Amazon gets in on the internet TV box action with its latest product, Amazon Fire TV. Fire TV is Amazon’s take on a set-top box. It’s a streaming media player that provides you access to online TV shows, movies, and games. The device is competing with popular smart TV boxes like Apple TV and Roku 3, but with the upcoming launch of Google Nexus Player, it seems that the latter will end up as its major competitor.
Like the Amazon brand itself, Fire TV is a user-friendly, innovative, and powerful product. In terms of performance, Fire TV is a winner and addresses critical consumer problem concerns such as poor performance, inefficient search capabilities, and closed ecosystems. With these issues in mind, Amazon Fire TV was engineered to be quick and responsive, thanks to a powerful quad-core processor and 2GB RAM. It’s snappy and quick as it transitions between titles and services. It handles itself impressively in gaming.
In terms of design, Amazon Fire TV looks sleek and minimalist, with glossy black lettering on a matte black background. When it comes to ecosystem, while Amazon is a fairly open platform, it can’t be helped for it to lean more towards Amazon products and services. Fire TV’s tabs like Movies, TV, My Library, and Watchlist all link directly to Amazon offerings. These first party apps and services are directly accessible in the home screen and are always in plain view. While Fire TV can’t access content from Google Play and iTunes, it does support a wide variety of apps and services, and will surely expand its reach as time goes on. Third party services are relegated in the Apps tab.
If you don’t have an Amazon account yet, you need to create one for Amazon to pre-link Fire TV to your Amazon account upon purchase. Setup is simple and you’ll only need a power supply, HDMI, and optional ethernet cable.
Consumer search issues have been addressed with a voice recognition feature. It is used with a Bluetooth remote with built-in microphone that’s included in the set. You only have to speak your searches instead of scrolling across an on-screen letter grid. Fire TV has access to cloud processing, making it capable to handle voice recognition and allowing the system to understand what you’re telling it to do. The only downside to this is that voice searches are only limited to Amazon content.
Some of Fire TV’s best features include viewing of photos stored on Amazon Cloud Drive, playback for MP3s purchased in the Amazon store, and an optional game controller which is even better than the Angry Birds gaming level in other devices.
- Simple and elegant user interface
- Powerful hardware
- Features video, apps, and game content
- User interface prefers Amazon apps
- Amazon Prime Instant membership is required
- Lacks third-party app integration
Rating: Amazon Fire TV delivers when it comes to performance. And like Apple TV which goes well with other Apple products and services, Amazon Fire TV complements Amazon products and services.