Who doesn’t like streaming media? If you don’t, please feel free to stop reading here but since we are not cavemen my bet is that you all are fans of streaming media. When the Amazon Fire TV first appeared the streaming world was forever changed. Sure media streaming was around long before the Amazon Fire TV with various other device like Roku but the Amazon Fire TV really was the first one to introduce streaming media to the mass market. It was no longer the video/audiophiles and techies that were streaming media, Amazon with there ability to influence the mass consumer market brought streaming media to the soccer moms.
With the simplistic design of the Amazon Fire TV and the availability of televisions with seemingly infinite amount of HDMI ports getting up and running with a Amazon Fire TV could not be easier, Simply plug it into HDMI and Power and your off an running. Well sort of there is a little bit of setup required to get the Amazon Fire TV connected to your Wi-Fi and get signed in with your Amazon Account but this is easily done with the Alexa Voice Remote once your all set and at your home page the user interface is very pretty and easy to navigate. The only complaint I have is I have a hard time telling which page I am on as the headers do change color but not enough for me to differentiate (full disclosure I am partially color blind so this may not really be a problem).
The Amazon Fire TV has a seemingly endless supply of content and services that you can add on to it. One thing to note however is that most of the networks require you to sign in with your Cable Providers credentials in order to access most of the content. This makes the Amazon Fire TV not a cable replacement but it can be a replacement for an extra cable box in a room where you may not need one and that is how I currently use my and could not be happier! Add to it a Netflix and Hulu subscription and every bit of content (except for local sports) that I could want is at my finger tips. Now amazon is also making a push to replace your Cable Company with Amazon Channels, and I have to say I am intrigued by this but hesitant in the same breath. I love the idea of paying just for the channels and content that I want but do not like the idea of having to pay my ISP anyways for internet access and then pay someone else for Cable access. I want to just deal with one company and with the packages offered by Comcast, Verizon and the like it is hard to var away from them as the bundled price points are pretty competitive. Perhaps in the future we could see Amazon jump into the ISP game?
I was once a Chromecast user but in the last year and a half I have changed over to Amazon Fire TV for one simple reason, Amazon Alexa runs my life! I would be lost without voice control of my home and as such needed to have voice control of my television. Voice control on the Amazon Fire TV works great either with the Alexa Voice Remote or a paired Amazon Alexa enabled device. To be able to just say what you want to watch and have the Amazon Fire TV go out and find that content for you and start playing it is a game changer. Now I know you might say that you can do this with a Google Home and a Chromecast (doth of which I also own) but you just can not compare the voice control from that solution to what you can do with Amazon Alexa.
The Amazon Fire TV runs a heavily modified and skinned version of Android and while Amazon tried to lock this down it is still Android and you can gain access and make some tweaks like side-loading apps that are not available on the Amazon App Store or even loading the Google Play Store to gain access to all of those apps. One of the most popular apps to side-load has to be Kodi and while I used to run Kodi on a Raspberry Pi back in my younger not so law abiding days I no longer encourage its use and with the shear amount of content available there really is no need.
One thing I would love to see come to the Amazon Fire TV is integration with other platforms. I would love to see what is playing and have basic control over my Amazon Fire TVs from inside of SmartThings for example or some other platform really just because I want everything in one place. Now a while back I was running Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi and they had a component that would do just this, why cant we get more integration like this?
While the Amazon Fire TV is my preferred method of streaming media, I am sure some of you have some differing opinions so lets talk about what you are using and why in the comments below.
I am passionate about the IoT and connected devices. Using connectivity to automate our lives will empower civilization to achieve greatness.