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Getting Started with Amazon Fire TV

June 01st, 2017

In a world with millions of streaming shows, movies, and more, Amazon Fire TV is the perfect device for tapping into it all. The latest incarnation of Fire TV is a powerful step up to even clearer and more beautiful TV. 

Outside 

The exterior of the Fire TV is simply a small block box. It’s compact, clean, and efficient. The connections are simple, providing an HDMI, Optical Audio, Power and Ethernet Cable port.

The basic but functional remote has retained Amazon’s simplicity. Forward, backward, play, and a simple circular control are all that the remote has. This makes it very different from most TV remotes and many streaming devices. This simplicity is great at night when you want to find the right button to start your show, but may not be able to see the remote.

Inside

Of the streaming devices on the market, the best one for 4K Ultra-HD TVs. Simply put, it’s the only, so far that has been exclusively designed with 4K Ultra in mind.

Not a complete redesign, the current generation of Fire TV is a souped-up version of the earlier incarnations. They’ve removed the optical audio output and added a MicroSD slot so you can add more games and apps. 

The new processor is specifically designed to make 4K Ultra viewing better. Amazon recommends that you have at least 15 Mbps streaming in order to take advantage of the Ultra HD. There is a catch:

What’s the catch? You can’t access most 4K content. In fact, other than Amazon and Netflix, you aren’t able to use the 4K content anywhere. YouTube, MGo, Vudu, and others are out. Amazon has designed it this way to force you to buy Ultra HD content from Amazon and only Amazon.

Prime is Necessary?

Amazon Prime might seem optional, but since Amazon blocks almost everyone else, you will need Prime to take advantage of the 4K content. For many people this isn’t an issue, we have Prime anyway, but if it isn’t your thing, you will need to add $100 to price of the device. 

Alexa - She’s Here, Sort Of

Amazon voice-activated, remote control software Alexa is on the new Fire TV devices, but it has its limitations. It isn’t nearly as full-featured as the one that ships with the Echo. You can check your calendar and order pizza, but some of the search functions are restricted.

One of the more annoying features is that movie searches are restricted to Amazon only. For those who are used to Roku that searches multiple services, this will be a bit of a hindrance.

Is it worth it? 

If you have a 4K Ultra HD TV and a Prime membership that you will be keeping, then the Fire TV is a logical choice. When buying anything these days, like a smartphone or a TV streaming device, we are generally hitching our wagon to some company. Google and Apple have the phones locked down. Amazon is out ahead of Google and Apple in this arena, but will struggle with Roku and smart TVs that have no restrictions. 

Does it work for 4K Ultra HD TV? Yes. Do you want that content from YouTube or VUDU or Hulu? Then this is not the device. If you are happy with what Amazon is offering for programming, then this a fast and slick machine to stream those shows.