REVIEW: Amazon Fire TV Basic Edition with MediaTek MT8127D SoC

We present today the review of the new Amazon FireTV Basic Edition, a device designed for those markets that do not have support for the Alexa assistant or for what they look for something more adjusted in price with these features. This model is identical to the Amazon Fire TV 2 of 2016 but without the Alexa command, we have the same Mediatek MT8127D Quad Core SoC with ARM Cortex-A7 processors and a Mali-450mp4 GPU. This TV-Stick has 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage memory, dual-band Wi-Fi with 2 internal antennas with 2 × 2 support and Bluetooth 4.1. Recently the Amazon Fire TV 3 has been introduced with a slightly more powerful hardware and 4K support as you can see in our review. One of the important features of this device is the ability to play FullHD content from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO and other important services. Let’s see in our detailed review how this model behaves.

  • You can buy the new Amazon Fire TV Basic Edition on the online store Amazon only for $49.99

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SPECIFICATIONS

Model Fire TV Basic Edition
CPU MediaTek MT8127D Quad Core Cortex-A7  @ 1.3 GHz
GPU Mali-450MP4
OS FireOS 5.2.6 (Basado en Android 5.1 32bit)
RAM 1 GB DDR3
Storage 8 GB eMMc
WiFi WiFi ac 2×2 MIMO
Bluetooth 4.1
Ports 1x microUSB OTG
HDMI 1.4
 Content Bluetooth Remote
5.25V 1A (5W) DC adapter
Manual
microUSB to USB wire
AAA Bateries
Dimensions: 3.4” x 1.2” x 0.5”
Weight: 1.1 oz

CONTENT DESCRIPTION

Package content

The Fire TV Basic Edition arrives in a box with the classic Amazon design, everything comes perfectly packed in its small space. We have the main stick, pretty long microUSB cable, first steps manual, two AAA batteries, 5.25V 1A (5W) charger and a Bluetooth remote control  without Alexa assistant.

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Product Details

The TV-Stick Fire TV Basic Edition as we see has a very small size, as you can see the remote control in comparison is much larger, a product designed not to stand out in our room.

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On the side we have its only microUSB 2.0 port that has OTG capacity so we can connect a USB HUB powered and add extra USB ports to connect peripherals.

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On the front of the TV-Stick we have the HDMI 1.4a male connector, this device is designed for streaming content at 1080p resolution with what this is the maximum resolution we are going to get.

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In the back we only have the data of the model with the corresponding stamps.

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We can use the microUSB OTG port with a MicroUSB OTG + USB + power cable that allows us to power our Fire TV Basic Edition while offering us a USB 2.0 port to use for example a USB 3.0 HUB with Gigabit network port, there is Keep in mind that the OTG port is limited to USB 2.0 speeds.

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CONNECTING THE DEVICE

Connection and desktops

We power on to the current the Fire TV Basic Edition and the system starts up automatically, on the first boot we have a configuration wizard that helps us connect the Bluetooth remote in a first step, then we have to access with our account amazon, if we already have another FireOS device we will see how we have a list of previous apps already available for download. In the first tab called Home are grouped in a first row the shortcuts that we use most and the list of installed apps that we can reorder in a basic way, below we have all the content that Amazon offers us. This default launcher can not be changed easily.

  • Boot time: 18 seconds

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The Fire TV Basic Edition launcher is presented with the new design of FireOS 6, we have different categories at the top that group the content although in the long run with the main screen we have more than enough to move daily. The customization is almost null and as in the Android TV system we do not have lower bar or notification area.

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If we leave the home button on the remote control pressed, we have quick access to our installed applications and we can jump between those that are running, we can also leave the device at rest, launch the Mirroring option or access the system settings.

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In the FireOS system we get shortcuts for apps designed for Android TV as well as for classic Android, an interesting point since it simplifies our lives. The app with the cloud icon are apps that we have in our Amazon app library but we have not downloaded yet. If we press the menu button of the remote control we have several options, with the move function we can change the order of the apps that are shown in the first screen of the launcher.

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Within the system settings we have many languages available since a few months ago we have a language list much wider than we had with FireOS 5.

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User Experience

The user experience with the Fire TV Basic Edition is totally controlled by the FireOS system, the control is simple and direct for the good and the bad. The MediaTek MT8127D processor moves quite well and is sufficient for what is required in this environment, this model has 1 GB of DDR3 RAM that is sufficient but something just to surf the Internet, the internal storage speed really make everything move very fast.

