The new Fire TV removed one of my favorite features: Display Mirroring

The new Fire TV removed one of my favorite features: Display Mirroring

I’m glad I hadn’t written about this yet!

I got the new version of the Fire TV:

Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa Voice Remote (New Pendant Form Factor) | Streaming Media Player (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

There were a couple of things I liked about it right away. It’s my favorite packaging probably since the first Kindle. 🙂 I know that’s a little thing, but the package was cool:

I like the way the actual device hangs behind the TV. Our TV isn’t mounted on the wall, but it is an inexpensive flat screen style, and the device is not deeper than the electronics on the back. It does need to be plugged into power, but so does the TV…if you can mask the TV power cord (you might have an outlet directly behind the TV, you should be able to hide the Fire TV power cord.

One reason I was excited to get it is that, since Hulu recently updated their app, it’s been crashing…a lot. We’ll be watching a show, and it just goes back to home…probably at least once an hour. The FTV3 does seem to have fixed that issue: it is more powerful.

This may be subjective, but the image does look sharper to me.

Set up was okay. It did still ask me for my wi-fi password (although that’s supposedly stored at Amazon for me now), and I did need to sign into apps (even though they said they were working on “single sign-on” for a number of apps).

It suggested some popular streaming apps, which included Hulu…but not Netflix. No problem, I installed that, too.

It still had one issue for me: if I voice search for a TV show and it finds it, say, in Hulu, it will start watching it at season 1 episode 1…even if I’ve already seen a bunch of episodes. That’s a wash with how it was before, so that’s fine.

It also, amusingly, still tells me that Hulu has live programming…but it rhymes “live” with “give”, not “five”. In also pronounced CNNGO as “See-Enn-Enn-Gee-Oh” instead of “See-Enn-Enn-Go”…and CNNGO was its name, oh! 😉

The first day, it seemed like it had fixed a major problem, and other things were pretty much status quo, until…

Our now adult kid took pictures at a Halloween event yesterday, and posted them to Facebook. My Significant Other isn’t on Facebook (I’m only on it for this sort of thing), so we got all set to do what I usually do: open Facebook on my Galaxy S7 and mirror it to the Fire TV.

“Mirroring” means that whatever is on my phone’s screen appears (wirelessly) on the Fire TV’s screen.

I use that quite often…not just for pictures, but for websites and apps on my phone which don’t have Fire TV apps.

Amazon really promoted it with the first gen Fire TV, and it’s been present on subsequent gens/devices (the FTV2, the Fire TV Stick)…until now.

I went to where it normally was in Settings, and it wasn’t there.

I looked around for it (with my SO waiting to see the pictures), and couldn’t find it…so I want to Amazon Help:

Use Display Mirroring on Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile*)

It was explicit:

“Fire TV (3rd Generation) does not support display mirroring.”

That was a disappointment! Maybe they had to take some necessary component out to make the device smaller, but that seems unlikely to me.

I went to the device’s Amazon product page…and I couldn’t help but notice right away the low ratings average: 2.6 stars out of 5 with 282 customer reviews at time of writing, and the plurality (38%) were one-star. I think that’s the lowest I’ve seen for an Amazon device, at least with that many reviews.

One of the reviews mentioning having mirrored on it…it seemed like that might have been with an app, so I checked the apps.

Nothing had good reviews, and most casting apps seemed to be for iOS (I have an Android). Most also weren’t free, and at least one was pretty expensive. I’ll look into it more…

If it can be done through a third-party app, it probably wasn’t a hardware reason. I noticed that the Alexa-enabled TV also doesn’t mirror. Why would Amazon make that change? On the TV, that would actually disqualify us from using them at work, since we mirror to TVs for presentations some times.

  • Do they think people don’t want to mirror? Seems unlikely
  • Do they not want people to mirror, in order to channel (so to speak) what they watch? Maybe, but that feels conspiratorial to me, especially since they allow direct competitors like Netflix and Hulu
  • Do they think there’s some other way to do it, like when Apple eliminated the headphone jack? If so, I don’t know what it is…at least, something that isn’t a direct competitor
  • Could it be that they don’t want you to mirror because they want to track what you are watching? That one seems possible. If you watch something on Hulu or Netflix on a Fire TV, the device presumably knows what you watched (it fetched it, after all), although I suppose the app itself could wall off that information. When you mirror, it seems unlikely to me that the receiver knows what you sent.

