Amazon Fire TV Day One Review


  • Service Provider

    So we ended up in Texas earlier than originally anticipated and we needed to sit down and test out some technology to see what was going to work well and what was not going to work well for our travels and since we had the extra time and we have been looking into it for a while we decided to grab an Amazon Fire TV to see how it would do. This is the tiny settop box that has WiFi and GigE wired options, uses a normal power adapter and connects to a TV or monitor via an HDMI cable.

    We also ordered a Fire Stick that has not arrived yet, one with voice command. We really want to run these products through the ringer before deciding if we will be travelling with them extensively.

    We are a pretty hard core gaming family and so got the Fire TV Gaming Edition that comes with an extra 32GB MicroSD card for game storage and a nice gamepad instead of the normal remote. This is all the 2015 edition (aka 2nd Gen) which can handle streaming 4K content in addition to the normal 1080p content.

    For us the Fire TV ticks the obvious boxes: Amazon VOD, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Twitch and some similar services. That it can play games is a pretty big bonus. It is an Nvidia Tegra K1 CPU with quad ARM cores on the CPU and 192 GPU cores! This is some pretty decent hardware in this tiny box.

    So first impressions: the hardware is tiny, slick and really nice. Both the settop box and the game controller are very nice. Getting the unit setup was quick and easy. Had to download Netflix, Hulu, BBC News and a few other things but that was easy and straightforward. Once installed the unit handles streaming incredibly well. So far everything that I have watched on it works flawlessly and looks better or at least as good as on other devices that I have used. We have not had a chance to test anything outside of the basic video features but those were great. As a simple way to watch our shows this is great.

    It appears, but I have not had a chance or a reason to test this functionality, that there is an easy way to add DLNA playback to the device which would allow using something like a ReadyNAS or Synology on Plex device on the network for local streaming to the Fire TV - something lacking on say an AppleTV.

    One amazing discovery that I made, quite by accident, was that videos stored on my Amazon Cloud Drive "just worked!" They showed up under my photos on the device and movies that I have stored in the cloud that I own now work. I have, for years, kept a NAS at home loaded with movies that we personally own and have ripped and converted to a good format and keep around in case they don't exist on Netflix (we keep the original discs stored away as backups and proof of our licensing.) It has always been a huge pain, though, because if you are not where those moves are they are useless to you. Now our entire movie collection can be uploaded to Amazon Cloud Drive and we can treat that as just "another" video source like Netflix and can stream our own movie collection to ourselves! This is a huge win that we did not expect. We are extremely excited about this.

    Gaming on the unit leaves something to be desired, but mostly from the lack of available game titles and poor search and filter functionality from Amazon. There appear to be only a handful of interesting games available for the Fire TV and Amazon often pushes games that won't work on the device which is pretty shady at best. After more than an hour of searching for games worth playing the total collection on the device consists of maybe ten games - mostly platformers. Leo's Fortune is the one stand out title but is available on Steam too. The unit comes with Shovel Knight and Duck Tales Remastered which are both 8bit games and both on Steam. Nearly anything worth playing is on the PC and you'd rather play it there.

    The Grand Theft Auto III series (III, Vice City and San Andreas) is available in its tablet form. GTA Chinatown Wars is the one unique entry that is probably best on this device (review to come.) Many of the old Final Fantasy titles (III, IV, V and VI) are available but at ridiculous prices. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic is there as the one truly epic entry - but from the screenshots it looks to be very trimmed won compared to the PC version so unless you just don't have a gaming PC you are not going to be interested. I will keep looking for games but so far, the options are few and far between.

    It is only the first real day with the device. I am happy with it and it appears that it has a lot of potential. We will have to see what Amazon decides to do with it.



  • I have owned a firestick since it was first released. I ordered it the first day it was available only to prime members. I absolutely love it.

    One thing I really like about the firestick and firetv is that you can easlily remotely install android apk files (apps). I have installed several emulators (SNES, NES, and N64.) and copied over games. They have all worked great minus N64. The only reason I don't like N64 is because there isn't enough buttons on the gamepad to properly play most games.

    I have also installed NFL apps, browsers, and some other various apps. Basically you can install anything as long as there is an android apk available for download (free apps of course).


  • Service Provider

    @IRJ That's awesome. I'm totally going to hit you up for SNES emulation info. That would be perfect.


