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Eye on Demand | July 26, 2017

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Amazon Fire TV Box (2015) Review

Amazon Fire TV Box (2015) Review

Review Overview

Value For Money
8
User Interface
8
Availability And Quality Of Services
7.5
7.8

Mix Apps From Other Countries

Amazon shook the streaming world when they first launched the original Fire TV, and over a year later, they’ve updated it with a brand new second generation 4K model. Check out our review to see how it stacks up against the competition!

The hundred dollar mark seemed to be the price-point benchmark for an on-demand set-top-box for the last couple of years. Started by Apple with their ATV, and picked up by almost everyone else from Roku’s #3 flagship, Sony’s pointless PlayStation TV, Asus’ Nexus Player and of course Amazon’s own Fire TV.

But it seems that Amazon are intent to retain that price despite the new Apple TV retailing now for between $160 and $200, and the new Roku 4 hovering around the $130 mark.

In the case of the Amazon Fire TV, you get a lot for that hundred dollars. This is a seriously powerful box for its size and price-point, and can not only suffice extremely well as an IPTV box, but also as a reasonable gaming platform as well – although people who are interested in this aspect may also want the additional game-pad which is not included.

There are two things that set this box apart from the competition. The first is unfettered access to Amazon Prime in any of the four countries that support this service (pending individual subscriptions of course) – namely the US, UK, Germany and Japan. And as far as Amazon Prime goes, there are no better platforms to make use of this streaming service – Amazon quite simply pulls out all the stops for their own app, so if accessing Amazon Prime or Instant Video is what you are specifically after, you would be hard pressed finding a better platform than this one.

The second great feature is not an official one, but is almost too good to be true if you are a Smart DNS user. Most platforms allow you to switch regions. On an Apple TV, this is simply done via the menu, whereas the Roku is a bit more complicated and requires a 10minute procedure. Samsung TVs can also switch regional hubs via a hidden menu. In almost all cases though, outside of the expensive game consoles such as the Xbox One or PS4, it is a choice between one hub or the other, and this for the most part is not practical.

But the Amazon Fire TV has a “back-door” way that allows people to mix apps from multiple regions onto the single hub, allowing the BBC iPlayer to sit alongside Hulu Plus or Zattoo. However, before you get too excited, few of these apps will work outside of their official region unless you also have a Smart DNS service such as offered by Getflix.

For people just looking to use this for services available in their current country, there are still ample streaming choices available.

 

  • Physical

    One of the great things about today’s streaming set-top-boxes, is that they are so small they can be hidden just about anywhere.

    At 115mm x 115mm x 17.5mm, the main body is exactly the same size as the previous model, so there should be plenty of room around a television for this box, especially considering the ability to hide it completely since the remote works without the need of line-of-sight.

    AFTV Dimen

    With a dual band antenna and 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi, there shouldn’t be any need for many people to bother with a wired connection. But for where it is needed, the AFTV box comes supplied with a 10/100 Ethernet socket.

    Power is supplied by a slightly chunky adaptor that will have different pins depending on where it was purchased. It is worth pointing out that the new Amazon Fire TV operates from a completely different voltage to the older model, and draws 15v/1.4amps via the same power adaptor as the Amazon Echo.

    You’ll also find a microSD card slot which increases the 8GB of onboard storage by up to an additional 128GB, ideal if you plan to install a lot of games on this device. For those using the platform primarily for streaming television, it is very unlikely you will run out of space any time soon.

    But missing this time around is the digital Audio Out socket found on the previous model. There is support for Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2-channel stereo via HDMI audio pass-through (up to 7.1), but not many people have HiFi’s with HDMI inputs, so for those the omission of the dedicated Audio Out may be quite significant.

    Finally, an HDMI port to connect to your 4K ultra high-definition TV that’s capable of 2160p at 24/25/30/50/60Hz and HDCP 2.2. If you don’t have a 4K TV, a standard HD TV capable of 1080p or 720p at 50/60Hz will suffice.

    Remote2

    The remote is a Bluetooth affair, which as mentioned above, means you can easily hide the box anywhere you like in the room. But this may also make it hard to find compatible universal remotes. In any event, the supplied controller feels solid in the hands and has a minimalistic approach to buttons as so many remotes do these days. There is also a microphone button at the top for use with Amazon’s own services, but more on that later. The new AFTV remote is slightly longer than the previous model and lacks the matt/soft feel of the underside which was quite pleasant in the hand.

