Seven Must Have Apps for Your Amazon Fire TV Stick

Seven Must Have Apps for Your Amazon Fire TV Stick

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick is available in India for Rs. 3,999
  • All apps below are free to download, though many require subscriptions
  • Apart from streaming apps, VLC is great for local content

Amazon’s Fire TV Stick launched in India last month, and in that time, we’ve seen a number of companies get on the bandwagon to provide their services through the platform. At Rs. 3,999, the Amazon Fire TV Stick is priced similarly to the Google Chromecast, though the two products are actually very different, as we noted in our review.

Getting the Amazon Fire TV Stick without subscribing to Amazon Prime doesn’t make a lot of sense. Not only is the device cheaper if you’re a Prime member – you get a Rs. 499 cash back as Amazon Pay balance after purchase – but only Prime members get access to Amazon Prime Video, which is a very good video service that’s reasonably priced. It’s also got its share of exclusives, including, most the latest one, American Gods.

The Fire TV Stick is well suited for people who want to browse around to find something they would watch, a little like you would on a regular television. If you’ve bought a Fire TV Stick, or are planning to do so, getting the right apps will certainly help. Here are seven apps that your Fire TV Stick should have, apart from Amazon Prime Video, obviously.

ALSO SEESeven Must-Have Apple TV Apps for Cord Cutters in India

1. YouTube
The YouTube app is basically just its TV website, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the most used apps on our Fire TV Stick. It’s easy to find the content you want, or browse your subs, and the world’s biggest video destination really needs no introduction.

youtube fire TV app youtube

Many publishers upload shows directly to YouTube, and it’s still home to a plethora of viral content. Once you’ve signed in, you can even control YouTube via your phone, so it’s really convenient.

Get YouTube for the Amazon Fire TV Stick

2. Netflix
Another obvious pick is Netflix, though the Netflix app doesn’t seem to be available in the India store as of now – hopefully it will be restored soon. While a Netflix subscription costs a lot more than Amazon Prime membership, the service has its share of much-loved exclusives.

netflix fire TV app Netflix

If you’re a fan of shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, or Iron Fist, or if you follow other originals like Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Orange is the New Black, or House of Cards, then Netflix is the best way to stay up to date with the latest episodes.

It helps that the Netflix interface translates really well to the big screen, loading smoothly and allowing you to quickly start browsing on the Fire TV Stick.

Get Netflix for the Amazon Fire TV Stick

3. Hotstar
If you think a Netflix subscription is too expensive, Star’s Hotstar is worth considering. It will give you access to HBO’s catalogue, with shows like Game of Thrones, Westworld, and Silicon Valley, along with the Disney and Marvel movies. On top of that, you can watch popular shows such as Modern Family, and Homeland. On top of this, for cricket fans, Hotstar is also where you can stream IPL, all international games played in India, and a whole lot more sporting action, including the likes of Premier League.

ALSO SEEAmazon Fire TV Stick vs Google Chromecast: Which One Is Right for You?

hotstar fire TV app hotstar

Between the two apps, Netflix definitely has a much better interface. But if you’re a cost-conscious streamer, then going with Hotstar is the obvious choice, because of its far more reasonably priced library of content.

Beyond that we should add that the app has been steadily improving since it first launched, and there’s every hope that it will get better on the Fire TV Stick as well.

Get Hotstar for the Amazon Fire TV Stick

4. Gaana
With the first three apps, you’ve got video-on-demand sorted out, but if you’re using YouTube to listen to music, you’re doing it wrong. Music discovery on YouTube is not great, and you’re also wasting a lot of bandwidth on the videos if you just want it for the songs.

gaana fire TV app gaana

We tried a number of different options for music streaming, but eventually we settled on the Gaana app. These are a few quirks about how search works, and the radio function, but the collection is good, the whole experience is free, and once you’re streaming, it works reliably. If you like a mix of Indian and international music, then Gaana is your best bet – on many days, we just planted ourselves in front of the TV, and let an automated playlist take over while getting work done on our laptop.

Get Gaana for the Amazon Fire TV Stick

5. DittoTV
DittoTV is an app that you stream live TV that’s otherwise broadcast to your televisions, and you can choose from a wide variety of content at just Rs. 20 a month, making it the most affordable ‘premium’ offering.

dittoTV fire TV app dittotv

With DittoTV, you get all the Zee channels, along with a number of additional channels. If you’re thinking of cord-cutting but haven’t made the leap yet because your favourite shows aren’t available online, DittoTV could help you to bridge the gap, at a fairly affordable rate – just be sure the channel(s) you want to see are part of the package.

