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Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick Updated With Slew Of New Features

Amazon's Fire TV and Fire TV Stick were undoubtedly two of the coolest gadgets released in 2014. However, Amazon is pushing to make its streaming devices even better in 2015 thanks to over-the-air software upgrades that are scheduled to roll out to consumers over the next several weeks.

One of the biggest new features Amazon is implementing in both devices is the ability to connect to wireless networks that require web authentication. Amazon indicated that this service will work in most hotel rooms and "some" universities. The two streaming devices will also include a new shortcut that makes putting the device to sleep easier, as well as a shortcut to enable display mirroring.

The new over-the-air update will also bring a new PIN entry screen to both devices. The big deal here is that the numbers will be hidden as the customer enters the code, preventing curious little eyes from gaining access to questionable content. Amazon will also introduce the ability to browse and search through hundreds of Prime playlists, which according to Amazon will fit every mood and situation.

Amazon Fire TV will have several exclusive features thanks to the update. For starters, Amazon has added support for wireless Bluetooth headphones to allow users to watch and listen without bothering other individuals. The Fire TV update will also unlock the USB port so that users can plug in a USB drive and expand the device's storage capacity. This should be good news for customers who have managed to max out the internal storage.

"Customer response to Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick has been overwhelming—we've been working hard to build more of both as quickly as possible, and we're excited to be adding new features we think customers will love," said Peter Larsen, Vice President, Amazon Devices.

Amazon introduced the Fire TV set-top-box back in April 2014. The device includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, 2 GB of memory and 8 GB of internal storage. Fire TV is also packed with Ethernet and dual-band Wireless N connectivity, Bluetooth 4.0, HDMI output and the company's forked build of Android, FireOS 3.0.  

As for the Fire TV Stick, it launched in November 2014. This tiny device, which connects directly to an HDMI port, has a dual-core Broadcom chip, 1 GB of combined RAM and 8 GB of internal storage. Other hardware features include dual-band Wireless N and Bluetooth 3.0 connectivity, as well as Amazon's FireOS 3.0 platform. This device is currently slated to launch in the UK and Germany on April 15.

Both the Amazon Fire TV and Amazon Fire TV Stick are great devices for those looking to cut the cable cord. Users can load up Netflix, HuluPlus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora and loads more that, when combined, provide over 200,000 TV episodes and movies. The Fire TV set-top-box costs $99, whereas the Fire TV Stick costs a mere $39. Both come packed with remotes and access to Amazon's Android-based app store.

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  • DookieDraws
    Man, I have been looking at a few media streamers recently, including the Roku 3500R Streaming Stick, Crhomecast, and the Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick looks more responsive in the videos I've seen. I know the Roku has a lot more channels to choose from. I've also seen where a new Roku, possibly Roku 4K, is due out soon. However, I am more interested right now in these smaller streaming sticks.

    Do any of you who own either one of these devices see ads before videos? Do you have to wait for ads to finish playing before watching videos on youtube? If so, is there a way to block them.

    Also, would you guys recommend the device you own?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • dave_trimble
    DookieDraws - Go with the Roku. I don't have a Roku Stick, but I have a Roku 3, 2 Roku 2XDs, and a Kindle Fire TV.

    My wife and I watch Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix almost equally, and the Roku is by far the better device for this because it's service-agnostic. It treats all "channels" or apps equally without favoritism. The Fire TV serves Amazon first and foremost, and the others are simply more complicated and difficult to use. Roku also allows you to search for a program, and it gives you results across all streaming services. This is an extremely useful feature to have, and as far as I know, only Roku does it.

    As far as ads, you will find them on any streaming services that are ad-supported. Hulu, Youtube, and Crackle come to mind. The vast majority of Youtube ads can be skipped after 4 or 5 seconds, and I don't think there's an adblock option.
    Reply
  • achoo2
    Amazon also has a history of holding features back, eg being able to use the USB port on this device or the microphone on the first-gen Kindle Fire HD. If Google TV ever becomes a draw, you can bank on it being present on Roku but not on Amazon.

    Chances are, any device that can run Plex, Amazon, and Netflix is going to be fine. But, Amazon products feel more locked down. It's also a lot more disturbing that they phone home with your viewing habits.
    Reply
  • DookieDraws
    15545778 said:
    DookieDraws - Go with the Roku. I don't have a Roku Stick, but I have a Roku 3, 2 Roku 2XDs, and a Kindle Fire TV.

    My wife and I watch Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Netflix almost equally, and the Roku is by far the better device for this because it's service-agnostic. It treats all "channels" or apps equally without favoritism. The Fire TV serves Amazon first and foremost, and the others are simply more complicated and difficult to use. Roku also allows you to search for a program, and it gives you results across all streaming services. This is an extremely useful feature to have, and as far as I know, only Roku does it.

