Fire TV Stick $19

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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The Kindle device is again faster and has more RAM than the Chromecast and Roku stick. Assuming that it's the same release of FireOS, it'll also be dead simple to load Kodi/XBMC and Firefox on one.
I ordered got a Matchstick a couple weeks ago. I don't really need one of these, but the price is so good I could probably just buy and resell it.
 

Howell

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The Kindle device is again faster and has more RAM than the Chromecast and Roku stick. Assuming that it's the same release of FireOS, it'll also be dead simple to load Kodi/XBMC and Firefox on one.
I can't tell which Kindle device you are referring to. Some seem much more expensive, and some seem less than expected like a STB.
 

Howell

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Ok, just wanted to make sure. Missed the sale, ended yesterday morning. Thanks for the info guys.
 

Clocker

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I got my two 'sticks' this week for $19 each. I must say they are awesome and have really sucked me into the Amazon ecosystem further. They are very fast and work great on the 5ghz bands I have dedicated to them. Streaming performance is excellent with Plex. Prime movies and music are a nice bonus and the free Prime unlimited picture storage gives me one more place to redundantly site my previous images. Now I'm finally using my long dormant Pandora account because of the 'stick' too.
 

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It's pretty nice for a TV stick. The remote is smaller and the UI isn't quite as responsive as the big-boy FireTV. It's also missing the voice search function, but the experience is otherwise very similar. Mine is probably going to wind up being someone's Xmas present, especially since I should be getting a Matchstick in another month.
 

Clocker

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I am noticing that streaming from plex to the stick at any 1080p setting is intermittently skippy. My 5ghz router is only about 5ft away so I doubt that is the issue. The second stick on the other tv does the same thing. 720p is smooth though. Any issues with the regular FireTV streaming at 1080p? I have a wired connection available that the unit could use.
 

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On my not-stick FireTV, I actually use XBMC as an external player rather than playing videos in Plex. I lose the ability to resume if I stop watching, but XBMC has full support for multichannel audio and thus can handle native playback of more video files without transcoding.

IIRC I had to get north of 12Mbit video to see dropped frames on the FireTV, and that's something you're probably not keeping around on the ol' Plex server. Default transcode settings for mobile devices on Plex Media Server are 720p/3Mbit, which I'm sure the FireStick has no problems handling.

One of the things I really, super-do-not-like about anything in that "stick" form factor is the loss of Ethernet support. If you want video streaming to not suck, use a wire. If the thing you got can't use a wire, the people who made it (coughNexusPlayercough) weren't really serious about wanting it to stream things.
 

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There are 3rd party controllers that work pretty well with the FireTV/Nexus Player. The one I have was made by Nyko and I think I pad $18 for it (also: gaming on FireTV kinda sucks and there aren't enough games unless you really needed another platform on which to play GTA:Vice City). Also, check Meijer/Walmart/Target before you buy a FireTV from Amazon. I've seen them for as little as $65 in the last couple weeks.
 

Clocker

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I got a regular Fire TV on sale, for our primary tv. Works great. Streams Plex at max bitrate via a wire. Didn't bother to try the wireless.
 

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Second generation FireTVs were just released. Looks like they added a significantly better GPU and 802.11ac support, plus porting in most Amazon Echo functionality through the voice-enabled remote. The new model can do 4k video streams and has hardware support for HEVC, things that no other dedicated streaming box is offering right now. Looks like the Stick got a two core version of the same SoC and now has the voice remote as an option as well.
 

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Those sound like nice updates. I've been thinking about getting a second dedicated streaming device to replace my roku and move the roku into my basement for when exercising, etc. Maybe this would be the one to try. Are you thinking about getting one when it's available in October?
 

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Are you thinking about getting one when it's available in October?
I'm going to buy a couple for my labs, but honestly the one I have at home barely gets used as it is. I've already been asked to buy new Apple TVs so I'm thinking the cheaper, better thing won't be a problem.

