back to article Boxing clever? Amazon Fire TV is SO CLOSE to being excellent

Amazon has made its Fire TV video streaming device available in the UK; an inexpensive set-top box that runs the company’s de-Googled version of Android, as also found in the Fire Phone. Confusing matters, Amazon also offers the Fire TV Stick. This will be available on November 19, but only in the US. Amazon Fire TV Amazon …

there's a big difference between being forced-fed somebody else's choice of adverts on your own device, and the Google model of somebody else's choice of adverts displayed where you would in any event encounter adverts anyway

There is? I don't see it. Whenever I encounter advertising, it's always "somebody else's choice" - it'd be pretty odd for me to decide to advertise things to myself. (Yes, I know the target audience, but the conversion rate is horrible.) And my Kindle extra-cheap-because-I-let-Amazon-show-ads model displays ads only on the sleep screen and in a banner at the bottom of the main menu. They're less intrusive than ads in magazines (remember those?), far less intrusive than TV commercials (sometimes I'm in the room when someone else is watching live TV), and far, far less intrusive than the ubiquitous, ham-handed product placement in actual programming.

As for "where you would in any event encounter adverts anyway" - why, because you're in their natural habitat?

1
0
Silver badge

Maybe it's me

but there's very little available for "free" on Prime. Considering it's costing me something, I don't like paying more.

There is a massive gap in the market for a business which takes a *single* payment, and then allows access to NetFlix, Prime, BlinkBox, Sky and all the other Johnny-come-lately "exclusive content" providers. Which I would pay.

Otherwise torrent are thataway ---->

1
2

Wii Console

It sounds like, at the moment, you are better off getting an old Nintendo Wii off eBay. They can be had for about £50 (or £70-ish with tons of games). They make better games players, you can download Netflix, iPlayer, Amazon Prime Video and plenty of other Apps plus, with a very simple update, they can be made into a brilliant XBMC style media player accessing all the video, music and photos from a NAS.

I suppose the real downside would be that you're limited to 480p but, given that it can do pretty much anything we've been more than happy with ours as the main media player for a few years now.

2
2
404
Silver badge

Re: Wii Console

Yepyep, tried the Wii with wifi, but the Xbox360 sitting next to it is hardwired to the network and can do 720p.

What I want to do is outfit each tv with a ethernet hardwired bluray player for the full 1080p from the NAS. Even the Walmart specials can do Netflix and whatnot.

1
0
Thumb Down

Re: Wii Console

480p looks poor even on a 28" set :(

0
0
Linux

Re: Wii Console

> It sounds like, at the moment, you are better off getting an old Nintendo Wii off eBay.

Nope. I had the in-laws setup with a Wii. The moment they saw my Roku the were like "why didn't you ever tell me about this. Buy me one of these."

"Hacking a Wii" isn't even an option there.

The Wii is a different tool for a different job.

1
0

Re: Wii Console

Nope. I had the in-laws setup with a Wii. The moment they saw my Roku the were like "why didn't you ever tell me about this. Buy me one of these."

Indeed. When we get a set-top box, it'll be whatever my wife believes will require the least amount of setup and cause her the least amount of grief. I don't care enough about television to bother with one at all, and for her it's minimum-effort entertainment. She already does plenty of things that require thought - she's a professor and a university administrator, she reads on average a novel a day, and so on. When she decides to take a little time out for TV, she doesn't want to have to download apps or do anything besides tell the thing to find whatever she wants to watch.

I expect we'll end up with Apple TV, because she has all the Apple gear. (I don't like anything Apple's made since the //gs, but as I said I don't really care.) But she also has Prime, so maybe she'll go with Amazon. So long as I don't have to spend time troubleshooting it, it's all fine with me.

1
0
Silver badge

Cut-price console?

Not really. You can get a PS3 for the same price (from Amazon of course) which does every single thing this box does, plus a hell of a lot more - DVD, blu-ray, actual games that aren't crap, and so on. This isn't a cut-price console, it's just a shit one.

