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Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is an incredibly popular streaming device that is easy to install and even easier to use. The Fire TV Stick has a proven track record of being an affordable device that can turn any TV with an HDMI port into a media streaming mecca. If you want to do even more, you may want to consider jailbreaking yours. Follow this guide to learn how to jailbreak an Amazon Fire TV Stick.
Tip: you can sideload apps on your Fire TV as well.What Is “Jailbreaking”?
The term “jailbreaking” has all sorts of connotations. It sounds vaguely illegal and risky, but these fears are largely unfounded. Simply put, jailbreaking refers to a process that removes the restrictions on your Fire TV Stick put in place by the manufacturer. As a result, this gives you, the end user, more options regarding your Fire TV Stick’s functionality.Why Would I Want to Jailbreak My Fire TV Stick?
Jailbreaking your Fire TV Stick allows you to install third-party apps that are not available through the official Amazon App Store. There is some risk associated with this, as apps not listed on the Amazon App Store are not inspected and verified by Amazon.
Image source: Unsplash
To avoid installing malicious apps, we suggest only installing apps that the larger Fire TV Stick community has vetted. Further in this guide, we list some of the more popular and legal apps people install on their Fire TV devices.
Helpful Hint: are you unsure which Fire TV to buy? Check out this guide that breaks down each Amazon Fire TV Stick and other Amazon TV options.Is Jailbreaking a Fire TV Stick Illegal? Is It Safe?
Let’s put this one to bed straight away. Jailbreaking your Fire TV Stick is safe. There is virtually no risk associated with it, as it doesn’t require you to do anything other than change a few settings that can easily be changed back to their default values. Jailbreaking won’t even void the warranty. As we are not “hacking” the Fire TV Stick’s software or modifying anything that can’t be undone, there is minimal risk of damaging or bricking it.
But what about the legality of jailbreaking your Fire TV Stick? The act of “jailbreaking” is entirely legal. It is your device, you paid for it, and you can do as you please with it. Additionally, as mentioned above, all you’re doing is changing a few settings that are easily accessible to the end user. It’s quite literally like flipping a switch.
Some of these additional apps allow you to access pirated content, like movies, TV shows, and sports. Accessing pirated content is illegal. It’s up to you to do the right thing and stay far away. Fortunately, you can scroll down to see our picks for the top legal apps to install once you have jailbroken your Fire TV Stick.
Tip: you can easily download streaming videos on any platform.How to Jailbreak Your Fire TV Stick
Jailbreaking your Fire TV Stick is a simple and straightforward process. However, before you can unlock your Fire Stick’s potential by installing new apps, you’ll need to do a few things. But rest assured, these steps are painless and super-easy to execute.1. Prep Your Fire TV Stick
The first thing you’ll need to do is navigate to the Fire TV Stick’s home page.
Press the Home button on your Fire TV Stick’s remote.
Open the Settings menu by highlighting and selecting the cog icon on the far right of the homepage.
In the Settings menu, select “My Fire TV.” (On older devices, this option is labeled “Device.”)
Allow the installation of third-party apps by turning on the “Apps from Unknown Sources” option.
Depending on your Fire TV Stick model, you may also have to select a specific app after turning this on. If so,
proceed to the next section
and download/install Downloader. Return to the Developer Options window, turn on “App from Unknown Sources,” and select “Downloader.”
Typically, the installation of apps downloaded from outside the Amazon App Store is disabled. However, turning this option on removes this restriction so that you can install apps from anywhere.
You can also enable ADB (Android Debug Bridge) debugging. This option allows you to access your Fire TV Stick remotely from a computer, provided both devices are on the same network. With ADB debugging on, you can use your computer to enter Terminal commands and install apps. If the thought of that scares you a little, you don’t have to do it.
Good to Know: there are several key differences between YouTube TV and YouTube Premium, and knowing these differences can help you determine which is the better investment.2. Download the Downloader App from the Amazon App Store
Now that you’ve allowed your Fire TV Stick to install apps outside the official app store, you must install the Downloader app. Fortunately, this app is available on the Amazon App Store, so finding and installing it is easy.
We can use this app to find and, as the name implies, download APK files. APK stands for “Android Package,” and these files are “executables,” meaning the Android operating system will open and install them once downloaded to a device. Apps for Android devices are most commonly compiled as APKs.
Hit the “Home” button on your Fire TV Stick remote and select the search icon. (It looks like a magnifying glass.) Some versions say “Find” versus having an icon.
Type “downloader” or hold the microphone button on your remote and say “downloader.”
