remember you don't have to agree with everything I said to think it was helpful! ;)
THE ONLY CON for the Amazon Fire TV: You CANNOT SHUT IT OFF/ON no button it gets fairly hot- so I didn't like the idea of it staying on all the time! SO: you either unplug it every time (which is a big pain) OR Go to HOME SCREEN--- then scroll down to the SETTINGS then to SYSTEM - then SLEEP should be yellow (highlighted) Hit ENTER (the middle of that round part on remote) It will put Fire TV to SLEEP ---- But don't touch any buttons after this on remote or game controller-- or it will wake it up again!
My husband looked at the Amazon Fire TV Holders that hang on the back of the TV Vents: Voila ---- he made one for free out of Chicken wire with a few other wires attached at the top to hold it sturdy onto the back of our tv. Keeps it nice and cool since it sits in the little basket with lots of holes and room.
BE WARNED: The HILL CLIMB RACE game can be addictive! My husband who never plays games could not stop playing till he got to a certain level. He has not touched it since! (says he gets tooooo wired playing it)
Amazon gets you hooked on FREE series things like ANCIENT ALIENS series and Now all of a sudden BAM - starts Charging $$$ for each one or a whopping $34.95 for ONE Season! I called Amazon today and the gal said Amazon no longer has agreement with HISTORY CHANNEL and also BBC. Both of these are why we loved the Fire Tv unit. Not any more! May wrap it up and sell on EBAY if this keeps up!
Here's what I've done, noting there are countless ways (technologies) that can be combined to achieve the same or similar results. Final configuration will always come down to personal preference. Here is mine as it is for now, with the most important first:
1) Flat Screen TV: but the best you can afford because it is the one item of them all you will be using the most. For our master bedroom set-up we have a Sony Bravia Sony KDL-40R450A ($499, but this will not be factored into the cost since it's assumed you already have a TV, if not this one represents great cost-quality value.)
2) DVD Player w/ Internet: Sony BDP-BX110/S1100 Blu-ray Player - $77.00
The extra-short response time, coupled with HD upscaling and Internet connection make this a wonderful choice for the price. The Internet connection gives you access to a large number of content providers found on Roku, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV. Those on a shoestring budget can get away with this single item if you are not too picky about missing the benefits provided by these other options.
3) Roku 3 - $95
As much as I adore my Amazon Fire TV, I'd be lying if I put it before Roku. The main reason is its vast channel offering. Period. Ultimately out of the thousands of channels offered on Roku, I have settled for only about 50, but they have added immensely to the pleasure I derive from the content accessible. I love that all of my Spotify Playlists are accessible and which I love getting lost in through the excellent speakers on the Sony as well as the TDK SoundCube, which is a non-essential add on that has taken the overall audio experience to a higher level. There are movie channels (both free and pay), but since I can pay only for the exact ones I wish to see, if they're not available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV or Netflix, there's no reason to pay for a monthly service. I have taken Qello up on their free offer as I love live concert movies. If it's actually worth the $5 per month, time will tell. There is no doubt that anyone serious about Cutting the Cord, would be well served by a Roku.
4) HDTV Antenna: AmazonBasics Extreme Performance Ultra Thin Amplified Indoor HDTV Antenna - $58
This ultra-thin antenna allows you to pick all of the free HDTV over-the-air channels broadcasting in your area. We have access to scores of channels, but when I whittled them down to the ones that we would actually want to see, we ended with about 15, including, ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and others. It really boils down to spending a few dollars to ensure HD reception of the major networks, which is a definite must-have and well worth the cost.
5) Amazon Fire TV - $99
A wonderful product. Amazing. However, ultimately it is a nice-to-have...a luxury. That said, I LOVE this product and am grateful that something inside me was compelled to get one. So what is it about Fire TV that moves me so much? There are only a few, but they are powerful persuaders:
> Voice Search works PERFECTLY and allows you to say a word, name, genre, title, director. Anything. In return you easily find what you're looking for.
