After a month or so wait I finally received my ~$20 Amazon TV Fire Stick. I managed to snag it for half price when it launched with the discount for Prime members. After 15 minutes with it, it is worth even the full price of $39. It puts my 2 year old Roku to shame.
The remote is a bit cheap feeling. So long as it doesn’t break like my Apple TV remote it works just fine.
The setup was much easier than Chromecast because Fire TV Stick comes with a remote. The remote must be based on some wireless technology and not IR since the Fire stick is hidden behind the TV. This is nice because you don’t have to point the remote at the TV. Using the remote I chose my WIFI network, put in the password and I was up and running. The device is preconfigured for your amazon account, so no setup needed there. After that it plays an intro video of all the capabilities of the device. Pretty handy if you are unfamiliar with these types of devices. It is also used as an opportunity for Amazon to advertise other services and related hardware to sell you.
Yesterday I downloaded the Amazon Cloud Drive desktop app and started uploading all my photos since it is not free for unlimited photos. I expect this to take a few days to complete.
Kicking The Tires on Photos
Even without all my photos in the Amazon Cloud, I was able to easily go to the photos feature and start viewing my photos and videos. The experience is simple but very fast.
I was on the hunt for my goal, can I set it so all my photos are used as a screen saver slideshow? Unfortunately not. Though there are a couple other interesting options given to you. The first is to show an album of your choosing. Next is a selection of images from Amazon. The last one, which is a kinda nice, is the 500 most recent photos you’ve added.
It is possible to start a slideshow of all your photos, it just can’t be set as the screen saver.
From Phone to Fire TV
If you want to take a photo on your phone and quickly and easily show it on your tv… Apple TV has AirPlay, Chromecast has casting, Fire TV has Miracast. What the heck is Miracast you ask? Well, I didn’t know either. After investigating, it sounds like if you have iOS, you are out of luck streaming anything from your phone to the TV. If you have Android, there might be some solutions, though I have not investigated those. This is one of those key reasons why we have an Apple TV and always will so long as we have iPhones. It is a pain switching inputs on the TV, but there really is no way around that right now.
While the photo experience on the Fire TV Stick is simple and enjoyable, it lacks the one key feature I am looking for, the ability to have it be a screen saver slideshow for all my photos.
The other big problem is one I’ve blogged about before, the troubles in actually getting all your photos into Amazon Cloud Drive. You can have them automatically uploaded from your phone, but from your desktop/laptop, you have to manually upload them through an app. Amazon does not have a desktop sync client like Google Drive or Dropbox. I am certain Amazon will fill in these gaps. They must or they will not be viable competitors in this space.
The photo experience must be 100% hands off except for turning on the TV or we will just not bother ever turning it on.