On the search results page, find the app labeled “Downloader.” At the time of this writing, the bright orange app icon is hard to miss. Select it and download it to install it on your Fire TV Stick.3. Launch the Downloader App
Launch the app with the Downloader app installed on your device and grant the necessary permissions. Now you’re ready to use the app.
Downloader works similarly to a web browser. Place the cursor on the address bar at the top of the screen and direct it to the URL that hosts the app you want to install.
The app will navigate to the site and allow you to download the app to your Firestick/Fire TV. You’ll have the option to download the app to your device.
Once it finishes, you’ll be given the option to install it on your Fire TV Stick.Consider Your Privacy
If you don’t want Amazon tracking your app usage on third-party apps that you sideload, you’ll want to turn off app data usage tracking in your privacy settings.
Open “Settings” from your home screen.
Select “Privacy Settings.”
Toggle “Device Usage Data” and “Collect App Usage Data” to OFF.
Press your back button and select “Data Usage Monitoring.” Turn this off as well.Apps to Install on Your Jailbroken Fire TV Stick
You’ve done the prep work and retrieved the necessary tools. Now you’re ready to install some third-party apps to unlock the potential of your Fire TV Stick. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular, safe, and legal apps to install.Kodi
There’s a high probability that you’ve heard of Kodi before. Previously known as Xbox Media Center, Kodi is a powerful media player that can organize all your digital media under one roof. In addition, Kodi also supports third-party “add-ons.” These add-ons host a variety of material, from streaming video to music to podcasts.
Poking around on the Internet will uncover a number of add-ons that offer ad-free movies, TV shows, and sports. Exercise extreme caution with these. Most of the add-ons purporting to deliver content without having to open up your wallet should raise some red flags. There is an official add-on repository. These add-ons are verified by the development team behind Kodi and are safe and legal. We recommend sticking to these.VPN
In this day and age, it’s recommended to use a VPN when doing anything online. A VPN can protect your privacy, credit card numbers, passwords, and more from prying eyes. However, there is one other helpful feature of VPNs. Since a VPN bounces your traffic through a server in another location, you can use a VPN to get around geo-restrictions.
Several providers lock their content to a particular country or region. Launching a VPN and changing the server location to one in the region or country you are trying to access content from should allow you to bypass that restriction. Express VPN is one of the most popular VPN apps for Android devices, including the Fire TV Stick.
Good to Know: you can also download a VPN on your Android or iOS device.Cyberflix TV Ola TV
Another popular app for jailbroken Fire TV Sticks is Ola TV. Like Cyberflix TV, Ola TV is another application that curates streaming video links. However, there is one significant difference between the two: whereas Cyberflix TV collects links to popular movies and TV shows, Ola TV cultivates live television broadcasts worldwide.
Everyone can find something to watch with access to over 12,000 Internet Protocol television channels. Available content on Ola TV runs the gamut from children’s programming to sports to news from countries all over the world.Using ES File Explorer
If Downloader isn’t available in your area, you can take the ES File Explorer approach to jailbreak an Amazon Fire TV Stick. ES File Explorer lets you sideload apps just like Downloader does.
Search for “ES File Explorer.”
Select “ES File Explorer” and download it.
After it’s installed, you’ll need to enable “Developer Options” and “Apps from Unknown Sources.” Please see the above “Prep Your Fire TV Stick” section for complete steps with images or follow the steps below.
Open “Settings” from your home screen. Select “My Fire TV.”
Select “Apps from Unknown Sources.” Depending on your device model, you may also need to select “ES File Explorer” to enable it.
Open “ES File Explorer” from your list of apps on your Fire TV Stick.
- Frequently Asked Questions Will jailbreaking “brick” my device?
It is doubtful that you will brick your Amazon Fire TV Stick when you jailbreak it. As we mentioned earlier, jailbreaking doesn’t involve modifying the device or changing its code. All you are doing is changing some of the device’s settings, which can easily be reversed.Which Amazon Fire devices can be jailbroken?
All Amazon Fire TV devices can be jailbroken using the aforementioned method. There are other ways to do it; however, the aformentioned method is the easiest and doesn’t require you to spend any money on premium apps.Can I sideload apps on other streaming devices?
Yes. There are methods to sideload apps on nearly every streaming device, including the Fire TV Stick. Remember, just because an app’s not available in your device’s app store, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it.Why won’t my apps load once I download them?
Since you’re not downloading official apps from Amazon, you can’t just contact support. However, if you download an app using Downloader or ES File Explorer and it won’t load, there are several common reasons:
The file itself was corrupt – re-download the app and try installing again
The version you downloaded isn’t compatible with the Fire TV Stick – Check for other versions
The file is malicious – if the file isn’t from an official source (like the developer’s site), it could be malicious, and you should remove it immediately
The best approach is to simply remove the app and try again or search for a different source.
