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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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?
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.
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.
Thanks, Dave. I am leaning towards the Roku and may wait and see what they're going to release here, soon.
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.
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.
You make it sound like the lack of Fox News is a bad thing.