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Amazon FireTV Stick Review

A geek's review and unbox experience for Amazon FireTV stick.


TLDR: it's a cheap and powerful TV stick, hackable and playful. However it's video quality is really below the bar.

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As a early ChromeCast user and app developer, I am a big believer of those tiny TV sticks products. So I almost instantly ordered two Amazon FireTV Stick when it announced. The $20 early bird price is incredible!

FireTV stick arrives with a nice little box, everything is in very high quality, feels like an Apple product.

   
   

On the FireTV stick there is an micro USB port, and in the box there are cables and a little power adapter which means unfortunately it may need external power supply via USB just like ChromeCast.

My TV only have 4 HDMI ports, it's already a bit crowded. Luckily there is a port nicely fit for it... To see if this latest HDMI stick can use the power from HDMI port, I didn't plug in USB cable.

   

Not a surprise, all I got is this no signal screen! It does need power from USB and can't take advantage from HDMI port.

 

Then I ran into a quick problem: FireTV stick's USB port is on the side, it's really hard to fit it in my crowded input panel.

   

ChromeCast has a big "head" so it's not possible to plug another stick side by side. ChromeCast's USB cable is on the head side so it plays well with other cables.

 

That's why in the FireTV stick package box there is an extension cord:

   

I really dislike the external USB power plug,however my TV only have one USB port and it's already taken by ChromeCast... Luckily I found a "service" port on the back and apparently an USB port... And it worked!

 

Now Amazon FireTV stick finally boots!

Apparently it does not like my USB power juice... But it works, I can just ignore it.

 

   

The remote is not IR based but use wireless technology, that's something I really like. FireTV gives itself an update.

 

 

After update, the device "forgot" the wifi I just configured, so I have to enter wifi password again.

 

It still dislikes my USB port a lot however it still allows me to ignore this warning message.

 

What surprised me is, it seems Amazon already registered this stick with my account, so I can simply confirm my account and everything get setup automatically.

 

The user experience of FireTV is pretty awesome, it's fast, responsive, and because it has a remote, it feels much more like a TV set box and very easy to navigate from different services.

 

It's amazing it integrates with all Amazon services, including cloud storage, my photos, music etc. Those features are a big plus, it makes ChromeCast like a half baked product.

   
   

Overall I like FireTV stick, especially with its $20 price tag. Even it's full price at $40, it's still superb value for the money.

** Updated**

After using Amazon FireTV stick for a few days I find some really annoying issues:

Poor video quality

The video quality from FireTV stick is really poor compare to the ChromeCast or my Sony Network Bluray Player. Though FireTV stick does output 1080p video through HDMI port, the menu is sharp enough but NOT for the video playback!

Amazon's prime video is the major feature for this product, however the video playback instantly makes me feel something isn't right, the picture is blurry, even for its "ultra HD" movies, the color is not vibrant, feel a bit grayish or whitish. Slideshow the photos you can see the problem easily.

Once I compare it side by side with Sony Player play back the exact same movie from Amazon, it's so obvious that the video quality from FireTV stick is much lower quality.

I am not sure if this is hardware issue or the software issue. The out of box video quality is absolutely below the bar.


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