Customer Reviews: Amazon Fire TV
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on April 7, 2014
I'm your typical middle-aged woman - I don't game, and I'm not super tech-savvy by any take this review for what it is. The Fire TV was easy to install and I'm loving all the features, free movies, music and simple interface - this thing even has a screen saver that comes on when you're listening to music! We've always just had our Comcast cable service without DVR and occasionally used Comcast OnDemand to watch/rent movies - but I'll never watch from Comcast again. The voice recognition software is amazing and brought me to exactly what I was looking for every single time I searched. It's just so easy to find what you're looking for (unlike Comcast), and since I'm an Amazon Prime member most of what I want to view is free - oh and for the new release movies the cost to "rent" from Amazon is on average cheaper than Comcast OnDemand by a ~$1 or more. So happy with this purchase!
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I am not a casual user of on-demand content and devices. Having tried smart tv's from 3 brands, smart dvd/bluray players, Apple TV, WDTV, HTPC, Chromecast and too many other competing products to mention--for streaming content, before this box you really had two options (for a simple to use box that doesn't require additional items or tweaking):

First is Apple TV which is easy to use (interface) but Apple limits the content you can get greatly (including no Prime Streaming built in) and it lacks a lot in features as well and is slow. The reason for selecting Apple TV is if you have other apple products that unlock features (like Amazon's content).

The second option you could consider was Roku--which really means a Roku 3 box since it is heads and tails better than past Roku boxes in terms of remote and speed. Now Roku stands out with the most content and the most features of any box with the Roku 3. It is for that reason you will see me address the Roku 3 so often in this review.

I have added quick summaries of other options to make sure everyone knows about the other options out there.

WDTV: Are great for streaming your own content but not very user friendly.

Chromecast: Is very cheap at $35 but requires other items to use (no remote included!), is limited to 16 channels according to their own site with other content broadcast via Chrome's browser not at the same quality level. This does allow you to browse the internet on your tv and is amazing for the cost but is more of a niche market than FireTV/Roku/Apple TV. But if you can live with the short comings, it is worth a look at 1/3 the price of these devices.

Smart TVs: Most of these are FINE for occasional use but not nearly as pleasant to use daily like separate boxes. Normally you pay $150-$400+ extra for features that are found in these $100 boxes. I have not found a smart tv that is decent and is also a good value for what you are getting. The advantage is that you can use your TV remote to access the content. (and that is about it!)

HTPC: These are desktop computers or Mac Minis or Android Sticks that you load software on to stream video to your TV. These can add content that no normal streaming box can access, without giving up quality but they are only recommended for something comfortable with technology that doesn't mind fixing the issues that come up from time to time.

Video Game Consoles: Xbox/Playstations can access some of the content that streaming boxes do and have plenty of power to deliver the streams. The downside is the cost (unless you already have one) and the interfaces. These consoles are not designed to stream video exclusively so the interfaces are decent but can be clunky.

(You can use other options but frankly they aren't worth the hassle for the amount of hair pulling you would do.)

Now this Amazon product has changed everything. It might not be the box for you...but honestly there is a good chance that it SHOULD BE. This is a brand new category for Amazon and they got a lot right, but there are a few shortcomings (at least at launch) as well so read all of this to see what those are.

Amazon's Fire TV box


+ Nothing else is this fast. While Roku 3 impressed the world, this raises the bar dramatically. With a quad core processor and 4 times the memory of any other streaming product, it speeds through menus, boots quicker, starts videos quicker and honestly has the muscle to not struggle with higher end resolutions and surround sound like other boxes can do at times. The best way I can explain it, you will have extra hours at the end of the year because this box is THAT much faster.

+ Voice search is amazing. It really works. Less using a four directional keypad to enter in titles is a real time saver and makes you wonder why this wasn't done before but it is only for Amazon content and VEVO (music videos) (at least for now). You can not use the voice search with Netflix for example.

+ Ready for gaming, well at least once you spend another $40. The $40 gaming controller feels a bit pricy for this type of gaming and really should be $25 or less in my opinion. That being said, this box has real games you would actually want to play instead of a VERY limited selection on Roku 3 but it is not a "REAL" console at $100 and honestly shouldn't be compared to them.

+ Better image quality? I know you are thinking I am imagining things or have changed my setup but both myself and my wife have noticed that generally (in different apps) the video is slightly sharper and clearer. We are using the exact same tv, settings, even the same HDMI cable that we used with the Roku 3 until we switched it for the Fire TV box. We have noticed that especially on poor quality feeds that the image quality is noticeably better than under the same feeds with Roku 3. Now I don't know if there is better graphic chips or if the bigger processor can do more tweaking while streaming but it seems to be something. As image quality is a huge deal for most folks (and normally us streamers have to suffer with "decent" quality) this is certainly worth noting. So far we have noticed this under Netflix, VEVO and Plex.


- It lacks soul. Yes, soul. The Fire TV box and remote are built like a dvd player or appliance--cold, fast, efficient. Unlike Roku 3 where the box seems to have a bit of the personally of TiVo--it feels warmer, more inviting. Everything about this box is business like, including the interface and the lack of options to change it.

