Comcast Subscribers can now watch HBO Go, Showtime Anytime on Fire TV

Comcast recently announced that it has reached an agreement to enable its subscribers access to apps such as HBO Go and Showtime Anytime on Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. This is a great win for Comcast subscribers who was frustrated at not being able to watch content like Game of Thrones using their Fire TV.

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Fire TV Stick Overheating and rebooting Problems

Some users have complained that the Fire TV Stick gets really hot and reboot on its own. This is unusual as I have not encountered this problem. The TV Stick does get warm but not uncomfortable to touch. Chromecast users reported similar issues early in production and Google never mentioned anything or admitted to any flaw. It is possible that it was due to some software code and an update fixed it. What can you do when the Fire TV sticks reboots due to overheating.

For the most part, the Fire TV Stick should work without any issues even if it is warm. If the Fire TV Stick freezes or its response is lagging or is slow, you will want to try to fit it. Here are some tips to resolve overheating issues.

First, you can completely unplug it for 2 min. then plug it back in. This will allow the Fire TV Stick to clear all cache and reload fresh. If that doesn’t fix it, try a factory reset. You will have to go through the hassle of setting up again but it shouldn’t take long. If that still doesn’t fix the overheating issues and your device continues to lag or freezes, I would return the device to Amazon and get a replacement. Amazon’s return service is very quick and simple and you shouldn’t have any issues.

How to mirror your Windows phone with Fire TV Stick

Many Windows phone users were jealous of their Android and iPhone counterparts for having numerous low-cost options to mirror their screen to their TV. Previously, the only option for Windows phone user was to purchase a Miracast dongle which isn’t a great option and can be hit or miss. Well Fire TV Stick just released an update which will allow you to mirror your Windows phone to your TV! All you need to do is set up your Fire TV Stick to mirror mode by pressing the home key on your remote. Next, go to your Windows phone settings and select ‘Project My Screen’. Below it, you should be able to see the name of your Fire TV Stick. Select it and you will be able to mirror your Windows phone.

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Compare Fire TV Stick with Chromecast

chromecast-backdrop-chrome-os-android-ios-appWith 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.

 Chromecast Advantages:

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
Faster processor
More games
Stream pictures and videos from Amazon Cloud Drive. UNLIMITED photo storage and 5GB for other files.

Amazon Prime Netflix releases for Feb. 2015

CNN released a list of new releases scheduled for Feb. 2015 on Amazon Prime and Netflix. Amongst the list? House of Cards Season 3!

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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”
“Hot Pursuit”
“Houseboat”
“Into the Blue 2: The Reef”
“Joe”
“King Arthur”
“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”
“Proof”
“Spartacus: Complete Series”
“We Could Be King”
“We’re No Angels”
“Zapped”
“The Little Rascals Save the Day” (2014)
“Ever After High: Spring Unsprung”
“Danger 5”
“Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead”
“Elsa & Fred”
“Blood Ties”
“Catch Hell”
“Dwight Howard: In the Moment”
“Mr. Peabody & Sherman”
“Young Ones”
“The Two Faces of January”
“Scary Movie 5”
“Mako Mermaids” Season 2
“Save the Date”
“The Overnighters”
“Earth to Echo”
“In Secret”
“The Fluffy Movie”
“White Bird in a Blizzard”
“Richie Rich” Season 1 (2015 Netflix original)
“RoboCop” (2014)
“Hawaii Five-0” Seasons 1 to 4
“1,000 Times Good Night”
“Open Windows”
“Russell Brand: Messiah Complex”
“Ralphie May: Unruly”
“House of Cards” Season 3

Amazon Prime Feb releases:

“Batman” (1989)
“Batman Returns”
“Into the Blue 2: The Reef”
“Airplane II: The Sequel”
“Hitch”
“Lars and the Real Girl”
“Joe”
“Gimme Shelter”
“Ulee’s Gold”
“Love Story”
“Music From Another Room”
“The Brothers Bloom”
“The Object of Beauty”
“The Other End of the Line”
“The Way We Were”
“Mulberry Street”
“Air Force One”
“Tootsie”
“Steel Magnolias”
“Mood Indigo”
“Sense & Sensibility”
“Soul of a Banquet”
“20,000 Days on Earth”
“Robocop” (2014)
“Finding Neverland”
“Orphan Black” Season 2
“Alpha & Omega”
“Believe Me (Prime Member Exclusive)
“Clerks II”
“Jamie Marks is Dead”
“Hannibal” Season 2

Monthly Costs for Fire TV and TV Stick

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 $89.99 (Dec, 2016).

As for recurring costs, out of the box, there will be no costs. However, you will be extremely limited to the content that will be available to you.

Once you receive your Fire TV and Fire TV stick and sign into your Amazon account, you can use the device to stream services right away. 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. You can watch videos immediately using apps through the Amazon app store such as Youtube, Vimeo.

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 require monthly costs which you can subscribe to access thousands of movies, tv shows, clips, and music.

Below is a list of my recommendations.

Amazon Prime ($99/year):
When Amazon Prime was first introduced people responded with criticism as no one understood why anyone would want to prepay shipping costs. Furthermore, 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.

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.

Streamdor – Their app page boasts of having over 20,000 films available.

The CW on Fire TV – Catch TV shows like Arrow and other shows you find on the CW network.

NBC AppBe careful. The app is free to download but requires a cable or satellite login in order to watch. Boo.

Monthly subscription services for Fire TV:

In regards to services that require monthly fees, there are a few notable ones. This list grows by the month as Amazon works with different services in the form of an app supported by Fire TV.

Netflix ($7.99/month+)

One of the best streaming service is 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. With Netflix at $7.99/month, this is the basic account where you are restricted to just SD and limited to one screen per instance. This means you cannot use the account on multiple screens simultaneously. They also have the Standard plan at $9.99 where it includes HD and 2 simultaneous screen then $11.99 where you get Ultra HD and up to 4 watchers simultaneously. Note, this is subscription fee to Netflix. Once you subscribe to Netflix, you can watch Netflix on other devices such as your phone, PC, or other smart TV.

Sling TV (varies)

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/ .

HBO ($14.99/month)

If you are hooked to the likes of game of Thrones, True Blood, insecure, and other HBO exclusive TV shows, then you can subscribe to HBO. It is more on the pricey side but it is something to consider if you cancel your cable or satellite service.

You can see my full review on other subscriptions here:

Amazon Introduces add on service and subscriptions

 

Fire TV Subtitles when watching Youtube and Prime

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.

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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:

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Here is an example for the Bloomberg app for closed captioning and subtitle:

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Enable subtitle / closed captioning on the Fire TV for Crackle app:

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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.

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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!

Dish’s sling TV to be available on Fire TV

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.

Return the Fire TV to factory settings

Fire TV is great but there may be a time when you want to go back to factory settings. 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

Click factory reset fire tv factory reset fire tv 2‘Reset’ when dialogue pops up to confirm.

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.

How to uninstall, clear data and cache on Fire TV

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.

Clear Cache: Go to Menu -> Settings -> Manage All Installed Applications
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Select the App you are concerned with.

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You will be able to see the following options.

Clear Cache – to delete temporary files associated with the app.

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You will received a confirmation message when clearing data.

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And lastly, to uninstall. You can also force stop an app here as well.

 

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