NEW: Amazon's Fire TV Stick
When is a tech gadget too popular? When pre-orders placed on November 1 won’t be fulfilled until after Christmas. That is the current state of Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick, a streaming media player on a thumb-sized, HDMI-compatible computer – and steroids. Read on to see what makes the Fire TV Stick almost too good for its own good...
Just Add Fire: Internet on Your TV
In a nutshell, TV sticks are a convenient way to pipe online video content to your big-screen TV screen, instead of gathering the family around a laptop or tablet with a small screen and tinny speakers. The stick plugs into your TV's HDMI port, and connects via wifi to your Internet service.
All TV-on-a-stick products are miniaturized computers with an operating system, applications such as streaming video players, and pre-programmed Internet connections to Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Youtube, and many other online streaming video services. Built-in apps enable management of your favorite channels, shows, schedules, and interactions with other home entertainment devices.
The important differences between TV sticks lie in three areas:
Bundled content sources: Can you get HBO, Netflix, Youtube, NBC Sports, the Ukrainian national TV station, etc? The mix of bundled sources is the hottest field of competition among TV sticks.
Ease of use: Can you control the stick with a remote, a smartphone app, on your big-screen TV, and via a Web browser on a desktop or laptop? The more “yes” answers to these questions, the better. Of course, it also matters whether the controls are simple, intuitive, and minimize hand motions. And forget buffering; no one wants to watch a spinning circle.
Price: The Roku stick retails for $50; Chromecast goes for $35. Amazon is launching the Fire TV Stick at $39.
Fire TV: Specs and Features
The Fire Stick scores very well on the essentials. Its dual-core 1 GHz processor addresses 8 GB of flash memory – 4 times that of Chromecast and 32x the Roku stick’s RAM. It includes a VideoCore 4 GPU for lightning-quick rendering of 1080p HD signals, plus Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround-sound. ASAP (Advanced Streaming And Prediction) tech minimizes buffering by caching and pre-fetching your favorite content before you request it.
Over 200,000 movies and TV episodes are available, millions of songs, and hundreds of games. Movies can be rented for just 99 cents. If you have more than one TV, you can easily move the Fire TV Stick from one HDTV to another. Amazon says the ability to use the Fire TV Stick in hotels, college dorms or a friend's house is coming soon.
A dedicated handheld remote control and a smartphone app provide optimal access to the Fire Stick’s functions. And voice search “that actually works,” according to Amazon, helps you locate shows or genres by just speaking to your Fire Stick.
Everything can be displayed everywhere. If you’re watching a YouTube video on a tablet you can mirror it to your wide-screen TV, and vice versa. No need to miss a football play during bathroom breaks, just grab your tab and run. You can also use X-Ray on your tablet or smartphone while watching a show to pull info from IMDb (Internet Movie database) about the characters, trivia, music, and more.
The Fire Stick comes with a 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime, of course. Prime includes access to all that video content, and free shipping on Amazon purchases. And what's that question from the back of the room? Well of course you can make Amazon purchases through the Fire Stick! What did you think this was all about? :-)
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Nov 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- NEW: Amazon's Fire TV Stick (Posted: 3 Nov 2014)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved