VG Tribune

Amazon Fire TV’s Gaming Edition

September 29, 2015 / 8:49 AM

By: Isa Cox


Amazon Fire TV is one of the best streaming devices on the market today. It offers more RAM than many of its competitor’s similar products, supports Dolby Digital Plus, and also contains a quicker processor. Recently it’s been announced that Amazon is releasing a new Gaming Edition of their popular streaming device, which will ship out to buyers in early October.

The main appeal of Amazon Fire TV’s Gaming Edition is that it offers over 800 games with many costing less than $1. It also has a faster processor than the original Amazon Fire TV, supports 4K Ultra HD, and includes a controller for gaming that features a snazzy voice search so you can easily find whatever you’re looking for without having to play around with the remote.

If you already own the Amazon Fire TV, no worries—the new controller can be purchased separately for $50. With its familiar interface, it should be easy for anyone who’s played a game before to pick up right away, as it’s essentially just an Xbox controller modified to have Amazon’s logo. That’s not a bad thing either, as the design is fairly proven.

It does, however, have other interesting features. The controller comes with a headphone jack that allows you to play games without disturbing the rest of the house (or naturally, the other way around). As mentioned earlier, the controller has voice features, all of which are powered by Alexa, the digital intelligence behind Amazon’s Echo device.

Gaming on the Big Screen

Perhaps one of the more exciting elements Amazon’s new device offers is the opportunity to play games once stuck on a tiny screen. It’s no secret that some very successful games have been released for mobile platforms, but playing on a tablet or phone hardly compares to putting it up on the big screen. The ergonomic controller also means less hand fatigue and no trigger finger.

Along with its $139.99 price tag, the Fire TV Gaming Edition also comes with two free games: Shovel Knight and Disney Ducktales: Remastered. Both are excellent titles that capitalize on the simple but incredibly fun gameplay of the bygone 8-bit era. While they don’t make much use of the device’s HD capabilities, both titles make up for their visual shortcomings with fun factor.

What It Is and What It’s Not

If you’re comparing Amazon Fire TV’s Gaming Edition to similar devices, such as the Roku, you’re in for a treat; it beats similar media streaming devices out by miles. Not only is it designed to predict what you want to watch (thus reducing load times), but it also hosts its own graphics engine (important for playing games) and quad core processor; the closest competitors only host dual cores.

What that translates to is a considerably quicker interface and more room for running apps that demand a stronger machine. Its quad core also means multi-tasking is much more likely to be a thing. The specs are comparable to high end smartphones, but at a considerably lower price.

It is not, however, something you should compare with higher ticket gaming platforms. A well-built PC, Sony’s Playstation 4, or Microsoft’s Xbox One still heavily outclass Amazon Fire in every area. But they are not even remotely in the same price category; a powerful computer can run sometimes over $1000, with the PS4 and Xbox One running around $400. Amazon also advertises many games costing under $1, whereas games for these other devices can sometimes run over $60.

Perhaps the most enticing feature for some users may be the ability to render video in 4K resolution. Although content available in 4K is still relatively limited, those with a TV will want to utilize it to its maximum extent, and Amazon truly delivers in that arena. With the continued rise of services such as Hulu and Netflix, this device may help replace traditional cable for a good number of its buyers.

Regional Headaches

Unfortunately, Amazon’s new toy comes with one small, but perhaps familiar problem: regional restrictions. If you plan to use your device outside of the US, you may quickly discover that some services are blocked or not supported. Given all it can do, it’s a shame not to be able to utilize all of Amazon Fire TV’s features…or is it?

It turns out there is a way to get around regional restrictions (often referred to as “geo-blocking”). Although the method is not quite as simple as on your home computer, you’ll appreciate the results if you’re planning to use service from a country other than the US. What you’ll need is a Virtual Private Network (VPN) service and two routers.

According to Secure Thoughts, a VPN is the best way to both secure your internet connection and break free of geo-restrictions. This is because a VPN allows you to connect to servers in countries around the world, and by doing so, you change your IP address (what services use to locate and identify you). Not only will you be anonymous to malicious individuals, but you’ll be able to virtually locate yourself in the US and utilize services from Amazon.

This is also true for services only available outside of the US. Because you’ll want a speedy, reliable connection, ExpressVPN is highly recommended. Though a bit more than some other VPNs, its number of servers available in different countries and lack of bandwidth limitations make it a great choice for streaming and performing other high speed tasks.

Setup is a little trickier, but you’ll definitely find it worthwhile. I’ve included a short guide here that describes the setup required.

Plenty of Options

The Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition is just another example of innovation answering consumer needs. Catering not only to streamers hoping to break free of cable, but also to gamers both casual and hardcore, Amazon’s device serves many purposes. At the affordable price of just under $150, it’s a real steal considering the features.

Amazon is likely to continue adding features and options, so the device is a great investment if you’re subscribed to Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix or any other number of streaming services. It’s also a much more affordable way to introduce the kids to some quality games, both new and old.

But the best of all, like everything from Amazon, it’ll be delivered right to your doorstep. So strap in for some fun and get ready to experience games and TV in 4K Ultra (well, if you have the TV for it)!

Have you ever used a streaming device such as Roku, Fire TV or Chromecast? Tell us about it in the comments!

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About the author /

Isa Cox is a gamer and blogger who loves keeping up with the latest gadgets and gaming gear. Her own experiences with gaming has inspired her to learn more about VPNs and internet security, as geo-restricted content and hackers aren’t uncommon to come across while gaming online with others.

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