Amazon Fire TV ReviewBy Jeremy Evans / July 31, 2017 / Tags: Amazon Fire TV, Cut Cable, Reviews
See the pros and cons of the Amazon Fire TV, and how to decide if it’s the right streaming device for you.
The Amazon Fire TV box is a popular streaming device made by one of the heavy-hitters in the industry.
A quick note about streaming boxes vs. streaming sticks: A streaming box is more for people who want 4K picture quality, more gaming options, more storage, or a direct connection between their TV and computer. If you don’t fall into one of these categories, you’re almost certainly better off with a streaming stick. Sticks have 90% of the functionality as boxes for half the price. For more information on sticks vs. boxes, see this Streaming Device Overview.
Amazon Fire TV Pros
My take on the Amazon Fire TV is similar to how I feel about the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It’s an excellent streaming device that gets the job done. The Amazon Fire TV supports the most popular streaming apps, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Showtime, etc. Plus, you get instant access to the entire Amazon Video library.
Amazon Fire TV is the most affordable streaming box with 4K support. It’s also one of the fastest streamers on the market. As a result, Fire TV has more gaming options than its competitors. The parental controls are fabulous and very easy to use. Finally, Amazon has done a great job of integrating its Alexa digital assistant into the device, making its voice search remote control the best in the streaming market.
In fact, it’s only fair to write a bit more about the remote. I didn’t think I would like the Alexa digital assistant in the voice remote. I thought the whole concept was silly. In fact, my primary motivation for trying it out in the first place was so I could make fun of it in future articles. I know that’s jerky, but it’s true. Then, after a few little tests, I had to admit that it’s pretty darn good. It was lightning fast in bringing up selections based on genre, actor, or a partial title. Plus, in the middle of watching something I could say ‘rewind 30 seconds’ and it would do it for me. After a week, I was using the Alexa remote for all sorts of queries–from today’s weather to last night’s Knicks score. Even now, I’m still surprised at how much I like this feature.
Fire TV Cons
If you frequently shop on Amazon.com and use other Amazon products and services, chances are you’ll prefer the Fire TV over other streaming devices. But if you’re not an “Amazon person” you’ll probably better off with a Roku, or Apple TV (if you’re married to Apple products).
The problem with Amazon Fire TV has more to do with Amazon than the device itself. Amazon uses the Fire TV line (box and stick) to promote its own video content at the expense of giving users a wider range of content options.
Now don’t get me wrong–I’m not crying foul over Amazon’s tactics in this regard. Of course Amazon is going to push its products. And if you have Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime Video, or the Alexa Digital Assistant you’ll probably prefer the Fire TV over Roku or other brands. You’ll get easier access to Amazon’s incredible video library with an amazing digital assistant by your side.
Fire TV Wows With Amazon Prime
In my review of the Amazon Fire TV Stick, I discuss the importance of being an Amazon Prime member if you decide to get an Amazon streaming device. Since the importance of having Prime applies equally to the Fire TV box, I’ll repeat that passage here:
Fortunately for Amazon enthusiasts, there’s more to the story than simply buying the Roku Stick because Roku has more content options. For starters, you’ll still get a ton of content options with Amazon’s Fire Stick. And if you also have Amazon Prime Video the duo threatens to best all the competition.
As I explain in my Streaming Services Guide, Amazon Prime Video is an excellent service. Every credible reviewer puts Amazon Prime Video right up there with Netflix and Hulu as being among the best streaming services on the market. In fact, many people prefer Amazon Prime Video over its competitors because of selection of popular Amazon Originals like Transparent and Sneaky Pete. So it’s not as if Amazon is using the Fire TV devices to sell some junky streaming service. Far from it. If you already prefer Amazon Prime Video then you’re going to appreciate how the Fire Stick and box serve up Amazon Video content.
⊕ Amazon Fire TV is a great choice for users of Amazon products and services–and especially for Amazon Prime members.
Also, if you’re already an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Prime Video is included in your membership. So if you originally signed up for Amazon Prime for the shopping deals and freebies, it’s as if you’re getting one of the best streaming services on the market for free. For you, the Fire TV Stick makes a lot of sense.
⊕ Are you an Amazon Prime member? If not, read this. You may decide Amazon Prime is too good a deal to pass up.
What about you people in the middle? You’re someone who likes Amazon, but you never went ahead and bought one of those Prime Memberships that Amazon is always hawking. Also, you’re new to streaming (or cutting the cord), and you’re here because you just want a darn streaming device. For you, the answer is trickier–and it reveals diabolical wizardry behind the Amazon business model.
In your case, you may find that getting Amazon Prime Membership, including Amazon Prime Video, for the same price as Netflix is just too good a deal to pass up. Think about it: For the same price as a Netflix or Hulu subscription, you get a comparable streaming service in Amazon Prime Video PLUS all the other benefits of Amazon Prime. Yes, Amazon is nudging you towards buying a Prime Membership–but it’s a friendly nudge because this is a heckuva deal.
‘Amazon People’ Will Love The Fire TV; All Others Get Roku
If you love Amazon, you’ll love the Fire TV as your streaming device. But if you’re not ensconced in the Amazon ecosystem, I maintain that you’ll probably like one of the Roku boxes more. Despite how much I like Amazon’s voice remote, I use Roku because I like that it’s content agnostic and find it has the most entertainment options.
Unlike Fire TV, Roku is not tied to any particular streaming service, so Roku does a better job of developing and delivering apps that provide a wider selection of content. With Roku, you can seamlessly access a-la-carte video stores like Vudu, Google Play, CinemaNow, and Fandango Now. Amazon Fire TV, on the other hand, does not allow access to these services since they are direct competitors with Amazon Video. With Fire TV, if you want to rent or buy a particular TV show episode, entire season, or a movie, you’ll have to buy it from Amazon. If Amazon doesn’t have the title you’re looking for, and you can’t get it on one of your other subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu), you’re out of luck.
Amazon Fire TV Bottom Line
So is Amazon Fire TV right for you? The bottom line is that this is an excellent streaming device that offers unbeatable value for users of Amazon products, and more specifically for Amazon Prime Video members. Prime customers will love Fire TV’s voice remote and the speed, convenience, and affordability of Amazon’s fantastic content library. People who don’t use Amazon as much, however, will prefer Roku, as it has more content options.
Here are some good videos that demo the Amazon Fire TV device.
The next two videos highlight the differences between Amazon Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick.
Yeah, yeah, I know…Amazon Reviews of an Amazon product. But still, Amazon is pretty good about allowing dissent. And besides, the review section also has a ton of useful Q&As.