Sizzling Deal, Echo Dot for $29.99!

This is the best deal for an Amazon Echo dot or Echo. Amazon sent out an email for black friday where you can get $10 gift card when you order from Alexa’s Best Deals. Order anything on the list over $20 through Alexa and get $10 gift card. The 2nd Gen Echo dot is currently on sale for $39.99. With the $10 Amazon credit if you order through Alexa, the price comes down to $29.99! Compare that with original price of $49.99, it is 40% off!

To see the full list of qualifying Alexa’s Best Deals, click here or the below link.

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alexa-echo-dot

You can also purchase the Amazon Echo for a low $139.99. With the gift card, it will bring down the price to $129.99 which is almost 30% off. But you will need an Alexa enabled device to purchase it. You should be able to make the purchase through your Alexa enabled Fire TV controller. Give it a shot!

alexa-echo-deal

Difference between Fire TV Stick and Chromecast Ultra

chromecast-ultra-1Google announced their latest streaming device, the Chromecast Ultra. Chromecast Ultra is the next step to Chromecast where you can simply plug the device into the HDMI port and cast content from the Internet. While the Fire TV Stick is a good competitor to Chromecast, Chromecast has a slight edge in terms of featured content. A lot of apps support Chromecast and even some TV’s have Google’s Casting built in such as Vizio‘s Smartcast. With Chromecast, you can cast content from Youtube and from a Chrome browser. Neat!

What Chromecast distinguished itself apart from the Fire TV Stick is the capability to stream in 4K Ultra HD / HDR. For Amazon, only the Fire TV has this capability.

Amazon’s Fire TV and Fire TV Stick’s advantage is its access to Prime videos and its library. Amazon also has more 4K content as well as exclusive content. Google Play is lacking in this area.

Both have mirroring capabilities from their respective phones but Google may have a slight edge over the ease of use.

At this event, Google also announced Google Home which has its AI, Google Assistant, which will seamlessly integrate information from various Google apps from calendar, maps, traffic, and location to give you information such as news and weather. Although Amazon’s Alexa is amazing, it doesn’t compare to the integrated offering that Google can offer. This is when the Fire phone’s failure is coming to bite Amazon.

Chromecast Ultra Amazon Fire TV Stick – Gen 2 Amazon Fire TV – 2nd Gen
Launched Nov. 2016 Sep-16 Dec. 2015
Price $69 $39.99 $99.99
HD Type All up to 4K, Ultra HD, HDR Up to 1080p – 60hz up to 2160p 4K – 30Hz
Chip CPU Marvell Armada 1500 Mni Plus Mediatek 8127D
Quad-core ARM 1.3Ghz
MediaTek 8173C
Quad-core ARM Cortex A72 (2x2Ghz, 2×1.6Ghz)
RAM 512mb 1GB 2GB
Storage 256mb 8GB 8GB
Connectivity HDMI, Wifi, Ethernet (adopter) Bluetooth 4.1, Micro USB, HDMI, WiFi Bluetooth 4.1, Micro USB, HDMI, WiFi, Ethernet, Dolby
Dimension 52x52x13.5mm 86x30x12.6mm 115x115x17.8mm
Weight 40g 32g 270g
Remote No Yes Yes

Trigger Alexa with Fire TV remote

fire tv remote alexaIn May, Amazon enable Alexa on its Fire TV remote. This allowed Fire TV owners to use Alexa as you had an Amazon Echo. If you already have an Echo, then this would not be foreign to you.

Movies / TV
With Alexa, you can trigger it to control a movie. You can ask Alexa to play a movie, TV show. It will also search from your active add-on subscriptions as well as third party apps. You can also use it to trigger a certain app.

Examples:
Play the movie [title]
Start playing the TV show [title]
Launch the app [title]
Open the [title] app

Music
You can also trigger music you have on your Prime Music library to simply listen to one of the Prime stations. You can rate a song by saying you like it or do not like the song. This will help Alexa rate the type of song it chooses for you. You can completely skip songs or rewind but cannot fast forward or rewind or change volume. Bummer. This is possible with Echo.

