It is no secret that as cord cutting gains popularity, companies have been working tirelessly to discover new ways of getting their content onto the biggest screen in your home. What was once limited to advertisements placed within the breaks of your favorite television shows has now become a hardware race.
We’re finally seeing a race to provide hardware that helps you ditch your cable and free yourself from those monthly atrocities known as cable bills. There are countless folks in this mindset now, and even more are said to be joining. With the likes of Apple, Roku, and even Google with its teased Android TV, there are big names throwing their weight and services around looking for their piece of the pie. Amazon and their new Fire TV is no exception.
The Fire TV has so many positives that it could potentially become too difficult to clearly state all of them in one review. With that being said, we will try by starting with their hardware. The specs of the FireTV alone make this device a very worthwhile consideration in the world of set top boxes. Whenever you are looking at new hardware, there are a few specs that you should take into consideration. How much RAM will it have available? How many cores, of what processor, clocked at what speed? Is the Wi-Fi going to work with your network router? Bluetooth? Well, fear not tech junkies, the Amazon Fire TV has you covered.
It features 2 gigabytes of RAM, a Qualcomm Quad Core Krait 300, up to 1.7 GHz, 2MB L2 Cache (APQ8064) CPU, a Qualcomm Adreno 320, 400 MHz GPU, 802.11 b/g/n; 2×2 MIMO (2.4 GHz & 5.0 Ghz dual band) wireless networking, 10/100 Base-T ethernet networking, along with a Bluetooth 4.0 adapter.
In reviewing this box, it is also paramount that we talk about the FireOS firmware and its interface. These items are after all what you will physically interact with on a daily basis should you decide to purchase the Fire TV. We’ve long said that one of the most important elements related to any Android TV box experience is the stability of its operating system. Far too often we see money hungry companies throw their own logo on the same cheap knockoff devices that are not even worth the cost of shipping. We are not surprised to report that Amazon seems to have gotten it right in this arena. The firmware, based off of the companies FireOS, is stable and efficient. Navigation is extremely snappy and has a natural feel. It is filled with Amazon specific features like their Amazon Instant Video, Amazon Cloud, and Amazon Music.
Amazon’s Fire TV provides everything you would want from an Android device such as Media Apps like Kodi, Hulu, Netflix, Crackle, YouTube, Pandora, and did I mention Kodi? It doesn’t stop there, Amazon has done a lot of work to make this into a great little gaming device. With the addition of the Amazon Fire Game Controller users can hook in and play titles such as The Walking Dead, The Wolf Among Us, Modern Combat, Minecraft, Sonic, and countless others. This past year, Amazon even went as far as buying a gaming studio so it can continue to create and release custom content. In practice, this device outperforms the OUYA gaming experience many times over, often providing the titles we all wanted with the OUYA but never saw created.
The Amazon Fire TV has proven to be the best Kodi-compatible set top box available in its price range. Nothing we’ve tested has come anywhere close to its performance. We’ve tested it against the jailbroken Apple TV 2 as well and it performed at par, if not better. As we wish we could say about every device: its so easy, even your grandmother could use it.
There are a very small number of things that you should consider before buying this device. The biggest issue (that is seen in almost every electronic device at its initial hardware release) is the lack of substantial memory. This issue can, and will hopefully be resolved with a simple firmware update in the near future, once Amazon decides to permit the use of the USB port to expand memory. For the time being you can still unleash the USB port’s power by rooting the device, but that’s only for those who are more technically inclined. Hopefully we’ll be able to connect an ambient lighting system it in the future as well, something that we couldn’t do for now due to the restrictions, although that’s not much of an issue at all.
If you are willing to take a mere ten minutes to sit down and learn how-to install Kodi to the device, this is an easy buy for you and yours! We commonly hear this device being referred to as the $99 XBox One, or the Apple TV killer. It provides the fastest, most stable, and most enjoyable Kodi experience that we’ve seen thus far. It easily outperforms devices like the Pivos XIOS DS, MX Clones, Tronsmart Vega, and even the infamous OUYA. Its hardware is just fantastic, the included remote is by far the best remote we’ve encountered on this type of device, and its deep roster of available content makes it stand out from the rest, without needing to try too hard at all.