Amazon Fire TV vs. ROKU 3
For $99, if you do not already have a ROKU 3, I would say it is a buy. However... I have one. Let's graze the surface at what it offers
It has a quad core processor and is damn snappy.
I am very impressed with the build quality and out of the box performance.
Like the ROKU it did not come with an HDMI cable, which is typical.
It has all the features I generally require, with a cat5 network jack, optical out and a USB interface that accepted a Logitech wireless keyboard without fuss.
PLEX is available and ran superbly with all my locally stored media. The PLEX interface was a little more to my liking than on the ROKU as well.
Amazon Instant Streaming with my Prime membership is beautiful, as expected and snappier than on the ROKU. They manage to get the video to start and start very fast. I was staggered at that and left wondering what voodoo they had performed on my network.
The voice searching feature is great, as long as you are searching for an Amazon property. If you are searching for something on YouTube (yes there is an app for that, just not pre-installed and it's clunky) or one of the other data streams, you are out of luck, which is disappointing but not unexpected.
While I was writing this up and letting it sit idle, it went to a pleasing collection of pictures as a screen saver. A few minutes later, it went black. I thought it put the TV to sleep, but rather it rebooted and performed a software update. This kind of behavior and the overall out of box experience complete with frustration free packaging tells me quite a bit about the audience for this bit of kit.
The tutorial video that played automatically, the way it was already connected to my Amazon account out of the box, the way it didn't ask me to perform that upgrade; these are the telltale signs of a device geared almost completely for non tech savvy users. It's great for the living room because of this, and it's slim sleek black box profile. To purchase anything, it's already connected to my account so it's a cake walk to spend money on the associated credit cards.
My 4 year old would be able to figure out how to watch all the kids programming very quickly.
Honestly... This is the box to give your parents, especially if they already have a Kindle. Speaking of that, you owe it to yourself as a parent to check out the Amazon Mom (or Dad) program.
As far as gaming:
I did not shell out the extra money for game controllers, but given the snappy performance, my similarly prices OUYA would likely never be turned on again. It can handle whatever Android powered game is thrown at it, easily. Like a good little console, you can pair up to 4 controllers over Bluetooth 4.
My problem, and its problem, is I already have a ROKU 3. The major difference in that device, for me, is the headphone jack on the remote. Easy watching of the loudest flicks on the best TV in the house without waking up the kids. It does everything else perfectly well and has more "channels" than what is offered, even if it does have completely pathetic gaming functionality compared to the Fire TV...