    (For owners of Harmony Universal Remotes, later models with the hub included will work with this device, but of course minus the microphone option)

    As for under the hood, thanks to the 64-bit MediaTek quad-core processor, which when combined with a GPU that Amazon says is twice as fast as the previous model, you shouldn’t find this little box sluggish at all.

    • Size: 115mm x 115mm x 17.8mm.
    • Weight: 270 grams.
    • CPU: MediaTek Quad-Core up to 2 GHz. Dual-Core @ 2.0 GHz + Dual-Core @ 1.6 GHz.
    • GPU: Power VR GX6250 600MHz (Max).
    • Storage: 8GB.
    • Memory: 2GB.
    • WiFi: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) Supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks.
    • Ethernet: 10/100.
    • Bluetooth: 4.1 with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP, SPP.
    • Cloud: Free cloud storage for all Amazon content.
    • USB: USB 2.0
    • Video formats supported: H.265, H.264.
    • Audio formats supported: AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, Dolby Atmos (EC3_JOC).
    • Photo formats supported: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP.
    • HDMI: 2160p up to 30fps; 720p and 1080p up to 60fps.

     

    To break through geographic restrictions on the Amazon Fire TV, we recommend one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     

     

  • Amazon Prime

    Although the Amazon Fire TV will happily work with approved 3rd party apps such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and the BBC iPlayer, Amazon’s own video streaming service is set entirely apart and built directly into the UI.

    The advantage of this is a unified ecosystem designed to easily direct customers to Amazon’s own content. The home screen has direct links to Amazon titles and the Amazon Watchlist, with even the search option bringing up Amazon video content alongside apps and games.

    You don’t actually need an Amazon Prime account to use the Fire TV, but there is no doubt that having one adds dramatically to the platform’s potential. With or without a Prime sub, Amazon’s video library will always be visible on the home screen.

    But one of the big differences many seasoned on-demand users will notice, is the immediate playback of content once selected. Amazon pre-load movies and TV shows onto the device even when browsing their info screens, so as soon as a show is selected, it begins immediately. This only works for Amazon content, but it really does make a difference.

    Although it is possible to rent or buy Amazon movies and TV shows, there is still a Prime-only menu ensuring everything you browse there will be part of your monthly sub. And a selection of categories helps find that specific film or episode including Recently Added Prime TV or Movies, Recommend TV or Movies, Exclusive Prime Movies, Originals, Most Popular, Kids and Genres.

    The Watchlist is also easily available directly from the main Hub, and if you already had a Prime account when ordering the device, your Watchlist will be populated upon first setup.

    While I would call this Amazon’s best user Interface when accessing their own content, I did find Amazon’s interpretation of FFW and REW as somewhat awkward. It’s hard to explain, other than it just doesn’t feel right.

    Amazon Instant Video & Prime Pros:

    • Excellent UI.
    • Directly accessible from Home screen.
    • Instant playback.
    • Voice search Integration.
    • Watchlist and Resume.
    • Beautiful 1080p HD streams averaging 10,820kbps*

    Amazon Instant Video & Prime Cons:

    • No Netflix-style region switching via Smart DNS.
    • Poor on-screen keyboard for searching.
    • Awkward FFW and REW.

    Amazon Prime is available from the following countries:

    Flag US SmallTry Amazon Prime US 30-Day Free Trial

     

     

    Flag UK Small

    Try Amazon Prime UK 30-Day Free Trial

     

     

    German Flag

    Try Amazon Prime DE 30-Day Free Trial

     

     

    (Accessing Amazon Prime outside of the designated regions may require a compatible Smart DNS or VPN service. If using Getflix, ensure the locale is set to the correct country)

    To break through geographic restrictions, access Amazon Prime’s 3 core libraries anywhere in the world via one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • US Services

    A streaming platform is only as good as the services it supports, and like most of its competitors, the Fire TV supports 3rd party apps. These are however treated completely separate to Amazon’s own Instant Video and Prime service.

    If you are used to the vast range of apps available for the Roku platform, you may be a tad disappointed here, although as far as IPTV goes, it is not terribly bad for US on-demand support.

    The two big contract-free subscription services, Netflix and Hulu Plus are here, as well as a pile of free apps as well, from ABC, PBS, PBS Kids, A&E, Lifetime, History and Crackle as well as other pay-wall services like Showtime, HBO Now, Sling TV & Watch ESPN.

    But there are also a lot of omissions that may help decide against this box including most of the main free OTA catch-up networks (CBS, NBC and FOX) which is especially notable for CBS as they are not on Hulu.

