Amazon fireTV Exceeds Expectations


Amazon fireTV rear view

With a name like fireTV, you have a lot to live up to. It’s not perfect, but FireTV exceeded my expectations. By a lot. For those who don’t know, FireTV is Amazon’s device for connecting your HDTV to online content. The tiny box will stream movies, music, and photos to your TV. In addition, you can also play video games with FireTV. The box only measures 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.7″ (115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm), so it hardly takes up any space. With Amazon Fire TV, you can stream movies and TV shows up to 1080p HD. The device also supports Dolby Digital Plus up to 7.1 via HDMI or optical out.

Amazon fireTV box

The Amazon Fire TV is easy to set up. All you have to do is connect the box to your flat screen TV via a HDMI cable. Then you connect the box to the Internet with either a network cable or via Wi-Fi using its dual-band/dual-antenna (MIMO). As I stated earlier, set up was a breeze and it only took a few minutes (most of it was for tracking down my Wi-Fi password).

To watch movies with FireTV, you can browse through the titles or search for it by typing in the name of a movie or actor. But in my opinion, the best way to track down a movie is with the built-in mic on the fireTV remote. Just say the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director, or genre and the system will present you will a list. The voice search is awesome. I love this feature. If you ever had to type using a TV remote or game controller before, you know exactly why I love voice search. Typing with a remote or game controller is a pain in the butt and it takes too long (especially if you make a mistake).

Amazon fireTV remote

So, what can you watch with fireTV? Well, pretty much anything. According to Amazon, you can watch more than 200,000 TV episodes and movies with fireTV. Options include renting or purchasing movies. You can also watch free movies with Amazon’s Prime Instant Video (box includes a 30-day free trial) and streaming services like Netflix and Flixster. With Fire TV, you’re not limited to just movies and TV shows. You can also do things like watch sporting events on ESPN or listen to music via Pandora, iHeart Radio and TuneIn. According to Amazon, you can listen to millions of songs with fireTV.

Amazon fireTV content

If you use Apple TV or Google Chromecast, here’s something you can’t do with those gadgets: play video games. With fireTV, you can play over 100 games (thousands more coming soon). I’ve only played a couple of games so far, but they were fairly easy to play with the fireTV remote. I had some doubts about using a TV remote for playing games, but it worked just fine. For those of you who take gaming more seriously, you can purchase the optional Amazon Fire Game Controller for about $40. BTW, the included remote does not require line of sight to work. Nice, right?

Amazon fireTV comparison with Roku 3, Apple TV, Google Chromecast

I love fireTV. I really do. It’s an impressive media player and I love most of its features. However, it’s not perfect. For instance, there’s no off button. In theory, the device goes into sleep mode after 30 minutes. However, a couple of times the box stayed on and the TV couldn’t connect to it again until I unplugged the power and replugged it back in. Another thing I’m not in love with is that I couldn’t find an easy way to browse through the Prime Instant Video library. You can browse through the popular or recently added Prime titles, but you can’t browse through most of the other Prime titles. In addition, many of the Prime Instant Video titles are hidden behind the “More Ways to Watch” menu.

Amazon Fire TV Specs

  • Size: 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.7″ (115mm x 115mm x 17.5mm)
  • Weight: 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 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, and 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.
  • Closed Captioning: Watch videos and TV shows with closed captioning displayed. Captions are not available for all content.

More info: Amazon Fire TV

[Disclosure: I received a FireTV for review purposes. As always, the opinions expressed are mine and I am not obligated to write a positive review.]

3 thoughts on “Amazon fireTV Exceeds Expectations

  1. You know I have been wondering about this product. We have wanted to ditch cable for some time. I always like how you show the cons on devices and could see how those mentioned could be a pain. I have considered chromecast but am now thinking about this one.

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