Get DittoTV for the Amazon Fire TV Stick

6. VLC for Fire
You can get a number of different free media players for the FireTV, but our pick is VLC for Fire, a name that should be familiar from the PC world. The app lets you play locally stored videos, which you could have downloaded to the Fire TV Stick itself, or videos stored on the network.

vlc for fire fire TV app vlc

VLC plays a plethora of formats, and handles just about every kind of video smoothly, with options for subtitles and various playback controls. It’s smooth and reliable, and if you have a lot of offline content, getting VLC is an obvious decision.

Get VLC for Fire for the Amazon Fire TV Stick

7. Kodi
Formerly known as XBMC, the Kodi media centre is one of the most advanced ways to manage your library of content, and comes with a host of plugins that make it easy to enhance its capabilities.

The app was officially removed from the Amazon Appstore because it can be used for piracy, but it’s really easy to side-load apps onto the Fire TV Stick. All you need is the APK file, and a file management app. If you need a step by step guide, check out this detailed explainer.

kodi tv app kodi

Kodi allows you to manage your local library, and has a number of add-ons that really boost its functionality, turning it into a homepage where you can get all kinds of information such as your Twitter and RSS feeds, or weather updates, if you want the app to do all that. You can also get music and video plugins to automatically fetch lyrics and subtitles, and there are also a number of plugins that enable piracy for users so inclined.

Get Kodi from the Amazon Fire TV Stick

Bonus picks Although we’ve kept our main list to just media apps, there are a couple of other things we would strongly recommend you install on your Fire TV Stick. The first is ES File Explorer – this is one of our favourite file managers, and it’s really easy to use. It works well on the Fire TV Stick too, and is very useful if you’re storing videos on the Fire TV Stick, or if you’re trying to side-load apps like Kodi.

Second, we’d recommend getting the Firefox browser. You’ll need to side-load it similar to installing Kodi, but once you are up and running, Firefox a convenient way of finding new files for the Fire TV Stick using the device itself. Yes, it’s hard to navigate to a website if you are typing URLs using the TV remote, but you can connect a Bluetooth keyboard to the Fire TV Stick or use the companion app on your smartphone to make your life simpler.

Before we go, it’s also worth reminding that the Amazon Fire TV Stick supports a number of casual games. These go largely ignored since it’s pretty low-end and the remote isn’t well suited to gaming. However, if we had to recommend just one game for you to try, it would be Crossy Road, which is still free and fun.

These are our top picks, though there are a lot more apps you can and should install on your Fire TV Stick. Indian news channels have a presence – the apps could be better, but you should get your favourite channel anyway to stay up to date – and there are also some great DLNA apps you can install to easily get video content from your phone to your TV.

There’s a lot to choose from today, and it’s more feasible to ditch linear television than ever before. Have you taken the step yet, and if so, which of these apps are your favourites? Tell us via the comments.

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[“Source-ndtv”]

Netflix adds a screensaver to its TV apps to promote its original content

Netflix quietly launched a new discovery feature this week aimed at promoting its original programming to users who are watching via an app on their television. Now, when you leave the Netflix application idle, a screensaver will eventually appear displaying a rotating selection of Netflix’s Originals.

The company didn’t make a formal announcement about the new addition, which seemingly confused some users who didn’t expect to see this.

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

View image on Twitter

Netflix confirmed with TechCrunch that the screensaver rolled out globally to the TV experience this Tuesday, though it had been tested prior to now. It features the cover art for Netflix programming, including movies and TV shows.

There is no option to disable the feature nor configure any settings related to it — like how long before it appears after the screen remains idle, for example.

Right now, the screensaver is focused on Netflix Originals, instead of other featured programming, popular content or new releases. The idea here is to better promote Netflix’s original content that users may not be as familiar with — perhaps because they aren’t titles from traditional television, or blockbuster movies, or because they feature unknown actors.

The company did not confirm a detailed device lineup, but users have already reported seeing it on a variety of streaming players and TVs, including Android TV, Fire TV, Mi Box, Xbox One, PlayStation, Roku, various smart TVs and more.

According to Netflix, however, the screensaver feature is broadly available across all of Netflix’s TV apps, with the exception of some older and legacy devices.

[“Source-techcrunch”]

Witness the genius of LG’s ultra-slim OLED TV wall mount

LG OLED Wall Mount 1

We’ve already enjoyed the splendour of LG’s new 2.5mm thick Signature OLED W7 at CES 2017, but it’s not just the TV that’s ultra slim. Its clever wall-mount system is equally stunning and ensures the TV sits completely flush against the wall.

