Amazon Fire TV review

For Prime Instant Video subscribers there's no better media player available than this little box

Faster than an Apple TV and thinner than a Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV streaming player is a little box with big appeal. It’s so good in fact, that it might make Prime Instant Video subscribers out of all of us.

The Bluetooth zapper is the star of the show. Simple yet oh-so slick, it features a circular navigation and menu control augmented by transport keys, plus an integrated microphone for voice interaction. Voice control is nothing new, but here it actually works. It can be used to search Amazon’s streaming video service and proves remarkably effective. Film titles, actors, directors or genres, its accuracy rate is pretty much 100 per cent, and when it’s not sure it offers up several likely suggestions. Of course, you can always opt for a text search if you want.

Setting up the Fire TV box takes just a few minutes. Obviously, as this is an Amazon ecosystem product, you’ll need an Amazon account. But once connected, there’s a range of diverse services available, including Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Curzon Home Cinema. You can always download more from Amazon’s app store – the onboard memory is a relatively generous 2GB. Unfortunately there’s no dedicated YouTube app and precious little in the way of catch-up TV

Unlike the uniform Netflix user interface, Amazon’s streaming service has many faces depending on the device being used, not all of them pretty. Here, though, it looks superb, with sharp attractive thumbnails and art.

Streaming success

Fire TV proves a fine source for an AV receiver. Multichannel audio, depending on the streamed content, can be delivered over HDMI or optical; Dolby Digital Plus is enabled by default. The UI, powered by a Qualcomm graphics engine, is gorgeous. Streaming image quality is potentially excellent, if you have fast broadband. With a fibre connection, HD movies and TV shows appear comparable to over-the-air broadcasts. Network connectivity includes wired Ethernet, as well as dual-band Wi-Fi. Navigation is sprightly and casual games play well, thanks to a quad-core processor.

The Home page is thumbnail-driven. Recently watched items top the tree, followed by new additions to Prime Instant Video (for which you'll need a subscription) and Featured Apps and Games. Here you’ll find optional apps (such as Plex for media player japes) and assorted diversions. Beneath this are various curated strands and recommendations. The more you buy into the Amazon ecosystem, the more Fire TV offers. MP3s in your Amazon Music locker stream with a cool graphical interface. Images stored in the Amazon Cloud Drive can also be browsed.

These latter tricks, along with the enjoyable interface, excellent voice interaction and simply-does-it installation, make Amazon Fire TV a superb media player for Prime Instant Video subscribers. Highly recommended.


Amazon Fire TV
£70 Approx

Highs: Fast, attractive user interface; excellent voice search; high-quality video streaming (broadband permitting); deep integration with other Amazon music and photo services
Lows: Limited catch-up; media streaming functionality dependent upon apps

Performance: 4.5/5
Design: 5/5
Features: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5


Connections: HDMI output; optical digital audio output; Ethernet; USB
Format support: Dolby Digital Plus; HDMI audio passthrough up to 7.1; MP3; H.263; H.264; MPEG-4; VC1; JPEG; PNG
Dimensions: 115(h) x 115(w) x 17.5(d)mm
Weight: 281g
Features: Voice interaction; smartphone screen mirroring; Spotify; Tunein radio; optional game controllers; Qualcomm quad-core 1.7GHz processor, Adreno 320 GPU; dual-band Wi-Fi; 720p/1080p output up to 60fps