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. All screenshots by Crystal Crowder.
Crystal Crowder has spent over 15 years working in the tech industry, first as an IT technician and then as a writer. She works to help teach others how to get the most from their devices, systems, and apps. She stays on top of the latest trends and is always finding solutions to common tech problems.
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This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.
AWS has seven types of storage services which include Elastic Block Storage (EBS), Amazon FSx for Lustre, Elastic File System (EFS), Amazon S3 Glacier, Simple Storage Service (S3), Amazon FSx for Windows File Server, and AWS Storage Gateway
Amazon Simple Storage Service, commonly called Amazon S3, is the most popular and one of the first services introduced by AWS. It stores data of any type or size and supports all file formats. Amazon S3 helps in content distribution, performing analytics on data, backup, and recovery for cloud-based applications.What is Amazon S3?
Amazon S3 is an efficient cloud storage service with high security, reliability, and scalability focusing on object-based storage.
S3 is a flexible, cost-effective data storage with REST and SOAP interfaces. It can be integrated with other AWS services like Amazon RDS, EC2, Cloud Front, etc. Amazon S3 has a web-based user interface that helps store and retrieve data from anywhere on the internet.How Does Amazon S3 Work?
S3 has the following components :
It is the top-level element of S3 and can be thought of as an object container, where the object denotes basic storage unit. In other words, the bucket is a logical container storing data in Amazon S3 buckets. They can be addressed in the following ways:
Buckets can be managed in the following ways:
AWS SDK (Software Development Kit)
Amazon S3 REST API
Features of Bucket:
It does not support nesting, meaning a bucket can’t contain another.
Users can choose the location of their choice for the creation of a bucket.
Users can create policies and permissions which restrict access to buckets.
Bucket deletion is possible through a DELETE request.
The bucket can be deleted only when it contains no objects, meaning it should be empty.Objects:
It represents the basic data storage element in S3 buckets. The object has the following components:
Key: It is the unique identifier that identifies each object in a bucket. Key denotes the name of the object. It is the string that indicates a hierarchy of directories. Using the key, it is possible to retrieve objects in the bucket
Value: It is the actual content that needs to be stored. It is made up of a sequence of bytes.
Metadata: It is the data about data that are being stored. It denotes a set of name-value pairs that stores data about an object.
Version ID: It is the system-generated string that uniquely identifies a specific version of an object
Access control list: It controls access to objects or files stored in S3 by granting permissions.Amazon S3 Storage Classes
The different S3 storage classes are:
S3 One Zone-IA
S3 Glacier Deep Archive
It is the default and the most expensive storage, class. It supports cloud migration processes to other classes, website hosting, and big data analytics. This is the best option when frequent data access is necessary.
S3 Standard-IA (Infrequent access):
It is good for backups, long-term storage, and disaster recovery-based use cases. It has a lower price for data and it is used when data is rarely accessed.
It delivers automatic cost savings by moving data to the most cost-effective access tier, without having an impact on performance. In other words, it moves data between the Infrequent Access Tier and Frequent Access Tier.
S3 One Zone-Infrequent Access (S3 One Zone-IA):
It is good for data that is used infrequently but requires rapid access. It is helpful in secondary backup storage.
This service stores data as archives where data access is infrequent. It provides low-cost and long-life archive storage. Also, it uses server-side encryptions to encrypt all data.
S3 Glacier Deep Archive:
It is the lowest-cost storage class and provides long-term data retention where data access is infrequent. Also, it has a minimum storage period of 90 days. It has 99.9% availability over a given year.Why Amazon S3?
Amazon S3 automatically creates multiple data replicas, so it is never lost.
High security involves encryption features and access management tools that prevent unauthorized access.
Able to store large files of a size limit of 5 TB.
Less cost because of the pay-as-you-go model. Users have to pay depending on the amount of storage and time they use on S3.
Easy to manage because the resources can be managed through GUI (Graphical User Interface), CLI (Command Line Interface), and API (Application Program Interface).
S3 keeps multiple copies of a file to track changes over time, thus supporting versioning.
Objects can be created on the location of the user’s choice.
Highly durable hence data loss is much lesser. S3 provides object durability of “99.99999999999%”Amazon S3 Use Cases
Some of the use cases of amazon S3 include:
Static Website Hosting:
Amazon S3 helps in hosting static websites. Hence users can use their domain. Serverless Web Applications can be developed using S3 and by using generated URLs, users can access the application.
