Amazon Fire TV (2015) Review

Amazon Fire TV 2015 Review

This is the review of the 2015 Amazon Fire TV. Does it live up to the hype? How does it rank amongst the new streaming devices from Google and Apple?

Amazon Fire TV Design

It features the same design from the previous model. There is not much more than a square box. But who cares about the exterior? It is about how it feels and performs.

Amazon Fire TV Remote

The remote is well made, but there are issues with the back of the remote. It is hard to remove it. After working through the back of the remote, the remote actually feels really good in my hand. It works well and is really responsive. The iOS Fire TV App is helpful and easy to use.

Streaming On The Amazon Fire TV

It performs well for streaming, but is limited when it comes to gaming. Amazon’s ASAP feature aims to eliminate buffering time by assuming what you will watch. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime work on Fire TV. If you have a Plex Media Server, good news, the Fire TV can stream movies from the server.

Alexa on Amazon

Amazon’s Alexa voice service can play music, do searches, check sports scores, and provides weather forecast.

X-Ray, FreeTime On The Amazon Fire TV

Another feature from Amazon for the Fire TV is X-Ray. X-ray gives you information about a movie or TV show, like which actors are in a particular scene. Parent can use FreeTime as their parental control tool. All of the main streaming services are available on the Fire TV. The user interface on the Fire TV can be confusing, overall it is a decent streaming box.

3net To Develop First Native Ultra High Definition TV Show

The first native 4K show will be coming from 3net Studios, a joint venture between Sony, Imax, and Discovery. Their initial productions include Space, a three part series covering everything from the big bang to space in the future. This show will be shown in  all formats; 4K, 2K, 3D, and 2D, or what 3net calls “TotalD.” This show will be giving you “deeply stereoscopic 3D and Ultra HD shots to immerse the viewer within space itself…” 3net is also planning on releasing Marksman, a 3D stop-motion graphic novel series, as well as a few other shows. So if you plan on getting a second mortgage to pick up a 4K TV, you can expect to see some native 4K content sometime in 2013. Read more about it here.

First Ultra HD 4K TV from LG

LG 84LM9600

LG is going to be the first to release the newest HD stadard available for consumers. So if you’re one of the people who have a spare $20,000 in the bank account or just value the latest in entertainment over paying for your kids college tuition, then this may be your next purchase. What does this $20,000 exactly buy you? To start, the now officially named Ultra High Definition gives you four times the resolution of your current 1080p TV. At 3,840 x 2,160, you are getting over eight million pixels in this 84″ set compared to the two million 1080p offers. 84″ is huge, so you need a big living room so you can put enough distance between yourself and the TV to get the most out of the picture. This is a 3D TV with 240Hz “Tru Motion”, so there is a lot of potential for some eye popping images without the blur. They’re including six pairs of glasses too. LG also offers some of it’s best features in this smart TV, such as voice control to help guide you through their interface. One cool feature is the built in 2.2 sound. Two 10-watt speakers and two built in subwoofers, but if you are buying this, you must shaking your house down with Neo:X.

Other features include:

  • LED Plus Technology for deeper blacks and richer colors
  • 3D depth control
  • Two player gaming without split screen (sounds like a cool feature, but requires glasses that sold seperately)
  • 2D to 3D conversion
  • Voice and hand motion controls

The big question here is going to be what type of content will be available in this new UHD. As of yet, nothing. But it will upscale your  Blu-Rays for you… Most movies today are filmed in 4K resolution, that’s what you probably see at your local theater. If Hollywood wants to open up it’s vaults for you, then you could see what this tv can really do.

Maybe UHD isn’t ready for the prime time yet, but once they are able to cram all of those pixels into a smaller set that will fit the average home, and once there is enough content available, it might just catch on. For now, it may just be a bit overkill, not to say it’s not impressive. Let’s see where this new technology takes us in the future. Available as of October 30th, and so far only Video and Audio Center in Southern California has it available for purchase.

Blu-ray Disc Are Here To Stay (for awhile)

Blu-rays are here for the foreseeable future and here is why: No digital option offers nearly as much content in terms of extras.  Recently, we did a review of the best ways to watch Prometheus at home and  the stand out factor was the vast amount of content and additional features that came with the 4-disc set.  The Prometheus 4-disc set comes with over 7 hours of additional footage (7 hours is not an exaggeration). iTunes consistently offers the most extra content of all digital download options, but no one competes with what is offered on Blu-ray.

I am not sure why this is the case. At first, I thought that the content on Blu-ray disc is just too much information to download; the content would take too much time to download via our current Internet speeds in the States. According to Akamai, more recent State of the Internet report, the U.S. average Internet connect speed is 5.8 Mbps. At that speed it would take about six and a half minutes to download the average two hour movie. Not bad, right? Now, if your were to download all of the content available in the Prometheus box set it would take an estimated thirty-five minutes. That is about the time it would take for a trip to the store and back minus the gas.

Even if you could, would you want to download that much content? Twenty of the average 2 disc sets would fill a terabyte hard drive. How about that, purchasing a new external hard drive yearly to download new movies. Looking further down the line, the Blu-ray spec is positioned to take advantage of the next movement of home theater technology, Ultra HD. Ultra HD is four times the resolution of current HDTV’s. The Blu-ray spec currently includes 25 and 50 GB disc with plans for 100 GB disc.

I enjoy the experience of opening a disc set. For that matter, I like real books.  Maybe I am old school, but I like tangible items so much I am willing to pay extra for them.

As long as Blu-ray disc-sets offer a superior amount of content and flexibility they will always be around. Nothing is fixed in stone, as every year Internet speeds and hard drive sizes increase. The content of digital downloads will eventually resemble what is on blu-ray, but not in the foreseeable future.

CEA Announces Ultra HD

The next generation of high definition is upon us, and it will be officially called “Ultra HD.” The Consumer Electronics Association has decided to come up with the new term to help consumers differentiate between the old and the new. The current standard for HD resolution of 1920 x 1080 will be bumped up to 3840 x 2160, which means your next set will be packed with over eight million pixels.  That should make your viewing experience better if you hope to someday outfit your home with an even larger screen. Sony and LG are among some of the manufacturers who have announced 4K sets with this new resolution. So let us look forward to enjoying this new standard which will really allow us to see all the imperfections on our favorite movie stars’ faces.