Amazon Fire TV: first impressions

Amazon Fire TV: first impressions

I’ve been trying out my

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

tonight. It does some things very well…and an important thing not at all, so far.

Set up was really a snap, although it was a lot longer from unpacking to enjoying than I expected.

The set-up is basically…plug it in.🙂

Plug the power into the AFTV. Plug the HDMI cable into the AFTV and your TV. Connect to your wi-fi network (you can connect with a wired ethernet connection, by the way).

That was it. It was already connected to my account…it already knew my video library, for example.

However, getting to the point of watching that library? 20 minutes.

Why?

Well, one issue was that there were three updates to download (which took quite some time). Gee, that’s one more update than the number of days it has been in release.😉

It did download videos quickly: notably faster than my Roku.

I tried Netflix: it worked fine. The one kind of funny thing, and this isn’t a negative, is that it supports Netflix profiles, where my Roku doesn’t. That means I’ve always been watching my Roku under my adult kid’s profile (we share the account, basically), so it didn’t know which number episode I had watched last. Easy enough to figure out (by switching to my kid’s profile, and checking).

The voice search has been impressive: actor’s name, show name…even a topic, and it pops right up.

One negative of that? It only works for Amazon video. I’d heard that, but forgot about it and tried it on Netflix…it popped me out of the Netflix app into Amazon video!

One big tip: you need to hold down the microphone button the whole time you are saying your search term. I was making the mistake in the beginning of pressing the button, then releasing it (like I would on my SmartPhone), then speaking. Nope: hold the button down to get it to keep listening, then release it when you are done speaking. It will show you what it found: press the center button to select.

I didn’t see a way to tell it to search just for Prime (no additional cost) video, which would be great. You can tell if something in the search results is Prime if there is a “Watch Now” button. That’s not obvious, but that’s how it works.

I played one game on it (a jet ski thing, Riptide). That also seemed to work okay, and it looked good. I did not buy the game controller…but it seemed to work reasonably well with the regular remote. That game was included with my purchase.

It did have Pandora, but doesn’t have my go to music app…Songza. Maybe it will get that in the future.

Apps you own for the Fire seem unconnected to apps for the Fire TV: it didn’t know which ones I already own, and I would guess if it was an app that costs something, you’d have to buy it separately. Our Amazon Coins were available for purchases, though.

The thing that didn’t work?

Mirroring my Fire.

[Important update: on the advice of a Kindle rep, I reset the Fire TV to factory defaults (under settings)…and that fixed it! The mirroring works now. Just as with a Kindle, that meant I had to re-register it, and download apps and such again, but it is well worth it for me in this case.]

That’s a big disappointment! I plan to use that a lot. I use it quite a bit now with my

NETGEAR Push2TV (at AmazonSmile)

…and I’ve unplugged that from this somewhat older TV so I could use the single HDMI (High Definition Media Interface) port for the Fire TV.

It tries to connect, and they’ve done some things to make it easy.

My Fire already knew about my Fire TV…I just had to do the regular mirroring thing on my Fire:

Home – Swipe down from the top – Settings – Display & Sounds – Display Mirroring

“Bufo’s Fire” was already showing, without a fresh search. I tapped it, it said it was starting to connect.

Then, the TV showed that the FTV was responding…it told me that mirroring would start soon.

However, it never did…even leaving it for about half an hour.

I tried restarting both of them: no go.

To restart the FTV, by the way, the help video says…unplug it.🙂 Leave it unplugged for thirty seconds, then plug it back in.

That’s going to be the default fix: unplug it.

You can also get more help here:

http://www.amazon.com/firetvsupport (at AmazonSmile)

One of my readers, Tom, also had a problem with “Second Screen”, which is part of the mirroring, sort of. Tom checked with Mayday (the onscreen support) and they said an update is coming within a week.

My own pictures and videos from Amazon (including from my SmartPhone, which has an Amazon Photos app on it)? Brilliant, simple!

So, overall impressions?

Right now, the device is sleek looking, and the set-up and interface is superior. The speed is good…better than my Roku. The image is good. Prime Video and Netflix? No problem. Games? Fine so far.

Not being able to mirror is a major drawback which I hope is fixed soon.

Voice search for Prime video? Vastly superior to using a “clickboard” (an onscreen board where you maneuver around to each letter and then click on it).

Search? Could be better…setting a choice to just search Prime video would matter.

Content? Not as much as my Roku.

One big thing they are missing compared to the Roku? Some place to get the news. You can download the Huffington Post app (for free), but Roku has a place to watch news stories. I would like that.🙂 I’d like Songza, too, and more channels.

If this was my first streaming box, I’d be really impressed with it (except the mirroring thing).

As it is now, if I needed another streamer, would I get this or a Roku? Hm…I like the voice search on this, but I like the content (and the fact that you plug headphones into the remote) on the Roku better.