Backup & Recovery:
Amazon S3 helps create backups and archive critical data by supporting Cross Region Replication. Due to versioning, which stores multiple versions of each file, it is easy to recover the files.
Low-cost data archiving:
It is possible to move data archives to certain levels of AWS S3 services like Glacier storage classes, which is one of the cheap and durable archiving solutions for compliance purposes; thus, data can be retained for a longer time
Security and Compliance:
Amazon S3 provides multiple levels of security, including Data Access Security, Identity and Access Management (IAM) policies, Access Control Lists (ACLs), etc. It supports compliance features for HIPAA/HITECH, Data Protection Directive, FedRAMP, and others.Conclusion
Amazon S3 is an efficient object-based storage service used with REST and SOAP interfaces. Organizations can use this service for storing data relating to any business, such as web or mobile applications, analytics, backup, etc. Some companies using S3 are Siemens, Invista, Bristol Meyers Squibb, etc.
Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) is an online file storage service by AWS.
S3 is fully scalable, efficient, fast, and reliable.
Basic storage units of Amazon S3 are called objects organized into buckets.
Different S3 storage classes comprise S3 Standard, S3 Standard-IA, S3 Intelligent-Tiering, S3 One Zone-IA, S3 Glacier, and S3 Glacier Deep Archive.
The areas where S3 proved useful include static website hosting, backup & recovery, low-cost data archiving, security and compliance.
The media shown in this article is not owned by Analytics Vidhya and is used at the Author’s discretion.
You may need to restart your Fire TV Stick when troubleshooting connectivity problems, playback errors, or performance issues. Rebooting your Fire TV Stick refreshes its operating system and sets things back in order.
We’ll show you different ways to restart your Fire TV Stick and other Fire TV devices. These methods apply to all Fire TV models, from the 1st generation right up to the Fire TV Stick 4K Max.
Table of ContentsUse the Fire TV Remote Shortcut
This is the fastest way to reboot your Amazon Fire TV Stick. Press and hold the Play/Pause button and Select button together for 3-5 seconds.
Release the buttons when a “Your Amazon Fire TV is Powering Off” message pops up on your TV screen. This key combination or shortcut works on all Fire TV and Fire TV Stick Remotes. Reset your Fire TV Remote or try the next method if your Fire TV Stick doesn’t restart when you press the key combination.Restart Fire TV Stick From the Settings Menu
There’s an option to perform a system reboot in your Fire TV Stick settings menu, and it’s easy to access.
menu and select
My Fire TV
on the My Fire TV menu.
again on the confirmation pop-up.
Your Fire TV will shut down seconds after displaying a “Your Amazon Fire TV Stick Is Powering Off” message. You need not do anything to power on the device; it’ll come on automatically in about 5-10 seconds.Powercycle the Fire TV Stick
This is called a “Hard Reboot.” Power cycling your Fire TV Stick is restarting the streaming device by reconnecting it to its power source. You’d want to perform a hard reboot if your Fire TV Remote is missing, unresponsive, or faulty.
You could unplug the power adapter from the wall outlet or the USB power cord from the Fire TV. Either method achieves the same result. Wait 3-10 seconds before plugging the streaming back into its power source.Deeper Troubleshooting Steps
Reach out to Amazon Device Support if the issue you’re trying to fix persists after rebooting your Fire TV Stick. The problem is likely due to a factory defect or hardware damage. Updating your Fire TV Stick or resetting it to factory default can also fix technical problems.
Select Install Updates to install a pre-downloaded update.
You can also factory reset your Fire TV Stick directly from the remote. Press and hold the Right navigation button and Back button for 10-15 seconds. Next, select OK on the confirmation prompt that pops up on your TV.
Performing a factory reset erases your Fire TV Stick and deletes all downloaded content. We recommend you contact Amazon Device Support before resetting your Fire TV to factory settings. They’ll likely recommend more troubleshooting fixes or request you send your device in for repair or replacement.Fixing Power-Related Issues on the Fire TV Stick
Power supply and hardware issues can prevent your Fire TV from turning on or restarting. Your Fire TV Stick may get stuck in a reboot loop if it isn’t getting enough power supply. Thankfully, power-related issues are easy to fix. Use only original or Amazon-branded accessories (power cable, adapter, and HDMI cable) included with the Fire TV Stick.
Additionally, plug your Fire TV Stick’s power cable into a wall outlet, not your TV’s USB port. Removing cable extensions and other HDMI devices from your TV might also help your Fire TV Stick boot correctly.