- The interface is more than merely "cold". It is simply less flashy/pretty than the Roku 3 interface. While fast, I am less tempted to wander around like I do on Roku 3. It seems like they are being pretty dependent on the voice search function which is great but it leaves you missing out on the random items you find along the way with the Roku 3 interface. I will update this more upon extended use.

- The voice search only works for Amazon's own content (and VEVO) and not most 3rd party channels like Netflix.

- The remote is not ready for gaming use, compared to the Roku 3 remote with gaming buttons when you turn the remote sideways and more sensors for detecting movements/motion.

- Another feature about the remote I don't care for is the use of Bluetooth instead of WIFI. Roku used to use Bluetooth on their former high end box but instead replaced it with wifi to increase battery life and to add the headphone jack in the remote. It will likely take a few weeks of use to report battery life but this has me concerned.

- No headphone jack function like Roku 3. Now to be honest, if you use that on the Roku 3 it can be a battery drain but it is a cool feature.

- Missing some popular channels at launch. There is no M-Go and no Vudu. In addition, the channel count is much less than Roku's at launch. (UPDATE: They now have HBO GO!)

- Channels operate differently on FireTV than the do on Roku 3. See my notes below for more information.


This Fire TV box took so much from other company's products with only a few missing items. They focused on delivering smooth, fast performance with less frills than Roku 3 for the same price. While there are missing channels and features, the biggest failure for me PERSONALLY is the cost of the gaming controller. Without it, this box isn't ready for gaming but adding 40% more for the ability to try out the functionality seems pretty steep. Had Amazon included it with every Fire TV box, they would have sold a lot more games and had everyone calling the Roku 3 a poor value.

If you do not have any streaming box yet, I would HIGHLY recommend this box over every other product on the market right now. I don't make this endorsement lightly. I currently own 3 Roku 3 boxes because I liked them so much, until I used this Fire TV box. This box means Roku will have to really work on improving their product for Roku 4 or they will lose the high end market. (An update, my wife officially asked to replace the Roku 3 boxes with more Fire TV boxes tonight. Yes, these things are that good folks!)

If you have a Roku 3 box, really look at the missing channels and features--are they something you could give up for faster performance? (Also look at my notes on the features of the various common apps.) If the answer is yes, then grab one of these and try it. If no, wait to see if Amazon adds features/channels. At the very least, consider an Fire TV box for your next box.

I do not personally recommend Apple TV as they are still too slow and lack too many features and functions. Apple keeps promising something amazing but delivering minor improvements.

If you are on a budget and have an Android based tablet, consider Chromecast. It is a good value for the price but you do give up features and content to save on the cost compared to Roku 3 & Fire TV.

I am giving this box a 4.8 rating, compared to a 4.2 for Roku 3.

I will update this review regularly for a while, so check back for more information! Also if you have questions or comments, please feel free to ask them in the comments section. Either myself or other helpful people will do our best to respond to them.


Based on comments, I wanted to add a few points.

Regarding comments that I received the item free or are paid by Amazon to write this review, etc.

I paid the full list price and local sales tax for this box (grrr). Nothing was provided to me nor was I paid anything to write about this device. I do not work for Amazon, I own my own company. For this item, I am just a customer. In fact, I didn't expect to even purchase a Fire TV prior to it being announced because I figured it would only deal with Amazon's own content which I feel is much weaker than Netflix. In fact, I have talked two different family members into getting Netflix over Amazon's Prime Streaming service in the past month alone.

See below, but it is now supported!!!


It needs to be said that some channels require cable/satellite subscriptions (to those channels) like HBO Go, Showtime, ESPN, etc. Even if you have HBO, it does not mean that your provider allows the HBO Go, so look into that before purchasing any box with that in mind. I do like the Bloomberg TV (not available on Roku 3) App which actually features a LIVE TV feature.

NETFLIX APP: Is the "older" style with the tall covers (like VHS boxes) instead of the "new" Netflix interface that uses short wide covers (like on Roku 3). Netflix has said they are moving everything to the new software but the Fire TV box doesn't have it yet. That makes comparing performance harder from Roku 3 to Fire TV. On my ISP provider Comcast (Netflix recently agreed to pay Comcast so they have faster streams to customers) I do not see a HUGE improvement in performance in buffing like you see on other channels. What it does seem to do is start in better quality and/or speed the improvement in quality. My guess is that the Netflix app needs to be tweaked to maximize the performance of this hardware. One positive with the FireTV app is that it plays the entire TV episode BEFORE switching to a small window with the countdown starting for the next episode. I can't tell you how many times I had to click, click, click and click just to see the end of an episode under Roku 3.

Also, the FireTV Netflix app has two features that were removed from the updated Roku app. Before going into a TV show, FireTV tells you how many total episodes that Netflix has. On the Roku it shows you the number of seasons instead. I personally prefer the number of episodes but clearly that is a personal preference. Another point worth mentioning is that the FireTV Netflix App shows you how many items you have in your list and what item number you are on. That information is missing from the Roku 3 Netflix app.

