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  I initially reviewed it on my blog (lots of out of date information there) which lead to installing RetroArch, which lead to creation of this site.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 at 1.5 GHz), but 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.  I believe that I’ve noticed this when trying games on it that work it too hard.  This isn’t surprising as it’s a really small package.  That said, a number of older Android games are targeted at pretty low end hardware and will run on this device, and it’s fine for emulating very old gaming platforms.’

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 (currently version 5.2.6.1).  This is notable because the 2013 Fire HDX tablet has a similar Krait SoC to the the 1st Gen Fire TV, but did not receive a Fire OS 5 update, even when a number of older devices got updates in 2017.

Summary

The 2014 Fire TV Stick (1st Gen) opened up a new product category for Amazon that’s proven wildly successful.  Unfortunately the Broadcom chipset is a bit of a letdown, but for people who just want to stream HD content, the device remains perfectly competent, and Amazon continues to support it with software upgrades.

Accessories


Amazon Links:

2014 Fire TV Stick (1st Gen) No longer available.


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