This couldn’t come at a better time. I was listening to Pandora when I was starting to get annoyed at the ads that have noticeably increased recently. Not only this, they can also stop the music and have you interact with ads in order to continue. I don’t listen to Pandora enough to justify the subscription fee and their selection is subpar compared with other options. Google Play has also offered free 3 months of trial on their music service but again, it will eventually require payment. Today, I received an email from Amazon regarding its new Ad-free prime stations. I have used Prime services for some time now and this is great news particularly if you want to use stream songs over your Fire TV and fire TV Stick. Navigation is simple. Through a PC browser, you can watch the song, title, and progress through the song. You also have the option to add it to your Prime music playlist to listen or buy later. You can also use a thumb up / thumb down for Amazon to learn your taste. You also have the option to share what you are listening to your Facebook wall.
With the Fire TV Stick, Amazon went head on against Google’s successful Chroemcast. It took a whole year for Amazon to launch the Fire TV Stick. Amazon already had the Amazon Fire TV but the price point and the lack of mobility did not attract the casual TV viewer as $99 was steep for your average consumer. Chromecast pretty much did everyone people expected it to do such as streaming from apps such as Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, and screen mirroring. However, there was one thing Chromecast could not do which was stream Amazon Prime videos directly. Amazon wanted to keep Prime videos to themselves and their devices. That didn’t stop people with Chromecast to find their own methods to cast and stream Amazon Prime to their TV’s.
Screen mirroring to all Android devices.
Much more support with apps particularly on Android Play store.
Functions with Google Drive
Additional features such as Guest mode and Google Cast Audio.
Amazon Fire TV Stick Advantages:
Includes remote control.
Support for Amazon Prime.
Custom GUI and app store. Some may feel this is a disadvantage.
Fire TV App which will give you voice search
More memory and storage
Stream pictures and videos from Amazon Cloud Drive. UNLIMITED photo storage and 5GB for other files.
Sling TV is offering a free Fire TV Stick or Roku Streaming stick in return for 3 months of prepaid subscription. They are also offering 50% off for either Fire TV or Roku 3. This is a great deal considering a lot of people pay $60 for one month of their cable bill. Now, for $60 you get a streaming device which you can use for your Sling TV service and you get a Fire TV Stick or Roku streaming stick. If you are on the fence, this may be the deal which may push you over. However, this may also be a concern for some people as this may be an indicator that the service is not catching on and they are in need of a market injection to ramp up subscribers.
CNN released a list of new releases scheduled for Feb. 2015 on Amazon Prime and Netflix. Amongst the list? House of Cards Season 3!
Netflix Feb releases:
“Bleach the Movie: Hell Verse” (2010)
“The Brothers Bloom” (2008)
“Dark Ride” (2006)
“Departures” Seasons 1 and 2 Gimme Shelter (2013)
“Gucci: The Director”
“Into the Blue 2: The Reef”
“Magic City” Seasons 1 and 2
“M*A*S*H” Seasons 1 through 5
“Naruto Shippuden: The Movie”
“Now: In the Wings on a World Stage”
“Spartacus: Complete Series”
“We Could Be King”
“We’re No Angels”
“The Little Rascals Save the Day” (2014)
“Ever After High: Spring Unsprung”
“Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead”
“Elsa & Fred”
“Dwight Howard: In the Moment”
“Mr. Peabody & Sherman”
“The Two Faces of January”
“Scary Movie 5″
“Mako Mermaids” Season 2
“Save the Date”
“Earth to Echo”
“The Fluffy Movie”
“White Bird in a Blizzard”
“Richie Rich” Season 1 (2015 Netflix original)
“Hawaii Five-0″ Seasons 1 to 4
“1,000 Times Good Night”
“Russell Brand: Messiah Complex”
“Ralphie May: Unruly”
“House of Cards” Season 3
Amazon Prime Feb releases:
“Into the Blue 2: The Reef”
“Airplane II: The Sequel”
“Lars and the Real Girl”
“Music From Another Room”
“The Brothers Bloom”
“The Object of Beauty”
“The Other End of the Line”
“The Way We Were”
“Air Force One”
“Sense & Sensibility”
“Soul of a Banquet”
“20,000 Days on Earth”
“Orphan Black” Season 2
“Alpha & Omega”
“Believe Me (Prime Member Exclusive)
“Jamie Marks is Dead”
“Hannibal” Season 2
There seems to be confusion with how much the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick cost and the recurring monthly costs. The actual cost for these two devices are $99 and $39 respectively. You will find varying degree of discounts like right now where you can purchase the Amazon Fire TV for $84 at a 5 discount for a limited time.
