My family loves watching movies and a few television shows on weeknights and weekends, but we don’t subscribe to cable. As cord cutters who still want to watch a fair amount of TV, we are always looking for economical entertainment options. When the Amazon Fire TV was released a few weeks ago, we decided to take the plunge and buy one. We hadn’t had a new set top box in a while, and we were excited to be able to watch Amazon Prime videos on our Amazon Fire TV, something that is not available on our Apple TV. While we enjoy our new Amazon Fire TV, I don’t think it will replace our Apple TV anytime soon as our primary set top box.
Great for streaming Amazon content
The best thing about the Amazon Fire TV is that it streams Amazon content wonderfully, something I’ve had trouble with with other set top boxes. My Apple TV doesn’t even feature Amazon content, and my the Roku and Tivo boxes I have had over the years didn’t stream in a high enough quality for me.
Amazon content streams over the Fire TV in high quality HD, and I am only streaming it over a cable modem. One thing I love about the Amazon Fire TV is that it preloads shows that it thinks you will watch. If you’re making your way through a series, Amazon will often have the next episode already downloaded for you, so there’s no wait time or pixelated content at the beginning.
Hard to find Prime content
As a frugal cord cutter, I’m not really looking to buy much content on my Amazon Fire TV. There are plenty of shows and movies to watch with an inexpensive Amazon Prime membership, and I like to focus on those. Unlike watching Netflix on a set top box, it’s a little tricky to sort for Amazon Prime free content on the Amazon Fire TV. I would like an option to turn off all paid content, but that doesn’t seem to be available right now.
Love the voice search
One of the best features that the Amazon Fire TV offers is an extremely accurate voice search. With other set top boxes, it gets annoying to type long search phrases into a tiny remote. While you can still type out your searches with the Amazon Fire TV, I almost always use the voice search. It’s accuracy is near 100%, and it’s super convenient to just speak what I’m looking for.
My overall view
I like my Amazon Fire TV, and I am glad that I bought it. It was less than $100, and I expect to use it for at least two years. For $5 dollars a month, I can watch as much Amazon Prime content as I’d like in HD, which I think is a great deal. I also like some of the other apps on the box, like Netflix and YouTube. In many ways, the Amazon Fire TV has the best user interface of any set top box I have seen.
There are a couple downsides to the Amazon Fire TV that are worth mentioning. The first I covered a bit above; it’s really difficult to sort for free content. I could imagine that it would be easy to make impulse purchases on this box, which would not serve anyone on a cord cutter frugality plan. I also have found that the Amazon Fire TV has more technical glitches than other set top boxes, including the blue screen of death. It’s still very usable, but it doesn’t work as seamlessly as an Apple TV, Roku, or Tivo. I think this box is still worth buying for anyone who doesn’t have a set top box and plans on watching a lot of Amazon Prime content.