Audible and eBooks
Through Alexa, you can use your Fire TV to read eligible Kindle books in your library. You can even see the title and book cover on your TV. Neat!

News Flash Briefing
One great feature I love with Alexa is that you can ask her to read you the news flash. Go into the Alexa app and select your news source. You can select national, international, local news, sports, and weather source / location. All you say is “Alexa, What’s my news flash?” or “Alexa, Whats my flash briefing?” and it will read a 5-10 min briefing of the latest news from what you selected. I use it when I sit down and enjoy my breakfast. You can also set up your commute location and it’ll give you the congestion condition!

Shopping
No surprise to anyone, you can use Alexa to buy things on Amazon. It is a bit clumsy as you need to know the exact item you are interested in buying in order to buy through Alexa. If you ask Alexa to buy something, it will select the top result for that category and display the item. It is a bit easier to re-order something if it is something you have purchased in the past such as detergent, razor blades, diapers for example.

Weather / Traffic
Asking Alexa for the weather is also another one of my favorites. My kids use this almost every day to determine if they can wear shorts for the day! I don’t use the traffic much as I don’t commute to an office 🙂

Q&A / Jokes
This is kind of an easter egg hunt. You can ask “Alexa, how are you doing today?” or “Alexa, good morning” and she will read back a quote or a comment.

Wikipedia
Alexa also has access to a database of facts. You can ask how far you are to say New York city, ask for conversion such as cooking, time zone, and more. You can ask celebrities or athlete’s age!

Lists (To do / Shopping)
Alexa can aggregate shopping list and to do list. You can use it as a personal assistant to remind you to do something and check it on your Fire TV or on your app later. You can also have Alexa read out your shopping or to do list using your remote.

There are much much more features which you can do with sports scores, movie info, local search, and some features which are voice only where nothing will display on your Fire TV. For all features, check out:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201859020

 

Buy the Amazon Fire TV $15 off

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.

amazon fire tv 15 off

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 makes Fling available to developers

amazonAmazon 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.

amazonfling

 

Amazon makes Fling available to developers was first published at firetvblog.com.

Sling TV Free Fire TV or Roku

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.

sling tv free fire tv

How to mirror your phone or tablet screen to Fire TV

One neat feature for the Fire TV is the ability to mirror your phone or tablet screen to the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. This will allow you to stream content from your phone or apps which is not available through Amazon appstore. You can enable display mirroring by doing the following steps. Note, this will only work for Android based devices running over OS 4.2.2 and above.

First, go to Settings -> Display & Sounds -> Enable Display Mirroring

2015-01-05 15.53.32

Next, go to your Android phone settings -> Display & lights

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Next, click on Cast Screen.

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Turn on the toggle on the Cast screen setting and you should see the name of your Fire TV. Click your Fire TV and you should be mirroring your screen.

2015-01-06 00.01.55 2015-01-06 00.01.24

 
The screen shots are from the OnePlus One phone. I also tested this on a Samsung Galaxy S4 and my Nexus 7 tab and it all worked. Give it a try!

Fire TV Stick Won’t Fit in TV HDMI Port

I came across a problem with my Fire TV Stick. My Samsung TV doesn’t have enough room to plug the USB cable for my Fire TV Stick! See for yourself. I don’t have a good answer right now. I had problems connecting the Fire TV stick to the other HDMI ports as it didn’t fit. I didn’t want to jam the HDMI port on my TV as I use it for my cable box, PS3, and Chromecast.

Update: Issue is resolved. See updated post here.

Amazon fireTV stick arrives before Christmas!

Christmas gift is here! Amazon sent me a notice saying that the fireTV stick was ready for shipment which is way ahead of schedule! This is a nice Christmas present that wasn’t supposed to be. I got an email on Dec. 19th with the subject, “Welcome to Fire TV Stick.” I placed this order on Nov. 2nd and my initial delivery date was supposed to be mid-Jan so this is a very nice surprise! Mr. UPS dropped off the Amazon fire TV stick just now and I can’t wait to do the first unboxing.

fire tv stick

firetv