> Amazon Instant Video and Netflix are delivered, accessed and resumed perfectly. The picture is immaculate. The quality, undeniable. It is just such a joy for these two reasons that unless you have used it, it's virtually impossible to convey the exquisite usability of Fire TV.
The only downside at this point in time with respect to Amazon Fire TV is that it has few content providers on board as compared to Roku or even Apple TV, but this is changing as Amazon is in the process of adding content apps and seems committed to continue to do so into the future.
6) Apple TV - $93
The only reason and yet the best reason we have an Apple TV is that we're an Apple family and it makes zero sense NOT to own an Apple TV. It's just the way it is if you are committed to Apple, as it also has a highly intuitive and polished user interface as well as a number of desirable content providers. Apple TV remains the easiest way to share and access your Apple content across the members of your family.
7) Google Chromecast - $35
This HDMI stick simply and easily allows you to "cast" ANY and ALL internet content from any PC or Mac that is running the free Chrome browser onto any TV with a HDMI connection. Think about that for a moment. Anything you can access on the Web, you can view on your TV. YouTube viewing through the Chrome browser has been optimized for Chromecast and is a far, far better YouTube viewing experience than watching them any other way. All for $35. Talk about value!
8) Rabbit TV - $8
One can only be disappointed by this small and powerful little USB stick if they have not properly managed their expectations. Coupled with Chromecast, Rabbit TV is in essence a meta-search filter to access thousands of Internet content providers, representing a gargantuan amount of audio and video at one's fingertips. When you put it in perspective, $10 to effectively and efficiently search for anything you can think of, is a major advantage. Despite being at the bottom of the list, Rabbit TV is a must-have by any measure!
The final optional item that may be necessary in order to hook all of these HDMI cable into your TV is a Fosmon HD1831 3-Port HDMI Switch - $13
This allows one to expand a single HDMI port into three and it works perfectly.
The bottom line is that for around $400, one can feel good about Cutting the Cord to your cable or satellite company. You get access to virtually any programming you wish to consume, albeit some you might have to pay for either through a service like Netflix, Amazon Prime or pay-per-view/rental. When one looks at the cost vs. cable fees it does not take long to realize that it makes a lot of sense to save the money and enjoy your shows and movies just as much for a tiny fraction of the cost.
There are always disappointment when one finds a compromise and no doubt you will too, as I did with ESPN which one can't receive unless through cable or satellite, but in the end it is still a small price to pay as far as I'm concerned. One thing is for certain, it is possible to say goodbye to cable fees and not look back!
Updated: 6/9/2014 I purchased this as soon as it was available hoping it would surpass my expectations. I have now spent a few months using this unit. Unfortunately this box has fallen short of my high expectations for an Amazon product. Below is my results and conclusions (Note: These are just my experiences, and my opinion about what is important to me)
Size: Fire TV has a significantly larger footprint, and is quite heavier compared to the Roku's. But is about half the height. (See comparison pictures under customer images). The foot print is over double the Roku 2 XS, and feels like it is almost 3 times the weight. My guess is the weight increase is due to the fan-less heat sink required for the faster processor and video chip. Also for those that may want analog options there are no analog audio or video options. HDMI and Optical Audio out only (not a big deal for me).
Initial Impressions: The Fire TV seems to run quickly and smoothly. Automatically syncs with your Amazon account (if you do not want this option be sure to check gift item when purchasing from Amazon) Navigation is not as easy or user friendly as the Roku or WD Live TV. The graphics are nice, but it seems the voice search options is the only way to truly navigate well, which means you need to know what you are looking for. Also Voice Search currently only works for searching Amazon Apps and Amazon video content. It is not a very browsable type interface; it reminds me of my Sony smart Blu-ray player's interface, but with better graphics.
