25
Apr
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Last Updated: June 10th, 2014

In 1994, Amazon started as an online bookstore. Since then, the company has grown into one of the most important sites on the internet, and the largest online retailer in the world. In 2007, it released the Kindle, its first ebook reader. From there the Kindle line grew to include the Fire and Fire HDX, full blown tablets running Amazon's Android-based Fire OS.

Over the past 20 years, Amazon has broadened its horizons more than most other companies can even dream of. From small bookstore to retail giant, hardware manufacturer, and streaming content provider, this company continues to grow and expand in meaningful, useful ways. The launch of Fire TV is yet another extension of Amazon's already long-reaching arm.

Essentially, Fire TV is Amazon's answer to the problem of online media consumption. Sure, there are competitors – like Roku and Apple TV – but none of them do what Fire TV can do. It's a streaming media box with a twist, and a online giant backing it up.

Amazon wants to change the way we all think of set-top boxes, which, up to this point have been pretty niche. It wants Fire TV to be the box that fits in every home and into any lifestyle.

And I think it succeeded.

Updates

This section of the review is posted after-the-fact, when updates to the device show up post-review. The changes highlighted here may not be reflected in the text body (i.e. price drops, Android version updates, etc.). All updates will be linked to the appropriate coverage outside of this review.

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Specs
  • Processor: 1.7Ghz Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 600
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 8GB
  • Ports: HDMI, ethernet, USB
  • Wireless: dual-band, dual-antenna, 802.11 a/b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0
  • OS: Proprietary Fire TV OS, based on Android 4.2.2
  • Price: $99
  • Buy: Amazon

The Good
  • Very intuitive, simplified interface. It's familiar and easy to navigate; exactly what a set top box should be.
  • Vast streaming catalog. Netflix. Hulu. WatchESPN. NBA GameTime. Crackle. YouTube. Showtime Anytime. It's got almost all of the big names right out of the box. HBO GO is on its way, which should round out all the major players.
  • Voice search.It works pretty well for the most part, and it's damn sure better than having to key searches in manually. The only downside (for now) is that it only shows results from Amazon's content library. Additional support is in the works though.
  • Game support. Other Android consoles have put gaming first and content second. I think Amazon is doing it right by reversing that. Gaming is a perk, not a priority.
  • Very minimal design.It basically disappears on the TV stand, which is a good thing.
  • Good price. It's $99. That's pretty damn cheap for everything Fire TV is capable of.

The Bad
  • Sometimes overly-simplified UI. There aren't options to manage storage or kill running applications should something go wrong. I understand the desire to keep things simple, but sometimes a little more accessibility would be nice.
  • Pretty limited storage with no option for expansion.This is Amazon's streaming and gaming box. 8GB of internal storage just isn't enough.
  • No way to add more than one account. Have multiple Amazon users in your house? Tough cookies.

Hardware

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On the hardware level, Amazon has built one of the most powerful set top boxes available today. While not everything under the Fire TV's hood is cutting edge, it's more than enough to stream all the content available to it, and handles most games without breaking a sweat, too. It's probably the most future-proof box in its class, as it should be able to continue accommodating what customers want as its catalog and use-cases expand.

Build Quality and Design

Aesthetically, Fire TV is a very, very basic black box that's designed to just get out of the way, which it does extraordinarily well. The flat black color should look good with basically any décor, all while alleviating the unit of that "cheap" look that most glossy plastic products have. I personally love how it looks; its clean, minimal, and understated design is sophisticated and simple. It also matches the Kindle Fire HDX series very well. Almost like they were made for each other. Wink, wink.

From a build quality standpoint, it's solid. It feels really well put together and premium – not that it makes a huge difference, as the odds are it'll just end up beside the TV from the time it's taken out of the box. Still good to see that Amazon took the time of actually crafting something worth owning.

Remote and Game Controller

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Aside from the unit itself, the Fire TV ships with one small Bluetooth remote control. It's a thin, short, flat black controller with minimal buttons and an understated design – much like the Fire TV itself. The configuration of the remote makes a lot of sense: the voice search button is at the top just below the microphone, with the directional pad, OS navigation controls (back, home, menu), and media player controls (reverse, play/pause, forward) just below that. The unit has a very nice, rounded back, which makes it feel really pleasant to hold. The soft-touch plastic also adds to that.