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Android Settings

As you can see the settings on Fire TV Basic Edition with FireOS are very simple, we have a notification icon where we can read notices of apps and the system, network settings, Screen and sound, Application management, Bluetooth remote and other peripherals, Preferences, Device, Accessibility, Help and My account where we manage the data of our Amazon account.

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Inside the Preferences settings we can change the language of the device, we can also change the time zone, notification system and the way in which we are shown the advertising that we recommend to disable.

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Within Applications we also have options from our Appstore account, Prime Photos, GameCircle, Silk Browser and installed applications manager where we can uninstall them.

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If we take a look on the Device menu got some important options, in the first section About the device we can see the software version, in the Development Options section we have the option to activate the ADB or install applications from unknown sources from APK files.

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Android System

As operating system in Fire TV Basic Edition we have FireOS 5.2.6.0 installed, the update system is quite strict and as soon as a new OTA comes out the system will be updated to the minimum that we restart the device.

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As we know the FireOS system is a fork (parallel version) of classic Android with version 5.1.1, the system works at 32bit as usual in all the firmware with the SoC MediaTek MT8127D, the kernel is 3.10.54+ a little old but correct.

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Brand Support

Amazon support for their devices is great but this also implies that they control it in detail via OTA updates. In order to make modifications or changes we will have to youch a lot, if we are interested in the scene of this device we can go through the XDA forum although for the Fire TV Basic Edition model we still do not have many options..

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Storage and RAM

Inside the Fire TV Basic Edition we have a total of 8 GB of eMMc storage memory, of this storage memory we have really available about 4 GB, a very small figure that we can not expand because FireOS does not allow this option.

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In this device we have 1 GB of DDR3 RAM, of this amount we are still available about 300 MB at startup which allows us to move the system quickly but we can not surf the Internet in a demanding manner, this device is not designed for this use.

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We pass our tests to memory and internal storage in Fire TV Basic Edition using the SD bench app that gives us excellent figures as we can see, some data that is reflected in how fluid the device moves. This model unlike Fire TV 3 if it is compatible with NTFS and we can see external units without problems.

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Consumption and temperatures

On the electrical consumption aspect on the Fire TV Basic Edition using the SoC MediaTek MT8127D gives us some results quite contained in the line of another similar SoC, in maximum performance scenario of the SoC we reach the 4.7 W peak consumption. The temperature is low in normal use, so this does not affect the daily use of the Amazon stick.

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Amazon Apps Store and alternatives

In this device we have how it can not be otherwise to install apps the Amazon AppStore that offers us a wide selection of titles, something that we miss is the search option, it is almost easier to search the Amazon website and install the app from there that directly on the Fire TV. If we find limited in offer we can always use the alternative store Aptoide using his APK where we can install for example KODI or other apps that are outside of Amazon.

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Root

In the Fire TV Basic Edition system, as always happens in those systems so controlled by the brand does NOT have the root by default, to get root we will have to carry out operations with certain danger, so we recommend not doing so.

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Power Off / Standby / Power On

The Fire TV Basic Edition can not be turned off completely, at best we can put it to sleep that basically is to turn off the HDMI signal or restart it, but it can not be turned off from the system.

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TEST BENCH

Video and audio connections.

In the Fire TV Basic Edition we have the MediaTek MT8127D SoC processor that has support for video output by HDMI 1.4 which gives us the option to see content with a maximum resolution of 1080@60MHz, it is a chip that is not designed for HDR or 10bit color. In this system there is has automatic refresh option using KODI or SPMC, something that would be interesting since it avoids us to play content with the annoying Judder effect. We also do not have RGB mode or image quality control menus for Brightness, Contrast or Saturation, a fairly basic system.

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DLNA and Miracast

By default with the Amazon Fire TV Basic Edition Stick we do not have the usual DLNA app installed on the system, although it is possible to install an app such as Stream Online or BubbleUPnP, so from an Android phone or from a PC with the Windows file explorer we will see our content.

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NETWORK CONNECTIONS

Wi-Fi and Ethernet

By default in the Fire TV Basic Edition we have a Dual Band ac Wireless Wi-Fi 2×2 MIMO adapter , with which we have connected with an ASUS RT-AC1200G+ Router, a mid range device. We transferred files over a SAMBA network connected through 2.4Ghz Wi-Fi and achieved a speed of about 26 mbps, with the 5Ghz Wi-Fi network we reached about 54 mbps a good result for this adapter.

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We also ran tests on the network adapters for streaming using the iPerf measurement tool with which we have the maximum connection speed in each type of network. With this figure we have how far we can reach using the available connections, the final performance will depend on our internet provider, the contracted speed, the distance of our Wi-Fi network and other factors. The results are correct above all using the 5GHz Wifi adapter that gives us good figures reaching up to 145 Mbps.