AMAZON PRIME CONTENT: Does not loop--a "feature" they should add (and likely will). This means once you get to the end, it just stops instead of keeping going.

Voice search DOES cover some 3rd party content, despite everyone reporting it works on Amazon's content only. I have repeated confirmed it supports the VEVO app and will find music videos in that app. That may mean that other 3rd party apps are covered as well, or certainly might be able to be in the future. If you search for something that has PRIME content and VEVO content, it will default to the option with the most options. To switch to the other, simply arrow up and either left or right to see the music videos or PRIME search results.

I noticed this box featured an optical out port but normally run everything through my LG TV (via HDMI) and then use an optical out to my receiver (so I never have to change the receiver's settings) so I wasn't excited about this addition to the Fire TV box over my Roku 3 boxes. I stand corrected. I decided to run my audio via the optical cable into the receiver directly from this Fire TV box (something that I can not do with Roku 3) and it fixed all random lip-sync issues I have from time to time on the Roku 3 box (and the same with the HDMI output on this box).

Now I know this is not a typical setup for many people but I do know that tons of people have lip-sync issues with HDMI connections so being able to bypass the HDMI minefield is much more important than I expected.

This app works better than the Roku 3 app performance quick example is that some content simply fails on the Roku 3 app--try watching Britney Spears's Work B**CH (don't make fun of me!). Vevo can play this video fine on YouTube and on the Fire TV app but struggles on Roku 3's app. SOME of VEVO's content is also available via VOICE SEARCH too.

I do miss the jump back button on the remote that Roku 3 features. It is a tiny thing but it once you are used to jumping back to see that painting in the background or catch that line that you didn't hear because the phone rang, or someone was talking, you feel lost without it. UPDATE! They did include this feature but hid it abit. You simply double click the reward button to skip back. I haven't seen anyone else mention this tip so you saw it here first people!

I do like that the "enter" button is back in the center of the directional keys. This is the way it used to be on Roku boxes before someone at Roku decided to move it below the directional keys, so you have to move your thumb oddly to press it.

What multitasking you ask? Since you haven't seen this advertised or mentioned elsewhere, I can understand your confusion but try this: Load a Pandora stream...then click on the HOME button and browse for movies/tv you want to watch. As long as you are in the Home/Amazon Prime content, you can browse WHILE Pandora continues playing. Now Pandora dies when you enter another APP like Netflix but it shows you that Multitasking is built into the operating system and may be utilized in future features. (Again, this TIP is only found here!)

Another update: This tip also works when browsing PLEX content before you play something. So even when utilizing a 3rd party app, it can keep going. When it changes to a new song, a small window pops up on the lower right hand side of the screen to tell you know the new song title and artist.

Compared to the Roku app, PLEX for FireTV is totally different. There are some cool features, like the backgrounds, the screensaver using your photos and the MUCH faster menuing (night and day from Roku 3) but I do miss the channels not requiring a couple clicks to switch to ONLINE to see. I do miss that clicking the play button doesn't play a clip, instead you select it (click) and then play it (second click).

FireTV has a screensaver that is honestly pretty cool in my opinion. I am not saying you can't do this with other boxes but no other box comes set up to display random photos (and includes a decent amount of beautiful photos as well.) This functionality covers 3rd party apps like Netflix and Plex too so you have a seamless slideshow no matter what you are using when it starts. This is the sort of thing you see on PCs not streaming boxes and it is a nice touch.

Many commenters have argued that this device is not gaming changing and many have rating my review not helpful because of that title.

I said "Nothing else is this fast" to which one commenter said, "Nobody cares how fast an streaming box is. That's not a game changer"

Actually using it you will see what I mean. This is the first time a company has put so much $$ into creating a very solidly made hardware device. Like a fast computer (which this basically is), it will depend on software that is written for it to fully show off its abilities.

When AMD created their first processor that competed directly with Intel's higher end processors, it was a game changer, correct?, because it changed the landscape of personal computers forever, lowered pricing, etc.

People will look back in 5 years at this moment and say Amazon's FireTV changed how consumer streaming video boxes were made (instead of barely enough processing power to stream, they became able to compete with HTPCs and Mac Minis). This is the beginning of a new generation of streaming boxes.

I said "Voice search is amazing." and they said "Not unique, by any means. My xbox, ps3, tablets, all have this, and all work amazingly."

Find one person who owns this that doesn't say this voice search works better than anything from Google, Apple or Microsoft. The fact that little old Amazon could out deliver those tech giants is SHOCKING. The fact this works via a tiny remote makes it very easy to get use to. There is no other product in this price range that does this and no other streaming box even offers it at any cost.

I said "Ready for gaming, well at least once you spend another $40" to which they said: "And stick to basic android games. No thanks. I have a REAL console (or a couple of them) that can play REAL games..."

