Amazon Fire and Fire TV Stick latest features
Just as a reminder of what these devices are
The Amazon Fire TV is a Box which plugs into your TV via HDMI and provides streaming services via Ethernet or WiFi.
The Fire TV stick is the newer tiny device like an memory stick which plugs directly into your TV’s HDMI port, this connect to the internet wirelessly via WiFi The Fire TV is powered via USB which can either be plugged into your TV’s spare USB port or a wall socket. The wall socket maybe easier depending the angle and placement of your USB / HDMI ports. In any case it’s hidden away behind the TV.
Not only do they support streaming services e.g. Netflix, Hulu etc. they also have social media software such as Facebook and Youtube within the FireOS Operating system.
The Fire TV stick doesn’t support DLNA / UPnP for streaming local files however you can install Plex Media on the host PC and use it through Fire TV as a service.
One of the biggest new features is being able to connect to wireless networks that need web authentication. This has been a problem in the past for certain devices is places such as hotel rooms and certain schools / universities.
Another new feature is to enable the device to go to sleep easier, and also the ability for display mirroring which was not available in earlier releases. The new update will be over the air so your existing models can be used.
Bluetooth support for headphones will be also added which is perfect for people who want to watch without disturbing others.
The USB port will be unlocked enabling you to increase the storage space with an external drive.
The Fire TV stick is perfect for homes with a lot of clutter in terms cables and wires. There rear of many peoples TV’s can be a nightmarish chaos of electric chords wires and cable. Trying to locate which device is plugged into where can be like a puzzle game. Unplugging the incorrect device e.g. HDD can be a big problem can cause data corruption if not powered down properly.
Screen resolution 1,920 x 1,080 (1080p)
1,280 x 720 (720p)
Screen density – 320 (1080p), 213 (720p)
Storage – 8GB
RAM – 1GB Half system and half video
CPU – Dual Core 1 GHz Cortex A9
GPU Broadcom VideoCore IV – Capri device
Dual band Wi-fi
OS – Amazon Fire OS 3.0 – Based on the Android 4 (Jelly Bean)
Software and Games
Most people are not aware of the large amount of games and apps that are available for the Amazon TV and Fire stick. Not as many as the iTunes and Google Play stores but growing at a very fast rate. They can be downloaded from online Amazon Apps store.
A note for developers, since the Amazon streaming devices are based around the Android system, Android developers can easily develop Apps or Games for the devices. However an additional Amazon App Dev kit will be required.
Just like iTunes and the Google Play store, some are paid apps and many are free but with either ads or in-games purchases.
Compared to the Roku Stick and Chromecast, the Fire TV Stick is clearly the winner when it comes to games, however due to the Fire TV Stick’s limited hardware not all games that work on Amazon Fire TV Box will work on the Fire TV stick.
Why not use a Smart TV?
Most smart TV’s these days have similar functions to the Fire TV stick and similar devices such as the Roku Stick and Chromecast, so what is the need for these devices?
The reason is that the Multimedia and internet browsing functions in most current Smart TV’s are just too slow and cumbersome to use. I have an LG 55” Smart TV, and not only does it take 1-2 minutes to load YouTube, the streaming is awful even though I have a very fast internet connection, not the mention the freezing forcing me to unplug and re-plug the TV. The Wii U is much better for internet and YouTube. Plus The Wii U is always on standby so just the press of a button immediately activates it.
Most smart TV’s OS’s are slow especially when playing games which are very limited in the LG App store.
These dongles such as Fire TV stick provide fast, responsive and smooth interfaces that don’t lock up and randomly freeze like many Smart TV’s.