Technology is going through a golden phase of sorts with some amazing innovations coming to the forefront. Things have changed a lot from the yesteryears. Phones have become way smarter, PC’s have become more powerful & compact and even our watches have become a lot more productive. There are IoT (internet of things) devices that should make a big impact in our lives soon. Another appliance that has been a part of our lives for a long time is TV and even they have silently gone through some great innovation. The “idiot box” isn’t really an idiot anymore.What is a Smart TV?
A Smart TV is a TV, which comes with support for internet connectivity and that can be either through WiFi or an ethernet cable. A Smart TV comes with its own OS platform and thanks to internet connectivity, you can get various apps to check out your social networks and stream content right on your TV without the need of a set-top box or anything. There are also various games that would be a lot more enjoyable on the huge screens these tubes offer. Most Smart TVs also come with a web browser, so you can surf the web on your TV itself.
Unique Features of a Smart TV:
Online Services & Apps
Smart TVs come with various popular video & music streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, Pandora, Spotify and more. Smart TV platforms/OS also come with their own app stores with various apps including the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Most Smart TVs come with a web browser on-board and the experience is pretty decent, if you keep your expectations in check.
Since most Smart TV platforms come with app stores, there are a number of casual games available to download. While console-level games are missing, the casual games make up for a good pastime.
There are a number of great third party accessories available to enhance your Smart TV experience. There are kits to upgrade the hardware, wireless adapters, Skype certified external cameras, 3D glasses if your TV supports 3D, different types of remotes and more.Smart TV Platforms & OS
Samsung Tizen OS
Samsung Smart TVs have been here for quite some time now and the South Korean giant recently switched from its Smart Hub platform to its very own Tizen OS for its Smart TVs. The platform is still budding and thus the low number of apps but Samsung has got the essentials covered. The platform packs in apps for both 2K and 4K TV displays. The platform supports remotes, voice as well as motion control. It also comes with a browser, which is decent enough. Overall, we can expect the Smart TV’s Tizen OS to grow by leaps and bounds in the coming future, thanks to Samsung’s backing.
When LG acquired the dying WebOS platform, it did not really make any sense but now it does. LG uses the WebOS platform for its Smart TVs. The WebOS TV interface is sleek and it’s arguably the most user friendly TV platform. The OS supports remote, voice control and motion control for navigating the interface. It has a good enough browser on-board as well. Moreover, LG’s TV platform has the most number of apps presently. LG Smart TVs are really good and the beautifully designed platform certainly compliments those gorgeous 2K and 4K displays.
Panasonic Viera Life+Screen
Vizio Smart TV
Common Questions/FAQs around Smart TVs
We are pretty sure you have your doubts regarding a Smart TV but don’t worry, as we have answered all the questions you might be having. Here it goes:What benefits do Smart TVs bring when compared to regular TVs?
As we mentioned, Smart TVs bring internet connectivity, apps, games among other features that make it smarter than a normal TV. But that’s not all, a Smart TV brings the convenience of an all in one device, native access to popular streaming services and web browsing.Are Smart TV browsers user friendly?
Most of the Smart TV platforms/OS include a web browser. Android running TVs come with Google Chrome and while some platforms come with support for Opera’s TV browser, some have their own browser. Coming to the question, not all Smart TV browsers are user friendly but Samsung’s offering, Android’s Chrome and Opera TV Browser work great. All three aforementioned browsers support most major web standards and render most websites fine, even on huge displays.Are Smart TV’s internals upgradable?
While not every manufacturer lets you update the internal hardware of the Smart TVs, Samsung lets you do it through its “Evolution Kit”. Samsung introduced the Evolution Kit in 2013 and it has since been bringing a new iteration of it every year. The 2024 Samsung Evolution Kit can be added to Samsung Smart TVs from 2013-14 and it brings an Octa-core processor, additional RAM, touch remote with pointer, One-connect box & cable, MHL 3.0, HDMI 2.0 ports with support for 4K, HDCP 2.2, MHL 3 and VP9 support. Along with internal upgrades, the kit also updates the software from Samsung’s Smart Hub platform to Tizen OS.What are the security & privacy risks involved with Smart TVs? How to stop such risks?
“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.”
Not everyone has a problem with this and if you are just careful with your personal details, these data logging activities shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, if you want to enjoy all the smart features on your TV, you will have to accept sending information. But if you are really concerned about your privacy, you can stop it. All the Smart TVs come with an option to disable data sending in their settings. In Vizio TVs, you just need to turn off the “Smart Interactive” feature to disable it. Samsung and LG don’t have data logging enabled by default and when the OS asks you to enable it, you can deny it. You can also choose to use features like voice control a little carefully, so as to not spill your personal information.Can a Smart TV be hacked?