This isn't meant to compete with more expensive game consoles. It is meant to bring gaming to streaming boxes, just like tablets/cellphones have brought gaming to millions. They have not replaced gaming consoles (and likely never will) just like this box will not have you ditch your gaming console either but instead it opens you up to tons of games you CAN'T play on that same console. Just imagine all the cheap under $5/free games you can enjoy on your FireTV box. As I said above in my main review, I think Amazon really should have thrown in the controller to really get peopling playing the games but I can understand why they needed to limit their losses.

Again, this is a best in class hardware device with real gaming and the best voice search on any tech device (and the only one for a streaming video box). Every future streaming box will be measured against this one. Tell me how that isn't game changing?

Please understand that everyone has different priorities and requirements so no one box is going to be perfect for everyone. I am attempting to do my best to address most of the many options and provide a decently balanced opinion of them.


While I don't have time to read and answer every question these days, many helpful people are helping and I wanted to thank them.

Here are a few big recent changes:

There is now an Fire TV app for this very desired service. I don't subsribe to HBO so I can't test the app yet but coming in April of 2015 you should be able to get HBO GO access without having the cable channel--a huge bonus to those cord cutters like me. Depending on cost, I might subscribe but I am not sure that it will be worth $10 or more to our household so we will have to wait on that one.

Amazon Music:
This launched after I wrote my first review. It currently allows you to play any songs you have digitally purchased from Amazon and most of them have lyrics that help create a near karaoke experience.
When that launched they still didn't have support for Amazon Prime free music but that has been added as well so now you can listen to commercial free, unedited music as part of your Prime service. You can select the actual songs unlike most free streaming services and you can skip or go back to any song you want--as much as you want.

This app has been updated to match the Roku 3 app. That is both good and bad. (I actually liked the "older" app style better but it is a personal opinion)
With the change of app, you now can listen to Pandora or other music like Prime while browsing netflix. (Can't do that on any other box).

Overall software:
They keep pushing minor updates regularly.


Fire TV Stick:
See my review below. And if it is helpful, please click on that button as it is getting buried right now so no one sees it. (Sad face)
Basically it is the best value around if you are on a budget unless you need the ability to surf the web on your TV like a Chromecast stick.

Everyone else has been sitting on their hands. There has been no substantial response to the Fire TV box or Fire TV stick that I know of. I have seen lots of discounts on Roku 3 like I predicted and some discounts on Fire TV box as well.

I expect we will start seeing some new products soon but I am a bit surprised that no one released a real challenger for the holiday season.

Hopefully this review has been helpful to you. If so, please let me know by clicking the button below. Remember you don't have to agree with everything I said to think it was helpful! ;)
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on April 3, 2014
Having received my Fire TV today, I've been trying it out for the past couple of hours.

Setup was a no brainer. It required an update immediately so it did take about 15 minutes to have it in action but the process was very simple.

The image quality (movies and games) is excellent. I've tried several movies from Amazon Prime and they look and sound nearly Blu Ray quality as far as I can tell.

Navigation is very straightforward and it's generally easy to find anything you're looking for. Installation of games and apps goes very smoothly and generally pretty quickly.

The remote works very well. I haven't played with the voice search feature much yet, but when I have tried it, it worked well. The buttons on the remote are well thought out and I prefer it to the Apple TV remote.

I only have one gripe. As far as I can tell, there's no way to limit the list of movies and tv shows to what is available for Amazon Prime members. This makes it very inconvenient to find things that are free to watch. There are some categories that are limited to Prime (Most Popular on Prime, For Kids on Prime) I want to be able to just see what's available for Prime or at least be able to see by category what's available for Prime. I'm sure this isn't an oversight. I suspect Amazon wants to force us to look at everything and be tempted to buy/rent things but if they really want to compete with Netflix, they'll understand that we pay for our Prime membership to be able to watch free movies conveniently. A workaround is to do your searching on the web and then search specifically on the device.

Perhaps I just haven't found the way to search for Prime available content. I hope that's the case or I will really be disappointed.

Update 7/21/2014:

The latest software upgrade as significantly improved the device for Amazon Prime members - addressing most of my original complaints.

Now that there is an entire section dedicated to Prime content, it is much easier to find things without having to wade through pay to view content. I wouldn't mind seeing more 'categories' to search through, but don't want to diminish the improvement.

It's still not possible to search and return only Prime content. I think it should be possible to tell the device (when you search) that you only want returns from what is available for free to Prime members.

The new 'Music' option looks intriguing but seems to have no purpose at this point. Not sure why it was added, but I hope it grows into a useful feature given the new Prime Music package.