It all starts with the mounting sheet, which sticks to the wall using adhesive. It has nine magnets to help secure the TV correctly in place, though there are also two hooks so it’s not just the power of magnetism securing your hugely expensive TV to the wall.

LG OLED Wall Mount 7What I saw at LG’s recent European convention looked very simple for two people to assemble, though LG plans to offer a ‘white glove’ service for owners, so they won’t have to do it themselves.

In case you were wondering, the wall mount comes with the TV as there is no traditional stand for this set – it’s wall-mount or nothing here.

LG OLED Wall Mount 1While the W7 isn’t especially heavy, it is very flexible. All this bending has no negative impact on the TV. We’ve come a long way from the humble CRT TV, that’s for sure.

LG OLED Wall MountThis is one of the two hooks that help hold the TV to the wall. They combine with the magnets to keep the TV securely fastened to the wall – you don’t even need to drill a single hole.

LG OLED Wall Mount 3There’s a single cable which runs to the provided Dolby Atmos soundbar. LG provides an extension cable should you require it, though it’s worth noting the soundbar can’t be wall mounted. You’ll need a shelf for it to sit on.

LG OLED Wall Mount 6And here’s a clearer view of how thin the mounting sheet is. That little metal circle is one of the hooks the TV sits on.

LG OLED Wall Mount 4The final result is a TV that mounts perfectly to the wall and sticks out only 2.5mm. Hell, if you were really clever you could make a little 2.5mm deep alcove so the TV wouldn’t stick out at all.

If you can afford it, that is – this TV is likely to cost around £10,000, which is hardly pocket change.

If you’re paying that much, you may as well make a little extra effort.

WATCH: Best TVs of CES 2017

The LG OLED W7 was one of the most exciting new TVs at CES 2017, but which was your favourite? Let us know in the comments.

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Samsung SMART Signage TV: Digital Signs and TV for Small Businesses

Samsung digital sign - bagel store

Usefulness
Functionality
Price

Summary


A turnkey solution giving you the ability to offer either business TV programming or digital signs (or both on a split screen) to your patrons, on a 40-inch or 48-inch Samsung business TV. With 200 templates, do-it-yourselfers on a small business budget can create and change digital signs quickly at no added cost.

Lots of small businesses use televisions in their premises: gyms, sports bars, restaurants — to name some.  But what business owners may not realize is that using consumer televisions for commercial purposes may void or reduce the warranty.

And if you decide to use a TV or computer monitor to run an in-house presentation, say in your lobby, it can be cumbersome and expensive. You may need to commission an expensive video or multimedia presentation. Or if you choose to create it yourself, such as with PowerPoint, the result may look less visually appealing than you’d hoped.

And what about signs and displays in your business? Have you ever wished for something more dynamic and exciting?

Recently we ran across an impressive solution for small businesses that solves those kinds of issues. It’s called the Samsung SMART Signage TV.

Think of it as “TV and digital signage in a box.” I saw it in action at the recent Small Business Summit in New York (pictured in the booth below).

Overall, it’s an impressive package that gives small businesses the kind of flexibility and options for signage and television previously available to larger buyers (such as hotels, hospitals or retail chains).

Michael O’Halloran, marketing manager with Samsung, who was at the Summit, told me that this is a solution Samsung designed specifically for small businesses. “Digital signage has been around for years,” he said. “But up to now it’s been for large companies. The difference is that we’ve created the first ‘television and digital signage package in a box’ that’s easy enough for even the smallest business to install and use.”

digital signage tv system in a box

Samsung SMART Signage TV Features

The Samsung SMART Signage TV is designed specifically for small businesses.

With it you can offer regular television programming to your patrons, of course. It is a fully functioning high-definition TV.  It comes in two sizes: 40-inch and 48-inch.

But the real beauty of this system is the digital sign platform that is included at no extra charge. You can create and display bright, eye-catching digital signs in your premises.

It includes a free software package called MagicInfo Express (see video demonstration), that comes with over 200 sign templates. After a short learning curve, it takes just minutes to create dynamic signs with text and images. You can have static signs or make the sign images move, alternate, fly in or fade out. There are many animation options to catch a customer’s eye.

You can also schedule signage for different times of day. For instance, a restaurant could change a menu sign for breakfast, lunch and dinner automatically.

You don’t need to be a designer to use the software. Just upload your logo and photographs. Then you follow the instructions to insert them into the pre-made templates.  You update the software from a laptop or desktop computer, or from a mobile device.

Once satisfied with your design, you can load the content wirelessly to the television set from your computer or mobile device. This means, if you have signs at multiple locations, you can update them remotely.  Another option is to upload via a USB device that you plug into the TV.