    Apps are easily found either via a separate app menu, or the Recent menu at the top of the Home Page. I especially like this treatment, as it lists all the last apps you have used recently, which makes a quick way to access your favourites.

    Of particular note, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Netflix and PBS are especially well designed.

    Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 13.27.56

    To break through geographic restrictions on the Amazon Fire TV, we recommend one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • UK Services

    In the UK, the Amazon Fire TV’s greatest competition is not only Roku, but the £15 box that delivers the best value in television from Now TV. Either of these will offer free-of-charge, all of the UK’s main FTA catch-up services (except UKTV Play), from the BBC iPlayer to ITV Hub, All 4 and My5, not to mention Now TV for Sky content.

    The Now TV box lacks Netflix, which kills it for many people, and although this is available on the Roku platform, Amazon Prime is not.

    That means if a UK user wants a single box to access both their Netflix and Amazon Prime content and doesn’t already have a Samsung Smart TV, then the Fire TV box could be their best option.

    But it does come at a cost. While offering the BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport, ITV Hub, All 4, My5 & UKTV Play apps, missing is Now TV, which is a bit like having a cheesecake without the biscuit base.

    Still, there are a few other gems on here including of course Netflix and Curzon, but the hidden jewel is TVPlayer, which offers good quality live streams from the main UK FTA channels – entirely for free!

    FireTVUKApps

    To break through geographic restrictions on the Amazon Fire TV, we recommend one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • DE Services

    Whereas the UK and US are flooded with viable competitors, Germany doesn’t really have a lot of 3rd party set-top-boxes that could get in the way of the Fire TV.

    Roku has only reached these shores via Sky and their “Roku Powered” Box which offers pretty much nothing but Sky Online or Sky Snap, and although the Apple TV is there, outside of Netflix and Watchever, there really isn’t a lot going for local apps yet. Chromecast is quite well supported however, but not everyone is comfortable with an Interface that doesn’t actually have its own user interface.

    Which makes this little box quite an attractive choice in this country.

    What is especially interesting, are the plethora of FTA catch-up services that are otherwise difficult to find on any other set-top-boxes, including Eins, ARD Mediathek, ZDF, ZDF Heute, Arte, BR and ServusTV. These alone make this platform worthwhile for German viewers, but with the addition of Netflix and Zattoo (which offers live TV streams in near HD quality), this could become very popular in Germany.

    Keep in mind that Zattoo Germany doesn’t offer the wonderful Recall or PVR features of the Swiss version, so although Zattoo have pulled off their finest UI yet for this release, it may not be quite the perfect solution for Swiss users (or those accessing Zattoo in Switzerland via Smart DNS).

    But the biggest omissions would be Watchever and Maxdome, although Maxdome is said to be on the way.

    FireTVDEApps

    To break through geographic restrictions on the Amazon Fire TV, we recommend one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

  • User Interface

    Any form of technology is only as good as its user interface. It can have all the power and specs that some people love to drool over, but if the UI fails to perform, it really is good for nothing.

    The Amazon Fire TV not only packs in a powerful processing core, but also has a wonderfully user-friendly UI sitting on top.

    The vast majority of menu items on the Home screen are aimed squarely at Amazon Prime and Instant Video. Access to Prime Video, Movies, TV, the Video Library, Music and even the Watchlist, account for just under 50% of all menu options, and leaps over if you include the Search and Recent options which are heavily Amazon biased.

    Of course, hard core Prime users will benefit enormously from this, but if you tend to spend far more time in Hulu, Netflix or the BBC iPlayer, a lot of screen real-estate will start to look wasted.

    The Search function is a great point in hand. Although it can be used to find installed apps on the device, it really comes into its own when searching Amazon’s own library – just don’t expect results to turn up from any 3rd party service other than Hulu.

    All up, there are two ways to search:

    1) Via the painful and slow onscreen keyboard, a method that could have been so much better designed, but instead is terribly ineffective.

    2) Alternatively, you can use the voice search which works by holding down the mic button on the remote. If you have enjoyed reading my struggles with the Xbox One, you may be surprised to hear of my regular success with this particular device. For some reason, it really does understand me almost all of the time.

    At the very top of the screen is the well thought out Recent list. This will display any of the last games, IPTV streaming apps and Amazon Instant Video content that you have last used – in the order you used it. So, if you find yourself constantly accessing Hulu Plus, Netflix and the BBC iPlayer, they will always be found at, or near the top of the screen for easy access.

