Amazon is running a promotion for it’s widely popular Fire TV at a $15 discount bringing the cost down to $84.99. Amazon boasted in a press release that it’s Fire device was #1 and Fire TV Stick was #3 best seller over the holiday. It made a statement in terms of how popular its device is and how it was a great gift. It is simple to use and has many features which maximizes your prime membership if you have one. If you don’t have the fire TV or Fire TV stick and was not able to obtain one as a gift, this discount will be a great time to purchase the Fire TV.
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.
Amazon has recently launched a “Understanding the Amazon Fling Service” page to its developers. Amazon Fling enables users to ‘fling’ media, websites, from Android, Apple, and Fire OS devices to their TV. This is similar to what Google has for Chromecast for display and playback. Amazon has created an API which will interact with the developers app. The developer must create a controller (playback, stop, etc..) for the user to fling the content to its TV.
Fire TV and TV Stick has been relatively successful but we have heard from users that despite its great GUI (graphic user interface), it is limited. The only alternative from using the GUI built on Fire TV / Stick is to mirror your device. Mirroring your device doesn’t come without its issues as not all devices support mirroring. Also, mirroring is very bandwidth consuming as well as it putting a drain on your battery. Amazon’s Fling Service will resolve this. Instead of mirroring, you will be able to set the Fire TV / Stick device to call the content directly to the web via WiFi instead of placing the drain on your iOS, Android or Fire device.
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.
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.
What is the difference between the amazon fire TV and fire TV stick aside from the obvious, the price. Amazon has a good side by side comparison of the device if you click on a link on the fire TV stick product page.
Price and Size
Let’s get the two obvious differences out of the way, the price and the size. Full retail price of the fire TV stick is $60 cheaper but we have seen Amazon offer discounts to both devices respectively. The fire TV is larger in size and heavier in weight but it’s not big enough to matter to move people unless you live in a RV. Most people won’t be carrying the fire TV around. However, the fire TV stick may come very useful to road warriors who travel a lot. Amazon created the setup portal on the fire TV stick to allow you to sign into your any WiFi connection through the setup screen. This should allow you to sign on to your hotel’s WiFi connection with its network and password.
What exactly is a processor and what does it do? Simply put, the processor is the CPU which is essentially the brain of your device. Dual core means the device has two separate CPU and quad core means the device has four separate CPUs at it’s disposal. The two processors are not the same. Fire TV’s processor is a Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz each CPU. The fire TV Stick processor is a Broadcom Capri 28155, dual-core 2xARM A9 up to 1 Ghz. It isn’t so easy to compare the two processors as they are different. Each core’s utilization also depends on how the apps are programmed. Unlike PC’s, you have no control over how the device or apps use the CPU. One thing for sure is that the Fire TV will perform computations faster than the Fire TV stick. You will likely see very minimal difference when watching videos or music except for load time but you will experience difference when playing games.
Graphics Processing Unit (GPU)
Amazone Fire TV uses a Qualcomm Adreno 320 chip as it’s GPU and the Fire TV stick uses a VideoCore4. Neither supports over 60hz of refresh rate but both support 720p and 1080p hdtv. So if you have that 240hz refresh rate TV, it won’t come to full use with either device.
Storage and Memory:
Both devices have 8 GB of internal memory used for storage. I haven’t come to a conclusion HOW the devices use this but I presume it is used for preloading content to avoid buffering delays during streaming. You cannot watch any content when wifi is off so those on a boat without wifi is out of luck. Fire TV uses 2 GB LPDDR2 @ 533 mhz external memory while the Fire TV Stick has 1 GB of build in memory. I haven’t seen any reports of anyone trying to upgrade the fire TV memory but I don’t see why anyone would want to do that.
The Fire TV has a built in mic which allows you to perform voice search for content. The Fire TV stick remote does not have voice search but you may purchase the Fire TV remote or simply download the Fire TV app for voice search which I have video demo here.
The Fire TV has an Ethernet port which can provide a much more reliable and ensure fast connection between the router to your device. However, your TV and Fire TV will need to be at a location that is relatively near your router unless you want a long Ethernet cable threading through your house. Both support WiFi which works for most people unless you have poor wireless connectivity where your device is located. In that case, you can purchase a repeater available at (where else?) Amazon!
Optical Audio Output:Optical outputs are a must for audio junkies to connect to your home receiver for surround sound, sound bar, and sub-woofers for that low base. The Fire TV will allow you to directly connect to your receiver but the fire TV stick will be limited in this aspect. However, not all is lost. If you want improved audio from your fire TV stick, you may connect your home theater system to the audio output of your TV and it will be almost equivalent. My TV has an optical out which I have connected to a Vizio sound bar and it works well.
As we stand today when this post was written, there are 898 apps available on the Amazon App store for Fire TV and 706 apps available for the Fire TV stick. I expect this number to change. You can click Amazon Appstore to see if they have the app that you want. You can filter the apps at the right menu by selecting the device you want to limit. The same apps will be available to you when you navigate the Amazon appstore on your Fire TV or Fire TV sticl.