I would also like to see some sort of DLNA feature added. As one who rips all content that I buy (blu rays, dvds, cds) to a computer on my Network, I would very much like to be able to stream this material to the FireTV. Adding support for a connected USB device is not a solution for me. I have no intention of keeping two copies of all this material.
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An official commented on the review below
on April 6, 2014
It seems to work fine so far (2 Days with it). What I don't like is how Amazon has made it so the"Prime" content is mixed with the "For Pay" content, with no easy way to just see what is ONLY "Prime" content. This is obviously made to divert you into buying more non Prime content...
Amazon, please give us a CLEAR way to view "Prime Only" if that's what we want. I know we can voice search for anything... and that's great, but sometimes we just want to "Go Fishing" and would like to fish in the "Prime" pond only. This is a pretty big deal when you compare this to competing (Think ROKU) products that let you do just that.
Hard to believe your competition does a better job with presenting your own content than you do. Maybe an update in the near future will "Fix" this.
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on April 6, 2014
I've been using Fire TV for two days and I would say that it is really impressive. Rather than calling it a set-top box, I would regard it as a serious game console. It's not a simple toy like other set-top boxes, but has a high standard of hardware specs that is capable of running many hard-core games. The whole experience is fluent. I have an Apple TV and an Xbox 360, but Fire TV quickly became the most useful one.
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on May 15, 2014
After having the FireTV for about a month now, I can confidently recommend this product for most people. Versus the current generation Apple TV, ChromeCast and Roku offerings, the FireTV is the best value due to it's access to a wide variety of content, build quality and advanced features. It's a device I have recommended to my (almost-elderly) parents & my (geeky) friends.

Best things about the FireTV:
- It is fast - unlike the Roku it does not lag and feels like a high quality product
- Has Amazon Prime Video access- if you have prime membership, this is the best accessory you can buy. Lots of great content from Comedy Central and newer movies versus Netflix.
- An AppStore with apps & games you actually want - Plex & Showtime AnyTime are the big difference makers IMO.
- If you have local video files on your network, Plex is the way to go.
- Voice search

Worst things about the FireTV (which really aren't that bad):
- Annoying/long intro video upon the first time you boot up
- Larger power adapter versus Apple TV (Yes the little things count)
- No HBOGO until late 2014 - Going to be a problem from the folks looking for their Game of Thrones fix this spring**
- No chromecast/airplay like feature unless you have an amazon tablet**

If you don't need HBOGO right now and don't have a bunch of apple products, stop reading this right now and buy this device. You won't regret it.

** See below for ways around this

If you are an advanced user and/or are on the fence this next section is for you.

Before the FireTV, I had 3 Apple Tv 2's in my house that I used to access HBOGO, Hulu+, Netflix & my local media through the infuse application. I had tried Roku's, ChromeCast and other media boxes/home theater pc's and the Apple TV worked best for me. While this has served me well there are obvious drawbacks - lack of 1080p video, limited app selection, no games, etc.... Which led me to trying the FireTV.

Because the FireTV is based on android, android apps can be side loaded on the device and many work fine. The steps below will outline how to get started side loading apps to your FireTV. You may want to have a usb keyboard and mouse handy - you'll need them to get a few things running. Any old usb keyboard/mouse you have lying around should work OK.

(The following links provide the best directions I have come across during my time with the device and have worked for me and should work for you too, but no promises!)

How to sideload applications to the FireTV:

1. The first step in loading android apps is getting ADB set up on your machine can be done by following amazon's directions -
2. After that, you can go ahead and proceed with side loading applications, also by following amazon's directions -
3. If you aren't comfortable with working with the command line, and are running windows, you can try this great GUI application to automatically side load applications. -

Once you are able to send android apps (.apk) files to the FireTV, I recommend:

1. Installing MXPlayer to allow .MKV & .AVI video file playback:
2. If your network drive/computer doesn't support plex, try using ESFileExplorer to navigate to & play back video files -
3. AirReceiver which mimics the functionality of airplay on an appletv. Please note this only supports unencrypted video feeds. This is a paid app, buy @
4. HBOGO android app can be installed and works rather well. It does require a mouse to navigate.
5. XBMC - If you know what this, you will want it and yes it works. Download via

For the cord cutters out there, I've tried installing Aereo & Slingbox with mixed results. Slingbox for tablets loads and opens ok. Using the mouse I was able to accept the terms & conditions and input my user info. Unfortunately it doesn't load the video stream. Other folks have had success apparently, so it may be just me. Aereo side loads & opens fine but I couldn't sign up for a trial as I am 1 town over from being in their current market area. I will update this review if I get any further with either.

There are many more apps you may want to try so check out this comprehensive list of app functionality from the folks -

This list includes information on emulators & roms which I didn't include in this review due to their dubious legality.
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I've made this to illustrate the current works of Fire TV's voice search feature. It appears to be limited to Amazon content, at least for videos. I believe that they do include a third party service if you search for music.

I am searching for House of Cards, Season 2, a Netflix original. I am a Netflix subscriber so I would expect the Netflix listing to be displayed but Fire TV only returns the show's Season 1 available for purchase at Amazon and does does not list Netflix at all. As a Netflix subscriber, I could watch both seasons 1 and 2 for free but, according to Fire TV's search, Season 2 doesn't exist and I'd have to pay $2.99 per episode if I wanted to watch Season 1.

See how Roku's search (second half of video) correctly shows that Season 1 is available from Netflix, Amazon, MGo and Vudu and that I can gety get Season 2 from Netflix. It's also telling me (checkmarks) that I subscribe to 3 of the 4 services listed.

It's up to everyone to weigh Amazon's faster and more convenient voice search feature that returns Amazon-only content vs. Roku's ability to find content across the channels/services it carries.



