Amazon Fire TV Family: Which One Should You Buy
Amazon Fire TV is a microconsole developed by Amazon.com. It was first presented on April 2, 2014, and launched the same day for just US$99. Available in the UK, Germany, and Japan, it presents a fantastic way how to get access to a large library of content from the comfort of your living room. This comprehensive article will tell you everything you need to know, and it will help you select the right Fire TV product for you.
Why Should I Purchase the Fire TV?
The Fire TV is tightly integrated with the Amazon Video service and gives you access to over 3,000 channels, apps, and games. It also gives users an easy access to third-party content providers including Netflix, HBO NOW, Hulu, ESPN, AMC, HGTV, TNT, Food Network, ABC Family, Pandora, Spotify, iHeart Radio, and others. Owners of Amazon Prime membership can watch movies and TV shows at no additional cost. The gaming edition also has over 800 popular games, including Minecraft, Lego Star Wars, and Pac-Man 256.
Not only is the Fire TV family of devices perfect for native content consumption, but it also lets users mirror their mobile devices on the TV. This means that everything you would do with your Android device can now be enjoyed on a big screen with all comfort that it provides. Imagine downloading an Android version of Monopoly and enjoying it with the rest of your family without hunching over the small tablet. This feature works on most phones and tablets that support Miracast. This includes the Fire phone, Fire HDX tablets, and devices running Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) or higher. All you need to do to use this feature is to activate the Miracast mirroring on your portable device and hold the Home button on your Amazon Fire TV remote and select Mirroring.
Fire TV products also include the Alexa cloud service. Essentially, it’s a voice-activated artificial intelligence that can be used to find content, control playback, get the latest news, schedule your meetings, shop online, search for information on Wikipedia, and much more. It’s like having a personal assistant right in your living room. Previous versions of Alexa couldn’t do very much, but Amazon went their way to make it useful and hassle-free.
Of course, the Fire TV isn’t the perfect product, and there are a few minor problems that you should be aware off. Amazon makes money primarily through their content. As such, the software makes sure that you are always offered something to purchase. The latest version of the Fire TV also removes the Optical Out port, which previously allowed for an easy connection of a home theater system. Both of these things probably won’t be dealbreakers for most people, but it’s still good to know about them.
The Fire TV is the most popular model in the Fire TV family of devices. It connects to your TV with an HDMI cable and plugs into the wall with a standard A/C adapter. The Fire TV supports 4K Ultra HD resolution and HD video streaming. It’s equipped with a capable 1.7 GHz quad-core CPU, 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. The storage can be expanded with a microSD card to 128 GB.
When compared to the Fire TV Stick (more on it later), the Fire TV is faster, has more memory, and also has a port that allows you to connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable.
There are currently almost 4000 apps available on the Fire TV. These include popular games from Mojang, EA, Disney, and Ubisoft. The instant access to Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO NOW, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, and other content streaming services will provide you with endless entertainment possibilities.
The Fire TV comes with the Fire TV Voice Remote, which has a built-in microphone for convenient voice search and control. You no longer have to spend minutes trying to figure out how to access some hidden menu – just say what you want your TV to do. The search even gets smarter the more you use it. It will adapt to your speech patterns, learn your vocabulary, and personal preferences.
Amazon also paid a special attention to audio quality. The Fire TV features a Dolby Audio surround sound. It supports up to 7.1 speaker configuration via HDMI output.
The initial setup procedure is very simple: just connect the power adapter, plug it into your TV via HDMI and press a button on the remote to begin setup. The device can be connected to the internet either via Wi-Fi or with an ethernet cable.
The Fire TV doesn’t work without Amazon account, but it doesn’t make much sense to purchase it in the first place if you aren’t fond of Amazon and their services.
Fire TV Gaming Edition
The gaming edition of Amazon Fire TV is aimed at casual gamers, who don’t lust for the lastest and greatest AAA games. The devices comes with two games: award-winning Shovel Knight and critically-acclaimed Disney DuckTales.
Included is the Fire TV Game Controller, which provides users with familiar control scheme and comfortable grip. The gamepad has a built-in jack, which lets you use any standard headphones for private listening. An all-new quad-core processor has 75% more processing power than the previous generation Amazon Fire TV, better Wi-Fi support with dual-band 802.11ac, a dedicated graphics engine, and 2 GB of memory.
The complete game library features more than 800 titles that span all game genres and styles.
The Fire TV Gaming Edition costs just $40 more than the regular one, and it is a great option for casual gamers and families with young children.
Fire TV Stick
The Fire TV Stick plugs directly into an HDMI port on your TV, which makes it great for wall-mounted TVs. The power comes from a USB cable that you can plug into a USB port on your TV or into the wall with the included adapter.
It doesn’t have the power of its big brother, but the small size and very affordable price make it perfect for passive content consumption. It comes with a handy remote, and users can also install the Fire TV Remote App to instantly search TV shows, movies, actors, and genres using just your voice.
Alternatives to Amazon Fire TV
The Fire TV family of content streaming devices isn’t the only solution available. There’s a strong competition from Google, Apple, and Roku. Each of these devices has its pros and cons, which are worth considering before you make the final decision.
Chromecast is a line of digital media players developed by Google. Designed as small dongles, the devices play audio/video content on a high-definition television or home audio system by directly streaming it via Wi-Fi from the Internet or a local network.
Chromocast is very cheap, but it doesn’t come with a separate remote, which means that you’ll need your phone or tablet or computer to use it.
Apple TV is a digital media player and a microconsole developed and sold by Apple. It’s connected directly to iTunes Store and supports digital content from many third-party content providers like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Now TV, YouTube, and Vevo
It’s perfect for users who are heavily invested into iTunes and already own Apple smartphone or tablet. It comes with a fantastic remove and superb voice search and recognition functionality.
The Roku Streaming Player is a series of digital media player set-top boxes with content available from services such as Amazon Cloud Player, Amazon Video, BBC iPlayer, Crunchyroll, Google Play Movies & TV, Hasbro Studios, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, MLB.TV, Netflix, and many others.
The latest generation, Roku 4, has 4K video streaming capability, a remote control finder, and updated software (Roku OS 7) and hardware that includes support for Wi-Fi 802.11ac.