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.