As a current/former owner and user of streamers such as Roku 3, Roku Stick and Google's Chromecast and also streaming/gaming platforms such as PS3/PS4 and Xbox 360/One, I believe I can do a fair assessment on what Amazon's Fire streamer is about and how it compares with the alternatives. I rely on reviews to help me make informed and rational purchase decisions and, hopefully, my assessment of Amazon's Fire TV may help others decide whether this is what they need or want.


The Fire TV will have to find its place in a pretty crowded marketplace. From what I've experienced so far, due to its tight integration with the Fire HDX tablets and Amazon's own Instant Video service in search it should be a great pick for anyone who owns the Amazon tablet and already subscribes to Amazon's Prime. Its ability to play games and the ease of downloading them should also appeal to non-hard-core gamers. For everybody else, depending on one's specific needs and expectations, the Fire TV may or may not be the 'right' streamer to buy.

As one who purchased Amazon's original Kindle Fire on day one and went through several generations of Amazon's Kindle reader I expect that Amazon's streamer will also evolve or grow overtime. Amazon will listen to 'us' and the next generation streamer will be a much more interesting, 'new and improved', more capable and better tuned to our needs and wants. Until then, I would say that the current Fire TV is a competent, Amazon-content-biased (through search) streamer with gaming capabilities, lacking some in content and showing some innovation on search (offset by its currently favoring Amazon's service) and the user interface in general. Parental controls and the games could make it a favorite streamer if young children are also watching. If all you want is streaming and don't care about casual gaming you may feel that you are paying for capabilities that you don't need.


The Fire TV offers most but not all mainstream services and I suspect it covers what most of us will ever want to access and I am sure that more services will be added in time. However, at this time Amazon's selection pales when compared to Roku's 1000+ wildly diverse channels but the Rokus have been around for a while. All mainstream services now on Fire TV are also available on Roku, PS3/4, Xbox 360/One and many on Google's Chromecast.

Fire TV attempts to be a little different when it comes to accessing content, allowing for voice search but results are currently returned mostly from Amazon's Instant Video. By comparison, Rokus offer text based cross-service search with results returned from most 'big' providers. Amazon's attempt to predict and preload what we are most likely to watch will have to be assessed over a longer period of time so, time will tell.

The soon to be implemented parental controls should differentiate and distinguish Amazon's product from the competition once they are implemented.


Amazon's great innovative, revolutionary, disruptive device was the Kindle reader and the enhanced Kindle Paperwhite. I suspect that thousands of acres of trees are still known as 'forests' instead of 'recyclable material' these days because of the Kindle. Amazon's Fire tablets are nice but they are... tablets. The Fire TV streamer/gaming device falls probably under 'okay' or 'interesting' streamers and 'not too bad' gaming platforms.

The quad-core CPU is also nice but, whether I'm streaming on a significantly more powerful PS4 or a tiny one-core CPU Chromecast, the video/audio quality seems to be comparable and practically indistinguishable. I assume that the reason for a more powerful CPU is the game-playing part.

The lack of large permanent storage (HDD) implies that, as a gaming platform, the Fire TV will allow for mostly small to medium-size games with a lot of cloud interaction and storage. Again, a feature that may not be suitable for those whose ISPs charge by the Megabyte or impose a monthly download quota on their customers.

Game playing on the Fire TV works but those used with big console's lag-free controllers that 'rumble', talk back and sense motion may not view the Fire TV as a serious gaming platform.

I would say that Amazon's streamer is solidly in the mainstream as far as innovation. It's a quality product but not a revolutionary one and that's still Okay.


There's very little that Amazon's Fire TV does that other platforms don't do.

- The PS3/4 and the Xbox 360/One are vastly superior gaming platforms and equally good streamers and multimedia machines. Only they are much larger physically and cost significantly more.
- The Chromecast and the Rokus are a lot more innovative and allow for a lot more flexibility and integrate nicely with tablets and PCs and allow for streaming personal content without being limited to a specific brand or model of tablet. They are also somewhat more difficult to setup.
- Small streamers such as the Roku Stick and the Chromecast are very portable as they fit into one's shirt pocket. Amazon's Fire TV could be carried around at least in theory but it's not as easy to move around.
- Roku is still the leader of 'content' but Amazon's selection should cover what most of us want to watch most of the time.
- The Fire TV costs a lot more than a Roku or a Chromecast but, even if a gaming controller is added, is still less than a PS3 or an Xbox 360
- Voice search as implemented on Fire TV at the time I am writing this (restricted to Amazon and Vevo) is in effect hiding content from other services, potentially costing you money if one show is available to purchase or rent at Amazon but it may be also carried by another service you subscribe to as a 'free' stream.


Anyone who already has one or more Roku, Chromecast or Xbox, Playstation in their homes probably don't need one at this time. Unless they are tightly integrated into Amazon's ecosystem or are cable cutters who wish some tighter controls over what their kids are watching.

