Final Thoughts On The Fire TV
Although it may look similar to the original, the new Fire TV for 2015 is a true second-generation device. Amazon has improved the hardware inside the Fire TV by offering a quad-core, 64-bit MediaTek SoC, a more powerful graphics engine, and better Wi-Fi support. This improved hardware enables 4K Ultra HD video capabilities and Amazon has also added its Alexa voice control functionality to the second-generation Fire TV.
Despite the improvements, Amazon overlooked one key feature on the second-generation Fire TV: surround sound. The fact that the Fire TV doesn’t currently support older Dolby Digital systems in apps is a significant drawback at this point, but Amazon has promised a fix is coming. If the lack of surround sound is a deal breaker for you, our advice would be wait to purchase the Fire TV until the promised update has arrived.
We were really impressed by the voice controls and features of the Amazon Echo and were pleased to see the same Alexa functionality in the Fire TV. As we hoped, Alexa and the Fire TV had no problem finding our requested shows, displaying weather information, and performing other functions using spoken commands. All in all, the voice search functionality found on the Fire TV is top-notch and much preferred in comparison to using an on-screen keyboard.
The Fire TV also makes it easy for Amazon Prime members to take advantage of all of the content that’s available through their Prime subscription, while still supporting other popular content services such as Netflix and Hulu. Although Amazon content is generally promoted first in the menus, other service providers are still easy to use. We’re also glad to see Amazon has expanded its voice search capabilities to include some additional apps such as Hulu.
For some users the addition of the microSD card slot in the second-generation Fire TV will be much appreciated. Depending on your equipment, however, some users will miss the Optical Audio port found on the first-generation Fire TV. Since this trade-off is very user dependent, you’ll have to decide which is more important to you.
Amazon has made some definite improvements to the second-generation Fire TV by adding 4K support and Alexa functionality, though the unit isn’t without faults. Assuming Amazon fixes the surround sound issue as promised with a November software update, the Fire TV is a good option for users looking to stream content to their TV, without breaking the bank.