There is no shortage of streaming media players competing for space below your TV these days. Just a few short years ago these devices were the domain of tech-savvy users and often weren’t the most user friendly offerings. Roku arguably offered the first painless solution that your mom could use, and since then major players such as Google and Apple have released popular offerings. Amazon has decided to jump into this increasingly crowded market with the newly launched FireTV. The FireTV uses industry leading hardware to deliver Prime streaming service coupled with digital downloads and rentals from Amazon, but also includes essential providers like Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN, Pandora, iHeartRadio and others. The FireTV further sets itself apart by offering casual gaming and a bit more with the optional game controller. Read on to find out if FireTV can follow-through on Amazon’s plan to take over your TV.
The FireTV is a simple black box, measuring 4.5”x4.5” and standing only 0.7” tall. It is not meant to stand out visually, but what’s inside is rather impressive. The FireTV uses a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor clocked at 1.7GHz paired with an Adreno 320 GPU and 2GB of RAM; basically the same configuration as last year’s flagship devices like the HTC One or Galaxy S4. Around back is HDMI and optical audio outs, an ethernet jack, USB 2.0 port and power in. It has dual-band, dual-antenna (MIMO) Wi-Fi built in with support for a/b/g/n networks in case you don’t have a wired connection handy. It supports Dolby Digital Plus, the only streaming box to do so.
The FireTV pairs with a simple remote via Bluetooth 4.0. It has a 5 way d-pad and a handful of buttons for navigation and media control, the most notable being the voice input button. The curved bottom half nestles comfortably in your palm making the remote very natural and comfortable to use.
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