  • Vendor

    Love the FireStick. I bought first day it came out too. Really no complaints on my end although I've never tried Roku and ChromeCast is in a bit different category to me.

    I have the FireStick in the master and then just play everything else off the PS4 in the living room (although it died last week so now I'm working on sending in under warranty - Pretty devastating for a long weekend where I had nothing but PS4 plans and football.)



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @IRJ That's awesome. I'm totally going to hit you up for SNES emulation info. That would be perfect.

    http://www.jocala.com/adbfire.html


  • Service Provider

    We have had the Amazon Fire TV for more than a month now and so far we are still pretty much liking it. We don't use it for gaming all that much but that is slowly improving as we get it set up more and more and get used to what it does well. The two main games that we now have on it are Goat Simulator and Minecraft PE. Both of which we have other places as well.

    Goat Simulator runs great on it as far as being easy to control. It is very obviously only able to show a small fraction of the graphical intensity that our Goat Simulator on Steam with the ASUS Rog can do, but it is totally playable and enjoyable (as far as GS goes.)

    We also have Minecraft PE there which is no different than the version on the tablets except with a much bigger screen, smoother everything and much nicer controls as it is not touch screen. Now that we have a PocketMine server set up it is going to take this from "interesting" to very heavily used.


  • Service Provider

    One thing that is very apparent is that the Fire TV has a very limited set of available games and apps. Extremely limited. Amazon does so much to filter down the list (but does not ensure compatibility) that it causes some real issues if you want to use the system as a video game platform beyond just playing a game or two on your otherwise streaming device. The Amazon Fire ecosystem is great and works really well, but is lacking a bit in the gaming department.

    We are considering switching to an NVidia Shield TV device this summer while we are in the US. It has access to many times the games, is not much larger and uses the Tegra X1 instead of the Tegra K1.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    One thing that is very apparent is that the Fire TV has a very limited set of available games and apps. Extremely limited. Amazon does so much to filter down the list (but does not ensure compatibility) that it causes some real issues if you want to use the system as a video game platform beyond just playing a game or two on your otherwise streaming device. The Amazon Fire ecosystem is great and works really well, but is lacking a bit in the gaming department.

    We are considering switching to an NVidia Shield TV device this summer while we are in the US. It has access to many times the games, is not much larger and uses the Tegra X1 instead of the Tegra K1.

    If the shield works as a gaming system, will it replace the FireTV, or will you keep the FireTV for streaming?



  • I love my fire sticks. I don't use the gaming apps because the emulators work great. You can also sideload many android apk files.


  • Service Provider

    @dafyre said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    One thing that is very apparent is that the Fire TV has a very limited set of available games and apps. Extremely limited. Amazon does so much to filter down the list (but does not ensure compatibility) that it causes some real issues if you want to use the system as a video game platform beyond just playing a game or two on your otherwise streaming device. The Amazon Fire ecosystem is great and works really well, but is lacking a bit in the gaming department.

    We are considering switching to an NVidia Shield TV device this summer while we are in the US. It has access to many times the games, is not much larger and uses the Tegra X1 instead of the Tegra K1.

    If the shield works as a gaming system, will it replace the FireTV, or will you keep the FireTV for streaming?

    We'd only carry one, I'm sure. We only have so many places to plug them in.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @dafyre said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    One thing that is very apparent is that the Fire TV has a very limited set of available games and apps. Extremely limited. Amazon does so much to filter down the list (but does not ensure compatibility) that it causes some real issues if you want to use the system as a video game platform beyond just playing a game or two on your otherwise streaming device. The Amazon Fire ecosystem is great and works really well, but is lacking a bit in the gaming department.

    We are considering switching to an NVidia Shield TV device this summer while we are in the US. It has access to many times the games, is not much larger and uses the Tegra X1 instead of the Tegra K1.

    If the shield works as a gaming system, will it replace the FireTV, or will you keep the FireTV for streaming?

    We'd only carry one, I'm sure. We only have so many places to plug them in.

    Bring more power strips, lol.


  • Service Provider

    I mean televisions into which to plug them :)



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    I mean televisions into which to plug them :)

    Buy more televisi--oh... wait. Yeah, that can be problematic, lol.


  • Service Provider

    We are already traveling with one as it is!



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