Updated Amazon Fire TV will stream 4K and support Alexa

firetv 4kAmazon announced that its flagship streaming device will stream 4k Ultra HD video and support Alexa. The new Amazon Fire TV will be released October 5, 2015. You can now pre-order on Amazon.com at the same cost of $99! Apple also recently released their updated Apple TV. Let’s see how this holds up.

Amazon Fire TV – 4K Ultra HD

4K Ultra HD quality TV is no doubt the next big thing. However, you may wonder the same dilema we had with 1080p HD when it first came out. Content. There were very little content that was true 1080p HD. Amazon answered this. Amazon promised that they will be creating original and exclusive content in 4k. The Fire TV will also support Netflix’s 4k content as well. There will be no upcharge to stream in 4k vs. 1080p or lower quality like SD content. Also, even if you do not have 4k TV, you will benefit from Amazon’s support for HEVC (high efficiency video coding) which makes streaming high quality content more efficient.

Alexa support

One other feature that would be welcomed by Amazon fans is Alexa support. Many people got a taste of Alexa through Amazon Echo. Fire TV and Fire TV Stick remotes will have Alexa support through its voice enabled remote control or through the Fire TV app. Through Alexa support, you can use your Fire TV to replace the Echo.

Below is a full comparison between the old Amazon Fire TV and the newly updated 2015 Amazon Fire TV:

Previous Fire TV New 2015 Fire TV
Size 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.7″ (115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm) Size 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.7″ (115 mm x 115 mm x 17.8 mm)
Weight 9.9 oz (281 grams) Weight 9.5 oz. (270 g)
SOC Platform Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 Processor MediaTek Quad-core up to 2 Ghz
Processor Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz Dual-core @ 2.0 GHz + Dual-core @ 1.6 GHz
GPU (Video) Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU Power VR GX6250
Storage 8 GB internal Storage 8 GB internal
Memory 2 GB LPDDR2 @ 533 MHZ Memory 2 GB
Wi-Fi Connectivity Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networks. Wi-Fi Connectivity Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks.
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 with support for the following profiles: HID, SPP Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.1 with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP, SPP
Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Ports 5.5 mm DC Jack, HDMI, Optical Audio, 10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0 Type A Ports DC Jack, HDMI output, 10/100 Ethernet, microSD slot, USB 2.0
Voice Support Yes, with Fire TV Voice Remote (included) or free Fire TV Remote App (available for download on Fire, Android, and iOS) Voice Support Yes, with Fire TV Voice Remote (included) or free Fire TV Remote App (available for download on Fire, Android, and iOS) and Alexa
Audio Support for Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1 Audio Support Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1
Game Controller Support Yes, optimized for Amazon Fire TV Game Controller and most games are compatible with other Bluetooth controllers Game Controller Support Yes, optimized for Amazon Fire TV Game Controller and most games are compatible with other Bluetooth controllers
Content Formats Supported Video: H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1; Photo: JPG, PNG Content Formats Supported Video: H.265, H.264, Audio: AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, Dolby Atmos (EC3_JOC), Photo: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
Audio: AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3
TV Compatibility Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz, including popular HDCP-compatible models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse TV Compatibility TV must support minimum HDCP requirements for protected content playback. Learn more. Compatible with (1) 4K ultra high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 2160p at 24/25/30/50/60 Hz and HDCP 2.2, including popular models from LG, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, and others or (2) high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 50/60 Hz, including popular HDCP-compatible models from Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse, and others.
Output Resolution Supported 720p and 1080p up to 60fps Output Resolution Supported 2160p up to 30fps; 720p and 1080p up to 60fps
System Requirements High-definition television, HDMI cable System Requirements Compatible high-definition or ultra high-definition television with available HDMI input, Internet connection, a power outlet
Warranty and Service 1-year Limited Warranty and service included. Use of Fire TV is subject to the terms found here. Warranty and Service 1-year Limited Warranty and service included. Optional 2-year and 3-year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Fire TV is subject to the terms found here.
Regional Support Certain services may not be available outside the U.S. Regional Support Certain services may not be available outside the U.S.
Closed Captioning Watch videos and TV shows with closed captioning displayed. Captions are not available for all content. Closed Captioning Watch videos and TV shows with closed captioning displayed. Captions are not available for all content.
Included in the Box Amazon Fire TV Included in the Box Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote Amazon Fire TV Voice Remote
2 AAA batteries Power adapter
Power Adapter 2 AAA batteries
Quick Start Guide Quick Start Guide

Amazon Fire TV Download

Amazon has made it much simpler for you to navigate through your Amazon TV or Amazon TV Stick through its remote. However, If you want a more smart device to control your Amazon Fire TV, you can download the app. The app will enable you to view what you are watching and allow you to play, stop, pause, skip, rewind your progress of your content. Setup and download the app it simple. This will work on your Kindle as well.

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You can download the Amazon App here.

 

 

Amazon Prime’s Top TV Shows for July 2015

Here are the top 10 most popular TV shows that were watched on Amazon Prime for the month of July 2015!

  1. Under The Dome, Season 3 2015
  2. Downton Abbey Season 5 2015
  3. Catastrophe Season 1 2015
  4. The Good Wife, Season 6 2014
  5. Downton Abbey Season 1 2010
  6. Under The Dome, Season 1 2013
  7. Creative Galaxy 2014
  8. Downton Abbey Season 4 2014
  9. Extant, Season 2 2015
  10. Suits Season 4 2015

amazon prime top 10 tv july

Amazon Prime’s Top Movies for July 2015

Here are Amazon’s top movies for the month of July.

  1. Transformers: Age of Extinction 2014 PG-13 CC
  2. The Expendables 3 2014 PG-13 CC
  3. A Most Wanted Man 2014 R CC
  4. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire 2013 PG-13 CC
  5. The Words 2012 PG-13 CC
  6. Little Accidents 2015 NR CC
  7. The Prince 2014 R CC
  8. Wolf of Wall Street 2013 R CC
  9. Beastly 2011 PG-13 CC
  10. Seven Psychopaths 2012 R CC

amazon prime top 10 july

Netflix to add video previews to next update

Netflix has done very well considering they have not made any major improvement to its user interface since late 2013. Netflix announced today that they will make some updates starting with today. One such improvement is the ability for users to view video previews when navigating through the menu screens. Currently, when you navigate through the interface to search for a movie to watch you get a static screen capture. After the update, you will be able to see a video. Kind a like what www.paypal.com at its homepage.

Netflix feels this is to give a “more immersive and cinematic experience” giving users an easier way to select something to watch.

Personally, it helps as it will allow me to better recall where I last left off. Sometimes I simply forget and by viewing a video, it allows me to remember better.

Netflix-motion

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.

comcast fire tv

 

 

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!

netflix-logo

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!