The confusion are the recurring costs. Once you spend the respective amounts for the Fire TV and Fire TV stick, you can use the device to stream service right away. You will need an Amazon account in order to sign in. If you do not have one, you will be redirected to a registration page to sign up. An Amazon account is free. There is no way around this.
At this point, you still have not spent any more than what you paid for the device. By default, the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick has some pre-installed apps which will allow you to search and stream content such as movies, tv shows, and music. You can go on the Amazon App Store to find apps to get more content.
To get the best bang for the buck, there are paid services which you can subscribe to access millions of minutes of movies, tv shows, clips, and music. Below is a list of my recommendations.
When Amazon Prime was first introduced people responded with criticism as no one understood why anyone would want to prepay shipping costs. Futhermore, it was very confusing as no one knew how much shipping they were paying for the year to justify enrolling in Amazon Prime. For my family, who were heavy Amazon user and fans, it was a no brainer. We recently had a child so we were buying things on Amazon.com even though it may have been cheaper at a brick and mortar store. Keep note this is before free 2-day shipping!
Since then, Amazon Prime has extended its membership services to free streaming of quality collection of films, movies, TV shows. This has further expanded to Amazon Music which is like a free online jukebox of a sort.
Recently, Amazon also launched Amazon Cloud which gives you UNLIMITED photo storage and 5 GB for movies and all other files.
Amazon Prime membership is $99/year which breaks down to $8.25 which is a great deal especially if you purchase frequently from Amazon and use it’s services.
Great Free Movie and TV Show Apps for Fire TV:
Viewster – a wide range of TV series, movies, and news clips. One good thing about Viewster is that it hosts a lot of independent films as well as International ones. Not a lot of the latest content. You will get ads at certain points of the movie.
Crackle – decent selection of not the newest well known movies. You may be surprised to find some movies that are available all for free with HD.
YouTube - You may be surprised to hear that Youtube actually has several full length movies in HD quality as well as Vevo which gives you access to some of the hottest new music videos.
Hulu - coming soon
Other subscription services apps for Fire TV:
Other notable apps which require paid subscription are Netflix which is $7.99/month and also have a wide range of movies and tv shows. Netflix also has original series such as House of Cards which has won numerous awards.
Another new app and streaming service which will be a market changer is Sling TV streaming service. Sling is a streaming service which provides unlimited streaming to some of the most premiere tv channels which traditionally is only available to cable or satellite subscription such as ESPN, TNT, TBS, Food network, HGTV, travel channel, CNN, abc family and more for $20/month. At this price point, it is more than the likes of Netflix and Amazon prime but much cheaper than a full subscription to cable and satellite TV. Had I known this service was going to be available, I would not have subscribed to AT&T U-verse recently after I cut my Charter cable service. After my one year contract to AT&T is up, I will look to hop over to Sling TV. Sling TV is available via invitation and you can sign up on the waiting list as http://www.sling.com/ .
If you are like me, sometimes you want to use closed captioning to watch tv shows or movies to ensure you catch everything that is being said and not miss a thing. I also like to turn on the subtitles when the kids are asleep and you don’t want to wake them up. Fire TV and Fire TV Stick has subtitle capabilities but it depends on the app and the content you are watching.
Subtitles on Amazon Prime or videos
To turn on subtitles on Amazon Prime or videos on Amazon, you simple press the icon with the 3 horizontal lines on your Fire TV remote.