Services/Features: The apps are Android based like the kindle. The streaming apps work well, and buffer quickly. As a streaming box this is a 5-star unit, unfortunately for a network capable device it is severely lacking. Amazon states it is "Made for Music" yet I cannot stream any of my music library not purchased from Amazon or stored on Amazon Cloud. It also says "Sync photos from all your devices" but that is only for Kindles otherwise it requires upload and transfer to the Amazon cloud, which has only a 5GB limit for the free service (currently have almost 20GB music). Also I have not been able to find an app, or a way to play movies and music from a USB drive, I can't even see if it detects/recognizes the connected USB drive (WD recognizes and plays these easily; Roku requires a media player app but still works easily). There is also no DLNA support either that I could find, so if you want to play network video/music you will not be able to yet. The only way to watch locally stored contend is to have a Plex server running and install on one of your computers and install the Plex app. However Fire TV is also missing the free Plex for PlexPass android app, Fire TV only lists the Plex pay app for $4.99 (was discounted to $0.99 on when I purchased), even with a PlexPass Lifetime membership you will still have to pay. I have had a chance to test out many of the free games that work with just the remote. The games seem to run just as well, or better than they do on my Samsung Galaxy S3. But the selection is still quite limited 3 months out now. I may purchase the controller in future months to do more testing.
Conclusion: It is good for those who use strictly Amazon for all their music and video, but for those with multiple sources, it is not up to par with the current competitors. The Fire TV is a good start for Amazon into these small smart TV boxes. Great Video Quality, and Sound Quality. It is great for streaming popular channels and Amazon content, but falls short, and fails in the ability to stream off a local network, or USB drive. I have come to expect both these capabilities in modern TV boxes like this. I hope with time and some updates it can become a true contender. I will also update my review if these features become available and work well. Still a 4-star product in my opinion.
-- Sleek, thin, good looking and powerful hardware - fastest box available currently
-- Good video and sound output (HDMI, Optical Audio out)
-- Fast, responsive UI and streaming - good hardware/firmware, ASAP feature works well
-- Nice remote with novel Voice Search feature (works very well)
-- Gaming controller and internal GPU (Graphics Processing Unit)
-- Games are fun on the Fire TV, graphics are surprisingly good!
-- Decent array of apps at launch, tons of content available
-- Quiet, cool operation, super easy set-up and easy to use
-- Good support for local networked content via Plex Media Server and apps
-- Potentially great gaming with some good titles available now (Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Sev Zero)
-- No SD card slot or other local storage expansion
-- USB port not functional? Some reports say a USB keyboard will work, have not tried it yet.
-- Voice Search only for Amazon content currently
-- Some apps (HBOGO, RDIO, etc.) not yet available
-- No HDMI or Audio cables included
-- No easy way to search free Prime Video content only (mixed in with pay to view)
-- Could use a head-phone jack and/or std. audio out as well as optical
With a 1.7 GHz quad-core CPU, 2 GB of RAM, a GPU and 8 GB internal storage, the Fire TV represents a big leap forward in power for a streaming set-top box. Add in dual-band wifi, ethernet, and Bluetooth support as well as a USB 2.0 port (not useful at present), HDMI, and optical audio out and you have a sleek and capable hardware unit, though missing a few nice things like an SD-card slot(Amazon wants you to use the cloud or networked storage). The power and memory at hand here promise a fast, smooth user experience and the Fire does seem to deliver that based on my initial use. With these specs, this is the fastest box out there, currently.
This is also a box that is somewhat serious about gaming support as it has an internal/onboard GPU and an available controller. Many game developers seem excited about the prospects (and market) this device represents. (Currently, you get a free game and 1000 Amazon coins for each controller you purchase.) [*** Update, I have tried several games and they are great fun. Graphics are surprisingly good, controls smooth, really pretty impressive for this type of system. ***]
With 1080p streaming and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround Sound the picture and sound is great. It runs Android (basically 4.4.2 KitKat) so lots of apps should be available right out of the gate with lots more to follow.
Some people are grousing about the $99 price, but I do not feel it is out of line at all, and indeed, it seems like a bargain compared to the competition's hardware capabilities to me. You get a decent amount of performance hardware for your money, so I think it's fine (and I'm sure there will be specials later for those who can wait). I could not wait myself and ordered one immediately. I like the Roku (I own several), but this was too tempting to a geek like me.
Clearly, the Fire TV aims to challenge the other contenders such as Apply TV, Roku, and Chromecast. Each has their strengths and weaknesses, but the Fire TV seems like it will appeal to many. You might not be too tempted if you already have a Roku 3, but if you are a resident of the Amazon ecosystem, you may find the Fire a great asset. Those new to the game will find it worthy of consideration.
There are still a few rough edges as with any new product, but none that seem too significant to me. Most will probably be addressed in short order, but the main thing is that there's plenty out of the box that Amazon got right and the Fire delivers a great experience. Set-up is very easy and straight-forward.
The Bluetooth remote is a nice touch, for example, and the voice search is promising. While it currently seems limited to Amazon content, hopefully this will expand at some point. Even so, it's fun to use.
Streaming seems to be smooth and glitch free in my tests so far(mostly with Amazon Prime Instant and Netflix). I will do more testing and update this review as I learn more. Load times are generally very fast, sometimes almost instantaneous, and the Fire TV is quite responsive. Video quality is very good.
The menu is decent enough, similar to Roku and others. It is a bit Amazon-centric as you might expect. Hopefully future updates will allow one to customize it a bit more. But simple and sweet is what most people want and that's what you get here. Your Amazon video library and watch lists are available, of course.
A lot of my favorites like Prime Instant, Netflix, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and so on are here. (Rdio is missing and I hope it gets added soon.) I'm sure all the main ones will get on board, it's just too big a market to ignore.
I have not had time to set-up Plex yet, but that promises to be a great feature for sharing photos, music, and videos from other devices, including a PC, laptop, or tablet. I have Plex in the past and it generally worked very well. I will be very interested to see how it goes with the Fire TV (and will update here).
Amazon seems to have taken particular care to address the buffering issues sometimes experienced with devices of this type and I have not seen any such issues, so far, at all. Nice!
More to come as I have more time and experience with this device. Giving it a solid 4 stars for now pending further time with it. I really like the Fire TV and likely will upgrade to 5 stars if no glitches turn up. *** Upgraded to 5 stars *** Everything working well, gaming is a lot of fun, gfx better than expected. Everything loads faster than any other system I have used (Sony, Netgear, Roku, etc.). Everything looks great. I feel like the value is there, especially if you are already in the Amazon ecosystem. (But non-Amazon stuff like the Netflix app also work well.)
I hooked my Amazon Fire TV up my Epson projector and gamed big and it was a blast. Prime Instant Vids and Netflix looked great as well. The fast, responsive interface and overall snappy performance make for a great experience.
I got RipTide GP2 for the Amazon Fire TV. Still waiting for my game controller, so played using only the Fire TV remote, but even so it was a lot of fun (especially big screen using my projector). Reminds me of PlayStation games (a good thing). The graphics are darn good, better than I expected, and the game is a lot of fun and fairly easy to pickup and play. The game controls work well, even using just the remote. This is the first game I've tried on the Fire TV and I was very surprised and pleased with the quality. Definitely worth a try if you like racing games.
[*** Update - got my controller - works well - Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, and Sev Zero all look great and play great. Very impressive! I think the Fire TV is going to surprise a lot of people in the area of gaming. ***]
Tip: In Parental Controls, you can set up a PIN (or use your existing one) and enable "pin protected purchasing" so that a PIN is required for any purchase made via the Fire TV. Although meant primarily to prevent kids from purchasing without a parent's approval, it's can also serve to prevent accidental 'one-click' purchases of your own.
Note: If you're interested in more details, you can find PDF's of the User Guide, Quick Start, Controller Manuals and so on here: www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201348270
Final update! Alas, after about 2 1/2 years of good service my 1st gen Fire TV unit has died. :-(
After going back and forth with their technical support team, they have been unable to resolve my issue. I have the sent them logs, worked with multiple people from Amazon, and provided with my network data.
