Amazon's Fire TV Is Powerful, but Voice Search Limitations Hamper User Experience

Earlier this week, Amazon launched its Fire TV media streaming box, entering a crowded market with devices from Roku, the Chromecast from Google and the Apple TV. With the Fire TV delivering a number of features rumored for a future Apple TV, reactions to Amazon's new box have certainly been of interest to Apple fans.

With an immediate launch for Fire TV, the device has already landed in the hands of reviewers and at popular repair shop iFixit, which promptly tore the device down. Early analysis of the Fire TV suggests the device has market-leading hardware that is hindered by less-than-perfect software.

amazon-fire-tv2
On the hardware front, iFixit confirms the Fire TV is a powerhouse with a quad-core, 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Krait 300 processor, Qualcomm Adreno 320 dedicated GPU, 2 GB LPDDR2 RAM clocked at 533 MHz, 8 GB internal storage, 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The Fire TV has the power to play back HD videos, with extra to spare for games.

Though the hardware is impressive, early reviews suggest the device's blazing performance is overshadowed by a poor search experience that makes finding content on the Fire TV a chore, says Dave Smith in a review for ReadWrite. While Voice Search offers an improvement over typical manual input, its results are limited to Amazon services.

Due to the extreme limitations of Voice Search, browsing through Netflix — where you’ll probably spend most of your time, considering Amazon’s rather limited library of quality movies for free streaming — is, once again, manual labor.

In time, applications like Netflix and Hulu+ could support Voice Search—maybe even through a simple software update. But since searching is so important on this device, Amazon has really hung early-adopters out to dry. Even when Voice Search works, it can’t filter the results by movies or programs you can stream for free.

Because of its high-end hardware, Amazon couldn't undercut its competition and had to release the Fire TV at a price point that is on the high-end of the market as noted by Leslie Horn of Gizmodo.

"More features and more horsepower are rarely a bad thing, but in this case it's driven the price of Fire TV much higher than one might have expected from an Amazon product. In a world full of $35 Chromecasts and $50 Roku sticks — which definitely can't do as much as Fire TV, but can arguably do more than enough — forking over $100 for the ability to play some biggie-sized tablet games is a tough sell."

Scott Stein of CNET focused on the gaming feature of the Fire TV, saying it isn't groundbreaking and doesn't offer a compelling alternative to existing smartphone, tablet, or console games.

Don't expect anything more than what Android/iOS already offers: the Fire TV's initial offerings, while better than I'd expected, cover a lot of familiar bases. Terraria, Badland, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP 2, Dead Rising 2, The Walking Dead, even Minecraft Pocket Edition...you can already get all these in many other places.

To help set it apart from its competitors, Amazon included an app store, gaming and wireless controller support to Fire TV. Earlier rumors suggest Apple will bring similar features to its next generation Apple TV, adding support for games and Apple's iOS 7 controllers to the media box. Other rumors point to a device with the router features of the AirPort Express as well as a possible cable TV tie-in with partners such as Comcast.

Top Rated Comments

Nunyabinez Avatar
106 months ago
Seems like they're nitpicking to me.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RedOrchestra Avatar
106 months ago
Fire TV is just a rush first to market type product that will fail epic style.

REALLY - Apple TV continues to be an EPIC disappointment to many of us.
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jc46 Avatar
106 months ago
Really!

REALLY - Apple TV continues to be an EPIC disappointment to many of us.

Several million Apple TV owners would disagree with you.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
samcraig Avatar
106 months ago
Seems like they're nitpicking to me.

Sounds like one person commented on Voice and yet MR is making that an "issue"

The same comments about this device could be said by all of the streaming devices. None are perfect, none have all the features one wants and there's a lot of overlap.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
106 months ago
REALLY - Apple TV continues to be an EPIC disappointment to many of us.
What is it with the word 'epic'? And 'epic fail'. Both are overused to the point of being meaningless. It's just something said to sound cool, even though it sounds just the opposite - stupid.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dave.UK Avatar
106 months ago
Fire TV is just a rush first to market type product that will fail epic style.

This argument is tired and boring now. Its the same argument for every product that comes out. Ive summarised below.

Before Apple
- The product is rushed trying to be first to market.

After Apple
- They have copied Apple.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
apple music

Apple Increases Apple Music Subscription Price for Students in Several Countries

Sunday May 22, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Apple has silently increased the price of its Apple Music subscription for college students in several countries, with the company emailing students informing them their subscription would be slightly increasing in price moving forward. The price change is not widespread and, based on MacRumors' findings, will impact Apple Music student subscribers in but not limited to Australia, the...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...