Those who are looking for their first streamer should consider

- Fire TV's ease of use (beats the Chromecast but it's probably on par with Roku and the Xbox/Playstations)
- Amazon's great user support
- Roku's enormous channels selection
- Playstation and Xbox being clearly superior gaming platforms (if you don't mind paying up to $60 for newly released games)
- Amazon's attempt to keep their users confined to Amazon's own hardware platforms and content streams vs. Roku's and Chromecast relative openness
- Fire TV's split gaming/streaming personality (Jack of 2 trades) vs. Roku's and Chromecast focus on streaming
- Price, of course

It's not an easy decision to make. I would be very happy with the Fire TV if it was the first streamer device in the house. With so many stream-capable and game-playing boxes/sticks already operating and doing well, I like Amazon's Fire TV for being a well designed, capable streamer with some nice extra capabilities but I also like and I've been using the Rokus for their huge number of channels and portability and great interface and the Chromecast for allowing me to easily send whatever is in my Chrome browser to the TV. I hope that Amazon's search will soon expand to cover non-Amazon services or it won't be a useful tool. I may not have the the Fire TV attached to the big TV in the living room but our daughter who happens to be a faithful Kindle and Amazon Prime user asked for it in her room.
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on April 3, 2014
Even though every feature might not be 100% perfect on day 1 (when I bought it), this product is a winner. It has many advanced features. I bet the kinks will be ironed out with a software update soon.

Voice Search - This feature makes it a lot more fun to look for shows. If I had to type in every title (without a real keyboard), I just wouldn't search that often. Now, searching is so easy that I am sure I'll do it a lot more.

Gaming - Finally real gaming without spending hundreds of dollars on a gaming system. Thank you!
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on April 4, 2014
The Fire TV came well packaged with extremely simple instructions. Plug in the power cable and HDMI cable (not included), put batteries in the remote and that's it. After initial start up there is an update that must be run, but after a few minutes the unit was up and running. Interface is nice looking and easy to use. Voice search worked understood this Kentucky accent instantly. Flipping through the movie choices is super fast (almost too fast since it has skipped a movie a time or two). Netflix is on the home page, but you have to install the app before using it the first time. As I'm typing this review the unit is displaying some beautiful screensaver pictures while I have a movie paused. If you store your photos on Amazon's Cloud you can use your own pictures instead. Picture quality is fantastic and movies start up lightning fast. The only thing I see as a con would be how the Prime movies are marked. The placement of the Prime marker in the upper left of the movie icon is very small and isn't as prominent as it should be making it rather difficult to tell whether it's Prime or a movie you would rent/purchase. I figure in the days and weeks ahead Amazon will be listening to customer suggestions (as they usually do) and more and more updates will be forthcoming making this device even better. For me the Amazon Fire TV is a winner. It will definitely be replacing a Directv receiver I was using.

Update: After one full day of using Amazon's Fire TV I am more than satisfied with my purchase.If you read reviews like I do make sure to skip over the ones that don't have the Amazon Verified Purchase listed under their name or click that their post is unhelpful. These are people who are trying to review a product without even having it in their possession. If you discount those reviews (which make the overall rating less than it should be) you will discover that the majority of people who actually purchased this product are very satisfied.

4-6-14 Update: Added the AmazonBasics Digital Optical Audio Toslink Cable and this has added a whole new dimension to the sound quality of my tv. The sounds are more richer and louder than ever before. I am continually amazed at what this little device is capable of. I really suggest getting the cable I mentioned above to make your Fire TV experience even better!!

4-8-14 Update: Turned on the device today and went to start up Netflix...all I got was a white screen. Turned the unit off and on, but still a white screen. I uninstalled the Netflix app and reinstalled and it worked again. I don't believe it was a problem on the device itself, but rather the app since all of the other apps worked fine.

4-15-14 Update: Had the same white screen issue with Netflix some more. Contacted customer service and reported the issue. He stepped me through the process of going into the settings then the apps. When you come to Netflix instead of uninstalling click on force stop. This fixed the issue. If I have the problem again he asked that I contact them back immediately so that they can contact the developers with the issue. I continue to enjoy this device and have since gotten rid of the Directv receiver I had connected. I can't recommend the Fire TV enough!!

6-25-14 Update: My Fire TV is still going strong and I am completely happy with it. I have found that I watch TV more so on The Fire than my DirecTV. The one thing I haven't checked (but will sometime) is the USB port. I've got to save some movies to my flash drive and see if I can play a saved movie from the drive using the USB port on The Fire. Finding Amazon content is a breeze using the Voice Search and searching through movies or videos using Netflix and others is fine. Yes, it would be great to be able to use the Voice Search with everything else, but it's not a deal breaker for me nor an inconvenience. I would imagine Amazon will eventually include their Voice Search on any third party application as time allows. Even after using it all this time I'm still amazed at the sound and picture quality of such a tiny device. For me Amazon just gets better and better.

