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
131 months ago
Seems like they're nitpicking to me.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RedOrchestra Avatar
131 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
131 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
131 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
131 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
131 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

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

iOS 18 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Friday April 12, 2024 11:11 am PDT by
iOS 18 is expected to be the "biggest" update in the iPhone's history. Below, we recap rumored features and changes for the iPhone. iOS 18 is rumored to include new generative AI features for Siri and many apps, and Apple plans to add RCS support to the Messages app for an improved texting experience between iPhones and Android devices. The update is also expected to introduce a more...
iGBA Feature

Game Boy Emulator for iPhone Now Available in App Store Following Rule Change [Removed]

Sunday April 14, 2024 8:06 am PDT by
A week after Apple updated its App Review Guidelines to permit retro game console emulators, a Game Boy emulator for the iPhone called iGBA has appeared in the App Store worldwide. The emulator is already one of the top free apps on the App Store charts. It was not entirely clear if Apple would allow emulators to work with all and any games, but iGBA is able to load any Game Boy ROMs that...
iGBA Feature

Apple Removes Game Boy Emulator iGBA From App Store Due to Spam and Copyright Violations

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:22 pm PDT by
Apple today said it removed Game Boy emulator iGBA from the App Store for violating the company's App Review Guidelines related to spam (section 4.3) and copyright (section 5.2), but it did not provide any specific details. iGBA was a copycat version of developer Riley Testut's open-source GBA4iOS app. The emulator rose to the top of the App Store charts following its release this weekend,...
iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Apple's First AI Features in iOS 18 Reportedly Won't Use Cloud Servers

Sunday April 14, 2024 9:52 am PDT by
Apple's first set of new AI features planned for iOS 18 will not rely on cloud servers at all, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. "As the world awaits Apple's big AI unveiling on June 10, it looks like the initial wave of features will work entirely on device," said Gurman, in the Q&A section of his Power On newsletter today. "That means there's no cloud processing component to the...
iOS NES Emulator Bimmy Feature

NES Emulator for iPhone and iPad Now Available on App Store [Removed]

Tuesday April 16, 2024 11:33 am PDT by
The first approved Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) emulator for the iPhone and iPad was made available on the App Store today following Apple's rule change. The emulator is called Bimmy, and it was developed by Tom Salvo. On the App Store, Bimmy is described as a tool for testing and playing public domain/"homebrew" games created for the NES, but the app allows you to load ROMs for any...
new best buy blue

Best Buy Opens Up Sitewide Sale With Record Low Prices on M3 MacBook Air, iPad, and Much More

Saturday April 13, 2024 7:41 am PDT by
Best Buy this weekend has a big sale on Apple MacBooks and iPads, including new all-time low prices on the M3 MacBook Air, alongside the best prices we've ever seen on MacBook Pro, iPad, and more. Some of these deals require a My Best Buy Plus or My Best Buy Total membership, which start at $49.99/year. In addition to exclusive access to select discounts, you'll get free 2-day shipping, an...
m3 mbp space black

M4 Macs Are Expected to Launch in This Order Starting Later This Year

Sunday April 14, 2024 10:40 am PDT by
Bloomberg's Mark Gurman recently reported that the first Macs with M4 series chips will be released later this year, with more models to follow next year. In his Power On newsletter today, Gurman shared a more specific roadmap for these Macs. Here is the order in which Gurman expects the Macs to launch:1. A low-end 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M4, coming around the end of 2024. 2. A 24-inch ...
top stories 13apr2024

Top Stories: M4 Mac Roadmap Leaked, New iPads in Second Week of May, and More

Saturday April 13, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's hardware roadmap was in the news this week, with things hopefully firming up for a launch of updated iPad Pro and iPad Air models next month while we look ahead to the other iPad models and a full lineup of M4-based Macs arriving starting later this year. We also heard some fresh rumors about iOS 18, due to be unveiled at WWDC in a couple of months, while we took a look at how things ...