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Amazon Shoppers Rate Apple TV Higher Than Fire TV


Consumers are giving Amazon's new set-top media-streaming box lousy reviews.

In my in-depth review of's (NASDAQ:AMZN) new Fire TV set-top media streaming box, I concluded that I preferred my good-old Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) TV, mostly because of usability issues with both Amazon's and Netflix's (NASDAQ:NFLX) instant video-viewing experiences.

But what does the larger population of Fire TV buyers think?

After all, many major media outlets gave it positive reviews, and it's possible my concerns don't matter to most people.

So this morning, I went to and crunched the numbers on reviews of Fire TV and its three main competitors: Apple TV, Roku 3, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Chromecast.

Here's a screengrab of the Fire TV review distribution:

Fire TV has received a fair number of reviews -- 1,214 in total, with an average score of 3.5 stars.

So how does that compare to the competition?

Not so well.

As of 9:26 a.m. ET today, Fire TV was the lowest rated of the four, while Apple TV was the highest.

Roku was a close second, with the $29.99 Chromecast in third.

Here's a full breakdown:

As you can see, Fire TV had both the lowest proportion of 5-star ratings, and the highest proportion of 1-star ratings.

The Fire TV's weak scores relative to the competition indicate that Amazon needs to make some tweaks because there's some serious risk of bad word of mouth.

The one update virtually everyone would like to see is easier access to Prime movies and TV shows. I bet that's worth at least a half-star. Additionally, many 1-star reviews contain complaints about not having content like HBO Go (which is reportedly coming), as well as software update failures.

These are all fixable issues, and I suspect Fire TV version 2.0 will be a big improvement.

It's not as if Amazon isn't skilled in making consumer electronics devices: Its Kindle eReader and Kindle Fire HD/HDX tablets have sterling ratings.

But for now, I'd still take the older, slower Apple TV over the Fire TV any day of the week.

It's also worth pointing out that the Fire TV is not the only way to stream Amazon Instant Video in your living room. A great many devices -- including Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) gaming consoles, and LG and Panasonic TVs and DVD players -- have Amazon video apps. You can see a full list of approved devices here, though note that some have limitations in functionality.

Also see: Apple, Amazon Will Survive Android TV -- but Will Chromecast?

Twitter: @MichaelComeau

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