Most Smart TV platforms like Tizen, WebOS and even Android have a Linux base and hackers are pretty well acquainted with the Linux platform. So, yes, Smart TVs can be hacked. According to researchers, hackers will be aiming to hack Smart TVs through radio transmitters. Hackers might also be able to get a user’s personal details including social media information and bank details. We are pretty sure companies are already working hard to make sure that never happens but to be on the safe side, you can enter your details carefully and not pay any bills through your TV.Is it legal to jailbreak or mod a Smart TV? Does a Smart TV hang or crash?
Smart TVs come with their own OS or platform and as with every other operating system, it’s susceptible to hang ups and crashes. Yesteryear Smart TVs were panned for inconsistent performance but things have changed for the better. Smart TV platforms are now much more stable and polished but we obviously cannot rule out an occasional crash or hang up.Do Smart TVs get regular updates? How long before a Smart TV gets outdated?
Not all Smart TVs receive regular software updates but some do. Samsung has been updating its older Smart TVs with its new Tizen software and even LG recently updated its older Smart TVs with WebOS 2.0. These updates not only bring new features, they keep the security & privacy settings up to date as well. Android TV is new, so there haven’t been any updates yet but we can expect it to be updated from time to time.
While a Smart TV’s “TV features” won’t get outdated before 5 years or more, its “Smart features” should get outdated in 2 years. Manufacturers should update these Smart TVs with new features but we don’t expect them to do so for more than a couple of years. Standalone or normal LED/LCD TVs on the other hand easily have a lifespan of 5 years or more. Keep in mind though that the lifespan of an LED/LCD TV also depends on their quality.Should one buy a Smart TV or a cheaper TV with a set-top/OTT Box? Which is better?
Smart TV has its benefits but presently, a set-top or an over-the-top (OTT) box is a much better offering. While there’s not much of a price difference between a smaller Smart TV and the combo of a TV with OTT box, the combo is a more reliable option. OTT boxes can be easily replaced when new features or services arrive while in the case of Smart TVs, replacing the TV when new services arrive is not a viable option and instead Smart TV owners will have to opt for OTT boxes when the “Smart” features become outdated.What is the approximate price of a mid-range and high-end Smart TVs?
Smart TVs are slowly entering the mid and low-end of the TV market and you can get a 24-inch Smart TV for as low as $160. The premium high-end offerings that pack in 4K resolutions and curved displays range from $800-3000 depending on the size. There are also some great offerings in the $500 range if you are okay with a 1080p display.Conclusion
Things are a little rough for the Smart TV market with various privacy & security issues and scepticism over their performance but we still think Smart TVs can be the future. The idea of an all in one device with a great unified platform that syncs with your phone and other devices is simply too good to let go. As we mentioned, there are problems with Smart TVs but they are still pretty usable and they might even pleasantly surprise you. There are a number of great Smart TVs available currently on the market and you should definitely give them a try if you are okay with the cons and want the taste of latest technology.
SEE ALSO: The 8 Best Stick PCs on the Market
Video comes in all sorts of aspect ratios, such as 16:9 widescreen and 21:9 ultra widescreen. These are pretty immersive, but what about a video that spans a whole 360-degree around you?
Yes, it’s possible to make spherical video that really puts the viewer right in the middle of the action, but obviously the equipment that we use to make more traditional video isn’t the right solution. So if you’re interested in either making or consuming 360-degree video, here’s everything that you need to know.
Table of Contents360-Degree Video Is Not (Exactly) VR
However, since 360-degree videos are not interactive or computer-generated, there is some debate as to what extent we can really lump them in with VR. So while the convention might be to refer to this media format as VR video, it’s good to know that a clear distinction exists.Why Choose 360-Degree Video?
Every aspect ratio or format of video has its own unique attributes that make it suitable for one purpose or another. As has been said many times before, the medium is the message.
This type of video is perfect when you want to convey what it feels like to stand in a particular place. Unlike traditional video, the viewer in a 360-degree video gets to choose what deserves attention. You can’t direct their viewpoint through framing as with traditional video formats.
That means it’s best to use this video format for content that doesn’t rely on precise framing and benefit most from immersion. Training videos are one good example, as are concerts and theatre performances. Action sports videos have also become a popular medium and tours of places like museums or other travel locations are also perfect for 360-degree video.
That doesn’t mean you can’t use this immersive video to tell a story, but it needs a new visual vocabulary to properly guide the story, something they didn’t teach in film school in the past for obvious reasons.Camera Types
As you can imagine, a normal camera isn’t going to produce this sort of surround video. You need a special setup in order to capture spherical video. There is no standard for this though. Some rigs are literally several regular cameras stuck together. Then special software is used to stitch the various overlapping camera feeds into one 360-degree video.
