Boxing clever? Amazon Fire TV is SO CLOSE to being excellent

Telly box with gaming for the price of a tank of petrol


Prime numbers

A similar arrangement gives you access to Digital Concert Hall, an app from Berliner Philharmoniker offering concerts and live streams. A third party app called TV Player gives you access to Freeview channels including BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5.

Fire TV streamed smoothly in my tests, and makes sense for Prime subscribers. Whether Prime is good value is moot. The free content exists; but search for a movie and most of the time it comes up as a paid option, even for older titles.

Amazon Fire TV

Home screen

Roman Holiday (1953): £3.49 to rent, £7.99 to buy. Gone with the Wind (1939): £2.49/£4.99. More recent offerings have their own quirks, for instance, Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) is £7.99 to buy but no rental option. The Dark Knight Rises (2012) on the other hand: watch for free with Prime. The best advice is to check out the list on Amazon’s site and decide whether it is worth it for you.

Music is less well served. Fire TV connects to Amazon’s cloud music service, which means anything you bought from Amazon MP3, auto-rip CDs (you buy the CD and Amazon automatically adds the MP3s), and up to 250 other tracks manually uploaded. However, there is no music store on Fire TV itself. I also found the selection of concert videos poor, whether free or paid.

There is a Spotify Connect app, but this is not full Spotify; rather, it's a receiver for Spotify played from your mobile or tablet.

Amazon Fire TV

Voice remote: press and hold the button, speak a title and then let go to search

Fire TV has a few party tricks. One is voice search, which operates via a microphone built into the remote. Press and hold the voice button, speak, release, and your words go up to Amazon’s cloud voice recognition service and back down to perform a system-wide search.

Voice search is mostly good. It does make sense for a sit-back experience, and searching for something like a movie, actor or app generally works first time. There are occasional frustrations. A search for “TuneIn Radio” is recognised as “Tune in radio” and does not find the app. That said, it works well enough for you to use it.

Amazon Fire TV

Miracast on the Fire TV: your mileage may vary

There is also an Amazon Cloud Drive app which you can instal on your Android or iOS device (Windows Phone users are out of luck) which automatically uploads your photos and videos, which then sync with Fire TV for viewing. A handy feature.

What about casting a screen from another device to the Fire TV? There are two separate features. Second Screen only works with Kindle Fire or HDX tablets, and lets you project photos or videos from the device to the Fire TV. There is also Miracast support, accessed through display settings, which in theory should let you project the screen from any Miracast-compatible device. I tried two, one Android and one Windows, and neither worked for me.

Next page: Cut-price console

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • It's a crime to use Google Analytics, watchdog tells Italian website
    Because data flows into the United States, not because of that user interface

    Updated Another kicking has been leveled at American tech giants by EU regulators as Italy's data protection authority ruled against transfers of data to the US using Google Analytics.

    The ruling by the Garante was made yesterday as regulators took a close look at a website operator who was using Google Analytics. The regulators found that the site collected all manner of information.

    So far, so normal. Google Analytics is commonly used by websites to analyze traffic. Others exist, but Google's is very much the big beast. It also performs its analysis in the USA, which is what EU regulators have taken exception to. The place is, after all, "a country without an adequate level of data protection," according to the regulator.

    Continue reading
  • Big Tech loves talking up privacy – while trying to kill privacy legislation
    Study claims Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, Microsoft work to derail data rules

    Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft often support privacy in public statements, but behind the scenes they've been working through some common organizations to weaken or kill privacy legislation in US states.

    That's according to a report this week from news non-profit The Markup, which said the corporations hire lobbyists from the same few groups and law firms to defang or drown state privacy bills.

    The report examined 31 states when state legislatures were considering privacy legislation and identified 445 lobbyists and lobbying firms working on behalf of Amazon, Apple, Google, Meta, and Microsoft, along with industry groups like TechNet and the State Privacy and Security Coalition.

    Continue reading
  • I was fired for blowing the whistle on cult's status in Google unit, says contractor
    The internet giant, a doomsday religious sect, and a lawsuit in Silicon Valley

    A former Google video producer has sued the internet giant alleging he was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle on a religious sect that had all but taken over his business unit. 

