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One Week With New Kindle Fire Tv - Very Impressive But A Hiccup Or Two

Gents, I have had a new Fire Tv for about a week. Well, since Wednesday but who's counting that closely? Initial observations were quite impressive...in the simplicity. I have to give Amazon credit here. It would have been all too easy to have had bright graphics screaming; "AMAZON!", but they did not do this. It is a combination of matte and shiny black. It does have the Amazon name in relief in the rubbery feeling covering on the flat sides of the unit but that's it. The edge is a shiny but not distracting polished gloss black. It sits about about a 1/2"(~12.5mm) high and about 4-1/2"(112.5mm) square. Very unobtrusive sitting in the media centre area. A single white/very pale blue-ish led is the only indicator the unit is running. Speaking of that there is no typical on/off button on the remote or base unit. You don't turn it off in practise. If it sets unused for 30 minutes it goes into a sort of hibernation mode and the led turns off. Before the unit hibernates it will go through a screen saver sequence. And the images are beautiful scenes of nature and runs. Bringing it back up is instantaneous. Just press a button and you are up and running.

Connectivity. I really like this part. There are ports for HDMI, data, optical audio out, usb and of course power. I really like it that Amazon left the data port on this unit. So many devices want to rely soley on wireless for connection and while it may be okay, there is nothing like a Cat 5e or Cat 6 running from the hi speed or gigabit network port on your router. It does make a difference. I connected the unit up with a Cat 6 patch cable to the router direct and it was up and running in seconds. A big thumbs up for Amazon to not put you through hoops. I suppose this was helped by the fact the unit 'knew' who I was when it was shipped. I suspect Amazon is pre-loading your specifics into the units before shipment if you are a Prime member which we are.

Usability. The simplicity of the remote is a WELCOME change from the typical Sony type remote with a zillion multi-function buttons on them. There is BACK, HOME, SETTINGS, Rwd, Play/Pause, Ffwd. That's it. Hit hit the home button and you fairly fly to the home screen. No lag. This is a HUGE improvement from my PS3. Hit the Return button and you return instantly to whatever screen you were at before. Rwd and Ffwd are really neat too. If you just tap the button it goes about ten seconds and resumes play. If you hold it for a second or two it continues on its own until you hit Play or accidentally hit return or Home like I do sometimes. It works well.

Home screen layout. As I expected this is HEAVILY biased toward Amazon's content and why not? It is their branded device after all. The icons are laid out in banner form in thumbnails like you would see in a Neftlix app. Recently watched, Tv, Movies, etc. As I said, most of that is dead on Amazon Prime and pay per event stuff. No issues, it shows all your recently watched shows or opened apps like Netflix. Speaking of which, Amazon makes no attempt to hide this competitor's app. I don't remember if it was on the carousel/banners but it was easily accessible and I do think I had to download it which was very fast. No issues. Works fine but the Sony implementation is a bit slicker I think.

Side loading and app availability. Now here is where some will part ways and some(like me) will find this is a GAME CHANGING ability for the Kindle Fire. One of the issues I had with Sony(amongst a few I may add) was no Pandora support. Really? Well this box comes with it in the carousel but I think you do need to download it to activate. I will let you know how it fares but finally, no jumping between devices. What happened next is what made me go from "meh, this is alright" to "Yeah, this is how it should be" was the side loading of apps. Now before anyone reminds me it is nothing new, I fully understand it. Side loading started with ebook files and has been going on for apps for awhile. Sometimes with dubious results, sometimes it wouldn't work at all. And at times you needed to root a device completely before getting anything from Google to work. Not an ideal situation. Since we use PlayonTv quite a lot a device which connects to that media server is really a must. I did not pay attention to this when I bought the Fire Tv. It has no native way to access local media servers as far as I know. What to do? Well Amazon has made side loading EASY.

On my Kindle Fire tablet you just open the web browser and go to m.playon.tv and voila, Playon works. Well there is no browser in Fire Tv. Hmm, lets look for an app. No dice at Amazon. What to do? I wanted to side load a Playon apk but there was nothing out there that looked easy to grab. Then I started doubling down on side loading searches and came upon www.sideloadfiretv.com. What a fortunate event. They have a complete tutorial there on how to activate adb on your Fire Tv, download and install an abbreviated adb and fastboot file to your Windows Mac computer to facilitate loading apks on your Fire Tv and links to four or five of their picks for great apps. One of these was Firefox web browser! I finally had it. A small box on the set top that has Netflix, Pandora, Prime, and Firefox. Just type in m.playon.tv and go, right? Well, kind of. It would find Playon files but would not connect or play. Dang it. Back to square one. So I started looking at XBMC. I was dubious since most times installing this is requires a lot of root work on your devices and you also typically lose the original functions. Not so here. You can download an apk from XBMC and it installs side loaded just like the others. You access these types of apps from a sub menu in the settings menu rather than the main carousel but what I like about this XBMC app is once opened, you can open just about ANY of the apps installed in the main Amazon Fire Tv carousel! This is convenience with a capital C. XBMC is a beautiful interface and works very well. AND I got my Playon connectivity back! Score.

Okay, how about reality checks? Audio. We are experiencing some ridiculous audio/lip sync issues with any of the apps including the ones played through XBMC. I am hoping this is a settings issue but will have to be resolved. It is quite bad at times. I am sure there will be other surprises as we go forward but so far I would say Amazon has offered up a VERY nice streaming solution. Sorry to be so long and over thorough but it may help someone else make a decision one way or another. Lets discuss.

Cheers, Todd
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I have been using a kindle fire HD for about two years now. The most impressive aspect for me is the customer service, and user friendly aspect of it. Except for the camera. I have yet to figure it out.