Aside from the remote, Amazon offers an optional game controller for $40. It shares the same design as the Fire TV and remote: flat black, understated, yadda yadda yadda. It fits in with the rest of the Fire TV family perfectly. It basically uses the Xbox controller layout, which seems to be the most common across the board for game controllers as it were. Of course, it has its share of Fire TV-specific controls, as well; back, home, and menu buttons are in the middle of the unit, with a pause button directly below. Just beneath the directional pad and right joystick, there are also media controls. All the buttons feel pretty good; the ABXY pack is clicky and responsive, the joysticks are comfortable and have just the right amount of resistance, and the shoulder buttons/triggers are responsive and not "squishy." Overall, it's a really nice controller...and a must-have if you plan on playing games on Fire TV. There are some games that work with the remote, as well, but obviously those are the simplest ones of the bunch. All the "serious" games require a controller.

The one downside of the controller is that it's lacking a voice search button, which means it's unable to completely replace the remote control. This one addition would've allowed users to do everything Fire TV is capable of without having to keep up with both the remote and game controller. Alas, that's not the case.

Lastly, it's worth noting that both the controller and remote require AA batteries, which is either a good or bad thing depending on which side of the "I want everything on earth to be rechargeable" line you stand on.

Software

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So, hardware only plays a small part of what makes the Fire TV something to consider buying. This is very much a software-driven unit, as it's all about the content and experience provided. Fortunately, the interface is incredibly intuitive and streamlined. It just makes sense.

OS and Interface

The Fire TV's interface is about as simple as it gets: the left side of the screen displays the various options: search, home, movies, TV, watchlist, video library, games, apps, photos, and settings; while the right, much larger, pane displays the content from the selected category. There are then subsections that highlight recently-watched movies or played games, along with newly-available content and recommendations of things to watch or play, all of which are category-specific. It's pretty similar to the way that Netflix breaks down recently-viewed content, along with quick access to your list and recommendations for what to watch (or, in this case, play) next. In that way, it feels very familiar and just makes a lot of sense. Of course, since the Fire TV's coverage is much broader than Netflix, the interface is more methodically laid out for easier content discovery.

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Speaking of searching, let's talk about Fire TV's voice search option. This is easily one of the best parts of Fire TV...but it's also one of the weakest for the time being. Let's say you're looking for a specific movie, app, game, or films starring a certain actor. Simply hit the voice search button and speak, and you'll be given a list of results relevant to your search. The thing is, at least for right now, it only shows Amazon content. So if you're looking for something to watch on Netflix, Hulu, or any other third-party application, you're out of luck. With that said, Amazon has already announced that it will begin integrating Hulu Plus, Crackle, and Showtime Anytime results into voice search "starting this summer," which is a good start. In an ideal world, voice search will be able to show results from every app installed on the Fire TV. Hopefully this a goal that Amazon is working towards.

So what happens if you want to search directly within an app like Netflix? You're doing it the old fashioned way: clicking through an on-screen keyboard. It's tedious, but there really isn't a better solution available right now. So, not only would I like to see Amazon include all apps in the voice search results, but it would also be nice to have the ability to show only results from specific apps or use voice search from directly within one application without having to search the entire system.

While the Fire TV's interface is intuitive and easy to use, there are things it could do better, particularly with the "recent" feed. Since the Fire TV is mostly centered around Amazon content, the things found within the recent feed are played games, watched movies/TV from Instant Video, and launched applications. But that's it – if you were watching a flick on Netflix, Hulu, Crackle...or any of the other services available to the Fire TV, it simply shows that app's icon. It would be really fantastic if these types of apps had deeper integration – much like Amazon's own content – where it would show exactly what was being watched on each particular service. For example, instead of showing a Netflix icon, I'd like to see it display the most recent movie or show that was being streamed. Of course, all that sort of information is still just a click away, but that type of integration would be some real next-level stuff. But I'm sure it would also raise privacy concerns among the tinfoil hat crowd, so that wish may live and die right here in this post.

