Right after Amazon had put out its 4K Amazon Fire TV, other companies tried to catch up by releasing their own 4K products, one of which is the Roku Ultra. Google also jumped on the bandwagon with its Chromecast. Apparently, it has become a new competitive niche. So, what does the new Amazon Fire TV has to offer? In a nutshell, it’s still as reliable as before. It also comes at a reasonable price.
Needless to say, the new Amazon Fire TV sports a quirky design. It’s actually not weird by any means, but for a dongle it feels huge, not to mention that it’s also uniquely-shaped. Compared this to the Roku streaming stick, the size difference is noticeable. If it wasn’t for the unusual port placement, this device wouldn’t look that ‘unique’. For the size, it’s surprising that it can’t clip to itself. When it’s connected to your TV, it will look like a large hook. There is no Ethernet port, either. If you want to use it, then you have to buy an adapter separately. Sadly, being smaller than the previous model comes at a price, some features are sacrificed, such as a USB port and a microSD.
The interface still looks familiar although there are a few subtle tweaks. Take a look at the home screen. There you can see your favorite apps. They will be reordered as you use them. There are also recommendations from Amazon Prime below the arrangement. Meanwhile, the whole apps are displayed in a grid view and they’re easy to organize.
The Amazon Fire TV is not as big as the average set-top box, so it can hang behind the TV without a problem because it won’t pull the cord too tight. There can be a problem if you have a wall-mounted TV because it doesn’t come with equipment to hold the box securely. It’s a bit unfortunate because you need to find something to secure it on your own. Controls are done using a remote that connects via Bluetooth 4.1. There are a few basic buttons on the remote, like Play/Pause, Menu, etc. To those who purchase it from Amazon Direct, you will receive one that’s already configured to your account. All it takes is a WiFi network.
One of the biggest advantages of owning an Amazon device is it usually comes preloaded with Alexa, the smart Voice Assistant. It can help get things done because Alexa has unmatched skills. It will recognize your commands and do necessary things based on them. However, it works slightly different from Alexa on the Echo speaker. On the speaker you just need to talk to get a response. With the Amazon Fire TV, you have to press the mic button on the remote. It’s the one below the indicator light.
Other than that, Alexa pretty much works the same way. Aside from the common skills, it also has the ability to control Smart Home devices. So if you have smart lights or thermostats at home, it is a good idea to connect them to this device in order to control them more easily. Opening third-party apps is also possible, but you’ll still need the remote to load them since voice commands aren’t enough to do it.