- Company Name: Amazon
- Product Name: Amazon Fire TV
- Price: $99.99
- Compatibility: Any television set with HDMI
- Website: Amazon Fire TV
- Date Reviewed: Oct. 5, 2015
The second generation of the Amazon Fire TV began shipping Oct. 5, bringing support for 4K Ultra HD along with voice control via Alexa. For cord-cutters, Amazon’s Fire TV has been a popular choice, since it brings live TV options including NBC News, NBA Gametime, and Sling TV, an offering that gives you ESPN, CNN, HDTV, AMC, A&E, Cartoon Network, and more.
The second generation Fire TV has more processing power, better Wi-Fi support to include the latest 802.11ac protocol, a dedicated graphics engine, and the ability to expand the built-in storage from 8 GB to up to 128 GB using a microSD card.
If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you also get unlimited access to free streaming movies and television, including such original programming as Transparent. On top of that, you get over a million songs with Prime Music.
Use and Feel
Using the included remote, your Amazon Fire TV is easier than ever to control. If you want to search for something, all it takes is a press of a button and your voice, and Alexa will set forth scouring Amazon’s vast library as well as supported third-party apps for the programming you want to watch.
Navigating with the controller is also easy, but I noticed that the remote sometimes needs a firm button press to register what I want to do. It’s also easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices, so I’ve quickly learned to just rely on Alexa to find what I want to watch. Voice search works really well, and there are almost no misunderstandings or missteps.
While there isn’t much 4K content available just yet, what Amazon does include is more comprehensive than many other providers. You can also stream Netflix’s limited 4K content through the set top box. The video is truly breathtaking when it’s available, and I’m anxious for more programming to support the higher resolution.
My children (okay, me too) love the Fire TV for another reason: games. Within minutes of me having the Fire TV unboxed and set up, my 9-year-old was searching the games and finding Pac-Man 256 to download and play on the big screen.
My only real complaint is that Amazon has not really updated the aesthetics of the Fire TV box itself. It’s very square, without any rounded edges, and does not look as sleek as the accompanying remote or the new Amazon Echo.
- 4K Ultra HD support for true-to-life picture when available
- Alexa voice control and search is easy and seamless
- Vast library of games and other apps
- Form factor of the set top box is not as sleek as the remote
- No support for many cable operators’ programming
- Remote’s buttons are unresponsive at times
How Does It Stack Up?
Make no mistake, the Amazon Fire TV is an amazing set top box with plenty of entertainment value. I might knock its aesthetic value, but the interface itself is well-conceived and familiar to anybody who has used a Kindle device in the past. I look forward to seeing how Amazon’s set top box stacks up against the next generation of the Apple TV, but I will regretfully say that the current Apple TV is almost no competition. After all, the current generation of Cupertino’s set top box lacks the gaming support, the third-party app market, and the voice search capability.
Where Can You Get It, and How Much Does It Cost?
Fire TV is available only from Amazon, and it costs $99.99.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, the Fire TV is an obvious choice for your cord-cutting needs. It seamlessly interfaces with all of Amazon’s content, including the vast library of unlimited free streaming from Prime Video.
The Amazon Fire TV’s Overall Scores:
- Aesthetic Appeal: ★★★☆☆
- Wow Factor: ★★★★★
- Entertainment: ★★★★★
- Value: ★★★★★