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Past the primary interface, there are a handful of additional, less prominent features found under the Settings menu. Things like second-screen, which provides additional information on a Kindle Fire HDX that's on the same network (more on that below); parental controls, and minor system tweaks (like Quiet Time, app usage data collection, developer options, and the like) are all nested under this one menu. You won't find things like the Kindle Fire's Mayday feature anywhere on the Fire TV, which leaves users stuck with Amazon's online support system should something go awry.

App Selection

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Let's think about what sort of things people use to stream videos, movies, and music on the web: Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, Amazon/Prime Instant Video, Crackle, Pandora, Spotify, Google Play Music/Movies, Rdio, Iheartradio, Vevo, TuneIn, Vimeo...that should cover at least most of the bases. And you know what? About 90 percent of those are already on Fire TV, save for Spotify, Google Play Movies/Music, Rdio, and HBO GO (at least for the time being).

There are also more niche options that may cater to certain users – like Twit.TV, Revision3, Plex, Red Bull TV, Classic TV, Tubi, Redux TV, Hasbro Studios (for kids!), All Fitness TV, and quite a few more. In other words, there really is a lot of streaming content already available on Fire TV, and it's safe to assume that it's going to keep getting better from here. Amazon has the kind of pull needed to really make a box like Fire TV appealing to most content creation companies, I think. You don't have to take my word for it though, the fact that HBO inked a deal to exclusively bring some of its older shows to Prime Instant Video speaks volumes. That's the first deal of its kind for HBO.

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It's about more than just streaming videos, movies, and music from outside services too. While Kindle Fire HDX owners can send some locally-stored media to Fire TV, Koush's Allcast is now available in the Amazon Appstore, which enables locally- and cloud-stored media (from Dropbox and Drive) to be sent to Fire TV in the same way one sends content to Chromecast. It works brilliantly.

But again, there's more to it than things you can watch. Let's talk about games.

Gaming

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This is, in my opinion, the most interesting choice made with Fire TV. Instead of just building a streaming box, Amazon built a streaming box that also plays games. Of course, it's not going to appease the hardcore console gamer – it's not meant to replace a PS3/4 or Xbox 360/One. But for casual gaming on the big screen, it works really well.

At this point, the gaming catalog isn't what I'd call massive, but there are definitely some note-worthy games already available. Riptide 2, Dead Trigger 2, Into the Dead, Sonic CD, Asphalt 8 Airborne, Reaper, Badland, and Minecraft are just a few of the titles that many people should immediately recognize, most of which translate really well to the larger screen.

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While most of the titles require a Bluetooth controller, there are a few of the more simplistic titles – like Into The Dead and Badlands – that can actually be played by using the remote. That's actually a really nice touch, as it opens up the unit to really be more of a time killer or something to just kick back with. Very cool.

Outside of the titles that everyone is likely already familiar with, Amazon is going to be producing its own game content for the Fire TV through its in-house Game Studio. The first result of this is Sev Zero, an exclusive launch title for the Fire TV. Sev Zero is unlike any other "mobile" game I've played before, as it's honestly more of a console-level game than many of the "console-quality" titles that are already available on Android, especially where original content is concerned. It's essentially a combination tower defense and third person action shooter, which may sound a bit odd, but it works incredibly well. I've had a blast playing Sev Zero on my Fire TV review unit – it's a game that is easy to sit down with for 10-15 minutes and play through one "level," or kick back and easily burn away a couple of hours. The storyline is simplistic, yet captivating (for lack of a better word) enough to keep you moving towards the goal of saving the planet.

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Note: These screenshots were taken with adb over Wi-Fi, so there's likely some compression as a result; the game looks much better on the actual screen.

Without getting into too lengthy of a discussion about Sev Zero, the gist of the gameplay is this: like a tower defense title, you place various guns in strategic locations throughout a path in an attempt to eliminate the onslaught of aliens that are trying to take over the core. Pretty much par for the course for a TD title, no? Here's where things change: from there, you can beam your character into the map, armed with one of three types of gun (shotgun, machinegun, or rifle) and three secondary weapons like a grenade launcher or rail gun. In third-person view, you actually aid the cannons in the defense of the core. It's really neat. Beaming from one side of the map is super fast and easy, as is jumping out to modify, replace, or repair towers. If you like both TD and third-person games, you'll love Sev Zero.

