Cool Stuff

Upgrading To Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV Home Screen

Amazon Fire TV SetupOkay. I know that I’m easily entertained, but this has to be on the top ten list of coolest gadgets ever. I’ve recently been taking advantage of Amazon Prime’s free programming in a quest to find something worth watching on TV. Mind you, my standards aren’t particularly high but it’s been a challenge because TV really does generally suck. With that said, I found the Amazon app for the Wii and have been using that as of late to broaden my entertainment options. However, I haven’t been using it very often due to limited buffer, slow connection speeds and low resolution. This week, we finally upgraded to Amazon’s new Fire TV device. Wow.

The shipment arrived in only a couple of business days, which is more impressive than one would think given that when the order was placed, the estimated arrival date was two weeks away. Setup was more simple than you can even imagine:

• Take out of box.
• Connect device to TV or A/V system with HDMI cable.
• Plug power adapter into outlet.
• Turn on TV.
• Follow instructions on screen.

Yep, it was that difficult. Took me all of 3-1/2 minutes. From there, the Amazon Fire TVAmazon Fire TV literally does everything except enter the encryption code for your wireless network. Assuming that you’re using a wireless connection instead of wired (as I am), it finds your network, leaving you to confirm the correct network and enter your code. After that, the device connects, installs any required updates and other than prompting you to select whether or not you want parental controls, that’s about it. If you have an Amazon Prime account and you order it through Amazon, it comes pre-configured with your account information already in the settings.

Once it’s up and running (about 5 minutes to perform the software updates), it takes you directly to an introductory video that explains the basics. One that I might add, is almost unnecessary given the relative simplicity of the interface. Nonetheless, it’s a handy short video that shows you the basics. There are more help videos available that you can access later on if you find something you’re unsure about, but as previously noted, it’s pretty simple to use and doesn’t take a genius to figure out how to navigate and find what you want.

Picture and audio quality are excellent and run full 1080p. Even with the high quality, I have yet to experience any latency or buffering issues at all. Granted, my internet access runs on average around 40 mbps, so I can’t attest to how it may operate at slower connection speeds, but with everybody on broadband these days I would be surprised if many had an issue.

So far, the only issue that I’ve had was finding programming that’s free with Amazon Prime. From the home screen, it’s listed in two different categories, “Recent” and “Top” Prime titles. That’s easy, but if you search for something, when you pull the program up it shows the prices to rent or buy. On the Wii app, the program image has a little band across the corner that tells you the title is included free with Prime. The Fire TV didn’t appear to have this, so at first I was having difficulty finding the free stuff when searching (since I am cheap, after all). I finally noticed that the images have a small white banner that says “Prime” across it on the upper left corner. Problem solved… (you can also find it by looking at the “more ways to watch” button. If the title is available to watch for free with your Prime account, it will give you that option.)

It’s early yet, so I haven’t had much time to explore all the different options but as of now I’m giving it a big thumbs up surrounded by 5 stars with whipped cream and a cherry on top. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can see the all the details by clicking here.

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+Kevin A. Nye

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