Amazon fire TV and Amazon Prime
The world saw the release of Amazon Fire in 2011 with the Amazon Fire Tablet as their first product on the market. Moreover, 2014 marks the release of yet another device from Amazon, the Amazon Fire TV. The first release of this media streamer showcased its powerful video streaming capabilities.
However, as video technology improved over the succeeding years, it brought a compelling demand for the company to enhance its current media streamer on the market. Thus, in late 2015, Amazon released the Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation, featuring enhanced system processor, memory and graphics processor.
Owners of any Amazon Fire device know of the membership benefits from Amazon Prime: a service that gives distinct perks, such as big discounts and access to exclusive contents, to loyal Amazon shoppers. Prime membership perks also include special access to exclusive titles, apps, and games.
Evolution of Amazon Fire TV
Recent update on the Amazon Fire TV has added several features to its already-amazing lineup. Additional features include the universal voice search which allows the voice search feature to scan across all streaming sites and platforms. The previous version of the Amazon Fire TV has item searches limited to Amazon alone, which can limit certain viewers. The voice search feature has also been added to the system controller included with the media streamer to allow searching for games without using on-screen and external keyboards. The update also has added a subtitle options for certain movies: a feature that many people have requested after the previous version was released.
In terms of specifications, the Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation has made major upgrades on the media streamer’s processors to accommodate the 4K video capability feature. A more powerful Mediatek quad-core processor powers the upgraded media streamer compared to the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor of its predecessor. The PowerVR GX6250, a necessary upgrade to support 4K video resolution, adds to the video rendering power of the upgraded media streamer.
Along with the previously stated system processor and graphics processor unit, the Amazon Fire TV is powered by a 2GB RAM and 8GB internal storage. Connectivity includes a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-FI with MIMO capability for better data transfer speeds along with the newest Bluetooth 4.1. The 10/100 Ethernet feature supports 10 to 100Mb/s internet connections for better 4K video resolution streaming.
In terms of inputs, the device includes a USB 2.0 and a microSD slot that can extend the device’s storage up to 128GB. The HDMI input can support 720p to 1080p with a frame rate of 60fps and 4K video resolutions at 30fps. The device has a built-in HDMI audio, but it can be upgraded to Dolby Audio, 2-channel stereo, 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound. The add-ons included in the box along with the media streamer are the remote control and the game controller.
The device weighs around 270g with dimensions of 115 x 115 x 18 mm on width, length and height respectively. The top portion of the device bears a resemblance to the back of the Amazon Fire Tablet: a matte black finish engraved with a glossy Amazon logo. The sides of the device sports a glossy black finish with a tiny LED light on the side to indicate the power status.
Setting up the Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation is now as simple as connecting to the internet and then to the Amazon Fire account. Amazon Fire TV runs on Amazon Fire OS, an android-based system with an overhaul on structure and interface. The main menu of the streaming device appears on the left-hand side of the screen. This side includes all the watching history, recommendations and wish lists of the owner. It also has the Prime instant video, films, games, music and photos. Viewers can search movies on the main menu using the voice search system. This voice search is not only limited to movies as it can also search actors and movie genre.
Advantages of Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV is lauded for its simple and user-friendly interface along with a fast and accurate search engine that lets people search for movies and TV shows easily. Exclusive titles from Amazon as well as other in-house titles from Netflix populate the Amazon Fire TV video database.
The included slick controller has designated buttons to help navigate through the system interface as well as play games on the device; however, people can easily misplace it because of its slim and small design.
A sync setting can save people from the hassle of downloading items individually. It scans the current database for updates and installs it directly on the device.
A progress bar also helps TV show viewers mark their watched episodes. An anti-buffer 10-second skipping is also installed to prevent videos from buffering every time viewers decide to backtrack or skip certain parts of the video. Additionally, the Amazon Fire TV can host 5.1 and 7.1 speakers to enhance viewing experience.
While it is a general expectation for streaming devices to include a web browser, most of the streaming devices that have appeared on this article do not have web browsing capability. Developers of these streaming devices left web browsing and mobile reading to tablets and mobile device variants.
On the 1st generation release of the Amazon Fire TV, voice search is only limited to the Amazon database. As such, voice searching while on the Netflix interface would still result to item searches on the Amazon database. Because of popular suggestion, Amazon Fire TV 2nd generation has come with a universal voice search.
Still, the Amazon Fire TV voice search is not as versatile as other virtual assistants such as Siri of Apple TV. Amazon decided to create Alexa as their cloud-based virtual assistant, but it has still yet to prove that it can go head-to-head with the other virtual assistants.
A major limitation for the Amazon Fire TV is its exclusivity to Amazon for content. Roku 4 is better than the Amazon Fire TV in this area, most especially in terms of 4K video content. Amazon Fire TV database is thin on 4k resolution videos, but it is slowly starting to catch up. Still, people do not recommend the Amazon Fire TV for people with no Prime Videos subscription. Ultimately, this streaming device can be limiting for certain avid viewers, looking for a wide stretch of titles.
Differences with other streaming devices
Many people have made good reviews for the Amazon Fire TV, but a stark similarity among several reviews is their comparison of the media streamer to other streaming devices on the market. Prominent names of streaming devices today are Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast. Each of these devices has several unique features that overshadow the Amazon Fire TV.
The biggest advantage of other streaming devices over the Fire TV is on the variety of contents. Specifically, Roku has made a name for having the most massive list of contents when it comes to movie and TV shows streams. With the addition of Google Play Store on the Roku 4, it has expanded its list of downloadable and streamable movies and TV shows and has significantly outpaced the other devices on the race for the best streaming device today.
In addition, Amazon Fire TV is arguably less popular than the other streaming devices, and several features can only be used by the loyal brand supporters. As an example, Apple TV can be connected to the iPhone which allows video searching using the phone. Android phones can connect to Chromecast and Roku in a similar fashion. Although Amazon has the Fire tablet, it is much less popular than the other handheld devices and thus will not be a likely contribution to the features of the Amazon Fire TV.
Compatibility is not an issue for the Amazon Fire TV. Any high-definition and ultra-high definition TV with an HDMI input can be used to stream movies using the Amazon Fire TV.
Although the media streamer has a designed remote for general interface and voice control and controller for apps and games, some third party devices can connect to the media streamer. Additionally, Fire phones and tablets can also connect to the media streamer.
Amazon Fire TV vs Amazon Prime
To clear the confusion, Amazon Fire TV represents the product lineup of Amazon’s media streamers from the 1st and 2nd generations. Amazon Prime, on the other hand, is the special membership service to loyal Amazon shoppers which includes perks for Amazon Fire TV owners.
smaller version of the original Amazon Fire TV Box, the Fire TV stick, has been released in 2014 (first generation) and upgraded in 2016 with Alexa voice remote. The latter is equiped with Bluetooth 4.1 technology.
The 2nd generation release of the Amazon Fire TV has yet to reach its glory days with its enhancement on 4K video resolution database. Amidst all comparisons with other media streamer products, this particular media streamer gives the one of the best performance and service once it connects with Amazon Prime.
In fact, Amazon Fire TV was once referred to as a niche device that has an understandable loyalty to Amazon products. Thus, Amazon Fire TV works well for people who are well-invested in the Amazon product line and services.