The Amazon Fire TV line of media players rounds up as a quality-wise but affordable choice.
Just as it happens with their tablets and ebook readers, Amazon exercises their solid, no-nonsense hardware design, directly from their Lab126 think tank, backed up by their legendary customer support and warranty.
Content wise, the Fire TV turns out to be an “ok” tv box, provided that you either live in the USA or are located on one of their couple of supported countries (namely UK and Germany) and you are prepared to cope with its custom Amazon’s themed interface, dedicated to tempt you into renting or purchasing amazon streaming or downloading media content, apps, or games. This is actually the real purpose of existence for the Fire TV media player, after all.
Their geographic restriction is particularly notorious for their Amazon’s Prime video streaming content service: Service availability depends entirely on your current location. Even inside a supported country, content will vary according to local distribution rules.
The Amazon Fire TV is almost hassle free to install with only one caveat: You’ll need an Amazon user account -you may either create it on the fly, or just apply your existing one- while performing Fire TV’s first time configuration. Other than that, you will enjoy a simple, easy to understand user interface, through an uncluttered remote control.
Last but not least, Amazon’s Fire TV products line is backed up by a solid, massive help community, including tons of video and web tutorials and -yes- even phone help from amazon’s Fire TV customer service.
Amazon Fire TV pros and cons
Amazon Fire TV may prove to be the ideal media player for all the Amazon Store fans out there, since it is 100% biased into Amazon’s POV. This in turn may be considered it’s main deterrent: You need to somewhat cope with a customized and *almost* closed environment, fine tuned into Amazon’s money making ecosystem.
Thankfully enough, you are still perfectly capable of running Youtube, Netflix, HBO Go, and almost all third party content streaming solutions on your Fire TV.
You can easily install most of your favorite apps from the Amazon Store by searching the corresponding title or even speaking it out, provided you purchased the Fire TV with the Voice Remote control option.
Bottom line: You may completely dismiss Amazon’s streaming and downloading offerings and just use your Fire TV as a simple vanilla media player. You can even install KODI media player (The Holy Grail of software media players) into your Fire TV, either by sideloading it, or even by actually downloading and install it directly from your Fire TV.
Amazon Fire TV product line
At the time of this writing, Amazon is offering two base media players: The Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick.
The Fire TV is a desktop based media player, with enough memory and processing power as to cope even with 4K video. Small in size, but with a quite solid feeling in your hands, it includes a massive heat dissipator inside its plastic and rubber casing.
On the other hand, the Fire TV stick is a cheaper, smaller and less powerful media player including approximately half the computing power than the bigger Fire TV. It is encased inside a small stick / pen drive form factor, which makes it quite susceptible to heat (either self heating or external heating, as it is usually plugged into the HDMI port behind your TV, in a very reduced space situation).
Basically, you get what you pay, the infamous rule of thumb, applies. Our score:
Nevertheless, the Fire TV stick is more than enough to play Full HD content, including Netflix, Prime video and other streaming and local playing apps.