Amazon

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The Tick is coming back to TV. The show, which is a comedy based in the superhero genre may have been ahead of its time when it launched years ago, but thanks to its pickup by Amazon the new series has a chance to strike while the iron is hot this time. The market is in love with comic book adaptations and has been for over a decade. Amazon has also decided to move forward with Jean-Claude Van Johnson a comedy starring the one and only Jean-Claude Van Damme and I love Dick with Kevin Bacon.  The shows add some strong new installments to Amazon’s original series slate.

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Amazon announced a new Fire TV with a quad-core processor set to roll out October 20. The new item which will support up to 1080p picture quality will cost $39.00 and ship with a voice-controlled remote.  The new product is the second refresh of the Fire TV Stick and first major hardware upgrade since the product rolled out.

What is the difference between the Fire TV Stick and The Fire TV Set-top Box
Besides its price of course, the Fire TV stick features 1 GB of Ram while the box has 2 GB. Another differnce is that The quad core Fire Stick will support casual games while the box supports high-performance games.

Full Specs
Size:
3.4″ x 1.2″ x 0.5″ (85.9 mm x 30.0 mm x 12.6 mm)
Weight:
1.1 oz. (32.0 g)
Processor:
MediaTek Quad-core ARM 1.3 GHz
GPU:
Mali450 MP4
Storage:
8 GB internal
Memory:
1 GB
Wi-Fi Connectivity:
Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi supports 2×2 MIMO 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth:
Bluetooth 4.1
Voice Support:
Yes, with Alexa Voice Remote (included) or free Fire TV Remote App (available for download on Fire, Android, and iOS)
Game Controller:
Support Yes, optimized for Amazon Fire TV Game Controller and most games are compatible with other Bluetooth controllers
Cloud Storage:
Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Ports:
HDMI output, Micro USB for power only
Audio Support: Dolby Audio, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1
Content Formats Supported Video: H.264 1080p30H.265 1080p30,
Audio: AAC-LC, HE-AACv1 (AAC+), HE-AACv2 (eAAC+), AC3 (Dolby Digital), eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MIDI, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, AMR-NB, AMR-WB
Photo: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
Output Resolution Supported:
720p and 1080p up to 60fps
System Requirements: High-definition television with available HDMI input, Internet connection via Wi-Fi, a power outlet.
TV Compatibility:
Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz

Included in the Box Fire TV Stick

  • Alexa Voice Remote
  • USB cable and power adapter
  • HDMI extender
  • 2 AAA batteries
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Alexa Voice Remote
  • Size 1.5″ x 5.9″ x 0.7″ (38.4 mm x 150.7 mm x 16.7 mm)
  • Weight 2.4 oz (68 g) with batteries / 1.6 oz (45 g) without batteries
  • Batteries 2 AAA (included)
  • Battery life Up to 12 months battery life with typical use

 

 

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Update creates subcategories and makes apps easier to find

Amazon's Fire TV offers 4K video and local ap support for only $40.00 more than the stick.

The Fire TV has launched a very important update to its app store that makes it much easier to navigate and assists users with app discovery. The change which is a point of view difference. Up until the update users

The new Fire TV App Store setup makes looking for apps easier.
The new Fire TV App Store setup makes looking for apps easier.

searching through apps had to navigate hundreds of apps in what I could only describe as an extreme closeup. The new look allows users to see multiple apps at a time which lets users cycle through and find what they are looking for more quickly.

The new app store not only has an easy to use interface but also breaks the apps down into 25 categories. As app counts have gone from the hundreds to the thousands, subcategories like Medical and Novelty allow the device to keep its apps from being buried.

Another nice perk of the new setup is that Amazon provides users with a preview of the app ahead of time. A window on the right-hand side of the screen displays screenshots and in some cases a video preview of the app. In general, this change should be a positive one going forward for the user experience on the Fire TV.

See our video demo of the new store bellow

Man In the High Castle and other hits return in the fall and early Winter of 2016

Amazon’s New and Returning Original Series got a big push this week. The service has begun to gain major traction with its original programming securing 16 Emmy nominations for originals Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle, The Man in the High Castle and Catastrophe.

This fall Amazon will have new editions of their hits along with some new original work including both half hour and hour long shows. Hour long episodes tend to feel like mini movies and have proven popular in this genre. If the new releases prove to be as popular as the returning hits Amazon could have a lot of binge-worthy material to offer customers who will undoubtedly be trying out new Roku’s and Fire TV’s come holiday season. Continue to see trailers for upcoming series and learn about the premier dates for everything for the rest of 2016.

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Amazon will be bringing a number of Warner Brothers films to its video service for unlimited streaming. The films include the entire run of the Lethal Weapon series, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise from the 1990′s  and the Matrix Trilogy. A number of other titles will be on the way shortly as Amazon continues the trend across all major streaming services towards exclusive titles. The majority of the titles involved in the deal are from the 1990′s and early 2000s and somewhat mirror the kind of content one would find on TNT or FX on a weekly basis, which is good for cord cutters who probably miss access to such content. For a full accounting of the upcoming titles see the list bellow.

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Windows 10 is rife with problems for mirroring reverting to Windows 8.1 is you best option

Are you having trouble using mirroring on Roku or the Fire TV or any other supposed Miracast receiver since you upgrade to Windows 10? You are not alone. See this post from the Roku Forum here. Amazon Fire TV users have had problems too. This is a post from Amazon’s Forum.

Why are there problems mirroring on Windows 10?

Because the folks at Microsoft and the folks who developed Mirracast or WiDi and the teams at Roku,Amazon and

The Roku Stick can mirror Windows 8.1 but struggles to work with Windows 10.
The Roku Stick can mirror Windows 8.1 but struggles to work with Windows 10.

various TV manufacturers do not work together and test everything before various programs and operating systems are updated. Despite the different names, the two standards are actually just forks of each other. For more info on this see here. The reason it happened is that Wi-Fi Direct and WiDi was never adopted as the full industry standard so there was no motivation to make sure that it would still work once Windows 10 was launched.

There is good news and there is bad news. The bad news is that despite a number of how to’s that you may run across, explaining the simple procedure for mirroring there are some real problems with mirroring with Windows 10. I have been looking into this for quite some time and for the most part it appears that once you have Windows 10 there are a couple of options to fix the issue.

Despite what you might read on message boards, the easiest way to actually fix mirroring on Windows 10 is to ditch Windows 10. There are a few ways to do this. Because these are not my recommendations. I am going to refer you to the Microsoft page that explains the methods for reverting back to Windows 8.1 from Windows 10.  So, unfortunately, there is no easy way to enable mirroring on Windows 10. If mirroring is important to you check out the page.

See the Microsoft support page here.

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Examining Each Amazon package for its value added

One failing of Amazon prime and its multiple services is that it can be difficult to quantify exactly why people are signing up for the service. Are they doing so for shipping? Do they want it because they are avid readers? Or is it the need for more video options?

For some people, Amazon has become part of a lifestyle. The ability to shop for everything from TV’s to Ketchup online has become a part of modern life. Because of this Amazon Prime and its multiple perks has grown in popularity because of the offered convenience and perceived value for those who take advantage of

Offering free services is always a good bet to boost sales
Offering free services is always a good bet to boost sales

its services on a regular basis. For $99.99 users gain access to:

  • Free two-day shipping
  • A large selection of free streaming options from original series along with popular shows and movies
  • Music streaming from Amazon Music
  • Free ebooks
  • Ability to access lighting deals earlier
  • The ability to receive packages with same day delivery (in participating areas)

In the context of streaming, this arrangement makes explaining video options for new customers a bit cumbersome. If they are not already Amazon customers giving someone a paragraph of information can confuse people who just want to watch that new show about the man who changes into a woman show they keep hearing about. Now that is no longer a problem.

Amazon VideoAmazon is now offering Amazon Video as a separate service from the rest of its Amazon Prime offerings. The service which only includes TV and movie streaming costs $8.99 per month. But is it the best way to go?

Long term price
Breaking up payments is a sales technique that usually works out better for whoever is collecting then the person who is paying, It either entices a consumer to purchase something they can not afford at the time with the promise of paying it off over time or outright costs more. In the case of Amazon, the monthly price does cost more.

What is the price difference?
Paying for the video service on its own monthly would cost users $107.88. The advantage for consumers is that if they try it for a month and do not like it they can turn around and drop it. If they have signed up for a full year of service they may not be able to get their money back past a certain period (usually a month).

How likely are you to keep it for a year?
If you are truly just smelling the roses then trying Amazon video for one month should work out well for you. But Keep in mind if you use it for two months and then decide to upgrade to the full prime membership for the other perks you have already lost money.

Bad Deal for Fire TV Owners
The Amazon Fire TV heavily integrates Amazon services into the interface of the device. Music and video are staples

Fire TV owners may as well make a full investment in the Amazon ecosystem.
Fire TV owners may as well make a full investment in the Amazon ecosystem.

of the media player of course. There are also shopping options that continue to grow via Alexa. Kindle owners also get a great deal of content out of prime. If you have made such related purchases you are almost cheating yourself by not signing up for the full package. On the other hand, if you are a Roku user or access amazon video from an IOS device only the video only option may make some sense. But in general, I recommend just grabbing all of the services at the same time. You will be glad you have free shipping when its time for Christmas shopping and you don’t have to hit the mall.

Even Worse deal
The worst option of the three is a full Amazon Prime package at a monthly rate. If users try it out and get used to the monthly bill they will have spent $131.88 before taxes. While some folks might drop $40.00 on coffee every week it seems like a bad idea to throw money away in my book.

Should I Get Amazon Prime Monthly or Pay For The Full Year?

I would recommend giving the full year service a thorough look. See how you like the shipping options and how much you use the video service. If you are also a kindle user dive into the reader features. You can cancel within 30 days and get your money back. That way you don’t waste 10-12 dollars just to try something out.

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The Dr will land his TARDIS on Amazon Instant Video on March 27. The BBC series which rose (pun intended) to fame in no small part with the help of buzz created by gaining new fans via streaming platforms recently dropped off of American streaming platforms prompting Whovians to worry that the many faced hero may be unavailable in the future. See details bellow.

CBS All Access is a substantial offering as a streaming service providing access to CBS programming from throughout its daily schedule on-demand as well as a live streaming feed of local stations in over 60% of the US market on mobile and set-top devices. All of that is available along with a large library of past shows for $5.99 (plus tax) per month. But what if you just want to watch  one show. On a recent visit to the Apple store I struck up a conversation with an associate regarding salesNew PlayOn Channels figures for the Apple TV at that location (they appear strong btw). She has an Apple TV but said she wished she could watch Super Girl and that it is not available as part of the CBS app on her phone for AirPlay. She was unaware of Plex and for that matter PlayOn. With both Plex and PlayOn users can watch Super Girl without CBS All Access on Apple TV, Fire TV and Roku without having to resort to pirating or anything else nefarious.

If it’s not pirating how do Plex and PlayOn give me Super Girl? 
Plex Logo WhiteThe reason Plex and PlayOn can access Super Girl is that they connect with CBS’s website. And once the CBS channel is part of your Plex channel lineup on the free Plex media server users cab access the channel on a number of connected devices. PlayOn also accesses content via a web browser Internet Explorer. While users never use the browser actively it is what keeps the server tied to network sites. PlayOn is not free but does have inexpensive lifetime options that include DVR functions. Unlike the CBS apps, CBS’s website does provide free episodes of Super Girl, typically the last 5 that have aired. This works out very well for those who keep up with shows semi-regularly. I mean let’s face it, if you do not watch a show within a month of it airing it must not be that high on your list. Even Hulu’s commercial supported tier has a number of series that only provide the last five episodes.

Can You Watch Super Girl On Kodi?
USTV VOD CroppedYes. There is an app for Kodi called USTV VOD. The app, like Plex and PlayOn, accesses content via the respective websites of networks and provides users with a simple interface to watch them. This is another great way to keep up with favorites via the web without wrestling with yourself about whether it is the right thing to do or not. You also do not have to use another computer system in order to use Kodi, though it does not have official apps for the big three set-top boxes, Roku, Fire TV and Apple TV, nor does it have straight forward casting ability with Chromecast though there is a workaround. Kodi is available via the Fire TV without too much work as well as the Apple TV with a bit of effort.

 

Video on Plex and Plex Home Theater

Fire TV owners may as well make a full investment in the Amazon ecosystem.

We have discussed how the Amazon Fire TV is sort of a great Android media player in stealth mode. The Fire TV may well have a different look than Android media players and the Android TV interface but it is in fact capable of operating apps meant for Android phones and tablets. This is why Fire TV’s loaded with Kodi are popular via third party dealers. In order to load third party apps onto the Fire TV in the past users were required to download special programs to their laptops or understand DOS commands. But as the Amazon ecosystem has evolved it has begun to support a number of programs that help users load numerous programs. One of the most important is ES File Explorer.

What is ES File Explorer?
ES File Explorer has long been a favorite of Android device users because of its ability to access files on cloud based services all in one place. Users can access Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive, Yandex, Mega Cloud, Baidu Disk, Amazon’s S3, Box and SugarSync. While most people use programs like that to transfer documents they can easily be use to transfer APK’s. The only problem is where do you find APK’s in the first place. How do you add ES File Explorer to Fire TV? Press the voice search and ask for it. Once ES File Explorer is loaded users can access their respective cloud services and add apps to their favorite cloud service as easily as they add an attachment to an email.

Aptoide
Users can’t download apps to their computers via the Google Play Store. But Aptoide’s mobile site is a perfect place to get them. In fact not only can you download apps to a computer from Aptoide you can download the Aptoide mobile app itself and load it on to the Fire TV via one of the cloud services utilized by ES File Explorer. Once Aptoide is installed onto your Fire TV adding other apps is as simple as asking for them. Once downloaded you can access them right from the apps section of the home page menu. That means that you will have a searchable app store waiting for you whenever you need it.

To download the Aptoid App Click Here
To be taken to Aptoide’s Mobile Store Click Here

How do you use ES File Explorer to access Cloud Services
Good question.
1. First add ES File Explorer via the Fire TV. (just ask for it by name)
2. Use the remote to navigate to the menu item labeled Network and click OK
3. Use the remote to navigate to the option for Cloud and press OK
4. Use the remote to navigate to the bottom of the screen to the horizontal menu. The first choice on the menu should say Exit. Navigate two spots over to the + New symbol
5. Choose your prefered cloud service and sign in to access your apk’s
6. Open your storage folder and select the app you want installed and press ok.
7. Once the app has downloaded you will be taken to a grey screen. Click the yellow Install button on the screen and you will be all set.

Amazon is making sideloaded apps easy to access
Amazon’s home menu allows users to access all of their downloaded apps as well as third party installed apps from the Apps section of its menu. Gone are the days when you had to trick the system into making icons for your favorite third party apps. By accessing the apps menu one can find any app that is on the machine whether you added it from Amazon’s app store or via a USB stick.

Special recommendation
Users may find that a number of Android apps do not perform well when using Amazon’s supplied remote, which of course is designed to navigate its official tv apps. Because of this we would recommend users who want to use the Fire TV in this way to invest in an air mouse, which is a remote control that allows users to use the remote like a mouse with a cursor. You will thank me for this suggestion. Some air mouses also feature full keyboards. A large selection can be found on Amazon’s Website here

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