There are now also specialized 360- and 180- degree cameras that use fish-eye lenses to bend the incoming image onto a standard sensor. Software then undoes the known distortion of the lens to provide a clear image, but one that give you a surround view of what was filmed.
In general, the fewer cameras needed to create the final image, the more seamless it will look. Using makeshift multi-camera rigs makes it much more likely that there will be stitching errors. Which show up as visible cuts in the final image, where things don’t quite line up.
For the regular person on the street, something like the Insta360 line of smartphone-attached cameras is a good place to start.Computer-Generated 360-Degree Video
Using cameras isn’t the only way to generate 360-degree video. You’ll find plenty of examples that are made using 3D animation software or from video games using a custom field of view that encompasses 180- or 360- degrees.
Obviously it’s pretty simple to create stereoscopic video this way as well, since you have full control over the rendered world. It’s also a good way to bring non-interactive CG experiences to hardware platforms that have no hope of running them natively on local hardware.Monoscopic & Stereoscopic Video
Another major subdivision within 360-degree video formats is between monoscopic and stereoscopic video. Basically, monoscopic footage isn’t in 3D. Although you have a giant video that surrounds you as a viewer, it’s still flat. Stereoscopic 360-degree video gives each eye it’s own unique feed, which your brain interprets as a 3D image.
Obviously 3D video is more compelling, but it’s much more complex when it comes to equipment. Basically, you need two independent 360-degree cameras, mounted at precisely the right distance from each other. Cameras that can shoot stereoscopic video like this are quite a bit more expensive, so most of the video you’ll find is the non-3D kind right now.Editing 360-Degree Video
Fundamentally, 360-degree video is no different than any other digital video file. So, in principle, you can edit it with any software that can read the video codec used to encode it. However, the video is going to look like a distorted mess, shown as a normal frame.
Software designed to edit or play this type of video warps the footage into the correct spherical form, so that everything looks the way it should. Which means it’s best if you use an editing suite that knows how to do this.
More often than not, your camera will come bundled with some sort of editor. What specific features are present will depend on the app in question.
Professional editing packages such as Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro natively support editing 180-degree and 360-degree video, as do other mainline video editing solutions. If you already have one of these programs, you may find you can also already work with this format.Supported Platforms
So, once you have recorded and edited your 360-degree masterpiece, where can you actually upload it for other people to watch? Believe it or not, YouTube already supports several formats of 360-degree video.
There are also several apps for mobile devices that also support 360-degree video, but of course the user has to download the video to their device and can’t stream it.Watching 360-Degree Video
The other way is to simply watch the video on a normal screen. On desktops, you can look around by using the mouse and on mobile phones you can swipe with a finger or use the phone’s built-in motion sensors.Our Favorite Examples Of 360-Degree Video
Now that you know the most important information about this exciting video format, the only thing left to do is highlight some excellent examples of video you can try out for yourself right now.
Starting off with an example of live music performances, check out Childish Gambino’s “Me and Your Mama”. The camera I set low to simulate being at the show, but other videos even put the camera on stage so you can stand with the musicians and see the massive crowds.
This promotional video for the new Doctor Who series is both an example of a CG video and a narrative video. You don’t even have to be a fan of the show to appreciate how cool this concept is.
Streaming service on TVs sometimes needs additional hardware, and one such piece of equipment popularized by Amazon is the Fire TV. A direct competitor to Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV comes in a compact size and runs a souped-up version of Android OS, which is capable of doing even more than its competitor. If you just got your hands on an Amazon Fire TV, there are the coolest tips and tricks you must try out.
Related: Netflix vs Amazon Prime vs Hotstar: Which is the best streaming service in India
1. Get serious about gaming
With games like PUBG making their explosive debut on the mobile platform, the mobile gaming industry is finally becoming a formidable opponent to the traditional way gamers entertain themselves. Nothing beats the large screen experience and if you have an Amazon Fire TV plugged in, you can get this the easy way with just a small upgrade.
For around 50 bucks, you can get the Amazon Fire TV Game Controller online and power up your existing Amazon Fire TV device for some high-octane action. The wireless gaming controller comes with a built-in headphone jack, a dedicated microphone, and even the Alexa button, so if you have a Fire TV Stick that does not come with an Alexa-enabled remote, you can now make the most of that feature too.
