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Amazon Fire TV

Amazon’s fire TV media streamer takes the powerful performance of its 1st Android-based streaming box, and ups the ante with immoderate high-definition (4K) video support and Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. The updated fire TV retains its broad support for apps, games, and services whereas keeping constant $99.99 tag, simply earning our Editors’ selection for media streamers

Design

The Fire TV$89.99 at Amazon is, from the skin, concerning similar to the first one. It’s a 4.6-inch black sq. that stands simply 0.7 inches tall, creating it concerning the dimensions of a jewel case. the perimeters area unit shiny black and clean, however an influence led hidden on the left aspect of the front panel. the highest panel is matte black with AN Amazon logo on it, and on all-time low, there is a massive rubberized foot. the rear of the fire TV holds the ability connector (for the enclosed proprietary power adapter), AN HDMI port, a USB port, AN Ethernet port, and a micro SD card slot. There aren’t any buttons, switches, or any thanks to physically act with the fire TV on the device itself; once it’s obstructed in, it’s on, and is prepared to figure with the enclosed remote.

The device is additionally effectively constant because the one that came with the primary fireplace TV. it is a simple matte black wand with a flat prime and a curved under surface (that slides off to just accept 2 AAA batteries, that area unit included). The remote has eight buttons: Voice, Back, Home, Menu, Back, Play/Pause, Forward, and an oversizes choose button placed within the middle of shiny black circular direction pad (if you count the directions of the pad, it’s really twelve buttons). Since all interaction happens via the on-screen menus and voice search is strong, you seldom got to use something aside from the direction buttons and playback controls.

You can also use your smart phone or pill as a foreign with the free fire TV Remote app for iOS and android. It turns your into a direction pad for navigating menus, and includes support for text input and even voice search through your device’s microphone.

Fire TV OS

The Fire TV interface has been updated since its original version, overhauling the menus to create it seem nearer to the android TV platform. Rows of large, colorful tiles show completely different apps and content, belongings you flip up and right down to opt for among the most recent apps and shows you loaded, all put in apps, and varied flavors of suggested video. A text bar across the highest of the screen permits you to browse apps, shows, movies, and music flatly, on the far side the most menu.

The Fire TV highlights your Amazon-based content within the Movies, Music, and television categories, however the weighted choices are not too obtrusive, and different services like Hulu and and Netflix area unit simple to access. Search results have improved over the years, and therefore the fire TV can currently allow you to recognize if one thing you would like to observe is on services besides Amazon’s, instead of forcing you to manually bear the app.

Alexa and Voice Search

Voice search has been greatly increased on the fire TV. the fire TV OS incorporates Alexa, the voice assistant employed in the Amazon Echo. This permits you to raise simple questions about news, sports, weather, and noesis, and even build reminder lists that synchronize with the Amazon Echo app. For general media searches, you’ll speak any title, artist, genre, or perhaps app into the mike and it’ll offer you search results.

To use Alexa on the fire TV, you would like to press and hold the mike button, then speak into the highest of the remote. it’s not quite as convenient as exploitation the voice assistant hands-free by saying “Alexa,” such as you will with Echo devices, however it’s still simple and easy to use.

Alexa offers a slew of different functions besides finding out content and answering queries. It will control your Alexa-compatible sensible home devices, like Philips Hue lights, Nest thermostats, and Logitech Harmony remote hubs. It may also incorporate third-party “skills” to try and do something from taking part in white noise to ordering a pizza. to urge an inspiration of what else it will do, scrutinize the highest-rated Alexa skills in each category.

Because the fire TV is connected to your tv, it lets Alexa show visual data that the Echo and Echo Dot merely cannot show. Asking Alexa for the weather can show you the forecast of the next few days on your TV. Asking Alexa to play some music can show the album art of no matter it finds. It’s kind of like the touch-screen-equipped Echo Show, however while not the particular touch-screen controls; you continue to got to use the remote to act with something Alexa shows you on your TV.

4K Video

The Fire TV supports ultra HD (UHD) video content, and that i had no issues viewing Alpha House on Amazon Instant Video and Daredevil on Netflix in 4K. each services rely upon a quick network connection to show 4K content, thus do not count on a consistent UHD stream if your network is slower than either service recommends, and find prepared for infrequent compression artifacts with network hiccups. That said, each shows came through quick and crisp on the fireplace TV connected to our FiOS check network. we have a tendency to advocate exploitation AN LAN connection instead of Wi-Fi if you would like the foremost consistent 4K streaming.

While the fire TV will show 4K video, the interface is 1080p. This effectively does not matter once in use, however generally there is a half-second pause once jumping from a 4K video stream to the most menu because the fireplace TV switches output resolutions.

Performance

While the fire TV OS is predicated on android, it is very detached from the stock version of Google’s OS. putting in apps from unknown sources and ADB debugging area unit each choices available within the fire TV’s settings, however just like the original device, really obtaining computer code onto the fire TV through channels outside of the Amazon app store could be a convoluted method. attributable to this, we’ve set to not formally benchmark the fire TV.

 

From a sheer usability posture, the device is extremely fast. In side-by-side testing, however, it’s not noticeably quicker than the first fire TV, that is already quite responsive. Navigating menus with the remote and switch between apps is quick, although there’s generally a second or 2 of lag once jumping through lists of search results because the menu populates with media; this is often tied to network speed as much as performance.

This doesn’t mean you’ll quickly switch apps with impunity. Navigating between individual apps and therefore the main fire TV menu system is quick, however it takes concerning 5 to 10 seconds to maneuver between apps like Hulu and, Netflix, and Sling TV. make preparations for a awfully Android-like expertise of the fireplace TV closing background apps while not your knowledge; if it is not presently open or the last app you loaded, do not forecast systematically jumping straight to wherever you were. generally the fire TV would keep my place in a very menu and smoothly transition between apps, however it might even as usually fully restart apps additionally.

Conclusions

Apple has however to feature 4K streaming to its Apple TV, however there different solid choices for 4K streaming. The Roku Premiere+ could be a terribly capable media streamer on Roku’s platform and options a handy ear piece jack designed into the remote. The Nvidia defend android TV is more expensive than either streamer, however it’s some spectacular play functions you will not realize from Roku or Amazon, and is definitely the foremost powerful media streamer on the market.

If you simply need the foremost reasonable thanks to stream on-line content to your TV and 4K is not a demand, the Google Chrome cast is compelling, although you’ll have a smart phone or pill to manage it. The Chrome cast ultra streams 4K, however it prices doubly the maximum amount because the normal Chrome cast and at that time you are at an advantage wanting toward a fire TV or Roku Premiere+. Amazon’s fire TV Stick is another smart possibility, although it too lacks 4K support and is not quite as quick because the fire TV.

The current Amazon fire TV is simply as capable a streaming media hub because the 1st, with the advantage of 4K video and improved voice search through Alexa. you will not promptly notice the distinction from the primary fire TV unless you’ve got a 4K-capable TV, however a wealth of options and a awfully affordable $100 tag simply earn it our Editors’ selection.

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