Yeah, okay, I've been inactive for nearly a year. I've been busy, okay? Working. Yes, working. Yes, every single minute, geeze, what's with the third degree?!? The work is challenging, and it's a long commute, OKAY?
I bought an Amazon Fire TV the day it came out. I'm not usually an early adopter, but after experiencing the Amazon culture first-hand, I have a lot more confidence in their attention to the customer.
I'm loving this thing. I had to switch to my Roku streaming stick for a little while, and I just wanted that to be over so I could get back to the Fire TV experience.
Read on for my review of my Amazon Fire TV.
Pro: It's Fast.
Really fast. It scrolls smoothly. It responds almost instantly. It even buffers faster.
I was concerned about its text-entry strip. I was expecting a grid, like other products. I thought it would be a big slowdown, but in fact the Fire TV responds to the remote so quickly that the text-entry strip is faster than the Roku's grid.
On the Roku and my Vizio "smart" TV, I would have significant buffering delays whenever I backed up or fast-forwarded more than a few seconds. The Fire TV keeps several minutes in memory: I hit reverse, and the picture picks up within a half a second. Same for fast-forwarding. It's a much nicer experience.
Pro: Voice Search is Awesome!
I tried a lot of crazy stuff, and it worked really well. Every member of the family had a go, and it worked for young, old, male, female, and fake British accents. It figures out what you're saying faster than Google on my phone does, too.
Con: Voice Search Balk
That said, there is a delay between holding down the button on the remote and the "ding" that lets you know it's ready for input. I kept starting before the ding, then balking or repeating myself. No big thing, and I trained out of it pretty quickly. But still annoying.
Con: Voice Search Plug-In
Unfortunately, voice search only works for Amazon Instant Video. And Hulu, sometimes. In particular, I can't voice search Netflix. They thought they'd have the plugin ready within a month, but apparently Netflix won't have any of it.
While you watch a show on your Fire TV, your Kindle can show you details about the actors, music, and even bloopers. This is a lot more fun than I thought, and it ends arguments quickly: "Isn't that the girl from Smallville?" Just look at the X-Ray screen. Done.
X-Ray only works on Amazon Instant Video. Netflix seems to have a lot more stuff than Amazon Instant Video. I'm trying to stick with AIV, but I find myself in Netflix all the time. And of course, X-Ray doesn't work for those videos. I wind up on IMDB looking for actor details.
There are games available, too. I played Airborne Asphalt 8 for a while, but it's got a bug where you can only play against people running on the same platform, and there was never anybody around. But there are more games on my Android phone than my Fire TV, and even more on my wife's iPhone. And the ones on Fire TV seem to suffer from the Pay-to-Play in-app purchasing trap.
Con: Missing Features
Really, I can't understand why this thing doesn't control my TV's volume. Having one remote for both would have completed the experience nicely.
I've also heard some muttering from Roku users that the remote should include a headphone jack. I'm not missing it, but they sure are.
I love this thing. Faster than Roku, easy to find stuff via voice control, and I can buy whatever I can't find elsewhere. It's fantastic!