→ Buy Amazon Fire TV Game Controller
2. Enjoy a private viewing session
While the big screen experience is great for sharing a viewing experience with the group or your significant other, sometimes you’d like to enjoy a private show. If you don’t own a smart TV, another great way of doing this is by hooking up your Bluetooth powered headphones or speakers to the Amazon Fire TV, as this feature comes built into the system.
From the main screen of your Amazon Fire TV, head over to the Settings tab from the top of the screen.
Find the Controllers and Bluetooth Devices menu and then open Other Bluetooth Devices.
Place your Bluetooth headphones or speakers in pairing mode and they should appear on the TV screen.
Pair the Amazon Fire TV to your Bluetooth device and now all the sounds played on the TV will be redirected.
3. Install all kinds of apps
While the original catalog that Amazon offers with the Fire TV includes hundreds of games and thousands of apps, some of us always want more. Since Fire TV does run on a version of Android OS, there is a way to get around this issue by enabling the beloved “Unknown Sources” menu that we’ve been using on mobile devices for years. We can’t guarantee that all apps will work ideally when you sideload them, but we tried Kodi media player and it seemed to work fine.
Using the Amazon Fire Remote, navigate to the right side of the screen and find the
Scroll to the right further and open the Device.
Use the scroll wheel to open Developer options.
Select Apps from Unknown Sources and confirm enabling it by pressing the OK.
Related: How to install Kodi on an Amazon Fire TV Stick
4. Search for content with Alexa
One of the selling points of the Fire TV Stick is definitely the voice search assistant Alexa that comes bundled with it. While voice search was a part of the streaming device even before Alexa was introduced, the added AI power of Alexa allows you to not only control Fire TV entirely, but other IoT devices as well.
All you need to do is press the Alexa button on your Fire TV Remote and the voice assistant will pop up to assist you. From asking about some movies based on genre or search for a song on Amazon Music, Alexa can do it all. To find out even more things you can do with Alexa, head over to Settings – Alexa – Things to Try and check out the things you can do.
5. Turn it into a Chromecast
The only reason people buy a Google Chromecast is to use the Cast feature to mirror their device’s display on to the large screen. With Amazon Fire TV, you get this feature built into the system so you can ditch your Chromecast and still enjoy mirroring your Android devices to your TV screen.
Head over to the Settings tab on your Amazon Fire TV screen.
Navigate to Display & Sounds – Enable Display Mirroring from the menu screen.
Go over to your device’s Settings app and use the Search menu to find the Cast.
Find the name of your Amazon Fire TV and connect to begin screen mirroring.
6. Turn off those annoying Ads
Head over to the Settings screen on your Fire TV device.
Scroll down to find the Preferences and open the Advertising ID.
Open the Internet-based Ads and turn it OFF.
7. Set up Parental Controls
While mobile devices and tablets are quite personal, your Amazon Fire TV is probably a device that is used by the entire family. With all kinds of apps installed on your Fire TV, the system comes with an entire Parental Controls section to help you keep the non-essential content that isn’t suitable for younger audiences out of their reach.
Head over to the Settings – Preferences – Parental Controls.
By default, the Viewing Restrictions are set to Family in which all the content rated PG and below is available for viewing.
You can also change the preferences and set up a 4-digit PIN to keep the young ones out of the mature content.
Related: How to use Netflix: 10 things you must know
8. Ditch the wonky remote
Whether you’re tired of the Amazon Fire Remote being non-responsive at times or you’ve simply lost it in the couch somewhere, there’s a way around it. Amazon has launched the Fire TV Remote App that allows you to control the Fire TV simply from your mobile device.
Apart from multi-touch navigation and all of the buttons you’d find on the actual remote, the app comes with Alexa Voice Search built into the app itself, you even get the virtual keyboard which makes it a whole lot easier to find content.
→ Download the Fire TV Remote App
9. Personalize the screensaver
When you leave Amazon Fire TV idle for long enough, the device goes into screensaver mode with some of the coolest scenic images from the Amazon Collection. However, you can easily change the Settings and include your Amazon Prime Photos and link your social media accounts to set them as your Fire TV screensaver.
Go over to the Settings tab and open the Display & Sounds.
Under the Screensaver Settings menu, open the Collection.
Change the Amazon Collection (default) to Prime Photos.
You can also go through the Slide Style, Slide Speed, and Start Time settings here too.
10. Get rid of voice recordings
While Amazon Alexa is a great service that helps you reach content that is personalized to your liking by tracking you through user data, it is a privacy breach of sorts. If you’re big on privacy and don’t love the fact that all of your voice recordings using Alexa are stored by Amazon, the service allows you to delete them manually.
Head over to Manage your Content and Devices.
Find your Fire TV device and tap on the three-dot button right next to it.
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