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Finally, let's talk about game controllers. Amazon is being really unstingy with the Fire TV's game controller support, as it actually allows multiple Android-compatible controllers to be paired with the system. Initially I assumed that this would be exclusive to Amazon's own controller, but I was actually able to pair the Moga Pro Power and the Nyko Playpad without issue, so if you have one of those you're good to go out of the box. If you plan on picking something up outside of Amazon's controller, though, I'd recommend the Playpad Pro, simply because it has a home button, so you don't have to hit back 60 times to get to the start screen.

Second Screen

Naturally, Amazon included some integration with its Kindle Fire HDX line with the "second screen" option. Basically, this integrates with Amazon-owned movie database IMDb when watching something on Instant Video, and shows information about the film and actors on the tablet. Flicks can also be started from the Fire HDX and sent to the Fire TV, a la Chromecast.

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Aside from that, the aforementioned game Sev Zero also includes second screen support, effectively making it a two-player game. While the first player is responsible for creating and maintaining towers (and kicking alien ass in third-person mode), the second player is effectively a support unit. The app, which is dubbed Sev Zero: Air Support, launches in an aerial view of the entire map, allowing the second player to not only see where aliens are attacking, but provide exclusive support to the first player with a number of different weapons, including missiles, explosive barrels, a buff-like "supercharge" feature, the ability to spawn a decoy of P1, and a handful of others. It's a really neat, innovative way to incorporate the small screen alongside the primary game, and it really enhances the gameplay. I have a feeling that this is just the start for Amazon, and most titles coming out of its game studio will add support for second screen gameplay.

Gary Busey

Thank you fish, for being here.

Conclusion

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In case it's not entirely clear, I really like Fire TV. I think Amazon has done a really good job in bringing Android – however skinned it may be – to the large screen. The content is there, and it's only going to get better. That's why Fire TV will ultimately be successful, too; regardless of whether or not you're already invested in Amazon's ecosystem, there's basically something for everyone. Add in a Prime membership for Prime Instant Video, and it's even better. In my opinion, it took a major player like Amazon to do what other, smaller companies have been trying to do for the last few years: make a good streaming set-top box with a vast catalog of content that will continuously grow.

Of course, it's not perfect. Voice search could be better and more encompassing. The way it handles previously watched content on services outside of its own services could be better. The gaming catalog could be bigger. It needs more storage. But hell, it's a gen one product. Right out of the box it's very useable, and Amazon has already starting promising meaningful improvements to the way the system works, just a few short weeks after the product launch. It's clear that the company has a goal to strive towards and what it wants from Fire TV. It also seems as if it's listening to early adopters and responding appropriately.

I see a bright future for Fire TV. As more units are sold and it garners more attention, more content will become available because creators will want their stuff in more homes. Will it eventually be the box for cord cutters? Probably. The fact that big names like HBO are already jumping on board and giving Amazon exclusive access to some its older shows speaks volumes.

Moving forward, Amazon's Fire TV could be the set-top box to beat. Its content library is vast (and already growing rapidly), and its use-case is broader than any of the competition. All for roughly same price. However, it's got stiff competition in the streaming department from the likes of Roku, which is going to take some time to overcome. Still, I think Amazon is onto something great with the FireTV, and the experience is going to continue to get better as more content becomes available.

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Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Steve Freeman

    Just to confirm, do you need a Prime account to access anything? (Other than any Prime content itself, obviously.)

    • TylerChappell

      I would assume that they require you create an Amazon account in order to use it, otherwise how else are they going to keep track of what you watch and make suggestions and organize content etc? But the Prime membership itself is optional, though you do get Prime free with it for either 30 days or 3 months or something if I remember correctly I think...I'd have to check on that part.

      • Steve Freeman

        That's fine, I have an Amazon account (after all, I don't live in a cave). I just didn't want to sign up for Prime. Thanks for the other info.

        • michael interbartolo

          if you aren't going to use amazon prime vod, why get this over say a roku or chromecast?

          • Steve Freeman

            It's down to the Roku 3 or the Fire TV. I don't have Wireless-N at home for Chromecast, and I don't see the need to get a Wireless-N AP just for that. And the Roku 3 and Fire TV are within $5 of each other right now.

            I have a WD Live TV Hub right now which is...OK. It's slow as hell going through the menus, but it functions, so I'm looking more for down the road solutions. By the time I'm ready to get a new streaming device, whichever one's cheaper at the time is the one I'm probably going to go with. But hey, by then Uverse may actually come out with Wireless-N routers (they're ridiculously slow to adopt "new" technology"...) and then I could go with a Chromecast. Who knows.

          • michael interbartolo

            you don't need wireless N for Chromecast. Chromecast supports the faster 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, along with the older b/g standards.

  • solbin

    Looks good. Wish this came out a little bit earlier. It will be hard to justify replacing my Roku 3's with this STB.

  • https://jeffmitchell.me Jeff Mitchell

    But when I'm not at my TV, I can watch my Amazon-purchased videos and stream Prime content on my Nexus 5, right? Oh wait. Guess their strategy is still half-baked. Not interested until they fix it.

    • Steve Freeman

      I still don't understand why they don't allow non-Amazon devices stream Prime content. I doubt they're making more than a few bucks profit on sales of the various Kindle Fire's, so why not allow other devices to access Prime content, which requires a subscription, which means more cash in their pockets? It's retarded.

      • Francois Roy

        Simply because Amazon would have to give 30% of its income to Google and make all IAP go through Google Play.

        • http://andrewwhiplash.com Andrew Clement

          1.Google Play doesn't have this policy
          2. If that is the issue, make the app avablable via Amazon App Store/Sideload?
          3.They already have a Amazon MP3 Store, so why not video?

          • Francois Roy

            1) Yes, they do; every IAP has to go through Google Play
            2) That could be possible. Like their AppStore. Looks like they dont want to.
            3) I dont see any Amazon MP3 Store apps on the Google Play or on Amazon website, but MAYBE that's because I'm in Canada. Couldnt tell for sure. Maybe post a link?

          • Justin W

            IAP % is only paid to Google if it uses Google Wallet. Here's the link for the Amazon MP3 App, however, it appears to only be an app to listen to music. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.mp3

            Think about other apps that allow you to use an alternate (i.e. Non-Google) account to purchase something - American Eagle, NewEgg, Amazon's store app itself allows you to purchase things without using Wallet, and you can be damn sure Google isn't getting 30% of those purchases.

            And for Instant Video, they could very easily implement a similar system for their video app in that they could allow you to watch those videos you have available (via Prime or already purchased), and not allow you to purchase them via the Video app, but instead by redirecting you to the Amazon application.

            The Amazon application is here if you aren't able to see that one: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.mShop.android

          • Francois Roy

            So yeah; Google rules only applies on DIGITAL CONTENT; not on physical goods.
            Hence the Amazon "Classic" store, Ebay and the like..
            Hence the lack of a BUY option in Amazon MP3 app or the non-existence of Amazon AppsStore on the Play Store.
            I THINK the only exceptions are monthly/yearly subscriptions services for which the App itself is free. (Like Netflix)

          • Slacker

            Not sure which Amazon mp3 app you two are using, but there has definitely been a "buy" option since the beginning.

          • Francois Roy

            Sill pretty sure it only brings you on the Amazon website to complete the transaction.
            Cant tell for sure, the app is blacklisted outside the US. Cant install it on any of my devices.

          • Steve Freeman

            Regardless, all they have to do is make the app available as a download from their site, just like with the Appstore. It's available on Fire's, which are full Google devices now, and have been for a while. If Google would have been getting 30% of their purchases, they never would have gotten them certified. There's a way to do it, they just don't want to.

            As far as Amazon MP3, purchases are down from within the app, it doesn't launch a browser.

            Are you done now?

          • Justin W

            Actually, it doesn't. I was able to buy an MP3 through the Amazon MP3 app without a problem.

          • tery_cota

            H Francis, I'm also from Canada. I can buy mp3 from amazon because I kept my US account active even after immigrated to Alberta. It's been already explained that you need side-load the apk however due to some reason my fire set box is not streaming prime video (that part, I need to figure it out).

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          This is not correct - no one here is getting this right.

          The Play Store policy states that physical goods OR digital goods which can be consumed on devices and platforms other than the one making purchases do not have to go through the Play Store IAP.

          "[Except] where payment is for digital content or goods that may be consumed outside of the app itself (e.g., buying songs that can be played on other music players)."

          This has been in place for a long time. Amazon is free to distribute Prime video on Android without Google taking a cut, it just chooses not to.

      • MvP77

        Not totally true about non amazon devices. I have the Amazon Prime streaming app on my iPad. Always wondered how come they keep it from everything else.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      Does that make Apple's strategy of keeping its content on iOS devices and not allowing it on Android, or Google's strategy of keeping Play Movies, Books, Magazines, Music, etc. on Android devices and not on iOS or Kindle Fire half baked too?

      • http://turbofool.com Jarrett Lennon Kaufman

        Not remotely so, no. Amazon's core strategy is to be available to everyone. Their hardware will always be slightly niche in comparison to the most open OS on the market and the most popular mobile OS on the market. When the Kindle app is available for every OS under the sun and the Appstore is available for Android and they sell and promote both categories of products directly, it's really shortsighted to try to lock me into their own hardware to use their video services. There is no chance of me buying a more limited Kindle Fire HDX over a Nexus 7 that gives me access to everything, including the Google services I can't get on their device.

      • Casin

        Then why does Amazon have an Amazon instant video app on iPad?

    • curt hunter

      Not my first choice for a media streamer device as there are a lot of better and highly rated device on the market ( see http://www.technoplanet.com/best-media-streamer-guide/

  • http://www.mygica.ca MyGica

    we compared the Amazon firetv to our MyGica android boxes and found the following disadvantages for firetv:

    1. Does not work in Canada or anywhere else in the world, only in the USA

    2. Need an Amazon account in order to use it

    3. Need a credit card attached to your Amazon account in order to use it

    4. The voice search feature with the remote is nice, however it only searches content within your Amazon Prime subcription, this feature does not look for content on Netflix or Hulu

    5. Upon setup, you needed to enter in credit card info when setting up your amazon account, or you can use there 30 day trial.

    6. The voice search feature will not categorize which content is free

    7. Only a portion of the content available with your Amazon prime subscription is free, the rest has to be paid for either by buying it or renting it.

    8. There is almost next to no FREE content, apps such as Amazon prime, Netflixm Hulu etc all require monthly or yearly subscriptions. And for now these are all geo restricted to the USA only.

    9. No access to the Google Play store, can only get apps from within whats available through Amazon.

    10. Technical steps involved when trying to add XBMC to amazon fire tv are hard for the average user, plus the official version of XBMC for FIRE TV does not work, you have to use the SBMC version for Ouya.

    11. Only works for HDMI Out only, has no way to use RCA or Component video

    12. Does not include an HDMI cable with purchase

    13. Reviews stated online this is a great box to use if you are already an AMAZON account user, for existing devices like Kindle, or are using Amazon prime on a PS3, computer, XBOX etc...

    14. Voice feature is only a voice search feature, not voice to text

  • cheeto0

    Can only really cast from kindle fire apps, thats a dealbreaker for me.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Cameron Summerson

      What? Local media can be casted from other Android devices with Allcast...otherwise everything is can be accessed directly from FireTV. Why would you need to cast other things to it?

      • KGB

        Is there a way to play mkv files on a thumb drive via the FireTV (a la WD TV Live)? I haven't been able to find anything definitive regarding this aspect.

      • cheeto0

        You can only cast from allcast on other devices. Not from netflix, youtube, hulu....etc. I dont' want to go back to switching inputs and using an old style remote when I could be using my phone/tablet to search for and play media.

  • Matthew DiGiacomo

    "Pretty limited storage with no option for expansion"

    It's a STREAMING device , 8 GB is plenty. This is why the game controller is sold separately. They aren't pushing it as a gaming device at all.

    • Jordan

      They are pushing it as a gaming device or they wouldn't be selling a separate game controller at all or have a gaming section baked into the OS.

      • RTWright

        You sir are a complete moron..... JUST because you can play games on it, does not make it a dedicated GAMING unit. A PS4, X-Box, Wii, etc.... THOSE are dedicated gaming units, it's what they're primarily designed for. If it was a dedicated gaming unit, it'd have had more than 8GB of storage, it would have included at least one controller with it. Learn the difference! Also they're using their version of Android and that means that games made for Android can be played on it. You need to learn to troll better.....

        • Jordan

          I never said it was a dedicated gaming device. I said it was also being pushed as a gaming device(alongside it's primary function), and it clearly is. They're manufacturing their own controller, baked a gaming library into their UI, & hell they even have an exclusive game for it with some nifty dual screen experience. They even have it as a highlight of its feature set. https://www.dropbox.com/s/4658h4l0yutwcd1/Screenshot%202014-04-26%2017.59.47.png

    • renz

      is it so? then why they go as far as making their own game studio, making exclusive game for the device?

    • primalxconvoy

      Silly, silly, silly. The system actively DOWNLOADS and buffers content so that users don't need to wait for (Amazon) content to play. Also, in case you are new to technology, this device also plays things called "apps", which require internal memory.

      Hope this helps you in your first baby steps into the big wide world of technology!

  • Tony Byatt

    Seems like OTAs can fix all "The Bad"...

    • primalxconvoy

      Can they magically create internal memory?

      • Tony Byatt

        USB Storage?

        Nice try though...

  • h4rr4r

    Rechargeable AAs are easy to get and last nearly forever.

    • primalxconvoy

      Have you ever used them with a wiimote? It was almost a daily occurrence to charge the damn batteries.

      • Matt Samudio

        Depends on what type of battery technology - I bought metal-hydride AAs and a smart charger, which was a bit on the expensive side I admit, but the batteries last a pretty long time on a charge (at least a week, under moderate usage), don't self-discharge badly over idle time, and charge fairly quickly. I use these same batteries (I bought quite a few) in my wireless instrument and in-ear monitor battery packs (notorious for sucking batteries) and get very satisfactory usage out of them.

        Granted, they're not quite as awesome as li-ion rechargables, like I found some 9-volt cells in, but for rechargeables available as AAs, they perform pretty darn close to alkalines.

      • h4rr4r

        I meant they last forever because you can charge them over and over. If you buy good ones they power devices for a long time as well.
        Don't buy the cheap ones though, get some Eneloops or Eneloop Xs. If you don't want to spend that kind of money get the Tenergy Centura. You must get a smart charger though.

      • Robb Nunya

        Not that big a deal though... just get one of those little charger docks and don't forget to put it in there when you're done for the night. I do it all the time.

  • duse

    I don't get it. You praise it highly and say it's "the set-top box to beat," but I didn't read ONE thing in the article that is any better at all than a Roku 3. Roku is just as simple, has even more content, same price, voice search via the app, etc. The only thing you could say is it has less games. Roku has been the box to beat for a LONG time, and the Fire TV does nothing to change that.

  • Brian

    No IR port (or I guess serial port) means no integration. So I can have my system remote and this remote. Or my Apple TV, my system remote and a Bluetooth keyboard for searches.

    And a htpc beats them all anyway. Not sure why everyone feels they need to cheap out on these boxes. Wish someone would build a killer $500 box. Is ridiculous to spend $5000+ on a family room setup then feel like if you spend more than $100 on your streaming box you got ripped off.

    (I have a Roku 3, too that we had to abandon it because it did not support separate separate Netflix profiles for kids, etc.)

    • NF

      There's a reason. I at one point did set up a desktop computer into a TV. It was not a great experience. I could've improved it. I used a hard wired mouse and keyboard, so I was stuck in one seat, but it could never get good.

      It was running XP at the time, and that os didn't make it easy to find content. Again, some software could've given me access to network media and a better ui, but I'm still using mouse and keyboard which is overkill.

      That's the whole problem. A STB mostly streams content. Sure, give it some light games, but you don't need a full computer attached to your TV unless you plan to use it as one (people usually don't and it is cumbersome). $100 makes it a fine enhancement and easy to market to people who don't NEED this and may not see a reason to buy it.

      • Richard Markert

        I have an HTPC running Windows 7 Media Center and ffdshow. I can do everything I need to do, even Windows Updates, through the MC interface using a remote control. All my content is stored on my 7tb WHS and streamed over GBe. It also does Netflix, in the MC ui.

        It's not cumbersome and it's extremely easy to use. Everything works through the remote and though I have wireless kb/mouse, they are absolutely not needed for daily usage. However, keep in mind that my family and I have been using Media Center since Windows XP.

        I don't see a point in browsing the web or doing productivity work on the TV from my couch. My HTPC also doesn't handle gaming on the TV, I have a PS3 and X360 for that.

      • http://batman-news.com Matt Samudio

        I did much the same thing (attached a PC to my TV as a sort of "do-it-all" media center) and had much the same "not great experience" with it. Using mouse and keyboard did turn out to be a bit frustrating at times, and the attempts to rig in a remote were not any more fun. Forget having the "less geeky" family try to use the setup - mine cheered when I switched back to a set-top box that just had a simple remote and simple menus.

        Oh, well - back to the drawing board - someday I hope to be able to set up a PC with enough "spoon-feeding" to satisfy normal living-room use.

        PS - no, mythtv doesn't cut it, either - at least not yet.

  • GraveUypo

    when the hardware part of the review doesn't include ANY specs, it makes me angry.

    • Matthew Gardner

      Never mind that they are clearly outlined in dot points in the big yellow box at the top of the page...

      • GraveUypo

        doh!

  • Matthew Gardner

    Hopefully this makes Google realise how much they need to catch up.

    • michael interbartolo

      if google takes their primetime app from google tv which did search across more services than it seems amazon does and releases that for all with integration into Chromecast I would say they not only caught up but jumped ahead of amazon.

    • NF

      I'm sure Google is very aware of how much their current set top boxes suck.

      • Robb Nunya

        I have a Revue, so I certainly do!

  • ElfirBFG

    Is it just streaming services? Or can it use my local media server stuff as well, like my WDLive and PS3 do?

    • NF

      I believe that's possible. There's an app store, so someone can make that.

  • JMonkeYJ

    Unless the gaming really takes off, it's not clear to me why I would choose this over Chromecast. It would be nice if that could be addressed in the review somehow.

    • Mystery Man

      Chromecast is not a standalone device.

    • Ravi

      I can use a Fire TV even if I do not have a smartphone or a tablet or a laptop. Thats a big deal for most people - not needing a secondary device to view content. Fire TV comes with its own remote, unlike Chromecast which needs tablets/smartphones/computers as remotes.

      • JMonkeYJ

        My admittedly anecdotal experience is that the lack of a remote and UI is what many people find appealing about the Chromecast (ie they just use the apps they always use but now they also work on their TV). It will be interesting to see if the market converges one way or the other or if both methods continue to coexist.

  • someone755

    The controller reminds me of the "Vyper" tablet's from the review for some reason.

  • firesoul453

    Nifty if you don't already have either a game console, pc, or other streaming box/stick hooked up to you TV I guess.

  • Andrew Vrba

    Even with it's shortcomings it seems like a better deal than Ouya.

  • Lookatthemonkeys

    Good review. I also purchased a FireTV and quickly sold my aging apple TV2, but the main reason: XBMC. Even completly stock, FireTV is a great box as it does Netflix, Plex, and tons others very smoothy, but I was very excited about getting a XBMC box that could replace my aTV2 . XBMC (or SPMC) runs great on the FireTV, it is just a shame you have to open it in the settings menu. I have also been using Plex more which also runs great. This is a great box that can do Netflix, plus stream 1080p x264 locally with either XBMC or Plex. When you add the possibilty that the FireTV could potentially be rooted and even have custom ROMS in the future makes it very exciting.

    On another note, Amazon, please at freakin voice dication to the remote to fill out forms. It is built into Android so it shouldn't be that hard!

    • primalxconvoy

      Sideload a custom launcher and make it default? Then you could launch xbmc as u wish.

  • primalxconvoy

    As (one of many?) disgruntled Ouya owner(s), I am really interested in this. However, I'll only bite when there is about 16 - 32 gigs of internal memory and when I see how good sideloaded launchers and other apps fare on it.

  • Daniel Lewis

    Solid box, and you are wrong about Hulu not showing up in results. Make sure you're signed in with Hulu and some TV shows etc even default to playing free through Hulu rather than Amazon.

  • Amy

    The hulu app on my fire tv only plays the first add then kicks me out of app?

  • Andrew Vrba

    I like to mix things up and scream "GARY BUSEY!" at my pants.

  • Mazz

    Anyone know if you have 2 fire TV box's do you need 2 Amazon accounts?

  • Kendra

    Great article Cameron. For those who live outside US like me, you can access Netflix, Hulu and similar media stations on your Amazon Fire TV by using UnoTelly or similar tools.