This is the menu button. Once you click this button, you will see an option to enable Closed Captioning or simply ‘cc’ which is the same as subtitles. From here, you are given more options to select font size, color of the text and background of the text block.
Subtitles on other apps
Most apps utilize the menu button similar to Amazon videos to enable subtitles or closed captioning. However, some apps such as Youtube has the cc icon beside their on screen navigation menu. Closed captioning options also vary depending on the app. Some apps have lots of options for text size, actual font, and colors.
Here is an example subtitle and closed captioning from the ESPN app:
Here is an example for the Bloomberg app for closed captioning and subtitle:
Enable subtitle / closed captioning on the Fire TV for Crackle app:
Here is the closed captioning setting for Youtube on Fire TV:
The feature is enabled through the navigation menu and not through the menu button on your remote.
What do you do if you enable closed captioning and subtitles but still do not see it? It is likely due to the content you are watching didn’t come with it. Even when I was working on the above snapshots and enabled closed captioning, nothing came out for ESPN or the Avengers video on Youtube. Some videos simply do not have the subtitles so don’t panic. No content provider will gaurantee all of their videos include subtitles although Amazon has done a great job in updating their video libraries to have them.
If there is an app you want us to test out, let us know!
For a limited time, Amazon is releasing the unlocked Amazon Fire Phone for only $189. This is a great deal considering it comes with Amazon Prime which is valued at $99. If you do the math, the phone comes out to just $90 for an Unlocked quad-core Android phone with 32GB. This is a contract free Amazon Fire phone and you can use this on any network that uses a sim card. You may also take this overseas. You cannot get this deal anywhere else. I’m thinking about jumping on this deal. I recently renewed my Amazon Prime membership. If you buy this phone, an additional year of Amazon Prime will be added to your subscription.
Dish joined the masses and announced at CES 2015 that they will launch a new service called “sling television”. This is a new service which would cost $20 for consumers to have access to stream a number of what has traditionally been known to be cable / satellite channels such as ESPN, TBS, TNT, CNN, HGTV, food network, Disney and more. Fire TV is one of the confirmed devices which will support sling TV.
This is likely in response to so called ‘cable cutters’ who ditched their premium cable and satellite service and use antennas as well as streaming services such as Netflix. This would also attract people who want to watch these premium channels but simply didn’t want to pay for the high costs associated with cable or satellite.
There is no DVR service, but you will have access to the live content up to 3 or 7 days depending on the source.
You will also be limited to one stream per account. In other words, you will not be able to stream ESPN while the kids watch Disney on another device.
The general consensus is that the Amazon Fire TV and TV Stick is a winner especially for those with Amazon Prime account. The device is extremely smooth and the ability to access hundreds of apps for entertainment is a tremendous value at $39. However, some of you may be dissatisfied and want to return it to Amazon or give the Fire TV away.
There are some things you need to consider before returning the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick or giving it to another party. As of any device which has personal and private information, you want to delete all details before it lands in any hands.
The best and easiest way to remove all personal info, is to restore the Fire TV / Stick to factory default. You can accomplish this by the following sequence:
Go to Menu -> Settings -> System -> Reset to Factory Defaults
You can also perform a factory reset by pressing on the Right and Back buttons together on your Fire TV remove for 10 seconds to reset to factory default.
Amazon apps on Fire TV are like any apps where it may have issues where or you want to uninstall apps you no longer want. Clearing data will remove any information you have stored on the app which may require you to re-enter your info and lose game data. Clearing cache will cause the loss of non-essential temporary data. First bet is to try to clear the cache first and see if it resolves your issue. If you are still encountering issues including streaming or connectivity to just one app, clear the data. Last resort, you may uninstall and reinstall the app. If you no longer have the need for the app and want it removed, you can uninstall as well.
Here are instructions on how to clear data, clear cache, and uninstall apps.
Select the App you are concerned with.
You will be able to see the following options.
Clear Cache – to delete temporary files associated with the app.
You will received a confirmation message when clearing data.
And lastly, to uninstall. You can also force stop an app here as well.