Terrence posted his review of Amazon's Fire TV, the latest streaming set-top box that is trying to change how we consume digital media. I'm not sure about you, but my home theater cabinet is starting to get a bit cramped. Is the Fire TV worth it? You can his read the review here. www.engadget.com/2014/04/09/amazon-fire-tv-review/
Anyway, are you potentially interested in this new device and have some burning questions about it? Ask them below and Terrence, Ben, or Richard will pop in to answer your questions!
It exists because Amazon has the means and wants to directly cater to consumers. What does it offer that Roku/others don't? Basically just games. Roku is, by all set-top box standards, a better option.
You get Optical audio out(which btw solved my sync problem with the Roku3 where was behind the video with 0 delay set), a much faster UI, a unit that doesn't add congested to a already congested WiFi airspace by using a Wifi remote, hardware that can support apps with far greater functionality.
That's at least a few significant things off the top of my head.
I want to know about how is gaming performance? Is it actually something you can see kids and or families using if they don't have a console?? I know they don't want to focus on games, but its the first streaming box that lets you buys games.
Also like have you downloaded a game on your Android or iPhone and then tried to download the same game on the Fire TV? And how does the screen resolution look?
Does it have the ability to play media files from a networked attached hard drive without using a media player app like Plex. Can I select a TV or movie form a WD My drive (for instance) and play that all through the local network without having to install an app or other software layer.
Did anyone on the Engadget team get a chance to talk to anyone inside Amazon's development team about the device, the future vision of the device, or any of the potentially game-changing aspects this device might bring to the market?
If not (or even so), do you have any of your own thoughts you'd be willing to share about where this might evolve to?
I did a follow up interview with them mostly about gaming stuff: www.engadget.com/2014/04/02/fire-tv-games/. The piece focuses on gaming so much because they weren't saying almost anything about the future of Fire TV. The future vision they were talking was pretty broad, and sounded a lot like the stuff they've said about other Amazon devices: we're gonna focus on catering to how our users buy things and use our products. That was the whole argument for Fire TV -- they were responding to (and building a device based on) Amazon user reviews of competing products.
Am I right in thinking that besides "ASAP" Kindle Fire Tv cannot actually DOWNLOAD titles to watch later?
If correct, mini-rant..
In a day and age when ISP's are constantly bemoaning the high bandwidth levels these streaming services are putting them under, wouldn't be a no-brainer to give users the ability to download titles for later viewing??
High utilisation in evening viewing would be lowered if people could flick content to be downloaded overnight, or during the day etc. It's a win for the customer too since it means no more buffering either mid viewing. The first Apple tv had it right, even "portable" devices like the Kindle Fire HD and ios devices can download content. You can even hook Kindle Fire 8.9 devices up via HDMI out.
I'd love you guys to put that argument to the various services and see why they don't view it as a worthwhile ability.
Correction.. it's a streaming box with 8gb of internal storage, that already has the ability to download GAMES to it. VUDU is a STREAMING service, however that doesn't stop me from being able to DOWNLOAD a title to watch onto my ps3 HDD too does it...
When the likes of Comcast are starting to strangle STREAMING platforms because they are utilising too much Bandwidth, it makes sense to get that content off the server load as efficiently as possible. Instead of 3 million people trying to watch their Entertainment in basically streamed realtime, it allows you to get their evenings entertainment out the way without crippling the ISP's every night.
An analogy: It'd be asking too much to get 200 gallons of water out of your kitchen tap in a 2 hour spell, but it'd be perfectly plausible to do it over a 24 hour period. The networks for all their huffing and puffing aren't bothered that you want to use x amount of data in any given day, it's that we're all crippling their networks by wanting to do it within the same period of time each night..
There's 8 gigs of local storage, so I don't see why it's not theoretically possible. That said, I filled up that storage with a small handful of games very quickly. As others point out, the Fire TV is a *streaming* box and that's its primary function. If you want to play locally stored content (via network), Plex is always an option!
Thanks for the reply Ben. The trouble is, it is still Technically illegal to rip content here in the UK, even your own. They've just announced with a big fanfare that it is ok to rip content you own from June, with the previso that it is still illegal to circumvent any DRM..go figure.
The other point is that when you buy digitally from say Amazon Instant, you can only play that content direct on the device, not offload it to a NAS etc. Besides which, for HD tv shows it just isn't feasible and takes up way too much space on a HDD.
On a personal level I'm relatively lucky in having my ISP's middle tier Broadband package at home, so 100mb on a wired network negates most issues. If I feel the need I can up that to 152mb but that's overkill right now. Amazon Instant 1080p runs at over 10,000kb a second, so it'd be nice to have say all 3 hours plus of King Kong downloaded ready to watch, rather than sitting there wondering if I'm about to be dropped to SD 2 hours in when my ISP decides to use "traffic shaping" etc.
I think one of the issue may be cost. They would have to offer a large included hd like on the kindle, which would blow the price right out of the standard set top box range of $99. They can let you download it to your own hd, but that removes some of the control they have over the content. And ultimately, content providers, as in the studios that license the content to Apple, amazon etc. would have to agree to allow their content to be downloaded. To my knowledge, only amazon has agreements in place to enable users to download content they do not own, but even amazon doesn't have the rights to let you download every content item they offer through prime. Personally, nearly everything I watch is prime videos or other content I don't own such as from hulu or netflix, which adds another layer of complication as the content offered on all boxes comes from different sources. Even if amazon could work out a deal with the studios and provide a hd or let you use your own, it doesn't mean netflix or hulu will, so you would still need to stream those. They are called set top streaming boxes for a reason.
The controller is more comparable with the Xbox 360 gamepad (it's an identical layout and design, aside from the media control buttons). To that end, it's decent but not as good as the Xbox 360 gamepad. How it compares to the OnLive controller is a question I can't answer -- I've only spent so much time with the OnLive controller, and not enough that I feel comfy answering here.
I don't recall roku allowing anything but a usb flash drive to be added and that is just for storing extra channel data. I specifically recall reading that you cannot connect to an external hd to play your own movies. Although I'm not sure why you would want to when it's easier to connect through plex anyway.
What's the Plex interface look like on the device? Does it use the standard PC/Mac UI or is it that abomination that's on the Roku (I know it works fine, it's just not nearly as rich an experience imo).
Is it compatible with the xfinity to go app...while it does not have hbo to go all that content is available through the comcast xfinity app which I know is available on the kindle fire but want to make sure its available on the fire tv as well