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Author Topic: Amazon wants some of the Roku market  (Read 17114 times)
bdwalker1
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« on: April 03, 2014, 08:40:54 am »

I don't remember hearing anything about this being in the works, but it looks like yesterday Amazon started selling their own set-top streaming box.

http://www.engadget.com/2014/04/02/amazons-fire-tv-hands-on/

From the reviews I've read this appears to be a Roku competitor - a mostly streaming device.  I'd be more interested in it if it had more features for being a media player for local content.
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FrostyFreeze
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 09:48:04 am »

I'd be more interested in it if it had more features for being a media player for local content.

Agreed. I thought the same thing when I came across this thing yesterday.

I wonder if it runs on Android's OS? If so, maybe someone will hack it so it can run on a pure Android build, instead of the current Amazon'd Android OS (Amazoid?). THEN you could get it to play whatever you want.
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KingPin
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2014, 12:50:06 pm »

yeah with no DLNA support its already outdated
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Towndrunk
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2014, 02:01:53 pm »

I think the Amazon Fire knocks the Roku down a notch or two in my opinion.  I mean if you want the motion controller or the apps/channels, then the Roku is a viable option.  Since I already have an Amazon Prime membership, which automatically gets you some free streaming content, it was a no brainer for me to pick up the Fire.  It has 8G of internal storage where the Roku has none, and a quad core processor while the Roku only has a dual core.  The Fire does have 2G of RAM too, where I'm not sure what the Roku has.

I have used it for a few weeks with Plex, as well as side loading XBMC on it.  The Bluetooth remote is a lot better than the one from the Roku in my opinion.  The Roku remote seems like a child's toy with big bulky buttons, where the Fire is small and snappy.  This is just my opinion, but I'm thinking of purchasing a few more of these for guest/kids rooms.
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bdwalker1
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2014, 02:44:36 pm »

I just got my Fire TV on Wednesday, and I've had limited time to play with it. My initial impressions are in concert with what TownDrunk posted above: snappier response than the Rokus I've used (I have very limited Roku experience), decent UI layout though very Amazon-centric (no surprise there) and the interface is very smooth/clean - not stuttery or laggy like my Vizio Co-Star or BluRay player interfaces can be.

I have sideloaded XBMC which seems to run very well on this platform though I haven't tried new skins or add-ons like Cinema Experience yet.

I tried sideloading the aVia Media Player I use on my Co-Star, but it crashes on launch.

I have tried Plex (which meant installing Plex server on my dedktop PC) and it runs well.

One major feature missing for me is support for local media on the USB port. Evidently Amazon stripped the USB mass storage support out of their Android kernel because I can't even find the usb drive mounted using a file explorer app. I'm hoping they add that support in a firmware update soon, but even without it I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of this box.
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Sparge
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2014, 05:16:13 pm »

One major feature missing for me is support for local media on the USB port. Evidently Amazon stripped the USB mass storage support out of their Android kernel because I can't even find the usb drive mounted using a file explorer app. I'm hoping they add that support in a firmware update soon, but even without it I'm sure I'll get a lot of use out of this box.

Yeah, that's what kept me from going with the Fire over the WD TV Live.  I needs me some locally connected storage!

I've been an Amazon Prime customer since 2007 (for the free shipping).  The new streaming and cloud stuff is a bonus.  Too bad they're raising the price of Prime to $99 this year!  That is the first price increase since Prime was introduced in 2005.  So, I guess I shouldn't be too sad.  Sad

-Sparge-
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Towndrunk
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2014, 11:15:33 pm »

I have tried Plex (which meant installing Plex server on my dedktop PC) and it runs well.

Out of curiosity, what format are your movies that you are streaming from Plex?  I am actually going to do a full setup tomorrow, but I did throw a few .mkv files into the mix and it played fine.  While talking to a friend that has a Roku, he said that if you have .mkv and .iso files in the same directory, it will only notice the .mkv files.  If you remove all .mkv files, it will then recognize the .iso files.  I haven't seen yet if the Fire does that as well.  The only thing that I don't like is the Plex theme.  It just looks to basic, and is one of the reasons I side loaded XBMC.  That and the idea that in Plex there are no chapters, you can only fast forward and rewind.  I was just wondering if you were having these same issues as well.

I've been an Amazon Prime customer since 2007 (for the free shipping).  The new streaming and cloud stuff is a bonus.  Too bad they're raising the price of Prime to $99 this year!  That is the first price increase since Prime was introduced in 2005.  So, I guess I shouldn't be too sad.  Sad

I have only been a Prime member for about two years, and I believe it was $80?  It has more than paid for itself in shipping alone.  Especially when you pretty much almost get next day shipping on everything.  Comes in really handy at Christmas when my family lives all over the US.  I hadn't heard that they were going to raise the price.  Sort of sucks, but I believe it.  I will still probably keep my membership though.  Just not getting into the video streaming, always used Netflix in the past.
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bdwalker1
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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2014, 02:38:34 pm »

Out of curiosity, what format are your movies that you are streaming from Plex?

Almost all of my movies are MKV. My shorts & music videos are either MKV or MP4.  I don't have any ISOs.  I did drop an AVI of a bad 80s movie in with some MKVs last night and when I refreshed Plex picked it up just fine.
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Towndrunk
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« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2014, 09:29:27 am »

Almost all of my movies are MKV. My shorts & music videos are either MKV or MP4.  I don't have any ISOs.  I did drop an AVI of a bad 80s movie in with some MKVs last night and when I refreshed Plex picked it up just fine.

