Our favorite deal from the bunch is Amazon’s Fire TV. Today, Staples is offering it for $84, but using code 86128 will bring the price down to $74 with free shipping. That’s $25 under Amazon’s price and the best price available. Fire TV has a quad-core processor, 2 GB of memory and a dedicated GPU to offer speedy media streaming of the over 200,000 TV episodes and movies available on Prime. Fire TV owners can also play the wide selection of games available starting as low as $0.99 each. Rated 4/5 stars from over 10K reviewers.
There are also some deals to be had on Chromecast at Staples, you can find all the details in today’s Chromecast post.
I am not a casual user of on-demand content and devices. Having tried smart tv’s from 3 brands, smart dvd/bluray players, Apple TV, WDTV, HTPC, Chromecast and too many other competing products to mention–for streaming content, before this box you really had two options (for a simple to use box that doesn’t require additional items or tweaking):
First is Apple TV which is easy to use (interface) but Apple limits the content you can get greatly (including no Prime Streaming built in) and it lacks a lot in features as well and is slow. The reason for selecting Apple TV is if you have other apple products that unlock features (like Amazon’s content).
The second option you could consider was Roku–which really means a Roku 3 box since it is heads and tails better than past Roku boxes in terms of remote and speed. Now Roku stands out with the most content and the most features of any box with the Roku 3. It is for that reason you will see me address the Roku 3 so often in this review.
I have added quick summaries of other options to make sure everyone knows about the other options out there.
WDTV: Are great for streaming your own content but not very user friendly.
Chromecast: Is very cheap at $35 but requires other items to use (no remote included!), is limited to 16 channels according to their own site with other content broadcast via Chrome’s browser not at the same quality level. This does allow you to browse the internet on your tv and is amazing for the cost but is more of a niche market than FireTV/Roku/Apple TV. But if you can live with the short comings, it is worth a look at 1/3 the price of these devices.
Smart TVs: Most of these are FINE for occasional use but not nearly as pleasant to use daily like separate boxes. Normally you pay $150-$400+ extra for features that are found in these $100 boxes. I have not found a smart tv that is decent and is also a good value for what you are getting. The advantage is that you can use your TV remote to access the content. (and that is about it!)
HTPC: These are desktop computers or Mac Minis or Android Sticks that you load software on to stream video to your TV. These can add content that no normal streaming box can access, without giving up quality but they are only recommended for something comfortable with technology that doesn’t mind fixing the issues that come up from time to time.
Video Game Consoles: Xbox/Playstations can access some of the content that streaming boxes do and have plenty of power to deliver the streams. The downside is the cost (unless you already have one) and the interfaces. These consoles are not designed to stream video exclusively so the interfaces are decent but can be clunky.
(You can use other options but frankly they aren’t worth the hassle for the amount of hair pulling you would do.)
Now this Amazon product has changed everything. It might not be the box for you…but honestly there is a good chance that it SHOULD BE. This is a brand new category for Amazon and they got a lot right, but there are a few shortcomings (at least at launch) as well so read all of this to see what those are. More
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