You do not need to be a technician to set up the system. The media player is built in to the television.  So there’s no messing around trying to get a separate media player to “play nice” with the TV. You don’t have to jerry rig solutions such as running cables from a monitor to a dedicated laptop hidden nearby.

Samsung televisions are good quality and look attractive. The Smart Signage TV has a sleek gloss-black finish.

These televisions are designed to take heavy business use — 16 hours per day, 7 days a week. They each have an 16:9 LED Backlit LCD display. They are Energy Star rated for energy efficiency.

The signage TV is in use in New York’s Tompkins Square Bagels, where owner Christopher Pugliese points out that he’s using the sign to open up new sales opportunities. “We have massive lines of 20-somethings who work all over New York City. And I don’t think any of them realize that we could cater their office breakfast or meeting,” he said. “We felt that the digital display would be really helpful with getting that message across.”

Samsung digital signs cross sell

Pros

  • Everything you need for one installation is included in the box: television, TV stand, wall mount hardware, and software and templates to design the signs.
  • The SMART Signage set can be displayed in portrait (vertical) or landscape (horizontal) mode — either on the wall or as a tabletop set. Vertical signs are especially good for clothing stores that may want to show a fully dressed model. Horizontal signs have the added benefit of being able to display a television program right alongside a sign message, on a split screen. For example, a sports bar could display a televised football game, alongside a sign with the day’s drink specials.
  • Digital signage is bright, modern looking, and faster to change than printed signs.
  • Each Smart Signage TV comes with a 36-month warranty for parts and labor. This warranty covers commercial use of the TV. It includes onsite service. Samsung has a dedicated support line for commercial users.
  • MSRP pricing is $749 for the 40-inch and $999 for the 48-inch. You might be tempted to think, ‘I can buy cheaper TVs at my local big box store.’ But remember the added value you are getting in the form of (1) signage software, (2)  Samsung quality, (3) ease of managing your signage, and (4) commercial warranty and onsite service.
  • You can purchase directly from Samsung, or from retailers such as Costco, Amazon and Sam’s Club. Leasing options may also be available to spread out the cost in monthly payments.

Cons

I saw a live demonstration, including how to use the software, at a conference. It presented very well (see Tompkins Square Bagels examples pictured).  It appears as easy to use as the description. There were no negatives that I could see.

My only reservation is that I haven’t used the Smart Signage TV for any length of time. So I can’t speak to installing it or using it over time.  (Read: what you need to know about business TV.)

However, I am a user of Samsung televisions in general. If the quality of these is similar to what I have used, you will be well satisfied with the looks, reliability and display.  While there may be sharper displays on the market, the SMART Signage TV is a vast improvement over what I see many small businesses using today.

Samsung digital signs TV DIY installation

Who Samsung SMART Signage TV Is Best For

SMART Signage TV is ideal for small businesses that want to attract customer attention through bright, eye-catching digital signs for interior spaces. This includes retail shops, spas, salons, restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques and bars. It’s perfect to call out visually-appealing offerings or sales promotions, so you can sell more products or services.

And remember that it’s also a TV. For those of you already offering business TV programming to patrons, it opens up new cross-selling opportunities.  For example, a dentist’s office can provide TV in the waiting room. On a split screen the dentist could inform patients about optional services such as invisible braces or tooth whitening.

It’s also a good choice for offices that have television and/or in-house presentations in their lobbies. Examples include consulting businesses and technology companies that receive visitors regularly.

Samsung SMART Signage TV is great for do-it-yourself owners and managers who want the flexibility to change signage regularly — even multiple times a day.

Playing around with the software, I can say it is easy to change signs using the templates.  I’d equate it to using PowerPoint. If you or your staff use PowerPoint, I’m pretty sure you can learn to use this sign software.

Who it’s not for: if you use business television but have no plans to ever use the signage, you may not get full value at the $749 and $999 price points. Price shoppers strictly looking for an inexpensive TV who don’t need the signage option can find cheaper options, I am sure.  Remember, though, the warranty coverage with this SMART Signage TV may save you money in the long run.

Small businesses that want to serve customers better AND increase sales should check out Samsung’s SMART Signage TV for an:

  • easy turnkey solution combining both advertising and television;
  • TV programming on a beautiful HD television set;
  • the kind of professional-looking digital signs that large companies have;
  • the ability for do-it-yourselfers to change digital signage quickly at no added cost, without getting a designer involved;
  • onsite warranty coverage backed by a multibillion-dollar global company;
  • at a small-business price.

Image credits: Samsung; Small Business Trends

More in: Samsung

[“source-smallbiztrends”]