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Movies Television

The Amazon Fire TV Is Kind of a Mess 96

redletterdave writes: "At the Fire TV unveiling, Amazon officials sounded like they perfectly understood how frustrating TV streaming devices are for their owners. Amazon focused on three main problems: Search is hard, especially for anything not on a bestseller list; streaming devices often provide slow or laggy performance; and TV set-top boxes tend to be closed ecosystems. The Fire TV is Amazon's attempt to solve these three problems—the key word here being 'attempt.' Perhaps Amazon's homegrown solution was a bit premature and its ambitions too lofty, because while Fire TV can do almost everything, little of it is done right." An example given by the review is how the touted Voice Search works — it doesn't interact at all with supported apps, instead bringing up Amazon search results. Thus, even if you have access to a movie for free through Netflix, using the Voice Search for that movie will only bring up Amazon's paid options.
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The Amazon Fire TV Is Kind of a Mess

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:09PM (#46665413)

    "Thus, even if you have access to a movie for free through Netflix, using the Voice Search for that movie will only bring up Amazon's paid options."

    This isn't exactly accurate. I got my Fire TV yesterday and the voice search showed results from Hulu as well. I believe the problem with Netflix is that it's not a Fire TV specific app and is just using their standard Android app (which is evident by the login prompts and keyboard being inconsistent from the rest of the Fire TV login prompts). If the individual app supports it, the Fire TV voice search will show you results from that app as well. It's the same way with the Roku search, it shows results from some apps but not from all.

  • Can I Stream It? (Score:5, Informative)

    by almitydave ( 2452422 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:10PM (#46665417)

    Can I Sream.It [] is a must-have smartphone app (or website). Anyone who makes one of these streaming boxes should just license a version that searches the catalogs of whatever services you've installed on the box. That alone would make all of these boxes tremendously more useful - it's really the missing key to this puzzle. That and more content, although a lot of progress has been made on this front - compare with Netflix's initial pitiful streaming selections.

    I know Roku supports centralized search [] for some of their "channels" (apps).

  • XBMC (Score:5, Informative)

    by JeffElkins ( 977243 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:16PM (#46665445)

    XBMC's Gotham release already runs on this device and XDA members are sideloading apps already. It's early days for the FireTV, but it looks promising. [] []

  • by AudioEfex ( 637163 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:48PM (#46665685)

    Netflix was not included in the search because Netflix asked not to be. This was made in an official statement by Amazon.

    I own one, and this is the best thing since sliced bread. It is so incredibly fast your head spins - every other device I have tried is so slow and wonky - the power of this machine is incredible. I unhooked my AppleTV and stuck it on eBay because thankfully none of my content is iTunes and stuck forever in Apple's walled garden.

    The only caveat is that at launch (a whole two days ago) there are a few services notably missing - HBO GO and Vudu. However, unlike Apple it doesn't take an act of congress to get a new service, I have no doubt apps will be available for those services and many others very quickly. I understand if folks may wait for that to happen, but I have no doubts it will, and soon. For now, I'll use XBOX 360 for HBO GO and my Blu-ray player for Vudu, but the second the apps become available for Fire I'll jump ship so quick, well, you'll think I'm on fire.

    The speed of this device just blows my mind, even though I have a bunch of devices that stream various media I always assumed that unless I hooked a full-on computer to my TV I'd have the same endless loading, just to get an app up and running so I could watch something. In a few months once the App Store for it is booming, I cannot see anyone choosing a different brand of device unless they are forced to because they lacked the foresight not to tie their media libraries into one companies devices.

    Once you have seen a Fire in action, you will be blown away.

  • by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:52PM (#46665707) Journal
    My Amazon Fire TV arrived today. Initial impressions:

    The box is a lot bigger than Apple TV and includes an external power brick (unlike AppleTV). The physical look and feel of the device and remove are very premium.

    The controller is big and uncomfortable. D-PAD is very poorly positioned. This is worse than the Pre-S XBox Controller. It feels like the NVidia Shield a bit but that at least has an entire computer (roughly as powerful as the Fire TV) inside the controller. Seriously, I think they hired the Atari Jaguar controller design team here

    First impression is that the UI is not as polished or pretty as the Apple TV but it seems usable. Voice Search is fairly fast but not nearly as "instant" as the commercials and videos online make it seem. Also, the results are only for Amazon Instant Video, Amazon App Store (and supposedly Hulu but I haven't seen any of those).

    HBO GO is not on it yet. I installed Flixster to access my Ultraviolet Collection. Unfortunately, Flixster will not play any of my movies in HD and highly compressed 480 SD resolution is a mess on my 65" TV.

    And my Fire TV remote seems to lose "pairing" a lot. I sometimes have to use the game controller to go to settings and then to Add Remote and it will find it again.
  • by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @06:58PM (#46665745) Journal
    There is support for Plex. I have the Amazon Fire TV and I bought the Plex App for it. It's $0.99 (or 99 Coins) on sale from $4.99 for an introductory period. This works with your PC Plex server or a Drobo or Synology box running Plex server apps.

    Also, there is a USB Port. I've got a keyboard hooked up to it right now.
  • by adisakp ( 705706 ) on Friday April 04, 2014 @07:17PM (#46665851) Journal
    One other silly note... I can't find an "off" button or a menu item to turn it off other than unplugging the device. And plugging back in turns it back on. It has a 16W power brick so there might be some continual background power drain if this thing is plugged in. Also, for some reason, the AC adapter made sparks at the plug both times I tried plugging it in. I was a little scared that I might have burnt it out but it seems to work fine.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak