|At a Glance|
|Product||Amazon Fire TV (Model CL1130) [Website]|
|Summary||Android-based 1080p media streamer focused on selling you media and other stuff from Amazon|
|Pros||• Dual-band wireless
• Voice search works fairly well
• Arrives pre-registered to your Amazon account for simple setup
• Optional wireless game controller improves gaming experience
|Cons||• Voice search only works for Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus content
• No support for DLNA media servers
• USB port currently not in use - you can't play content from USB devices
• Significantly fewer channels and apps than Roku 3
• Popular channels like HBOGo, TED, Picasa and VUDU currently not available
Amazon created a lot of buzz on April 2 announcing its first internet streamer: the Amazon Fire TV. Priced at $99, the Fire TV is aimed directly at the top of the media streaming market that is currently dominated by various Roku players and Apple TV. Like its competitors, Fire TV can add channels and games through an online store.
Amazon's website provides the company's view of how the product stacks up against the competition. Bear in mind that the chart is Amazon's marketing material, but the top level data contained within the chart appears to be correct.
Amazon's comparison of its Fire TV to the competition
Unlike the soft rounded edges that you find on the Apple TV and the Roku 3, the Fire TV is encased in a perfectly square case measuring 4.5" X 4.5" X 0.7", which some have described as looking like a thick CD jewel case. The front of the Fire TV is a highly polished black with a single white LED indicator on the left side that blinks yellow if you aren't connected to the internet. The top of the case has a matte, vapor-blast finish that will resist fingerprints. Only the Amazon logo is shiny black.
The rear panel has a power connector, HDMI port, Optical audio port, 10/100 Ethernet port and USB 2.0 port. Interestingly, the power supply is rated at 6.25VDC @ 2 A. I think this is the only device that I've ever seen that uses 6.25 VDC as the supply voltage. The power supply measures 1.9" X 1.9" X 1.25". That's fairly wide and likely to hog a couple of spots on a power strip. Like the case of the Fire TV, the power supply has a nice matte finish with Amazon's logo on the top. That should make it easy to find should you have a pile of wall warts like I do.
Amazon Fire TV rear panel
The included remote, like the Fire TV, also has a matte finish. Though it doesn't show in the image below, the buttons are shiny black with white identification markings. The remote uses Bluetooth to communicate with the Fire TV, so the direct line-of-sight needed by IR controllers isn't necessary. This makes the Fire TV, as well as the Roku 3 that uses Wi-Fi Direct wireless technology, ideal for squirreling away in an equipment rack.
Comparing remotes, I found the ring navigation with the center select button easier to use than the remote for the Roku 3, reviewed here, which has four directional buttons with the "OK" key located below the navigation keys.