Why should you care about Fire TV? Why consider it as your streaming box? Because you can talk to it. The Amazon Fire TV has a microphone-equipped remote control that allows you to search through the vast array of video content by simply speaking instead of pecking out words, one letter at a time, on an onscreen keyboard.
And that’s a big deal, solving a major pain point with set-top boxes.
I’ve been testing Fire TV, and found that this voice-control feature works remarkably well. As a regular user of the competing boxes, I felt liberated using it. If I were buying a new streaming box, it would be a huge plus in Amazon’s favor.
For instance, I held down the microphone button at the top of the remote and said “Keri Russell.” Fire TV gave me a choice between two spellings (“Keri” and “Carrie”), and when I picked the former, it showed me the actress’s work, including the excellent movie “Waitress” and the terrific TV show “The Americans.”
I tried saying “Barry Sonnenfeld,” and got movies such as “Men in Black” and “Get Shorty,” which he directed.
When I said “Netflix,” Fire TV took me to the Netflix app. When I said “science fiction,” Fire TV brought up a large selection, from both TV and film, ranging from “Battlestar Galactica” and “Star Trek” to a 1954 cult film called “Devil Girl From Mars.”...
Amazon has nailed Voice Search.
Fire TV has some other nice features, as well. Setup is easy. The unit comes preregistered with your Amazon account, so your previously purchased videos are already available. So are your photos and home videos, if you’ve chosen to store them on Amazon’s Cloud Drive service.
And if you are a member of the company’s $99-a-year Prime program, you get free access to a library of TV shows and movies available for streaming.
Fire TV also tries to anticipate and cache movies and TV shows that it thinks you might watch based on your viewing habits, so they start almost instantly. The device synchronizes with your Amazon tablets and Amazon apps on other tablets and phones, so it remembers where you left off in a video. All of this worked in my tests.
Find out more about Amazon Fire TV here.