2014 Amazon Fire TV Stick (1st Gen)

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The 2014 Fire TV Stick (1st Gen) is the first Fire TV product I purchased, and that purchase eventually led to the creation of this web site.  I initially reviewed it on my blog (lots of out of date information there) which lead to installing RetroArch, which lead to creation of this site.

Hardware

The 2014 Fire TV Stick (1st Gen)  was the second Fire TV product, following the full blown 2014 Fire TV (1st Gen).  From a hardware perspective, obviously the stick lost the inputs and outputs, except for HDMI, WiFi, and Bluetooth, and USB, which was only enabled as a power source.

The device required a 1A USB power source, and was supplied with a 1A wall adapter, but this still led to some number of problems with intermittent operation when people powered the units from TV’s that had USB ports that supplied a standard 500mA.

Internally, the 1st gen stick utilizes a Broadcom BCM28155 System on a Chip (SoC).  This is not a high performance processor, but was selected for low power and the ability to hardware decode and play video including H.264 which is critical for the core mission of streaming video content.   The processor itself is somewhat similar to the 2012 Fire HD 8.9 (2X Cortex-A9) but clocked lower (1.0 GHz), and with a much less powerful graphics core that provides compatibility with OpenGL ES 2.0, but at low speeds.  Many types of tasks the 1st gen stick is about 1/4 the speed of the 1st gen Fire TV, but it’s much, much lower in some sorts of 3D graphical tasks, which limits what it can do in some games.

Additionally, while I’ve not dug in too deep, I’ve seen what I believe is evidence that it can’t dissipate enough heat when heavily loaded and that it slows down even more.  This isn’t surprising as it’s a really small package.

Software

What is nice is that Amazon continues to support it with software updates and features.  Both 1st gen Fire TV devices have been updated to Fire OS 5.  This is notable because the 2013 Fire HDX tablet has a similar Krait SoC to the the 1st Gen Fire TV, but has not received a Fire OS 5 update.

The 2014 Fire TV Stick’s interface has not been updated to the newer interface of the 2nd gen devices, but such an update is expected.

The 2014 Fire TV Stick never has received Amazon’s FreeTime application, and doesn’t seem likely to since the 2nd gen stick also doesn’t have FreeTime.

Accessories

Suggestions?  Corrections?  Updates?

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Amazon Links:

2014 Fire TV Stick (1st Gen) – You can still buy this refurbished for $30, though I don’t particularly recommend it.


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