As for all the complaints about Prime, I really don't get it. No content provider offers everything you want at any time. Netflix or one of the others may happen to have a selection that more closely matches your taste and therefore be a better choice for you, but some people apparently want to be able to watch anything that has ever been made at any time without ever paying a penny, and that is simply never going to happen. Compared to "traditional" TV services like Sky and cable, Prime and all the similar services are so much better I'm constantly amazed that the old model still exists at all. No, you can't watch absolutely anything you want with no caveats, but compared to "pay significantly more per year in order to watch exactly what we want when we tell you you can, and incidentally most of it will be adverts" it really is a no-brainer.

2
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Cut-price console?

Agree about it being poor compared to PS3 - almost everything mentioned in the article is already done less annoyingly with just my TV and sound bar, YouTube iplayer media file playback photo sharing BT-audio.

My problem with Prime is that it made my expedited parcel delivery more expensive in order to bundle me an unwanted TV service. The service itself is always changing what can be viewed too without warning - 90% of my watch later list went from free to paid (or just plain not available any more) in a few months.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Cut-price console?

I too ditched Amazon Prime when my last yearly subscription ran out. I didn't mind paying £50 for the zippy delivery etc, but I did mind paying an extra £30 for something that I was never going to use. I had a brief look at what TV/Film was available, the selection was pretty dire and anything vaguely interesting required you to pay even more money.

Amazon manged to further annoy me by cancelling their BoA/MBNA Mastercard, which gave you an Amazon voucher in a sort-of cachback way (more spending = bigger voucher). It was nice to get a few quid off just to go about my normal spending.

2
0
T-C

Re: Cut-price console?

I will ditch my Amazon Prime membership when it runs out for the same reasons but what really winds me up is that Amazon Video is available as an app for Roku in the USA but not in the UK even though we are paying more for Prime Membership.

1
0
MJI
Silver badge

Re: Cut-price console?

The PS3 is definately good at this, better than the PS4 currently.

Streaming

Blu Ray

Tend to use it mainly for that now until I get the new Borderlands game, or get an urge for Killzone multiplayer (don't like Shadowfall).

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Cut-price console?

Cuddles,

I couldn't agree more, the effective price of the video element of prime is negligible (once the 'shipping cost' element is removed), whilst Amazon have certainly reduced the quantity of stuff that is inclusive it is still pretty good.

Also prime does HD streaming perfectly here (in the middle of Devon), whilst iplayer and youtube are nowhere near as smooth and instantaneous.

Plus my little lad can control it just fine (with parental controls in situ natch)

Cheers,

j

0
0

So-so

Got one about a month ago, and ordered it when they sold it as introductory offer for 49 € here in Germany (which, incidentally, is the current one-year subscription price for Prime).

Yes, a games console can do anything that beast can do (and some things better), and we got two.

Yes, a smart TV can do all/most of what that beast can do, and ours could.

But: a (ok, our) one year old smart TV is hard pressed with video streaming, which more or less regularly leads to stopping the currently watched movie/episode. The fire TV just works.

I can't simply stick[1] a games console behind the flat screen (and the wife _will_ complain about any visible cables).

A full blown games console will use a lot more power and make a lot more noise.

So, for video streaming of Amazon Prime content (and at the introductory price), that box is ok. The improvements over the TV app are worth it for us. And for gaming, there's still the xbox 360. But I agree with the review: there could be more (much more) possible on the app side. There's neither an app for Watchever nor for Netflix available, so we still have to use the TVs apps if we want to watch any competing streaming service.

[1]3M dual lock is great for that ;-)

0
0

I have a Chromecast sitting in a drawer, as attempting to demo it to both my flatmates (non technical) highlighted the fact they would *never* use it. The phone remote control aspect was far too geeky.

The Fire tv on the other hand was received with joy. Pick up the simple remote, up down left right and select. Pick a film or tv episode, done. The BBC iPlayer app is great as our tv is not "smart", plus our signal reception is spotty, so no guarantee the dvr will work for a whole episode.

