Amazon Fire TV Review
Amazon Fire TV is the newest streaming video player sensation that is a must-have for any cord cutter who is already part of the Amazon ecosystem and/or a current Amazon Prime customer.
Amazon Fire TV – Streaming Video Player
The Amazon Fire TV is Amazon’s top of the line digital media player. Amazon launched the Fire TV in 2014 and gave it a needed refresh in late 2015. The refresh added some necessary features to make it future proof, such as the addition of 4K support. The Fire TV’s little brother, the Fire TV stick, is a cheaper alternative to the Fire TV but lacks a lot of the proponents that make the Fire TV a better buy, even at twice the price.
The Fire TV has the appearance of an Apple TV. They both have the same boxy square shape. Under the hood, the Fire TV packs 2 GB of RAM and over 8 GB of storage. In comparison, Amazon’s Fire TV stick only has 1 GB of RAM but the same amount of storage. The second generation of Fire TV now includes a micro SD slot with expandable storage up to 200 GB, further increasing how much can be stored in the device.
The Fire TV has 4K support and is one of the cheapest devices on the market offering 4K capability. Like other streaming devices, the Fire TV utilizes HDMI for its connection in to the TV. Amazon removed the optical audio port in the second generation of the product, but it still supports 7.1 surround sound.
One of Amazon’s claims regarding the Fire TV is that it is designed to perform better than the Apple TV and Roku products. Whether or not that is the case is up for debate, but the CPU powering the device provides for great performance. Amazon chose to use a 1.7 GHz quad-core CPU in the Fire TV. This CPU coupled with the Ram makes for an enjoyable experience that won’t leave users feeling irritated with the performance of the Fire TV.
In terms of connectivity, the Amazon Fire TV can connect to the Internet via both WiFi and Ethernet. It also has support for both Bluetooth 4.0 and 4.1, so in theory you could listen to music or Netflix with a Bluetooth headset.
The Fire TV is controlled by a remote that features voice search using Amazon’s “Alexa.” Aside from being able to search for movies, TV shows, music and apps, Alexa can also check local movie times, the weather, sports scores, news and a whole lot more.
What’s available on the Fire TV?
In total, there’s over 4,000 apps available for the Fire TV. The Amazon App Store offers a wide variety of apps, games and streaming services. It’s also one of the few streaming devices that offers both Sling TV ( Dish Network’s cable streaming service) and PlayStation Vue ( Sony’s cable streaming service).
Of course you can always get Netflix, Hulu and the other mega apps for the Fire Stick, but the Amazon integration for Amazon Videos is seamless. Overall, the Fire TV stick could be considered a cord cutter’s dream offering not only the big streaming services you want, but also several cable streaming services.
Amazon has also integrated their music service, Amazon Music, into the device as well. This makes it very easy for users to locate their Amazon Music collection.
What About Gaming?
The Fire TV is billed as a decent device for gaming. This is true, although it’s not a direct replacement for a gaming console; the Fire TV is marketed towards the mobile gamer. Those who play a lot of games on their phones and tablets will enjoy gaming on the Fire TV. Amazon has even designed a controller for the sole purpose of gaming on the Fire TV (the controller also works on the Fire TV stick). The Fire TV has popular games available including Minecraft and several games from the Lego series.
How Much Does Amazon Fire TV Cost?
Amazon has the Fire TV priced at $99. This places it in competition with the Roku 4, which shares the $99 price point, as well as the Apple TV, which starts at $129.
While it’s about double the cost of its little brother, the Amazon Fire TV Stick, it’s literally double the product. The Fire TV stick doesn’t support 4K and it’s hardware is lacking as well. The Fire TV has 2 GB of Ram and expandable storage, while the Fire TV stick has 1 GB of RAM and no expandable storage. In That’s a fairly large increase in RAM at that level and the expandable storage is a huge deal when you factor in how much space files now take up.
Included in the $99 Fire TV purchase is of course the Fire TV, the voice remote, a power adapter and 2 triple A batteries. Unfortunately, an HDMI cable is not included in the box.
Drawbacks of Amazon Fire TV
The Fire TV’s search function works well, but it doesn’t check every app when searching something like a TV show, or a video. This is a minor annoyance that can be solved by simply checking each app, but at that point, why even have the search function?
On the Fire TV’s Amazon Instant Video section you will find that video loads fast. This is due in part to a program Amazon runs known as “ASAP” which filters and pulls up what Amazon thinks you may watch next. While it’s a great idea and reduces he amount of time you EJAT for a show to start, it can take a big chunk of your bandwidth this slowing your internet down. Again, not a big deal, but it could be if you have limited data at your disposal.
Is Amazon Fire TV Right for You?
Amazon Prime customers will find that the Fire TV suits their needs best. This is due in large part to the amount of Amazon content available on the device. With things like Prime Instant Video and Prime Music natively available on the device, it’s really the only device that makes it easy to play either of these services. While other devices offer Amazon Instant Video and Amazon Music, none of them operate as smooth as they do on the Fire TV.
That’s not to say the average cord cutter won’t enjoy the Fire TV either. After all, it is the only streaming device that has both PlayStation Vue and Sling TV, while also offering a plethora of other subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, etc.