Amazon recently released the Fire TV streaming and gaming set-top box that will compete against the Apple TV and Roku. Setting up your Fire TV is easy and watching Amazon content and downloading apps is straight-forward. There’s also some more advanced features that aren’t immediately apparent.
Remove Recent Items on Fire TV
Similar to the Kindle Fire’s Carousel, the main menu displays TV, movies, games, and apps that you’ve recently used. Sometimes this is convenient, but you might want to remove certain items. From the home screen, go to the Recent items section and scroll to the item you want to remove. Then underneath the thumbnail of the app or video, select Remove from Recent.
Mirror Amazon Kindle Fire HDX to the Big Screen
You can mirror your Fire HDX to select TVs, but there’s not a lot of them. Luckily, it does work with Fire TV. Make sure the tablet and set-top box are on the same network. Then on the Fire HDX go to Settings > Display & Sounds > Display Mirroring. Under the devices section you’ll see the Fire TV, just tap it to start the connection.
Then on your TV you’ll see the message shown below. It only takes a second for the connection to be made, and then your tablet’s screen will be displayed on the big screen.
Use Kindle Fire for a Second Screen Experience
While watching movies from Amazon, you can use your Fire HD or HDX as a second screen. For instance, while watching a movie you will see IMDB info about each scene. It will show information about each actor in the scene you’re watching, and it includes interesting trivia about the film and actors.
To enable the Second Screen, on your Fire TV go to Settings > Second Screen and make sure it’s turned on.
Here’s an example of what you’ll see on the Kindle Fire while watching a movie. Do remember that this will only work for movies from Amazon, and not other apps like Netflix or Hulu Plus.
You can control playback from the second screen on your tablet as well.
Delete Your Voice Searches
The ability to search for content by speaking into the remote is one of the unique selling points of the $99 Fire TV. But Amazon keeps a copy of your voice searches associated with your account on its servers. The explanation is it helps the service improve over time. If you’re privacy conscious and would rather not have your voice queries on Amazon’s servers, you can delete them.
Log in to your Amazon account and go to Your Account > Manage Your Content and Devices. Select your Fire TV. Click Manage Voice recordings and hit Delete in the dialog that comes up. For more details on this, check out my article on how to delete Fire TV voice searches.
Video Games: Remote or Controller
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the other unique feature of the Amazon TV — it’s a gaming box too. It’s not as complex as an Xbox or PlayStation, but it has several mobile game titles that scale up perfectly for the big screen. Now, the company does sell a dedicated game controller for $39.99 and some titles only work with it. Then again, some work with the included remote, while others you can use either one.
To find out which type of controller a game takes, from the main menu go to Games. There you’ll find Controller Enabled Favorites, which gives you a list of games that need the optional controller. Also, while you’re in the games store, you can filter between games that require the controller, remote, or if they work with both.
Once you drill further into a game’s description you can see what it works with. For instance, here’s Asphalt 8: Airborne and it works with either or.
Protect Your Kids
If you have kids, you’ll definitely want to enable Parental Controls. This allows you to set up a PIN and blocks certain content – including games, movies, TV — and the five digit PIN is required to make purchases. To get to it, go to Settings > Parental Controls and turn them on. You’ll be promped to create a PIN and after that you’ll have additional items you can manage.
While annoying for the parent when they want to watch something while junior is asleep, it makes sure the kids aren’t viewing inappropriate content or spending your money!
Plus there are more features on the way! According to Amazon, soon you’ll be able to listen to your music in Amazon Cloud. Why the box didn’t launch with that, I don’t know.
Also, a subscription based feature called FreeTime is also on the way. This works in conjunction with Parental controls and allows you to set up an individual profile for each kid. Then it limits the amount of time your kid can watch videos or play games. I will be reviewing that once it’s added as I would think it does a bit more for three bucks a month.
What do you think of the Amazon Fire TV? Does it have enough extra features – namely, gaming and voice search — for you to switch from Apple TV or Roku. Or, if you’re looking to purchase a set-top box, is Fire TV on your radar?