It must be related to the .iso then.  I don't believe that Roku "supports" .iso files according to the spec sheet, but I do know that it will play them, just not very well.  I just recently converted all of my DVD/Blu-Ray files to the .mkv format.  It is a much more compatible container for current devices.  I did set up my XBMC after the conversion, but I have not tested the Plex portion of it.  I will do that tonight, but I don't think there will be any issues.
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bdwalker1
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« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2014, 01:13:52 am »

Update on my Fire TV experience so far:

Honestly, though I have had my Fire TV for almost two months it has mainly been a novelty item so far.  It sits on our computer desk and only gets occasional use. This isn't because it is a bad device, but 1) it's lack of USB storage support and inability to run my preferred media player app (aVia) made it a bad choice for my BYT needs, and 2) Since our bluray player has good performance and tons of apps (Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, Vudu, Pandora, etc.) I haven't felt the need to add an additional device into our living room setup.  We have enough devices there as it is - no need to confuse my family with another.

Now, however, thanks to some recent discoveries I am likely to start getting more use out of it.

Note: The rest of this post deals with unsupported hacks to make the Fire TV run things that aren't expressly approved by Amazon.

A few days ago I discovered that a process for rooting the Fire TV had been posted (http://www.aftvnews.com/how-to-root-the-amazon-fire-tv/).  And the rooting process allowed the use of the StickMount app to get USB storage working (http://www.aftvnews.com/how-to-play-media-files-from-external-usb-storage-on-amazon-fire-tv/).  The root process also allowed the installation of Google Play Store app (http://www.aftvnews.com/how-to-install-the-google-play-store-on-the-amazon-fire-tv/).  From the Play Store I was able to install aVia directly rather than sideloading an APK I found online.  aVia installed this way actually runs properly. StickMount allows XBMC, aVia and other media players to play content from locally attached USB drives.

With these changes I can now load a USB flash drive with video files for a show (my intros, a handful of music videos, a couple of shorts and a feature movie). In aVia I can create a playlist with the videos in the order I want them played. Then I just start the playlist and the show runs. There are no arrows or loading indicators between videos. There is no on-screen text/titles when a video starts. There is no discernible pause between videos.  I will need to do another test or two before I will replace my Vizio Co Star with the Fire TV for my driveway movie nights, but I think the Fire TV will be a good media player for me now.

UPDATE: I updated the links in this post to reflect the new domain name for the Fire TV news (now AFTVNews) site.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2014, 10:57:22 pm by bdwalker1 » Logged

Towndrunk
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2014, 09:22:54 am »

I saw that there are a lot of ways out there to Root the Fire TV, but I was sort of waiting for a new ROM.  I wasn't aware that you could get the Play Store on there.  If you install things from the Play Store do you still have to navigate to the Settings, Apps, and find it there?  Or does it set it up on the home screen?
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bdwalker1
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2014, 10:52:45 pm »

TD,

If you stick with the default Fire TV launcher you still need to use Settings-->Applications-->Manage All Applications to launch any side-loaded apps or apps installed from the Google Play store (unless you use Llama to remap some of the native apps to launch your side-loaded/Play store apps).  However, there is a mod done by someone on the XDA forums that will auto-launch an alternate launcher on boot-up, and remaps the Home button on the remote to launch the alternate launcher as well.

I currenly have my Fire TVs using the Smart10 Launcher that is geared toward TV consoles.  It plays pretty well with the Fire TV's limited remote control.  Within the alternate launcher there is access to the "Home" app which is the Fire TV's default launcher so I can easily get to the stock Fire TV experience when I want to browse for Amazon Prime Instant Video offerings or other apps that are better/easier from the default launcher. For my driveway theater nights, however, the alternate launcher gives me easy access to my aVia media player app and other utilities I use like StickMount for mounting my USB flash drive or external HDD for local content.

For the best clearing house of useful Fire TV information I regularly check http://www.AFTVNews.com.  In particular they have a Guides section (http://www.aftvnews.com/tag/guide) with guides for rooting, blocking over-the-air(or net) updates, installing Google Play store and applying the mod I mentioned above (http://www.aftvnews.com/how-to-remove-unwanted-home-screen-menu-items/) amongst other things.

Since the latest firmware blocks the known rooting method there is also a guide for setting up a new Fire TV while preventing it from updating to the latest firmware (assuming it did not ship with the latest firmware).  I recently used this guide to set up a second Fire TV that I purchased to have a redundant box.

I am really happy with my Fire TV boxes though I wish it was more of an out-of-the-box experience to get what I want (a good media player that can play a playlist of content from local USB connected storage).  With a little under-the-hood work I have myself a nice box that I can queue up a playlist of pre-show videos, intro, main feature, intermission videos, second feature and post-feature videos and just press play at the beginning of the evening.  The only thing I need to worry about is monitoring volume when videos change in case some are significantly higher or lower and need to be boosted or attenuated manually (in other words I dive for the receiver remote if something starts out overly loud, and I need to increase the volume on certain videos that are particularly quiet).
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Towndrunk
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« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2016, 10:06:17 pm »

Now that these have been out for a bit, I was wondering if anyone is using a Fire TV for their BYT?  I have a few of them in my house, but I don't know if I want to use it or not.  I think I can get more functionality out of my laptop and network connection.  Is anyone else using a Fire TV?
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Jimchan66
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« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2016, 09:38:27 am »

Recently I have been thinking of using an Amazon Fire Stick with my Epson MovieMate 85 in the yard.  I have a Fire Stick attached to each of my TVís in house now because I have switched from cable to Sony Vue.  So far I like my setup but would like to try it outside.  I will let you know how it works once I give it a try. Hopefully, this weekend.
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Jimchan66
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« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2016, 10:38:44 am »

I tried the Fire Stick out this weekend and it worked great.  I was a little concerned if my Wifi would reach but had not issue.  I tried it with Sony Vue, Netflix and Amazon all worked well with no buffering. This will be a great addition to my Backyard.


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