    Tip: If you mixed apps from different regions as described in the Combine Regional Apps tab, all of your Apps that are used, regardless of where they come from, will also be found here.

    Mixed in with them are also Amazon’s own content, so TV shows will likewise find themselves on the list as well, making it a great way to easily hop back into a series that you are currently watching.

    AmazonFireTVBanner

    As far as performance goes, this is one zippy user interface. Posters flip past fluidly, with no noticeable sluggishness or lag, and Amazon Prime videos fire up immediately upon pressing the play button with not a spinning circle in sight.

    Don’t expect the same prebuffering for 3rd party content though, as Amazon reserve this feature for themselves, despite promises of an improvement when they announced the 2nd generation model. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be making a cup of tea after pressing the play button either, as although the content will need to fill the buffer first, 3rd party apps perform for the most part without any serious pause or delay.

    One thing I didn’t really like was how apps don’t always close when you switch between them. This depends entirely on the app. Whilst the iPlayer fully shuts upon exit, Netflix doesn’t (so if you change the Netflix region via Smart DNS, you will need to manually restart it). But the biggest issue could be with live streaming apps such as Zattoo or TVPlayer.

    Simply switching off the TV doesn’t stop the stream, so Zattoo in particular could suck more than a gigabyte per hour if you forget to switch it off – a frightening prospect for those with data caps. And since there is no off button, viewers will have to remember to actively stop the live stream when finished.

    Outside of that, my biggest gripes here would be the lack of a global search (as featured on the Roku box), and a global Watchlist. Imagine how great that would be, to have your favourite shows from say the BBC iPlayer, Amazon and Netflix all in one Watchlist!

    All in all, the Amazon Fire TV has one of the best user interfaces of any streaming set-top-box around.

    UI Pros:

    • Fast and fluid.
    • Amazon content prebuffers before playback.
    • Integrated use of Amazon content.
    • Best Amazon platform yet.
    • 3rd Party apps available.
    • Apps from multiple regions can be (unofficially) installed onto single hub.
    • Excellent Recent list.
    • Excellent use of voice for searching.

    UI Cons:

    • Amazon has too much priority.
    • No true global search.
    • No global Watchlist.
    • Terrible on-screen keyboard (for searching).

    To break through geographic restrictions on the Amazon Fire TV, we recommend one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     

  • Combining Regional Apps and Global Access

    Combining apps from different regions onto a single hub is effectively the holy-grail for many IPTV users. Whether you are an expat who wants to not only watch local TV, but also content from back home, or you’re a cord cutter looking for more options and viewing services.

    Of course, you could have a different box for each region, say a Roku for the UK and Apple TV for the US, but we all like to look after our energy usage these days, not to mention our budgets, so combining all the apps we want onto a single device and on-screen hub is to be honest, amazing.

    It just so happens that the Amazon Fire TV is one of the few STBs that can achieve this. Outside of the more expensive Xbox One and PS4, the only other set-top-box that can mix and match apps is the (official) Android TV platform (e.g. the Nexus Player), but since this has so few apps anyway, does it really count?

    Of course, nothing is a walk in the park, as although it is possible to mix and match apps from different regions on an Amazon Fire TV, it is not a feature supported by Amazon, nor is it entirely plain sailing. You won’t have to perform any serious hacks such as required to achieve the same result on a Samsung Smart TV, but you will have to fiddle with a few settings.

    What this guide will show you how to do:

    • Combine apps from any of the three countries where the Amazon Fire TV is available (US, UK, JP and DE).
    • The apps will all sit happily together on the single hub without need of changing accounts.
    • Once all foreign apps are installed, your account settings can be normalized and everything will work together.*
    • No additional Amazon accounts are needed.

    What this can’t do:

    • *As many apps are region blocked, you will need an unblocking service such as Getflix, to access IP-restricted content.
    • Although many apps are supported by DNS unblocking services, not all will be. If an app is not supported, your best option would be to contact your unblocking service.
    • VPNs are unsuitable for this purpose, as they only allow traffic to one country at a time. Smart DNS on the other hand does not have that restriction, making the Amazon Fire TV a Smart DNS‘s dream machine.
    • Amazon Prime does not operate like Netflix, so you will only have access to the Amazon Prime content in the region you have subscribed to. This means if your sub is with Amazon Prime UK, you must be in the UK hub and none of the other libraries are accessible – switching to the US hub will not access the US library of Amazon Prime, unless you also have a US subscription.
    • This hack does not in any way circumvent any pay-wall, and we do not support any actions that do. If you want to access Amazon Prime, Netflix, Hulu Plus or any other subscription service, you will also need to subscribe to them officially.