I finally received an email from their techinal department and that said I needed to call Amazon for a replacement FTv. When I called, the person I spoke with and his supervisor were not authorized to replace it. They said I had to speak with the person that sent the email. They could not transfer me After the Alexa update, my firetv will not connect to my wired network. If I try to go and re-configure my wired network again, it says that the cable is disconnected and will not let me configure it I tried a new rj45 cable, restarting firetv, router, and the dsl modem. I tried a diffrent port on the router. My router shows a link light but if i try to ping it, there is no response. Other devices on the router can connect to the Internet with no problem.
After going back and forth with their technucal support team, they have been unable to resolve my issue. I have the sent them logs, worked with multiple people from Amazon, and provided with my network data.
I finally received an email from their techinal department and that I needed to call Amazon for a replacement FTv. When I called, the person I spoke with and his supervisor were not authorized to replace it. They said I had to speak with the person that sent ghe email. They could not transfer me nor give me a number where I could contact him later. He would need to call me. Several hours later, he called to say their technical department made the determination that it needs to be replaced. Then he proceeded to tell me that since it was out of warranty that I would need to purchase a new one.
This is INSANE. They disabled my FTv with the update and can't fix it. They left me with a brick. Now they are asking me to pay for a replacement. I hope no one else has to deal with this.
Amazon continues to be unable to resolve the issue and the technical team has yet to provide any resolution so he would need to call me. Several hours later, he called to say their technical department made the determination that it needs to be replaced.
1. The menus feel like a jumbled mess--there is no way to "pin" apps that you use alot, and the interface just feels messy. Ad another bar above the "recent watched" that we can pin apps in the order we want, or allow us to pin them to the sidebar. I understand they are pushing their own content over apps, but there should be a way for us to customize the interface.
2. The method of fast forwarding/rewinding is kind of annoying compared to the Rokus. You press the button and it jumps forward/back ten seconds, or you can hold it down to fast forward/rewind but its hard to stop at the point you want to, and while you are fast forwarding the video itself keeps playing. This is especially annoying when watching a TV show late at night, and trying to fast forward through the intro song to keep the sound down. On the roku, it pauses the video and you can see the frame that you will be skipping to.
3. There is no way to rate videos that i can find. I was watching some of the Amazon Original content shows, and wanted to rate them so that it would help them get chosen for further production, but apparently you have to go to a computer to do that.
4. The search function only shows Amazon content unlike the Roku, which will tell you if your search is available on any of the other services. Again--i know they want to push their own content, but leaving this feature out seems kind of petty. We are going to look on those other services anyway, why not make it easier for us? I thought i read back in April that they were going to fix this, but it still isnt available on my Fire TV, so im guessing it was abandoned.
5. Games/Apps are lacking and generally pretty poor in general. Some of the ones that say they work with the the FIre Remote do not actually work with it. I dont have a controller for it, so maybe that makes some of the games work a bit better, but that doesnt make up for the lack of good apps available.
6. Wheres the promised HBO go app? I know there is HBO content available, but not the new shows.
7. Why is the watchlist not split for TV and Movies like it is on apps (like the amazon app on the Roku!). I would prefer if there was a TV watchlist and a movie watchlist.
8. For some reason, when i am a few seasons into a show, if i click on a recently watched show, i have to manually go find the episode i last watched, and start it from there. If i try to "add to watchlist" it will automatically remove itself from the watchlist. Then a few days later, it will all of sudden start remembering where i was, and start working again.
9. On the good side, the controls are snappy and quick. I have noticed very little lag, and videos do start pretty fast. The feature that pre-loads content makes me a little nervous with my data cap, but i havent noticed any issues with that yet.
10. I also wish it would show the price of the content in the scrolling list, instead of having to select the movie and go into the info screen just to see the cost of it. And on new released movies, there should be a tag on the cover to show if its rentable, or just purchasable. Or even have 2 different scrolling lists for these. I hate when i go to rent a new release, and find that its only available for purchase for 20$. A "newly available for rent" list would solve this issue easily.