8-4-14 Update: I had movies saved to an external hard drive and I plugged it into the USB port on the Amazon Fire, unfortunately, it doesn't work. It basically did nothing. It made no noise like it was trying to access my hard drive nor did it recognize any USB plugged in. Hopefully Amazon will push out an update to fix this at some point and time. It would be a wonderful feature to have. (Hint, Hint...Amazon).
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on May 17, 2014
I will begin by saying, I truly enjoy Amazon's products. I rarely go anywhere without my Kindle Paperwhite, and while I don't use it too much, I love the functionality and convenience of the Kindle Fire. While there are other tablets that probably do more, the Fire does exactly what I want and need it to do, and for that I am very happy.

So now Amazon has entered the market of streaming devices for your TV. Is the Fire TV a welcome addition?

Yes!...and no.

The Fire TV excels in a few areas, but unfortunately falls flat in more areas than it really should. Bear in mind a lot of my comparisons are going to be based off the Roku 3, as that is the device I am familiar with.

First the good things;

Speed- For Amazon specific services(amazon video) the device is very fast, loading movies as fast as instantly, the slowest being 2-3 seconds at most. Loading speeds for other services like netflix or hulu still take a couple of seconds, but it does seem quicker than roku. Although I will say the speed difference is marginal, I would give Fire TV the slight edge.

Voice search- A nice feature(also for Amazon products mostly) that has little trouble hearing what you have said. I have tried movie titles and actors and there have been very few times that Fire TV didn't understand. Movies/shows/documentaries in a different language is about the only way to trip this feature up from what I have tested. A fast and convenient feature.

Ease of use- It's a breeze to set up, and if you are already purchased or viewed programs on your fire(or your pc) it will be preloaded and ready on your Fire TV. It takes longer to watch the intro video than it does to set up the device.

The "so-so" features;

Only a modest selection of apps- I know a lot of people have fussed about the Fire TV not having HBO Go, but there are also several other channels that are absent at this time. Fox, CBS NEWS, NBC News, PBS, A&E, History, Disney, Blockbuster are also nowhere to be found. Smaller internet channels are also missing like College Humor, Daily Motion, Giant Bomb and others. Compared to Roku, the Fire TV channel selection feels pretty limited.

The remote- Sounds like an odd thing to complain about, especially considering it's very intuitive and easy to use. So why is it in this category? It's also quite small. I could see this thing getting lost quite easily. It breaking also worries me. It by no means feels cheaply made, but I don't think it could handle too many falls. The remote is great, I just think it's too small for it's own good.

Bland menu-By no means is this any kind of deal breaker as we are talking about form and not function, but the menu is just very drab and has no character to it at all. A better layout and some color wouldn't hurt. On Fire tablets, I can understand, but here you have a lot more room to work with.

Inconvenient app access- Regardless of how many apps you have, any of them should be easy to access rather quickly. This is not always the case here. If I haven't used an app recently, I may have to go through more steps than should have to compared to roku. Again, not a deal breaker but these devices are built for quick convenience, and Fire TV stumbles here at times.

Youtube- I happen to watch a lot of channels on Youtube. While the Fire TV has an app and it works well, I have a bluray player that I can not only see my subscriptions, but cycle through their playlists as well. This is a feature that the Fire TV does not have(To be fair, neither does my Roku, Ps4, or Wii U). I would love to see this updated in the future as it would make navigation a lot simpler. Also there are times when I try to fast forward and rewind and end up stuck looking at the buffering screen until I back out. Again, this occurs on my other devices as well, which leads me to believe it's a problem with the app itself.

The bad;

Prime movies- I can go to my Amazon video app on my roku, go to a menu option for prime movies, and check all prime movies by category. On Fire TV? Can't do that. WHY??? No offense to Amazon, but your service should not work better on your competitor's platform.

Lack of apps/poorly rated- I've already mentioned that by comparison to roku, the app store for other channels is rather lacking. Even worse is that a fair amount of apps on the Fire TV are rated rather poorly. After using a couple of them I quickly learned why, from them operating poorly, ads put in too frequently/oddly placed, or some just crash. It seems that not only does Amazon need more channels, but they also need some form of quality control.

Controller price/quality build- The good news is that while you won't find games of Playstation/Xbox quality on Fire TV, you can find some pretty decent games for a good price that can be played by a controller. Bad news? Controller is an extra $40 and even worse is that it doesn't feel well built at all. The cross pad is AWFUL, the analog sticks should feel tighter, and the build feels rather cheap. If it was priced at $20 I'd say it was reasonable, but I can't suggest it at $40 especially when you find better alternatives for less.

Identity crisis- The Fire TV to me comes off as a device that isn't entirely sure what it is. It does streaming, it does gaming, but it doesn't do either exceptionally well. Amazon's video service can be so much better(and we know this because we've seen it better on different devices!), and it's menu system could really stand to be cleaned up in a way that makes everything quicker to access.

When all is said I truly believe that Amazon has a solid device on their hands, and these are just the issues of being "the new guy". That said it is difficult to recommend the Fire TV over other devices in it's current state. Amazon has been pretty good at addressing issues of it's previous products, and hopefully it will do the same here. If you were looking into a Fire TV, I would personally tell you to wait, as I'm sure in time it will only get better. If you are looking for a streaming device right now? Honestly, you can find better options. Right now I can only give this 3 stars. It's an ok product, but it could be so much better.
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