Amazon FireTV Review
Interface and Experience
As with their Fire tablets, Amazon has a FreeTime option on the FireTV designed for kids. This lets parents set up to 4 profiles for their kids and allows them to restrict inappropriate content. There will also be a FreeTime Unlimited subscription service giving access to content from Nickelodeon, PBS Kids and more. Prices start at $2.99 monthly, but as the FreeTime feature is not available just yet we weren’t able to try it out.
In addition to streaming services, there are a few ways to push local content to your Amazon FireTV. The first, and probably easiest, is to use Amazon’s Cloud Drive service. Each user gets 5GB free, and upgrades are available for a monthly fee. User-generated photos and videos backed up to the cloud sync nearly instantly to your FireTV.
Kindle Fire HDX owners enjoy some exclusive options. First, the display can be mirrored on your FireTV, allowing you to share pictures, videos and whatever else is on your tablet. The second feature is the ability to “fling” content to your FireTV from your Fire HDX, allowing you to continue to use your tablet while the content plays on the big screen. This, of course, is what Google does with Chromecast. Another feature for HDX owners is X-Ray, which will let you get information on your tablet from IMDb based on the content you’re watching. Again, this is similar to what Google does with their movie and TV Info Cards.
You don’t need to be tied into Amazon’s ecosystem to get local content onto your FireTV, however. Launch partners like Plex allow you to pull media from all of your devices and access them on your FireTV. If you’re technologically inclined you can enable ADB debugging and sideload apps to the FireTV, allowing you to get something like XBMC up and running. This opens up a world of possibilities, but that’s largely beyond the scope of this review so we’ll move on.
While the experience goes well beyond what anyone else offers, there are two big issues we’ve found. First, there is only 8GB of onboard storage, and only around 5.5GB of that is available to the user. After installing Sev Zero, Asphalt 8, Sonic CD and Netflix we were already down to under 2.5GB free. Currently the USB port can’t be used for any external storage, but Amazon’s VP hinted that may change in the future. The second issue is that Amazon’s promised “cheap” games follow the freemium model. This is not a unique issue to FireTV, but be aware that that low price Amazon touts really doesn’t tell the whole story.
1. ryan5609 (Posts: 99; Member since: 01 Nov 2011)
Waited awhile to see exactly what this thing would be capable of. Though I am impressed, the lack of Google Play services, HBO GO and the price (it is a fair price, but $65 more than a Chromecast) turned me off. I went with a Chromecast instead. The gaming feature is nice, but I have a new PS4 and have no need for a cheap secondary console.
2. bestmvno (Posts: 171; Member since: 07 Mar 2014)
In what way does it support DD+? The roku 3 allows passing of DD+ signals to a DD+ capable receiver so I'm not sure the Fire is the only box to support DD+.
3. UglyFrank (Posts: 551; Member since: 23 Jan 2014)
Would've expected an S800 since that is what they use in their tablets.
4. downphoenix (Posts: 2381; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)
It is half the price of the tablets, so that probably has something to do with it.
I wish there was more Chromecast app support, because I am thinking that something like this or the Roku feels needed even though I already have a Chromecast, due to its lack of apps that support it.
5. alinuxer (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Apr 2014)
I had a chromecast and I did get the Amazon Fire TV, the Fire TV is way easier to use and setup to get American channels such as US Netflix , Hulu Plus and the likes ... see thevpn.guru/unblock-american-channels-amazon-fire-tv