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During the Wi-Fi coverage tests with the device located at a distance of about 16 ft as always and with a wall in between we verified that we have connection without cuts, the signal reaches a level of about 40 dBm a figure that indicates we have a good range.

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Bluetooth

Integrated with the wifi adapter of the Fire TV Basic Edition we also have Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity with which we have no major problems when detecting other devices, we have tested a BT headset, a mouse and a BT gamepad without major problem.

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CONTROL SYSTEMS
Remote control

By default with the TV-Box Fire TV Basic Edition we have the same remote control as the first Fire TV, it works with two AAA batteries and connects via Bluetooth. In the upper part we have the circle with the classic functions of crosshead and OK button in the center, below we have shortcuts of Android commands, volume and playback controls.

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Within the settings menus we also have the possibility to activate HDMI CEC to be able to use the control of our TV with the TV-Box itself, a system that gives different results depending on our TV model.

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A useful application for the control of the Fire TV is Mouse Toggle, a payment app, interestingly you have to buy it on a device other than Fire TV since it is not available in the Amazon AppStore. You have to download it, extract the APK and finally install it on our Fire TV. If we press the play button twice, we can move the mouse cursor with the Fire TV command, something useful for apps that require a pointer such as HBO Nordic. Anyway, for the price and accuracy of this app we recommend using a real mouse, cheap Bluetooth mice are a good option.

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Remote control app

By default in Fire TV Basic Edition we have a remote control server that we can use in conjunction with the Amazon control app, with it we can control or give orders by Alexa to our device remotely from a Smartphone or tablet whenever they are connected to the same Wifi network. We have verified that the latest version of CetusPlay is not compatible unfortunately.

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Gamepad and games

In the TV-Box Fire TV Basic Edition we can use the Alexa controller in some titles but it is better if we connect an external Bluetooth gamepad. We can use them in games with this type of support, in general we will not have problems with a conventional PC gamepad. With the Mali-450MP4 GPU that incorporates this MediaTek MT8127D SoC the performance is correct and we can play the most titles without problems, only the most powerful titles have some drop of frame rate.

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PERFORMANCE TEST

SOC

As core of the Fire TV Basic Edition integrates an MediaTek MT8127D Quad Core SoC with ARM Cortex-A7 cores that reaches a maximum speed of 1.3 GHz, in the graphic section we have the Mali-450mp4 GPU, a fairly basic hardware that already has some years of history behind. This processor is sufficient when moving the streaming services that we will use the FireOS system, where we have low performance is on the most demanding apps such as powerful games.

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Benchmarks

Antutu

With this famous test we get an idea of the general performance of the device and we can compare it with others. Since this tests changes a lot of scale we can not use it in our graphics.

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Geekbench 4

A new benchmark in SoC testing that offers fairly reliable numbers of CPU’s working in a single core or multiple cores ate the same time, it also has a section of GPU computing that gives us an overall result of the processing capacity.

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3Dmark

The graphical performance test par excellence with a fairly solid continuity in the results which helps us to compare the performance of GPU’s historically.

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PCMark

This benchmark tests the device in various scenarios of image processing, web browsing and other everyday uses of our device, the results are useful to check if you defend well in these areas.

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VIDEO AND AUDIO TEST

Video format test

We passed our usual tests of video playback in the Fire TV Basic Edition where we could observe a quite limited performance, the  MediaTek MT8127D SoC has the Mali-450MP4 GPU that normally defends without problems with all types of video playback but in this device seems limited. This model will work correctly to see light content at 1080p compressed in h.264 format, the most widespread system. For content with high bitrate and 4K formats as we see this hardware is quite short. We can use the VLC app available on Amazon or install KODI or SPMC using the external APK, this player support auto frame switch.

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Test results

H.264 format Default player KODI
BBB – H.264 8bit – 1080p@25fps – 7 Mbps Correct Correct
Birds – H.264 8bit – 1080p@24fps – 40 Mbps Correct Correct
Samsung Oceanic Life – H.264  8bit– 1080p@30fps – 40 Mbps Correct Correct
Anime – H.264 10bit – 1080p@24fps – 10 Mbps Artifacts Frame skip
Skyfall – H.264  8 bit – 4K@24fps – 10 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
Timelapse – H.264 8bit – 4K@24fps – 43 Mbps Frameskip Closes KODI
H.265 format
Tears of steel – HVEC 8bit – 1080p@24fps – 17 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
Beauty – HVEC 8bit – 4K@120fps – 12 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
Anime – HVEC 10bit – 1080p@24fps – 21 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
Samsung UHD Dubai – HVEC 10bit – 4K@24fps – 51 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
HDR format
Life of Pi HDR –  HVEC – 4K@24fps – 45 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
TravelXP HDR HLG – HVEC – 4K@24fps – 20 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
Planet Earth II – HDR HLG – HVEC 10L5 – 4K@25fps – 31 Mbps Black Screen Closes KODI
  • The MKV, Blu-ray ISO and BDRemux formats are only containers, inside we can have different codecs, resolutions, audio channels, chapters or subtitles. To play the Blu-ray format menus we need KODI or a compatible program.