The two are close…when the mirroring works on this, that would push it over the Roku.

Update: with a bit more testing, Second Screen works fine…mirroring still doesn’t.

With Second Screen, you start a (supported…not all are) video on your Kindle Fire. Then, you tap a button (with an upward pointing arrow), and the same video starts through your Fire TV on your TV. At that point, it is largely like using a remote control to start the video.

Displaying on your Kindle Fire at that point is trivia and such about the movie, rather than the movie itself. You can also leave the movie on your Kindle Fire and do other things.

Mirroring shows everything (the Carousel, the settings, an app) that is being displayed on your tablet on your TV.

Why the difference?

It’s possible that the short burst needed for Second Screen to start the video is done by Bluetooth, similar to the remote…and that mirroring is done through wi-fi. Not sure, though.

Another trouble-shooting tip: I started HuffPo Live and walked away for a while. When I came back, it had a grey screen.

I tried restarting it: nothing.

So, I did:

Home – Settings – Application

found the HuffPo Live app, and did a “Force Stop”. That’s similar to what you do on a Kindle Fire…and that fixed it.

What do you think? Do you have specific questions? Has mirroring worked on yours yet? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

10 Responses to “Amazon Fire TV: first impressions”

  1. Tom Says:

    Second screen worked slick. I meant mirroring.

    I’m new to this lingo🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Oh, sorry…so you had trouble with mirroring, but not second screen?

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      Yes, good point! I’d never used the Second Screen before, so I didn’t test it last night. That worked well.

      With Second Screen, you start a (supported) video from the Kindle Fire. It starts also on the TV through the Fire TV. While you are watching it through the Fire TV, the Kindle Fire can show you information (trivia and such) about the video you are watching. Once it is started, you can also do other things on Kindle Fire.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      An update for you, Tom!

      On the advice of a Kindle service rep, I re-set my Fire TV to factory defaults (under Settings). That fixed it! It’s mirroring now.

      That does mean you have to re-register it and download content again, just like you would with a Kindle Fire or Kindle.

  2. Joan Huston Says:

    The mirroring works fine between my fire hdx and the fire tv. What I can’t find, is my Amazon cloud music! I was sure that was suppose to be here.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Joan!

      The music is “coming soon”:

      “If you love music, you’ll love the millions of songs available to stream to Amazon Fire TV through Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. You can also access your entire Amazon MP3 library, so you can enjoy any albums and songs you’ve previously purchased from Amazon (coming soon). Exit to the home screen at any time and keep the music going while you share photos or play games—Fire TV will keep you updated with what’s playing each time a new song starts. ”

      It’s possible that’s because Amazon is about to introduce something new in music, like their own subser (subscription service). One of the places that is suggested is in this article:

      http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-music-streaming-service-contract-2014-4

      Edited to add: oh, and are you sure it is the mirroring (which shows anything displayed on your Fire…an app, the settings, your Carousel) and not the Second Screen?

  3. Karen Salmons Says:

    Hey Bufo, Got my FireTV yesterday also and had only minor glitch in the setup. The first time I tried to download the update it stopped and said to unplug and try again. I did and the second time it worked. Everything so far has worked great for me. As a long time Prime member I mostly use it so the new voice search is awesome for me. I have noticed that searching works easier on the Fire than the Roku remote. My only disappointment was that it didn’t support Spirit Clips by Hallmark. Just now I downloaded the SpClips app for the KindleFire, printed off your instructions for mirroring and it worked first time perfectly. I can now say it was worth every penny. Thanks for all you do to help us out here !

  4. George Evans Says:

    Hey, I am waiting for an update from you sir on how you like this device after using for a few days. Any changes from the earlier post? No pressure but your comments will help me decide to purchase or not to purchase.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, George!

      I do intend to do another post, but I’m sure many people see this as a peripheral device for the blog, so I don’t want to do a couple of half ones. I’m waiting to do that one until I’ve explored the apps a bit more (since people will want to know about those). I did significantly update the other post at one point…

      The short answer, though, is…I like it!🙂

      I had to reset to factory defaults once, which got the mirroring to work. The mirroring, when you have a compatible Kindle Fire, makes it hugely more useful.

      They’ve made the mirroring super simple, which is good.

      With the free AOL ON app (on the Fire TV…not mirroring), I have news stories, which I like.

      The episodes really do tend to start pretty much instantly…no ten second wait for loading. That might seem like a little thing, but it’s got that “instant gratification” rewarding feel.

      I haven’t done enough with the games or the music, yet.

      Hope that helps for now!🙂

  5. The Fire TV Buyer’s Guide: September 2015 | I Love My Kindle Says:

    […] Amazon Fire TV: first impressions […]

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