    What is required:

    • An account with Amazon in your local country: Generally most people will use their standard account, or the one already with Amazon Prime, but you may choose to open a whole new account if you wish – keeping in mind that this account should have a working Amazon Prime if you are interested in this service!
    • A method of payment in the other regions: Although most television apps are free, Amazon still require a payment method set up in your account that will work in the country you want to access. This could be an issue for some people. A UK account generally requires a UK credit card, and the same for Germany or the US. However, there are options. Some people have had success with the US region by using Entropay, a virtual Visa credit card. Other methods may be to use Amazon Coins or Amazon Gift Cards. If you choose Amazon coins or Gift Cards, make sure they are bought from the region you want to add apps from. (Some reports suggest this should be set up before switching to that region)
    • An address that can be used for the country you wish to temporarily switch to, in order to access their regional apps.

    The red box of warnings: Although we have never had any problems performing these actions described below, there is always an element of risk. Eye on-Demand takes no responsibility for your actions, and any events that may follow. Changing regions to add apps from different countries may break the terms and agreements made with Amazon, and there is always a small risk that they may cancel your account. Finally, as this is an unsupported and unofficial feature, there is every chance that Amazon may decide to close the back door on this at some stage.

    It is also important to normalize everything afterwards back to your normal country, as your standard payment method may be put on hold until this is done.

    Step 1: Finding the App

    The first thing you should do is to check if the app really can’t be downloaded in your current region. This should be done from the version of Amazon where the app may reside. i.e. go to Amazon.com to look for Hulu Plus, Amazon.co.uk for the BBC iPlayer, or Amazon.de for Zattoo – then search under apps & games:

    Step 1a

    Step 1b

     

    If you are unable to install the app, you will see a message like the one shown here.

     

     

     

     

    Step 2: Manage Content & Devices

    Return to your normal Amazon account and region, and then select “Manage Your Content And Devices” from the menu.

    Step 2

     

    Step 3: Change to a new country

    Go to the settings tab, and then select a new country from the drop down list. Keep in mind the view may look different in another country as shown here.

    Step 3

     

    Step 4 Fill in your address

    At this stage, you must fill in an address for this new country. Any addresses you add here, will be saved for future usage.

    Step 4

     

    Step 5: Install the apps

    Now, go back to the country version of Amazon where you wanted to install the app from, and follow the same procedure as step 1, i.e. search for an app in Amazon.co.uk/.de or .com. This time however, you should encounter the following image. We recommend that while you are in this region, install all the apps that interest you.

    Step 5

     

    Step 6: Syncing to the Fire TV.

    If all goes well, your app should now have automatically downloaded onto your Fire TV box. If it is not immediately present at the app list visible at the top of the screen, it could simply mean it is further down the list (after-all, this is a recently used list). Scroll down to look for it.

    If you still can not find it, try pushing it through via the Sync button found on the Settings >> My Account.

    Step 6

    TIP: Make sure you switch not only your devices, but also any Kindle accounts over to the new country if you have them. It is also possible to download the apps directly from the Amazon Fire TV, but you may have to deregister and reregister your AFTV before this works – if so, don’t worry, it is an easy process over at Settings >> My Account >> Amazon Account – just make sure you remember your login password. You won’t lose anything by deregistering and reregistering your Fire TV.

    Gotchas:

    • The biggest hurdle is often the payment method for a particular region. Some people still failed when trying to pay by coins via the web browser, but it worked when installing directly from the Amazon Fire TV. (We have had success purchasing a £1 gift voucher for the UK store to test this, however we also had to switch off any alternative credit cards before it would fall back to the voucher).
    • Keep in mind some versions of apps are for other devices such as the Kindle.
    • Any purchases from within the Amazon Fire TV (even free apps) requires One-Click Purchasing to be set up for that region.

    If you have any success, failures or tips, please don’t hesitate to comment below. But keep in mind, we can’t help you acquiring foreign credit cards or addresses!

    Found this guide helpful? Why not like us on Facebook and help others find it?

    To break through geographic restrictions on the Amazon Fire TV, we recommend one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP

     

     

  • Alexa

    Unfortunately, at the time of publication, Amazon have chosen to only support Alexa in the US, despite charging more money for the same product overseas. Outside of the US, customers who buy the Amazon Fire TV box will only have voice search. But is Alexa really worth it anyway?

    Alexa adds to the AFTV’s voice search capabilities by including a “question voice command service” that responds with a “natural voice” answer. It can be used for a small range of questions including weather, sports queries and music playback.

