This is a followup to my Amazon Fire TV review. If you haven’t read it yet, you may want to read the review first. The Fire TV is great, but before you buy one there’s just one thing you have to ask yourself…
Are you an Apple person, an Amazon person, or a Netflix person?
Which device you choose comes down to the content ecosystem you’re using. If you have content on iTunes then an AppleTV and an iPad make sense. If you have content on Amazon and a Prime subscription then a Fire TV / Kindle Fire combination is a better choice.
The two systems are designed to work with devices from the same ecosystem. With an Apple TV you can use AirDrop to project content from Apple computers, iPads, and iPhones to your TV. Likewise, with a Fire TV you can fling content from your Kindle to your TV. If you mix a TV device from one company with a computing device from the other you lose that functionality.
Amazon Fire TV and Kindle Fire vs Apple TV and iDevices
Our daughter had wanted an iPad Mini for her birthday. After using the Fire TV she’s changed her mind and decided she wants a newer Kindle Fire. She likes the Amazon Prime content, with TV shows, movies, and music. She also likes the Kindle Lending Library that’s included with Prime. Every month you can read one Kindle book for free. Unlike paid Kindle books that can be read on any device using the Kindle app, the free Lending Library books require an Amazon Kindle device.
Kindle Fire has a few downsides. Except for the most expensive HDX 8.9″ model, the current generation has front-facing cameras that are useful for Skype, but not rear-facing camera for shooting pictures or videos.
The Kindle app store has fewer titles than the Android and Apple stores. Kindle apps are usually released after the Android and Apple versions. The kids used to like a game called Dumb Ways to Die. It was released for iOS in May 2013, Android in September 2013, and Kindle in October 2013. If there is a specific app you need that isn’t in the Kindle store, or if your children want to have the very latest games, the Kindle may not be for you.
On the plus side, the Kindle Fire has free Prime content and it’s much cheaper than an iPad, especially if you buy extra memory. The 16 GB Kindle Fire HDX 7″ is $229 vs $300 for the 16 GB iPad mini. Maxing out the memory, the 64 GB Kindle Fire HDX 7″ is $309 vs $417 for the 64 GB Apple iPad mini.
Fire TV and Amazon Prime vs. Google Chromecast and Netflix
For the Fire TV to be useful you’ll need a streaming service with a large content library. Netflix or HuluPlus will work, but the Fire interface is heavily biased towards Amazon Prime.
Prime costs $120 a year – just slightly more than Netflix’s $8.99 per month – adds music to the mix of free content available on Netflix, and includes free second day shipping for many items sold on Amazon. If you rarely buy from Amazon, Prime less of a deal. If you shop on Amazon often the free shipping pays for the subscription and the Prime content is essentially free.
We have Prime and Netflix, but we’re cancelling Netflix and buying another Fire TV for the living room.
Fans of “House of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black”? You can always sign up for a month of Netflix next season. Netflix releases all of the episodes at once, so one month is all you need to watch everything. That’s probably bad for Netflix, but it’s good for you.
Google Chromecast is different than Fire TV or Apple TV. It can’t display on content on your television by itself. You have to cast content from a computer or tablet. There’s no remote control – you have to control play, pause, and rewind from the other device.