What I have been doing is buying fire tv sticks, installing tvmc and reselling them for $120 a pop. The install takes about five minutes total and I can sell them as fast as I can get more sticks.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Buy one for each room, obviously. ;)

I don't see the point yet, since it doesn't have an awareness of local resources or content and doesn't integrate with anyone else's cloud services. That thing would be really powerful if it understood files on network drives. I'd love to be able to say "print out a copy of the malware cleaning document."

As an added bonus, something that understands moving stuff between screens would be great. Maybe that's a feature for a third or fourth-generation FireTV.

I have a huge ongoing frustration with trying to get uniformly perfect media experience, something I could theoretically configure and share with other people. Using a PC with Windows 8+ is great for HTPC-type applications, but desktop browsers suck for Youtube-from-the-couch, there's no decent app-ified version and you lose huge chunks of the feature set you'd have with an Android device. Sites like Vimeo can be even worse. I do think Windows is closer to being just right and in some cases Kodi plugins or Plex channels can make up the difference, but app-ified streaming services are a weird thing for a supposedly touch-friendly OS to get wrong.

Android on the other hand has a generally imperfect experience in Plex (bad GUI, crummy audio support) and Netflix (crappy navigation), has wonky issues with Amazon Instant Video and Hulu, can be laggy even on nice hardware and outside of specific apps like Kodi, doesn't have a UI that's well tuned for a 10' interface. Amazon kind of has its own special wrinkle on all that since it also doesn't license the Google Play framework, so its versions of some things ALSO don't quite work the way they do on licensed Android.

In other words, nothing about this stuff is perfect yet but it's getting a lot better than it was.
 

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Fatwah on Western Digital
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Browsing YouTube on a tablet or phone and then sending the video to a TV or media player works pretty well...
You can't screencast to Youtube on PC unless you're browsing in Chrome and you can't screencast without having the browser launched. It's not the same as the STB experience where you can override what the display is actually doing to put a video on the screen from your device.
 

Handruin

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Looks like Roku has also revised their offering with a Roku 4. I'll be interested to see reviews comparing it to the newer Amazon FireTV.


edit:

Networking

802.11ac MIMO dual-band wireless
10/100 Base-T Ethernet
Video Outputs

Up to 4K UHD (3840 × 2160) on 4K UHD TVs
Up to 1080p HD (1920 x 1080) on HD TVs
Up-scales 720p to 1080p HD on 1080p HD and 4K UHD TVs
Up-scales 1080p HD to 4K UHD on 4K UHD TVs
4K UHD 60 fps HEVC Playback
4K UHD 30 fps VP9 Playback (YouTube)
Playback from USB drives
Audio Output

Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 surround sound passed through via HDMI or optical output
Storage Expansion

microSD card port for additional game and channel storage
USB port for personal media expansion
 

blakerwry

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The 3 watts of the Roku3 and 2 watts of an apple TV was very impressive and one of the things that allowed these devices to be placed almost anywhere with passive cooling. The Roku4 says 12.4 watts and the case is much larger. I wonder if they'll have any overheating problems or if they've had to add a fan. I'm glad they kept the wired ethernet, even if it's still 10/100.
 

Handruin

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More gimped UHD. HDMI 2.0 18Gbps is missing.
How about the Nvidia shield 4K? It's pricey at $200 but claims "supports 4K H.265 (HEVC) and VP9 video streams at a fast 60 fps refresh rate – making SHIELD fully HDMI 2.0 compliant".


As for power it's also slightly hungry like the others at: 40W power adapter (5-10 W typical consumption).
 

Stereodude

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How about the Nvidia shield 4K? It's pricey at $200 but claims "supports 4K H.265 (HEVC) and VP9 video streams at a fast 60 fps refresh rate – making SHIELD fully HDMI 2.0 compliant".

As for power it's also slightly hungry like the others at: 40W power adapter (5-10 W typical consumption).
It all depends what you want to do with it. It does have 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 though.
 

Handruin

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It all depends what you want to do with it. It does have 18Gbps HDMI 2.0 though.
Would be nice to be able to stream 4K mp4/mkv files from my NAS down the road but as of right now I don't have any special needs for 4K as I don't have a 4K TV or content.
 
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