If I had realized ahead of time it wouldn’t have mirroring, I would have been more reluctant to get it. I’m not going to return it: having Hulu not crash is worth quite a bit. I may actually run them both: we’d watch the the FTV3 most of the time, and have the FTV2 for mirroring.

What do you think? Do you ever mirror to a screen? Do you mirror for pleasure, for work, or for both? Do you know of a free FTV3 compatible casting app you’d recommend? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.


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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.

 

 

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15 Responses to “The new Fire TV removed one of my favorite features: Display Mirroring”

  1. Phink Says:

    I sometimes mirror to my ROKU. I don’t have a Fire TV stick. Let me correct that. We have one boxed away and not even hooked up.

    I don’t mirror shows or movies however. I mirror the Kindle app from my phone every once in a while. Sometimes I get an urge to lay back in my recliner, where I have an excellent view of my TV in my home office. I find this is a little uncomfortable for holding a kindle so I’ll mirror to my ROKU and read on my TV. The fonts seem bigger on the TV. I turn my fonts on the phone to the smallest one and I can read it fine on the TV. Of course I have to flip the pages through the phone but that’s not a big deal.

    The You Tube app on the ROKU is not that great. I just don’t like the layout and the search box is scroll and click which is time consuming. Therefore, my cousin, who watches You Tube quite often streams it to his ROKU because he likes the set up on the phone better.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I’m under the impression that casting (or “projecting”) a device’s screen content onto a TV (or other screen devices) is increasingly a capability built into the underlying operating environment of TV’s. That being so, I could see where having this capability on lots of outboard devices like Roku, Fire TV, etc. might be unnecessary, and in some cases confusing. Of course, that doesn’t help with older TV’s (but it does foster TV upgrades 😁).

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      Yes I would expect that screen mirroring is becoming more common in TVs (although not in the Alexa-enabled TV). However, are they really going to get people to upgrade their TVs every couple of years? TVs should last decades, right? 😉 You know, like refrigerators and vacuum cleaners…

      • Edward Boyhan Says:

        Ever since the FCC decided (some time ago) that high definition TV should be digital with some very complex technical algorithms underlying it, TV’s have been more computer than anything else. And you know computers are on a 2-3 year replacement cadence 😁. As we can see from computers and smartphones, we are on a never-ending treadmill of must-have S/W advances — just saying (:grin).

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        Yep, just nostalgia. 🙂 There was a period of time where one might expect to inherit a grandparent’s working vacuum cleaner. Of course, that’s a pretty narrow window…vacuum cleaners had to have been invented, and then people had to have wanted to use them. 😉

  3. Tom S Says:

    I use an app called AirPlay/DLNA Reciever Pro to mirror and play (unencrypted) video from my iOS devices and play video from Windows. There might well be some other app for FireTV that enables Screen Mirroring for Android. FireTV’s screen mirroring feature has never worked reliably for me.

  4. D.W. Metz Says:

    The new fire HD 10 (2017) doesnt have the mirror (out) option either

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, D.W.!

      Hmm…I wasn’t aware of that. It does concern me a bit. I know my usage patterns aren’t always average, but it does feel like a takeaway, and I”m not sure why.

      • ShadowFalls Says:

        They have done this intentionally to all 2017 models. Which is lame since the hardware is fully capable. You will need root to reclaim a feature stolen from you. They have their ” second screen” option but only for certain apps and both Fire TV and Fire tablet have to be on the same account.

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, ShadowFalls!

        I don’t consider it a theft, since this model never promised me it would have it…it still works on the old ones where it was sold with that feature. Now that the Fire TV has two web browsers, this makes this much less of an issue.

        I personally don’t root my devices, since I write about them for other people, and I like to have the standard system so it matches.

  5. Nickster Says:

    Maybe it’s just because of higher resolutions/framerates? That’s a lot of data to send wirelessly. Maybe the quality suffered for that.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Nickster!

      Interesting hypothesis!

      However, phones can send streaming video to TVs…the technology might be different enough to impact it, though.

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