Amazon may not have been one of the first companies to enter the competitive tablet market, but there’s no doubt the company's Fire HDX tablets are attracting the attention and buying decisions of many. Likewise although Amazon wasn’t the first company to create a set top box that can stream content to a TV, the Fire TV has a lot of really great features that are sure to attract users. Ultimately, there are a number of factors that you should consider before purchasing any set top box.
Consumers who already have an Amazon Prime subscription and are shopping for their first streaming box should definitely give the Fire TV strong consideration. With the exception of HBO GO, the Fire TV supports nearly all of the most popular content services currently available. Since this is an Amazon branded box, it makes accessing Prime content very easy. As an added bonus, the Fire TV also has some functionality that you won’t find elsewhere—such as games and voice search functionality. In short, Amazon's ecosystem for the Fire TV is strong.
In addition, we were particularly impressed at how well the Fire TV’s voice search capabilities worked during our tests. Never once did we have to train the Fire TV to recognize our voice and yet, 9 times out of 10, we were able to get accurate results in mere seconds.
On the flip side, if you already subscribe to Netflix or Hulu Plus and don’t have an Amazon Prime subscription ($99 per year), the Fire TV may not be as attractive. Although you can access Netflix, Hulu Plus, and many other content providers through the Fire TV, this box is designed around content from Amazon’s ecosystem. In addition, the well-liked voice search functionality is not accessible in these third-party apps.
The Fire TV isn’t meant to replace gaming consoles such as the Xbox One or PS4 for serious gamers, but it does provide additional entertainment options for families and casual users who want to play a casual game or two. There are many titles currently available and many more are coming soon. The upcoming Fire TV app for phones and tablets will also enable additional gaming functionality.
Users who already have a Roku, Apple TV, or other set top box may wonder if the Fire TV is worth the money. Given the similar content offerings on these devices, each user will have to decide for himself if some of the “extra” functionality (voice search, games, cloud drive access, music, and other apps) that accompanies the Fire TV will justify its modest $99 investment. Regardless, we recommend it as an affordable internet, services, gaming and movie content streaming device that competes well with some of the best connected media type set top boxes available currently.