    As far as ads, you will find them on any streaming services that are ad-supported. Hulu, Youtube, and Crackle come to mind. The vast majority of Youtube ads can be skipped after 4 or 5 seconds, and I don't think there's an adblock option.

    Thanks, Dave. I am leaning towards the Roku and may wait and see what they're going to release here, soon.
    Reply
  • ebpollock
    I have an AppleTV, ChromeCast, and a FireStick. AppleTV gets used most often. I has adds. Next is the FireStick mostly for the Prime Music, only buy if you have an Amazon Prime account. The ChromeCast gets used the least but if casting a tab from your computer you can use AdBlock. Each has a place and I think it depends who is providing your content. We buy movies from iTunes so AppleTV get my vote. The price just drop to under 70$ so I ordered a second one today.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    I bought the Fire Stick when it was available for $19 pre-order. Really like it. If you're on the fence about, I say go for it. Really capable little thing.
    Reply
  • MKBL
    I have Fire TV Stick and Prime membership, and I would recommend it. Recently I've been watching NOVA from PBS like crazy with my K-1,2 kids, and we love the experience. Not a huge movie fan, so the limited selection on Amazon Prime is not a big issue for me. Moreover, Amazon originals are really cool, comparable, sometimes even better than Netflix originals. I have Netflix as well, and watching its program on Fire TV Stick is not a problem. Yes, the search function is cumbersome, but if you have android phone, it's a moot point. Frankly, I don't like Netflix UI eve on PC-based web, so it's not totally Fire TV's fault.

    The only fit I have with the device, which is really annoying sometimes, is the remote control's finicky response. At one point, it doesn't respond at all, then all of a sudden one touch on forward button it skips 10 pages or clicks.

    I used to own a Chromcast, which is comparable to Fire TV stick, but I think Fire has slightly upper hand overall, weighing pros and cons. It has better connectivity - not just on spec sheet, but in real experience - and faster operation. Not sure how much the bigger storage capacity contribute, not definitely not a minus.

    Man, I have been looking at a few media streamers recently, including the Roku 3500R Streaming Stick, Crhomecast, and the Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick looks more responsive in the videos I've seen. I know the Roku has a lot more channels to choose from. I've also seen where a new Roku, possibly Roku 4K, is due out soon. However, I am more interested right now in these smaller streaming sticks.

    Do any of you who own either one of these devices see ads before videos? Do you have to wait for ads to finish playing before watching videos on youtube? If so, is there a way to block them.

    Also, would you guys recommend the device you own?

    Thanks!
    Man, I have been looking at a few media streamers recently, including the Roku 3500R Streaming Stick, Crhomecast, and the Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick looks more responsive in the videos I've seen. I know the Roku has a lot more channels to choose from. I've also seen where a new Roku, possibly Roku 4K, is due out soon. However, I am more interested right now in these smaller streaming sticks.

    Do any of you who own either one of these devices see ads before videos? Do you have to wait for ads to finish playing before watching videos on youtube? If so, is there a way to block them.

    Also, would you guys recommend the device you own?

    Thanks!
    Man, I have been looking at a few media streamers recently, including the Roku 3500R Streaming Stick, Crhomecast, and the Fire TV Stick. The Fire TV Stick looks more responsive in the videos I've seen. I know the Roku has a lot more channels to choose from. I've also seen where a new Roku, possibly Roku 4K, is due out soon. However, I am more interested right now in these smaller streaming sticks.

    Do any of you who own either one of these devices see ads before videos? Do you have to wait for ads to finish playing before watching videos on youtube? If so, is there a way to block them.

    Also, would you guys recommend the device you own?

    Thanks!
    Reply
  • ddpruitt
    I don't care for Amazon's policy of adding new features without fixing bugs first.

    I've owned most and at this point I would have to tell everyone I know,

    DON'T BUY A FIRETV!!!

    If you're lucky if it works. Half the time I get HDCP unauthorized errors. I also have trouble installing apps and the menu is a bit clunky. Since I've used it Amazon has released several updates adding new broken features, but they've yet to fix the problems. The Roku's and Chromecasts have fewer problems and the bugs are fixed quickly.
    Reply
  • Zaranthos
    As far as I can tell there is still no Fox News on Amazon Fire TV Stick. I just updated it and tried it this week and nothing Fox News related on it so I unplugged it and packed it up. I'm still using my old Roku 2 which has been rock solid reliable. The only thing I don't like about the Roku 2 is it's showing its age and YouTube is slow as hell on it. The Roku 3 is faster but still behind other device specs so I'm waiting for a Roku 4.
    Reply
  • dstarr3
    15553217 said:
    As far as I can tell there is still no Fox News on Amazon Fire TV Stick. I just updated it and tried it this week and nothing Fox News related on it so I unplugged it and packed it up.

    You make it sound like the lack of Fox News is a bad thing.
    Reply