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Impressions of Amazon Fire TV

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So I decided to order the Amazon Fire TV, and it arrived yesterday. (Got to love Amazon Prime for shipping!). So this is my first impressions along with why I decided to get the Fire TV.

Amazon Fire TV

Currently I have an Apple TV second generation, which only supports up to 720p resolution and is kind of dated at this point as far as hardware. I enjoy the Apple TV and find that it’s a great product at a nice price range. Works very well if you’re part of the Apple ecosystem, but I do have some issues with it that I think Amazon has an opportunity to fix.

Amazon is toting the idea of an open platform which any content deliverer can use as opposed to the Apple TV which you can’t get certain content deliverers such as Amazon instant videos.

A very small and minor detail which I think puts Amazon a head of other hardware seller is the fact that your device comes pre-setup with your account. I think this is a great time saver and is a great way to streamline the experience.

Beside being an decent upgrade for myself the Fire TVs hardware is quite impressive. It has a quad-core processor, 2 GB of memory, and dedicated GPU which make it pretty hefty. I should say right now, I don’t care for the gaming part of Fire TV. It seems kind of silly to me and I hope that the hardware isn’t just aimed for gaming.

With all the hardware in the Fire TV the interface feels very nice and smooth. Coming from the Apple TV it took me a bit to see how things were organized but that is very common for anything new.

One of the interesting features is the preemptive loading of content based on the prediction of shows that you may watch. This frees the users from waiting for things to download and give a more instant feel to the experience. This surprisingly works very well, every piece of content that I loaded I did not have to wait, it started to play instantly. I’m quite impressed with this and I would say this is my favorite feature and the one that shocked me the most when using!

Another part of the software that is interesting is the voice searching. If you’ve ever use the Apple TV to look up content you know how much of a pain this is. From the wife and I trying this out we had a great success rate and only had one item that was an accurately transcribed. Currently this feature is not supported and third-party apps, but I’m sure overtime this will be fixed.

I’m also fascinated with the integration into the third-party apps, If you have a Hulu plus subscription the Fire TV will inform you that the show is on Hulu before you go and buy it from Amazon. To me this is a great thing and can’t wait for this type of linking in Netflix. One thing I do wish amazon’s UI had was the ability to sort out the prime vs. non-prime content.

I do have to point out that the the Netflix app is very weak and feels very unoptimized for the Fire TV. The UI itself is very crude compared to the Fire TVs native UI and the content itself seems to be delivered at lower quality than the Apple TV. Over all I find myself going back to the Apple TV to use Netflix. I don’t think this is a Amazon issue, I would put the blame on Netflix. I do hope over time that Netflix will work on making this app better and not leave users with this crude port.

So far my impressions of the Fire TV are good, I believe this platform has a lot of opportunities and will only get better over time. I do think there is some room for improvement in organizing the UI long with working out better links into third-party party applications. I would like to see a more unified user experience even from a third-party application. I would recommend this to anyone already using Amazon’s instant videos, if you’re just looking for something to run Netflix on I would wait until sometime is put into updating the app.