The cheap PS3 route was an option, (and still is, as I like the occasional game) but I wanted something with as few barriers as possible to content. The Fire tv does that just now.

1
0

My 8 and 7 year old grandsons have took to the chromecast like ducks to water, they think it's extra cool to be able to select their chosen video (always bloody minecraft) and it appear on the 52" plasma. Keeps them relatively quiet and amused, therefore worth the $30!

2
1

Indeed, and it'll come out when relations come to visit (Doodlecast being the game of choice).

0
0
Linux

Phones as remotes.

My kid is also not bothered by the whole idea of using a phone as a remote. This is good because he lost one of the Roku remotes. It's a bit more awkward than a real remote but still usable.

It's interesting that someone dismisses this idea in principle because it's basically the big thing with Apple's streamer.

0
0

Re: Phones as remotes.

I have an AIOS device which I can use my phone to control, also DirecTV genies and mini genies can be controlled from an android app., this can be quite entertaining if the other viewers are not aware of this.

0
0

What about advertising

The other month Amazon decided to send me an e-mail to promote Norton Antivirus despite the fact that I've been opted out of promotional e-mails with Amazon for years. When I questioned this they said it was because I'd spent over £30 with my last order. Since then, I've not purchased anything from Amazon that exceeds £29.99 and its' surprising what bargains you can find elsewhere. For example, I purchased a new TV in August from John Lewis for the same price as Amazon but with a free five year guarantee. Fair enough, I had to pay the postage but still, it's a far better deal.

My point being... I loath companies that think they have a God given right to promote their products and services to me and this is why I wouldn't consider Amazon Fire TV. If they're not already advertising on the TV then it can't be far off. You're much better off waiting until a product is released by a UK data controller so that you can opt out of all direct marketing - even marketing served to a TV.

Webmaster www.mindmydata.co.uk

0
0
Gold badge

Re: What about advertising

Amazon do love the spam. I'm perfectly happy to take special offers from companies I use a lot. I don't mind a glance at their email, if it's interesting I save for later, or delete if not.

But one day I had 3 different emails from Amazon, and it had got to the point where I was getting more than 10 a week. This didn't make me buy more, it made me hit unsubscribe.

The stupid thing is, they have a good chunk of my purchase history. Some of their stuff seemed well targeted, and so I bought things on special offer I otherwise wouldn't have. But some of the rest of it was horribly badly targeted, and as well as all the attempts at targeted ads, they'd also do general ones for any-old-thing. You'd have thought even marketing could work out that you can have too much of a good thing...

1
0
Silver badge
WTF?

is it really SO CLOSE to ebing excellent?

From what I read apart from an impressive (for what it is) harware set, it actually came across as a little bit shit.

Or was that just me?

4
0
Silver badge

Re: is it really SO CLOSE to ebing excellent?

The interface needs a bit of tweaking to allow the filtering of paid for content and just better management of paid for content or multiple user-roles (eg. kids vs adults access).

However the interface is a world apart and beatifully smooth and usable compared to the unmitigated trash disaster zone that is VM's Tivo interface - slow, ugly, unwieldy and inconsistent.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

I'd sooner buy the Google Play TV thing instead thanks.

Nexus Player.

0
1
Bronze badge

WD TV Live, same price, probably better

I picked up a WD TV Live not so long ago for the same price. I was so impressed having a play with one at my brother's I went out to get one shortly after (I too also upgraded from Netgear ReadyNAS to a Synology). It also has WiFi, Ethernet, HDMI and optical, but will allow you to use the USB slot to pick up media. So far it's played everything I've thrown at it from NAS and Mac streaming via DLNA and NFS. It also has a few built-in apps like BBC iPlayer and YouTube, though I'm pretty sure Spotify requires you to have a subscription.

0
0

Re: WD TV Live, same price, probably better

I agree with you on most of that. I do find my WD Live a bit slow, especially startup times, and prefer to use my Roku for Netflix, much, much faster to get started. For streaming from a NAS or USB stick, though, the WD wins hands down...even plays MKVs out of the box!

