Amazon Fire is what is known as a streaming media player. In other words, it will stream content from the Internet and display it on any high-definition television. It is a small box that comes with a remote control. Amazon aren't the only makers of these streaming boxes. Google and Apple also have their versions, in this Amazon Fire TV review we see if Amazon's TV streamer is any good.
Amazon Fire TV Features
- Ample Storage with 8GB
- Quad Core Processor
- Amazon Prime - streaming video service
- Works on any TV with an HDMI connector
- Voice activated remote control
- Micro SD - supports memory up to 128GB storage
- 2GB RAM
Before we delve into the more technical aspects of Amazon Fire, we need to appreciate how it stands up to some of its major competitors. First, it is priced at £79 or $99 (at the time that this article was written). This enables the unit to offer comparable benefits to other major players such as Roku 3 and Apple TV. It is still yet to be seen how the Google Nexus Player (yet to be released) will compare to the Fire, but many believe that this Amazon version will fare quite well. As Amazon boasts a rather large market share. most customers believe that they are getting a great deal for their money.
Amazon Fire TV Summary
Voice activate remote
Micro SD Card Slot
USB 2.0 micro-B connector
Quad Core Processor
£79 / $99
Compatible with any TV that has an HDMI connector.
Lots of Apps available.
Super Fast Delivery
Live Support with Mayday
Also allows you to stream NetFlix
Ease of Installation
One of the benefits associated with Amazon Fire is that it can be set up in only a matter of minutes. All that you need to do is connected it to your TV set using an HDMI cable (between the unit and the television) and the standard power supply cord.
Once this is completed, the on-board wizard will guide the user through the remainder of the installation process. The only possible downside to this method is that this generation is no longer equipped with a digital audio jack. This signifies that an HDMI switcher will need to be used if you wish to interconnect Fire and an audio-visual receiver. Still, this is a rather minor drawback in relation to how quickly it can be integrated into any home entertainment system.
Design and Usability
One important point to mention in this Amazon Fire TV review is that the product is specifically moulded with Amazon itself in mind. This is in contrast to similar platforms such as Roku 3. Some of these sections which can be quickly accessed include:
- Amazon Prime Video.
- You Tube Playback
- Movies and music.
- One's personal watch list.
- The Amazon Cloud drive.
If you are already a frequent Amazon user or an Amazon Prime subscriber, this is an excellent feature. You don't just need an Amazon Prime subscription either. You can but movies and TV shows to own.
It also supports the playback of YouTube, Netflix (subscription required) or Vimeo. The home screen can be a bit busy and you can find yourself scrolling through endless amounts of choices of things to watch. Recently accessed applications are stored at the top of the page. This feature can help to prevent excessive scrolling when normally using the system.
Thankfully there is the voice control, you press a button on the remote and speak in to it. The box then goes off and searches Amazon for the content you would like to watch.
On an additional note, the appearance of the Amazon Fire TV box itself is extremely sleek and minimalistic. In fact, it is no larger than the average external hard drive. This enables Fire to fit into extremely tight spots such as within an entertainment centre or even behind the television itself. If you are a fan of smaller (and portable) electronic devices, which I am, you don't even know it is there.
If you are a fan of smaller (and portable) electronic devices, which I am, you don't even know it is there.
The Type and Quality of Content Offered
Of course, it is also critical to mention the type and quality of content offered on the Amazon Fire TV. Amazon Prime is at the heart of this material, while Netflix programmes are likewise available. It is a good idea that we place a special focus upon a category known as Amazon Originals.
Originals represent a wide selection of newly released pilots for television programmes. Based off user responses, Amazon decides which ones warrant a continuing series in the future. So, you will remain at the forefront of all of the latest shows. Series such as Transparent, Bosch and Black Sails are already stellar examples of how Amazon Originals can impact a viewing audience.
View and vote on pilot episodes of TV shows, so you decide if the next series gets made.
My only gripe, is that it isn't always obvious if a movie or TV show is included with your subscription. There is a ribbon at the top of the icon for the movie or TV show that says prime. This means it is included in your subscription, but kids may end up accidentally purchasing content, so make sure you enable a PIN number so that you have to enter the PIN, before content can be purchased.
Another negative is that if you are watching a TV Series, not all the Season on some TV shows are available.
It only stands to reason that Amazon Fire exists in an extremely competitive market. The new model is able to offer 4K Ultra-HD TV. All streaming content is likewise offered in a resolution of 2160 pixels; ideal for those who expect nothing but the best viewing experience. This is the same type of resolution currently provided by both Roku and TiVo. We should still mention that currently, only Amazon and Netflix content are supported in 4K Ultra-HD. Analysts claim that the list will expand once other third-party companies begin to offer this software to the public.