Audio format test

In the Fire TV Basic Edition we have the MediaTek MT8127D SoC Quad core that as we know it IS licensed for the use of audio pass through for DD and DTS. For the sound tests we use our Yamaha RXV-577 AV receiver and we naturally check that in the device we have audio pass through for DD and DTS 5.1 with no problem.

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Test results

Formato audio PCM* HDMI Optical
Dolby Digital 5.1 Correct Correct
Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 Correct PCM
Dolby True HD 7.1 Correct PCM
Dolby Atmos 7.1 Correct Core *
DTS 5.1 Correct Correct
DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 Correct Core
DTS-HD High Resolution 7.1 Correct Core
DTS-X 7.1 Correct Core *
  • PCM – Stereo downmix from DD or DTS
  • Core – Only the core of the format Dolby / DTS is played
  • * Our AV receiver does not support these native formats but we check that it does downmix fine

WEB NAVIGATION AND STREAMING

Navigation

We perform performance tests on the Fire TV Basic Edition using the Amazon Silk browser where we have no problems opening a large number of tabs thanks to its 1 GB of DDR3 RAM. The contents are played in HTML5 correctly, we can test the browser of the own Amazon called Silk that is already available worldwide, we also have Firefox.

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The Amazon Silk browser behaves normally and we can use the cursor with the crosshead as if it were a mouse, a system quite like within the hardware limitations of this model.

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DRM

As for the DRM certificates required for some payment Streaming apps we do not have any installed by default, something usual in this type of models, as a novelty we see that we have CENC ClearKey.

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Youtube

In this TV-Box you can play Youtube up to 4K but as we have seen in a special article on the subject YouTube will no longer be available on Fire devices since January 1, 2018, the fight between Amazon and Google is on is highest point and it seems that users will pay for this war.

  • UPDATE: It seems that Amazon retreats and will allow to sell Google device in your store, it is very possible that Google will lift the restriction of YouTube soon.

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Streaming services with subscription

One of the key pieces of the Amazon streaming devices is how the contents are presented and how we can select them directly in the launcher, without a doubt the main service is Amazon Prime Video where its contents go directly to the home of the system.

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We do our battery test as usual on the most popular streaming services to verified if can work correctly, the power of this device is more than enough to see any type of content on this services, although as we know we are limited on the streaming quality for the restrictions of each company.

Streaming service Video Audio Performance
Netflix FullHD (1080p)* 5.1 Correct
Amazon Prime Video FullHD (1080p) 5.1 Correct
HBO Nordic (not HBO GO) SD (480p) Stereo Correct
  • HBO Nordic: To use this app we need to install the HBO Nordic APK v.2.2.0 that has certain control limitations, we need a mouse to control it.

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CONCLUSIONS

Opinion

As we have seen the Amazon FireTV Basic Edition is exactly the same as the Fire TV 2 model only with a updated software layer to be able to use without Alexa. This is a device 100% oriented to streaming and is where it becomes strong with its maximum compatibility. In the generic TV-Box use is weak due to the limitations imposed by FireOS and by a SoC that is not designed for last generation multimedia, this is something solved in the Fire TV 3 with SoC Amlogic that we saw recently but this new device has even more stringent limitations than in this version of Fire TV with Mediatek. In general a device that works well for use with streaming and has a simple and fluid handling, if we want to get more out of it we might be interested in another type of hardware.

Where to buy

  • You can buy the new Amazon Fire TV Basic Edition on the online store Amazon only for $49.99

Add-ons

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Fire TV Basic Edition

6.8

DESIGN AND CONNECTIVITY

6.0/10

HARDWARE

7.0/10

SOFTWARE

7.0/10

SUPPORT

6.5/10

PRICE/QUALITY

7.5/10

Pros

  • Good wifi performance
  • All the streaming services available
  • Fluid and quick
  • Compact design
  • Low price

Cons

  • Remote without Alexa
  • FireOS limit the use
  • No extra ports
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