    First of all, Alexa sets its location by default to Seattle, the home of Amazon, and must be manually set to your own, actual address – but as already stated, this must be somewhere in the United States.

    Although Alexa is still rather limited, it can still do a few interesting things.

    First of all, it should be able to play music. I say should, as I have yet to have any real success. Currently Alexa on the Fire TV is compatible with Amazon Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio and Tuneln. Having both Amazon Prime Music and Spotify accounts, I was hoping it would at least work with Prime, but it doesn’t appear so. Asking “Alexa, play something from Prime” resulted in Alexa advertising Prime, but not actually playing anything from it. If I requested a specific song, it would look only at the options of individually purchasing content from Amazon Music.

    Whilst Alexa would tell me the weather and add things to my shopping list, it wouldn’t fire up Netflix which is a little bit disappointing since most people would buy the AFTV to stream television rather than create shopping lists.

    There is no doubt that Alexa has an interesting future, especially when they finally omit the microphone button requirement on the remote, and have an always on option like on the Echo (where Alexa originated), but right now it is absolutely nothing to write home about.

    Alexa

  • Where to Buy

    The Amazon Fire TV Box is only officially available in a small handful of countries, and this means many online distributers may not ship the item abroad. If you live within one of the officially supported countries, you should have no issues at all, otherwise you may have to find a friend or a forwarding company to pass it on to you.

    We recommend Amazon, and the links below will direct you to the official Amazon sites whilst supporting Eye on-Demand at the same time.

    Flag US Small

    To buy this item from Amazon US, click here.

     

    Flag UK Small

    Alternatively, to purchase from Amazon UK, click here.

    German Flag

    German Amazon customers can purchase here.

  •  

  • Conclusion

    It’s a good sign that only after a couple of weeks of using the original Amazon Fire TV, it had quickly become one of my favourite set-top-boxes, and nothing has changed with this updated model.

    Quite honestly, I love the UI, and if I want to watch something on Amazon Prime, I fire this little box up usually before anything else.

    I’ve become so used to watching live UK TV via either the TVPlayer or Zattoo apps, that I can’t remember the last time I used them via any other platform, and right now, if I am going to watch something on Hulu Plus, Netflix or the BBC iPlayer, it is the Amazon Fire TV’s HDMI input I switch to.

    A lot of this has to do with combining a great, fast user interface, and the backdoor ability of mixing apps from around the world (Smart DNS required there of course), but also some of the 3rd party apps are amongst the best I have seen on any platform (looking at TVPlayer, Zattoo and Plex here).

    However, nothing is perfect, and one of the biggest letdowns with this platform are the huge gaps in apps that really has to be filled. No UK catch-up hub is complete without all of the main FTA networks, so All 4 really need to jump on board, as well as Now TV and new players like Wuaki.tv.

    The US hub seriously misses a lot of the OTA catch-up services such as CBC All Access, but it is likely that these will eventually find their way on board.

    Is it worth the US$99? Absolutely, but don’t whip out your wallet just yet. Amazon also have a cut down version for $39 in the guise of an HDMI dongle which features almost everything needed for IPTV bar voice control – even if it is notably sluggish.

    Is it worth updating from the original model? Absolutely not, at least not until 4K content becomes more widely available, but if you want a set-top-box that offers a good range of UK, US and German apps, then this is one of the best out there.

    Pros:

    • Great price, small scale.
    • 4K HDMI output.
    • Powerful internals.
    • Great range of existing apps including BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, Netflix, Hulu Plus, TVPlayer, Zattoo, ARD, ZDF and of course Amazon Prime.
    • Best Amazon Prime UI of any platform.
    • Great voice search.
    • Alexa in the US.
    • Ability to mix apps from multiple regions (requires unofficial method).
    • High quality production.
    • Fast prebuffering of Amazon content.
    • Amazon X-Ray for Amazon content.

    Cons:

    • Top heavy on Amazon content.
    • No prebuffering of 3rd party content.
    • No global search (of 3rd party content).
    • No off switch (could cause issues with bandwidth caps)
    • Missing many major apps (All 4, Now TV etc).
    • No Alexa outside US.
    • Lost the Audio Out port.

    Log:

    21.10.2015: Review Published: Score: 7.8

     

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    (Note: Some selected photos used in this review are property of Amazon)

    To break through geographic restrictions on the Amazon Fire TV, we recommend one of the following Smart DNS services:

    Ad GetflixAd SDNSP