– Ben Martens

fire tv

Amazon Fire TV Review

topgearworkbenchAfter Ken gave me a 32″ TV for the garage, I decided to pick up an Amazon Fire TV to go with it. Yes, I have a Chromecast sitting on a shelf already, but the Fire TV has a remote which is a big win. I don’t really like the idea of leaving my phone sitting out on my workbench to control the TV.

I started with the Amazon Fire TV Stick since it’s cheaper and takes up less space. Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi signal isn’t strong enough in my garage. I even added a second access point right across the wall in the living room, but it still wasn’t enough to hold a steady stream. I suspect there is some sort of barrier between the house and the garage.

By that point, my long-lived hatred of Wi-Fi for stationary devices had boiled over so I took back the stick and ordered an Amazon Fire TV box.

That arrived and … it was a brick. I had ordered a refurbished model to save $20, but it still should have worked. A quick call to a very nice tech support lady got me a new one shipped out.

The replacement unit worked fine. I ran a cable from my network closet to the workbench and voila, I have TV out in the garage.

The Fire TV is a slick little device. It’s a lot like a Roku device if the Roku device first booted into the Amazon app. The other bonus feature is that the remote lets you do voice search. That’s a lot faster than typing character by character with a D-pad on the remote.

You can load other apps onto it. The main excuse for doing this was so that I could have YouTube up showing an instructional video for whatever I’m working on. While there isn’t a dedicated YouTube app for the Fire TV, they do have a simple app that opens up YouTube in it’s big screen experience mode. You can pair the website with your phone and then control it from your phone (similar to a Chromecast but more generic.) Then you can use the remote to pause, rewind, etc.

If you’re looking for a box to add smarts to your TV, this is a solid choice if you’re an Amazon Prime member. If you’re not, then I’d probably go with the Roku.