0
0
Anonymous Coward

It's actually quite good

The interface is quite good looking - better than the Roku. You can play local content on the Fire TV using Plex, which somehow didn't get mentioned in the review. You can also sideload apps without rooting. Some will work and some won't, but XBMC can be sideloaded and works brilliantly - another way to play local content.

I don't expect my parents to sideload XBMC, but surely the Register's readership will grasp the concept?

0
0
Silver badge

Love it!

I'm a huge Prime delivery user (about 6 deliveries a week so it saves me a fortune) and I also used Lovefilm so the whole package is a no brainer for me.

I pre-ordered My Fire TV and I've been really impressed. I wanted something to replace the antique and noisy Xbox 360 that had done all the streaming duties for us. I have cancelled my Gold Subs too so wasnt sure if I could carry on using it for that either. I think they lifted streaming from Gold only but...I didn't care by then.

So now the Fire does all the streaming. All I use it for is Prime, Netflix and You Tube. The Gf has added on the pilates app.

Mine is setup with Ethernet and a Amazon Essentials Fast HDMI cable. I would like to see 1080i added to the options as my TV doesn't support 1080p (it's elderly you see) but it's running fine at 720p.

I would also like to see a better divide between Prime Free video and Prime Paid content as its a bit messy on that front. Oh and being able to delete stuff from the main menu I don't need to slim it down.

Other than that it's a great little box.

1
0

Meh

Since I'm not already locked into Amazon's walled back yard it sounds like my Chromecast is the better device. About the only thngs FireTV does that it doesn't are play crappy games and stream from Amazon Prime. I don't need the former and the later seem to charge a fortune for anything good so even though I am a Prime member I've never watched anything on it, Netflix is a much better deal.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Fail for me

I was planning on getting at least six of these for various family members and attaching hd's with family photo's and videos etc via usb since none of them have Nas or even wifi in a lot of cases. They would have made a very nice box for viewing those from, but of course Amazon have acted up with typical control freakery and screwed up root so they've lost these sales. Well done you plonkers.

0
0

The part I don't like is that it's a streaming box, but expects me to buy most things individually. I'm not interested in paying eight quid for a digital copy of a film unless it's high bitrate, DRM free, and not tied to a service. $8 gets me Netflix, which has tons of content and doesn't pretend like any of it belongs to me.

1
0

Fire TV stick remote

Just to clarify, the Fire TV stick does come with a basic remote (so you don't have to use your mobile to control it). The compatible extra is the full blown voice-search remote from the Fire TV box.

0
0

Install Media Browser

"Out of the box, the Fire TV lacks the ability to stream media from your own network, so if you've a NAS box crammed full of your music and video files then you'll be frustrated here."

You can always install Media Browser (www.mediabrowser.tv), or Plex, to play those movies and music you have stored on your NAS !!

0
0

Keep you eyes open. I just ordered a stick for $20. It was a prime customer price. I am not crazy about the price increase but It saves a lot of money compared to going out shopping and trying to find just what you want. Also in the states there is a free program for students with .edu accounts.

0
0

So so

I'm a big fan of Amazon, I have a Kindle and am a Prime customer and use both a few times a day. As for the customer service, again, excellent. As a company they're very good at knowing what customers want and the variances in how they want it, for example offering the same level of customer service via live chat, email and phone etc, and the same for their content, the experience is the same whether watching via my Playstation, iPad etc.

The main problem is content, I've had this rant before on here about media content and the way it is packaged up and sold. The only way you'll get true choice is to buy every device / service as they all have 99% of the same stuff and 1% of the things you want to watch. When they review this outdated model and make it more affordable and therefore commercially viable for resellers the industry will move forward as the technology (the how) is far outpacing the content (the what).

