2016 Amazon Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen)

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The 2016 Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) was a significant hardware upgrade to the original 2014 Fire TV Stick (1st Gen) for anyone interested in playing games, because the System on a Chip (SoC) was significantly upgraded.  Beyond that, the remote was upgraded with voice capability, aligning it with Amazon’s now ubiquitous Alexa.  The official branding has even been updated to “Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote”

Hardware

The 2016 Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) is an evolutionary product.  The device still requires a 1A USB power source,  comes supplied with a 1A wall adapter, and may have some issues if you try to power it from a USB source on your TV, for instance, because standard spec USB ports only supply 500mA.

Under the hood Amazon dumped the anemic Broadcom BCM28155 SoC and moved to their new preferred supplier, midmarket SoC supplier, Mediatek.  The specs on the new SoC are far beyond those of the Broadcom SoC.  Performance of both the CPU and the GPU (graphics processor) is significantly upgraded, though obviously not on par with the full blown Fire TV platform, which is allowed to utilize far more electrical power and can dissipate the heat from this power, allowing more performance.

Aside from raw performance, the chipset makes other improvements, adding hardware H.265 decode, which is a significant video decode capability, and more capable radios, now supporting Bluetooth 4.1 and 802.11ac WiFi.  Beyond that, there seem to be a few other things that the platform supports, either due to fewer hardware or hardware driver related issues, one example being utilizing a USB On-the-Go (OTG) cable in the power port to allow you to connect external accessories like keyboards and Ethernet adapters.  Amazon has their own USB Ethernet Adapter, but if you go the OTG route and include a hub, or buy an OTG/hub combo, you can utilize a 3rd party USB Ethernet adapter in addition to any other USB peripherals you want to add, like wireless game controller adapters (for WiiU Pro and Xbox controllers), wireless keyboard adapters, etc.

Software

Amazon continues to support this product with software updates and features, and since it’s a current and successful product we should expect this to continue for some time.  All 1st and 2nd gen Fire TV devices have been updated to Fire OS 5 5.2.6.1 at the time of this writing.  Though only the new 2017 Amazon Fire TV (3rd Gen) currently has Fire OS 6, it will be surprising if the 2nd Gen Fire TV/stick platforms aren’t updated to Fire OS 6 eventually.

Summary

The 2016 Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) is wildly successful for Amazon because of its low price and all around good performance.  While it is not as capable for gaming as the Fire TV stablemates, it’s a significant step up from the e 2014 Fire TV Stick (1st Gen).

Accessories


Amazon Links:

2016 Fire TV Stick (2nd Gen) ($40)


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