But it gets a thumbs up for me.
Steve, my wife bought me a first generation Kindle Fire tablet for Christmas the year it came out. It really has been a decent product for a $200 introductory tablet. No cameras, no Google Play of course but you know what, for surfing the web, checking my Hotmail, and watching the occasional video or of course reading an ebook, it is just fine. It is getting long in the tooth and battery life is not good anymore but it is more than satisfactory. One thing Silk browser does that is very convenient is convert web pages to a text/ebook format. When this is available you will see a pair of glasses in the task bar area. I think this is called ereader mode. Anyway, just click it and the current page is presented like the page from a book. Much easier for me to read. I am not sure other browsers or Android platforms do this but it is certainly worth the while. We have a big choice coming up when this tablet dies. I am leaning toward a Galaxy Tab 7 with Kindle app but we'll see.

As for this Fire Tv I am well impressed for what it costs. The voice search works smashing well but so far only on Amazon delivered content. I cannot imagine Netflix and other providers failing to jump on this pretty soon. It is very convenient. And the image quality of the videos is very good. The side loading process is about as straight forward as can be for this sort of thing. I tried some side loading on the Fire tablet and to be frank it was clumsy at best. Amazon seemingly has made sure it is easy on this device. When I first bought it I had visions of rooting it right after warranty period(dependent upon some genius hacker opening it up for all of us) and installing XBMC or similar to get a set top box of my own making. Anything to add a real web browser. I now have it along with a Flash apk so I can play most any video content around. And the hookup with Playon made it complete. I think the Fire Tv may be better than a great many early reviews would indicate. I get a kick out of the "it only has X number of apps!" routine. Oh for shame. The horror. Oh boy. This is a set top box for streaming video and audio delivery. And it does it well.

Cheers, Todd

PS. I wanted to add that when I bought mine Amazon was offering a five pay plan for it. $99 broken down into five payments. They charge you the first payment plus sales tax and then bill you four more times at $19.80 per month. I was happy with that deal. Don't know if it is still available.
I love my Fire. I don't have the knowledge to use it like you, but I love the picture, the speed, the sound...$99? Ridiculously low price. I'm probably giving a few as presents at Christmas.
Gents, I fixed the audio sync issues. I did a manual reboot of the unit. I unplugged it for a few seconds and after reenergising it lip sync was perfect. This is Amazon's prescribed method for such things. This isxshaping up nicely.

Cheers, Todd
I watch movies on my Kindle Fire HDX when I fly. I have occasional lip sync problems and rebooting always does it.
Another small update. XBMC is a superb media consumption application. I was fortunate enough to side load v13 Gotham. The arm version has been tweaked to work well with remotes like the one with Fire tv. One thing I am not completely sure of is installing as dons from zip files. I have done so on a machine where the name of the repository is listed in the addons menu of XBMC but not when you need to download the zip file from a distinct web site. Any help from you XBMC users would be most useful.
Gent, another week or so in and I have to say Fire Tv is a LOT better than many of the early reviews(as in the ones who didn't actually own one yet) would lead you to believe. Now I am not trying to start any brand wars here but I do have to mention something. There seems to be a bit of I'm-going-to-hammer-on-Amazon-because-they're-just-like-Microsoft-or-Walmart-and-they-can't-possibly-be-anything-but-money-driven,etc. Okay, you get where I am going here. If this device would have had a piece of fruit depicted on it the mighty media would be ballyhooing it to the four winds. Because you know, Apple certainly doesn't try to make money off their customers. Ahem. Anyroad, I have seen Apple Tv work in person at the stores like Best Buy. It is nice but no where near as powerful as this piece of machinery. This thing is FAST. You bring it out of sleep and click on an app and it opens. No thinking about it for thirty seconds. Select a programme to watch and it load and plays in two or three seconds. No kidding there either. I am sure a good internet connection makes a difference but you get the drift. And the sideloading I mentioned above is superb for getting things on the device that are not in the Amazon app store. Getting Firefox on a set top box was a major way point in my continuing campaign to never pay for a monthly television type package again. And XBMC just sends the thing over the top. As soon as I get a new Windows machine set up for media storage I will finally have my wunderbox. For a paltry $99. I will say for apps like Firefox you need a keyboard and mouse. This is winging its way to me now from Amazon. A Favi mini wireless keyboard/trackpad device that hopefully will make this a nearly one stop media consumption machine. I'll keep you posted if things change for the worse. Fire Tv is significantly better in performance than most of the streaming devices I have tried.

Cheers, Todd
The FireTV seems like a great product for its purpose. The ability to throw XBMC or Plex on there is just icing on the cake. I'm anxious to see if we hear more about AndroidTV (lots of rumors point to Google working on it) at Google I/O this week. I have a Chromecast and it's amazing. And for $35 you can't beat it.
Hi Slim. Google is the single most frustrating player in the whole streaming video hemisphere. It is kind of amazing how these media companies, who should be on the cutting edge of delivery as well as content, fight digital delivery tooth and nail. The number one issue with Google Tv was the fact the browser was completely crippled in a nod to the content providers. At least this is my understanding. I believe it is the same reason why the browser on the PS3 is so horrid. I hope if and when Google introduces Android Tv it s a full on one-stop media centre that gives nothing in preference to the content providers. We'll see.

Cheers, Todd
I really think AndroidTV will fix all the problems GoogleTV had. All signs point to Google announcing it today, maybe even releasing it. Looks like it's basically going to be the FireTV ability-wise (streaming content, games) but with Google services. Be interesting to see what they turn out and if it'll be worth paying 3x as much for as a Chromecast (not that $99 is expensive). Like I said I'm very happy with my Chromecast and I'll probably get another one depending on how AndroidTV looks.
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