4k Ultra HD Cotent
Stream Ultra HD content from both Amazon Prime and Netflix.
While a voice recognition system was available on previous Amazon Fire models, the addition of "Alexa" has enhanced this useful service. It is said that Alexa boasts the ability to understand normal language. So, audio interfacing is likely to be much easier than before. Weather, sports scores and even general information from Wikipedia can all be accessed with a few simple commands. Another improvement is that you can now ask questions directly through the television, as well as with the dedicated Amazon Echo speak system. Keep in mind that voice searches tend to pull up Amazon-oriented content.
Speed and processing power are two of the major concerns when buying technology. The Kindle Fire TV box features more than enough RAM and processing power to playback the most demanding content. It also has the ability to play games and there is the option to purchase a game controller. My kids use it for playing basic games that you find on a smartphone or tablet. It isn't a replacement for an Xbox or Playstation, but you can see that one day, it is likely to be the case.
The number of Kindle games seems to be growing on a daily basis. While the majority of genres run off of the Kindle HDX system, they display quite well on a television. There are currently more than 100 titles and this number is expected to substantially grow into the future.
It is said that this version of the Amazon Fire TV offers no less than 75 per cent higher speeds than the previous model. This is accomplished through the use of a MediaTek Quad-Core 2GHz processor, alongside a Power VR GX 6250 graphics processor (commonly referred to as a GPU). 2 gigabytes of RAM and 8 gigabytes of storage are also available. These have not changed from the previous version. Although you may not notice a massive difference in terms of streaming capabilities, this enhanced power is one of the reasons why its voice recognition system has improved.
Mobile Device Mirroring
Another interesting feature associated with the Amazon Fire TV is that the screen of a tablet or mobile can be "mirrored" directly onto the television. This will require a Kindle Fire HDX tablet, a Fire-compatible phone or certain Android applications. There are two benefits with this feature. First, media and programmes which are not Fire-specific can be transferred from a mobile platform directly onto the television, using the Fire TV. Additionally, non-streaming content such as Facebook or Twitter profiles can also easily be transferred from a remote device directly to the television.
Watch content from a smartphone or tablet on your TV, using the Fire TV mirror functionality.
There is also a plugin available from the app store that will allow AirPlay playback. This allows Apple devices to be displayed on a TV set, using the Fire TV.
The Primary Benefits of Amazon Fire Television
So far, this Amazon Fire TV review has highlighted some of the major differences and improvements which have been added. So, it only makes sense to briefly recap this information by listing some of the major benefits that you can expect to enjoy. These will include:
- Massively enhanced processing power.
- The ability mirror content on remote devices such as smartphones and Kindle tablets.
- Improved voice recognition software through the use of the Alexa system.
- A very competitive pricing package.
- More than 100 games currently available.
- 4K Ultra-HD television resolution.
- Ease of installation.
- An intuitive and streamlined design.
- Quality and original content
Having listed these amazing features, there are still some drawbacks that you should take into consideration before making an ultimate decision. Some negative aspects observed in this Fire TV review can include:
- A proclivity to only display content directly related to Amazon.
- 4K television resolution limited to Amazon and Netflix programmes.
- The lack of a dedicated digital audio jack.
- A game controller that is rather unrefined compared to third-party models.
Ultimately, Amazon Fire TV seems to represent a significant leap forward in terms of digital streaming capabilities. As this system has kept many of its most popular features from the last generation, users can expect only a minimal learning curve.
The price is also very competitive in comparison to similar systems. This is a great choice if you are already a dedicated follower of the Amazon Prime network. Still, this is not necessary in order to enjoy the numerous features which are offered. If you have been looking for an all-in-one system with very few downsides, Amazon Fire is definitely worth a closer look.
Kindle Fire TV Wrap Up
Pros: An amazing streaming media device, that is very competitively priced. 4K Ultra HD playback.
Cons: Running proprietary software, that means you can only buy apps from the Amazon store. Not always obvious if the content is available via an Amazon Prime subscription or needs to be paid for.
Looking for box sets and TV shows but don't want to buy a premium TV subscription. Then the Amazon Kindle Fire TV is for you.
- Fast CPU and RAM
- Free home delivery as part of Amazon Prime
- Netflix capable
- Compatible with any TV
- Only buy apps from the Amazon Store
- Not always obvious if the content you want is extra