Amazon Fire TV (2015) Second Generation Review
Apps and Content
The Fire TV provides access to over 3,000 channels, apps, and games through support for Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO GO, Hulu, Showtime Anytime, and more. For cord cutters, you can also watch live TV on NBC News, NBA Gametime, CBS News, and Sling TV. With a Sling TV subscription, you’ll get access to channels such as ESPN, Cartoon Network, AMC, HGTV, TNT, Food Network, ABC Family, and more.
Amazon’s Fire TV game library now includes over 800 games with some of the most popular titles being Minecraft, Lego Star Wars, and Pac-Man 256. The included Fire TV Voice Remote works with many games though if you’re really into gaming on the Fire TV, you may want to purchase the Amazon Fire TV Game Controller which costs about $50 when purchased separately or the Fire TV Gaming Edition for $139.99 which comes with the controller, a 32 GB microSD card, and two games. This wireless Bluetooth controller features all of the controls a gamer would expect including dual analog sticks, A, B, X, and Y input buttons, left and right shoulder buttons, left and right triggers, and lighted player indicators. The newest version of this controller also has a voice search button.
In addition to TV shows, movies, and games, the Fire TV also provides access to millions of songs through Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn. You can also access your Amazon Music Library as well as Prime Music (provided you have a Prime subscription). While browsing for music, you’ll want to keep in mind the Music category found in the menu is tied to Amazon Music. If you’ve installed other audio apps such as Pandora or TuneIn, you’ll find them in the Apps category.
If you have uploaded photos or videos to your Amazon Cloud Drive, you can view them on your HDTV using the Fire TV as well. Amazon Prime members will enjoy unlimited photo storage and 5 GB of free storage space that can be used to store videos and files not recognized as photos. The Fire TV also supports Miracast display mirroring which enables you to view anything from your phone or tablet screen through the Fire TV.
Like the previous version, the second-generation Fire TV supports Amazon FreeTime which lets parents set limits for their children. You can create up to four custom profiles and choose which movies, TV shows, apps, and games can be viewed. You can also set daily screen limits and restrict certain types of content.
At launch, one of the big drawbacks to the second-generation Fire TV is that it doesn’t support Dolby Digital surround sound in all applications. Amazon has promised a fix saying, “By this coming Monday, October 12th, you will receive an automatic software update that enables Dolby Digital Plus for customers who have a Dolby Digital Plus system (including support for Netflix and Amazon Video). An update for older Dolby Digital systems (not Dolby Digital Plus) will be distributed on November 30th.”