    The lawsuit demands a jury trial and financial restitution for "religious discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and related causes of action." It alleges Peter Lubbers, director of the Google Developer Studio (GDS) film group in which 34-year-old plaintiff Kevin Lloyd worked, is not only a member of The Fellowship of Friends, the exec was influential in growing the studio into a team that, in essence, funneled money back to the fellowship.

    In his complaint [PDF], filed in a California Superior Court in Silicon Valley, Lloyd lays down a case that he was fired for expressing concerns over the fellowship's influence at Google, specifically in the GDS. When these concerns were reported to a manager, Lloyd was told to drop the issue or risk losing his job, it is claimed. 

    Continue reading
  • End of the road for biz living off free G Suite legacy edition
    Firms accustomed to freebies miffed that web giant's largess doesn't last

    After offering free G Suite apps for more than a decade, Google next week plans to discontinue its legacy service – which hasn't been offered to new customers since 2012 – and force business users to transition to a paid subscription for the service's successor, Google Workspace.

    "For businesses, the G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available after June 27, 2022," Google explains in its support document. "Your account will be automatically transitioned to a paid Google Workspace subscription where we continue to deliver new capabilities to help businesses transform the way they work."

    Small business owners who have relied on the G Suite legacy free edition aren't thrilled that they will have to pay for Workspace or migrate to a rival like Microsoft, which happens to be actively encouraging defectors. As noted by The New York Times on Monday, the approaching deadline has elicited complaints from small firms that bet on Google's cloud productivity apps in the 2006-2012 period and have enjoyed the lack of billing since then.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon shows off robot warehouse workers that won't complain, quit, unionize...
    Mega-corp insists it's all about 'people and technology working safely and harmoniously together'

    Amazon unveiled its first "fully autonomous mobile robot" and other machines designed to operate alongside human workers at its warehouses.

    In 2012 the e-commerce giant acquired Kiva Systems, a robotics startup, for $775 million. Now, following on from that, Amazon has revealed multiple prototypes powered by AI and computer-vision algorithms, ranging from robotic grippers to moving storage systems, that it has developed over the past decade. The mega-corporation hopes to put them to use in warehouses one day, ostensibly to help staff lift, carry, and scan items more efficiently. 

    Its "autonomous mobile robot" is a disk-shaped device on wheels, and resembles a Roomba. Instead of hoovering crumbs, the machine, named Proteus, carefully slots itself underneath a cart full of packages and pushes it along the factory floor. Amazon said Proteus was designed to work directly with and alongside humans and doesn't have to be constrained to specific locations caged off for safety reasons. 

    Continue reading
  • Google recasts Anthos with hitch to AWS Outposts
    If at first you don't succeed, change names and try again

    Google Cloud's Anthos on-prem platform is getting a new home under the search giant’s recently announced Google Distributed Cloud (GDC) portfolio, where it will live on as a software-based competitor to AWS Outposts and Microsoft Azure Stack.

    Introduced last fall, GDC enables customers to deploy managed servers and software in private datacenters and at communication service provider or on the edge.

    Its latest update sees Google reposition Anthos on-prem, introduced back in 2020, as the bring-your-own-server edition of GDC. Using the service, customers can extend Google Cloud-style management and services to applications running on-prem.

    Continue reading
  • Amazon not happy with antitrust law targeting Amazon
    We assume the world's smallest violin is available right now on Prime

    Updated Amazon has blasted a proposed antitrust law that aims to clamp down on anti-competitive practices by Big Tech.

    The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and House Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) is a bipartisan bill, with Democrat and Republican support in the Senate and House. It is still making its way through Congress.

    The bill [PDF] prohibits certain "online platforms" from unfairly promoting their own products and services in a way that prevents or hampers third-party businesses in competing. Said platforms with 50 million-plus active monthly users in the US or 100,000-plus US business users, and either $550 billion-plus in annual sales or market cap or a billion-plus worldwide users, that act as a "critical trading partner" for suppliers would be affected. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022