On Wednesday, Amazon launched its Fire TV Stick in India, priced at Rs. 3,999 (there's a Rs. 499 cashback for Prime members), which means that for the first time since the launch of Amazon Prime Video in India four months ago in December, there's an easy way to get your content on to the television screen. Of course, that's not all the Fire TV Stick does - you can install apps for Netflix, Hotstar, Gaana, Eros Now, DittoTV, and others, though, at 8GB, storage space is a little limited on the Fire TV Stick.
Although you could import a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick to India before this, there were limitations. For one, there were almost no Indian apps available, so if you wanted to watch the IPL on Hotstar, for example, then you were out of luck.
And of course, Amazon's own Prime Video wasn't supported. What's more, the service wasn't available on other devices that support it internationally, such as game consoles. Yes, you could AirPlay it onto an Apple TV if you have an iOS device, but not many people in India live wholly inside Apple's ecosystem. With the official launch of the Fire TV Stick in India, that's changed, and you can now queue up an episode of The Man in the High Castle without having to use your phone to force it to launch, but most of the new Indian apps leave a lot to be desired.
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Poor design not optimised for televisions
The Fire TV stick is great if you're a Prime Video subscriber who also uses Netflix and YouTube. These are easily our favourite services on the platform, because of how aesthetically pleasing and simple to use they are.
On the other hand, out of the various Indian applications that we tried after the announcement on Wednesday, only Gaana's music stream app seems like one that doesn't need a complete overhaul. The app's fairly basic, but the search works fine, the different UI elements are at least clearly readable, and the UI is easy to navigate with the Fire TV remote. Meanwhile one of the worst experiences was while using Hotstar.
On one hand, given Hotstar's catalogue and relatively reasonable pricing, we're happy to see it as a Fire TV app. On the other hand, the UI is practically an incitement to violence. Scrolling through is not smooth, the focus seems to get 'stuck' at times when you're nearing the edges of the screen, requiring one or sometimes even two extra keypresses to continue to scroll, and there are times when it's is even more inconsistent.