Watch live TV on your Kindle Fire
Do you ever just want to watch TV?
You know, not pick something to watch (outside of choosing a channel), but just see whatever is playing?
I know that sounds weird to a lot of you. When I was a kid, you didn’t have any choice about what was on. We didn’t have on demand, or Tivo, or DVDs, or videotapes. I did have some movies on Super 8mm, but they were three minute long silents and I needed to get out the projector.
When we watch broadcast TV now, we can go through a “guide” first to see what is playing.
Well, what if you do want to be surprised?
Better yet, what if you know that the kids just want to watch Cartoon Network and you don’t want to go through the big rigmarole of deciding what show to put on?
You can do that on your Kindle Fire with this free app:
Let me warn you, this is not an optimal viewing experience. It has ads (tiny ones, like the ones you would see in other apps), and it periodically asks me if I’d like to upgrade to Pro…in the middle of the screen.
Sometimes it buffers (where you have to wait for the video to load), and sometimes it has foreign language subtitles.
It also stops working from time to time.
I’d like it to the old hobbyist crystal radio set I had when I was a child, or trying to tune a TV with “rabbit ear” antennae.
That said, it does work.
What channels do they have?
This list could change at any time, I’m sure, but here is what I see right now:
- Cartoon Network
- Discovery Channel
- MTV Spanish
- Disney Channel
- Fox News
- Animal Planet
- National Geographic
- Panorama Action
- ESPN America
- Fox Movies
- CNNUS (the American feed of CNN)
- Tom & Jerry
- Tru TV
- C-Span 2
- TLC (US)
- Active Channel
- CNNIT (the International feed of CNN)
- USA Network
- Sky Poker
- CBX News
- Fox 13
- Pentagon Channel
- BBC (I don’t know what it is listed twice)
- Amazing Facts TV
- NASA TV
- Kids TV
- CBN News
- CBN (again, don’t know why it is twice)
That’s right…you can watch all those channels (less than optimally) for no charge. If you do upgrade to Pro (which allows previews of the channels, for one thing…and removes the ads), it’s $1.99…a year. Oh, I just tried some channels, and they told me they were unavailable…and while watching a show, I tried the channel thing again and got a lot more choices. As, I say, quirky.
On my Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ 4G LTE Wireless 32GB (which is the only one where I’ve tested it), I can turn the device to landscape (wider than it is tall), and it becomes full screen.
It looks pretty sharp, although it may vary by channel. I did try it with the HDMI to my TV, and it was a bit muddier there, but watchable. I haven’t tried to adjust the settings on the TV to go with my 8.9″, so I might be able to make that better.
The interface is pretty simple, although not entirely intuitive. When in doubt, tap the screen to get more choices. It seems like once I start watching a show, I end up exiting the app when I leave it, instead of getting back to channel choices.
I also haven’t played with the settings on the app itself: for example, there is a “Post-processing” choice which is supposed to improve the picture quality, but to also “consume more energy”.
I’m sure this must take some significant battery charge, although I don’t see a huge drop.
It also, of course, requires that you be connected to the internet. I’m sure it would consume a lot of your 4G, if you have that, but on wi-fi, that doesn’t really matter. You aren’t going to be using this when you aren’t connected, by the way…unless you provide wi-fi in the car somehow (maybe from your phone, or some cars can do it), this isn’t going to help on trips.
Hm…I just noticed that you can set up a preview section. You choose channels, and it shows you a still of what is on currently. It doesn’t give you the title, though.
It also lets you add your own channels by putting in a URL (uniform resource locator…web address) for a feed.
If you do decide you want to upgrade, you need to be on the homescreen of the app in portrait mode (taller than it is wide), and then tap More.
Overall, I’d say this is a novelty item at this stage…it’s not going to replace your cable bill (for those of you who still have that…we do). Still, it’s another fun thing to do with your Kindle Fire.
One more big thing…it says it is even compatible with the 1st generation Kindle Fire, although I’ve only tested it on the one model.
Is it legal? I’m guessing it is. I’m thinking that this is one of those things where content providers have special off feeds intended for a small audience, and that you can get to them on the internet. I think this app probably just consolidates them in one place, and brings it to a wider audience. They have a screen in the beginning that says that rightsholders can contact them for removal.
If you’ve tried it out and want to give your opinion, or have other questions, feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.
Update: I have now found myself using this…I was watching BBC News while I was writing something. A big tip: if you have having trouble getting the app to launch or to open, put your Fire into portrait mode (taller than it is wide). I think the first time you try to open it, it may need you to agree to its EULA (End User License Agreement), and it can’t show it to you in landscape where the shows would be full screen, so it kicks you out. I know that sounds weird, but it seems to work that way.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.