Amazon Fire TV is a media streaming device from Amazon. It’s a little set-top box that hooks up to an HDTV so that users can watch online videos, Netflix, Amazon Instant Prime, and other content on a TV. The Fire TV was upgraded in the fall of 2015. (See the Amazon Fire TV 2015 (2nd Gen.) Review.) Cost: $99.
The wTVPC Cord Cutters Club™ performed a meta review of Amazon Fire TV. We looked at Amazon Fire TV reviews from EIGHT SEPARATE SOURCES—all of them respected names in the tech industry—and compiled the results. Here’s what we found.
Reviews analyzed*: CNET, Engadget, Gizmag, Gizmodo, PC Mag, TechCrunch, TechRadar, The Verge–plus Amazon and Best Buy Customer Reviews
Average Rating: 4/5 STARS
Amazon Customer Rating: 4.2/5 Stars (Over 30,000 reviews)
Best Buy Customer Rating: 4.6/5 Stars (Over 740 reviews)
+ Easy to use
+ Gaming functions
+ Lots of content and compatible apps
+ Powerful—quad-core processor, 2GB Ram
+ Voice search feature from a microphone key on the remote
+ Best quote: “[Amazon Fire TV is] fast, powerful and priced in line with its higher-end competition.” –Terence O’Brien, Engadget
— No native local streaming (can’t stream content directly from a device or computer—unless using a Kindle Fire; everything is through the system’s apps)
— Content is highly Amazon-centric
— Best quote: “Amazon seems to be going out of its way to bury third-party apps on the system. It’s not a dealbreaker, as most consumers will be aware of the services they want on their device and figure out how to find them, but it’s irksome that these services require several extra clicks to access and can’t be customized.” –Scott Alexander and Nick Pino, TechRadar
wTVPC’s Bottom Line: The key decision point for Amazon Fire TV is whether or not you’re already invested in Amazon products and services. If you use Amazon’s Cloud for your music and photos, use Amazon Instant Prime for your TV and movies, and/or have a Kindle Fire then the Fire TV is a great media streaming device for you, whether you’re interested in cutting the cable cord or looking to broaden your cable/satellite TV options. But be sure to check out the Amazon Fire TV Stick for a lower-cost ($40) version.
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Like other media streaming devices, with Amazon Fire TV you can stream TV shows, movies, and other entertainment content onto your big screen. In addition to watching content from Fire TV’s included streams and apps it has some streaming capability.
You can use Fire TV to stream content from a Fire phone or tablet device onto your TV, but not from any other Android or iOS devices. YouTube and Spotify apps for Android phones and iPhone do work with Fire TV to stream content. Amazon Fire TV is faster than the Roku 3 and Apple TV (3rd Gen.).
Fire TV comes with a Bluetooth remote control with a built-in voice search feature. Just push the search button and speak your selection. Amazon Fire TV has built-in parental controls so you can choose what content kids can watch, and for how long.
Amazon Fire TV has an extensive selection of games, many of which are free. You can use the Fire TV remote as a game controller, or buy a dedicated controller ($40)
Amazon Fire TV works with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Prime (of course), Crackle, YouTube, Watch ESPN, Showtime Anytime, Pandora, Sling TV, and many more. Note that it does not support iTunes or Google Play.
Amazon Fire TV is compatible with Fire phone and Fire tablet devices. It also works with Android phones and the iPhone to stream content from YouTube and Spotify (with promises of Netflix coming soon).
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Amazon Fire TV came out as a set-top box before it’s smaller sibling the Amazon Fire TV Stick made its debut. Anything the stick can do the box can do just a bit faster.
Differences between the box and the stick:
+ $99 vs. $39
+ Voice search function with the included remote
+ Ethernet port
+ Home theater integration (optical audio output)
+ Quad-core vs. dual-core processor
+ 2GB vs. 1GB memory
+ Larger selection of games
We watched a number of Amazon Fire TV demos. Here’s the best one from the experts at Tested.
WATCH: Tested In-Depth: Amazon Fire TV