If the big content providers persist with the current model the pirates will win and the whole industry will decline. The same happened with music, and all the retailers went belly up, you can now buy almost any music in any format from any provider. The model is flexible and combined with good tech the music industry is starting to make money again. Movies and games will go the same way within the next year or so I think, but what do I know, it's not like I'm an analyst or anything who's been looking at this industry for years... :P

1
0
Anonymous Coward

No web access, what's the point? It's like buying a car you can't use on the roads.

0
1

issues to note

hi,

agree with most of the review. my biggest current issue is the parental control PIN - its not fine-grained enough. Yes, I can use it to stop content being streamed or bought... but if I only stop it being used for purchase then ANYTHING can be streamed - not just eg 'U content' material - littleones are able to stream ANYTHING thats available on prime. thats quite sucky.

the other thing is lack of 'off' or power-down option. sorry....yes, it uses 'little' energy but I should still be able to turn the thing off or put it into low power standby

...PS it comes with amazon value AAA batteries... that seemed to last about 2 weeks. so yes, no 'batteries required' on box...but what a waste of materials to put 2 dead batteries in the bin(!) (why dont these things use inductive charging etc now...just leave remote ontop of the box to charge it.....especially as the box cannot be turned off (see above) without just hitting the mains power switch

0
0
Silver badge

Do people still pay for films?

Almost everything comes on free-to-air and repeats endlessly.

Surely a PVR/XBMC should do the trick? (MythTV for me).

Is it just me? I fail to feel the need to own it now on DVD (don't have blue ray), our local blockbuster closed so I almost never rent, and I probably only check the tv schedules once a month.

However cool the tech is, I feel a bit beyond the idea of a big-screen tv. A 27" screen on my PC and a comfy office chair or a 15" laptop sitting on the duvet gives me as much as I need.

0
0

How about developing plug-ins instead of HW?

Yes, this is all nice and good for those who do not have a HTPC. But some of us have one, AND a cable box (damn it). The last thing I want to to have to add yet another box for Amazon, and another for Netflix (it'll come), and another for Google, and yet another for the BBC, etc, etc... Nor do I want to install a multitude of separate applications/software where I have to quit out of (say) MP to fire up the specialised iPlayer software or the Amazon player or whatever-the-hell-is-next.

There is very good HTPC software out there already (XBMC, Media-Portal, etc...) How about writing plugins for them instead, huh? Shouldn't be much harder than writing your own dedicated players, surely? And by all means, slap all the login and DRM on your plugin as you like - I just want to be able to access your stuff in the same way as I access the rest of my DVD collection/Free-to-air TV, thank you very much. And as for *you* Foxtel... requiring me to use your official decoder cards to make sure I am an actual account holder is perfectly fine and understandable, but forcing me to use your STB to further decode the signal AGAIN... that's just being an <expletive deleted> It'd be so much easier if I could plug your cable into my HTPC, slide the (legal) decoder card in and (once again) have a consistent viewing experience.

So, again: less specialised hardware/software, more integration.

Thank you </rant>

0
0

No sub-titles discrimination Amazon doesn't care

Un-like Netflix, Amazons streaming service doesn't support closed caption subtitles. This is because Amazon doesn't want to bother with hearing impaired customers.

The issue existed because Love Film didn't bother with subtitles and now Amazon doesn't feel it needs to either.

"We don't care about the needs of disabled people and we would rather they went elsewhere" being Amazons response to the problem.

0
0

One 1 account

The only 1 account is hugely annoying from the Prime Instant Video and Prime Kindle Lending Library perspective too - Family accounts are linked to Prime membership - really, how hard can this be.

0
0

I own Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and Chromecast. I have to say I use Amazon Fire TV most of the time and I hardly use Apple TV anymore. Fire TV has some amazing specs, Dolby Digital 7.1, more memory and faster CPU. But to get most out of it you need to root it. After you've rooted the Fire TV, you will be able to install all kinds of apps on it from Google Play store such as: Beats music, Spotify, online games etc.; and more important, you will be able to install and use VPN on it which allows you to access U.S. streaming services like Hulu plus, Pandora.

0
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017