Fire TV evolved !
The Fire TV truly evolved with the software update 126.96.36.199 released on the last days of March 2015.
I would say that this firmware update finally makes my Fire TV a nice product.
Many will argue that the added functionality should have been included a year ago, when releasing the Fire TV into the market, and I cannot disagree with that. But “it is what it is”, and today, a year later, we get to enjoy two unlocked major features; without the need to root or modify our Fire TV units in any way:
Fire TV now accepts USB Mass Storage
You can plug your pen drives into your Fire TV USB Port and use it for storing apps or even media content.
Although Amazon’s official word states that this added functionality is not meant to be used for locally accessing media content, our trusty Kodi (ex XBMC) media player, or even VLC media player can read the USB storage contents just fine. You just need to navigate into /storage/extUsb/ path on your file browser.
A couple of annoying caveats:
First, your FireTV will not have enough power juice to power up HDD based storage units by itself, so you will need to power your HDD (or SSD) drive unit by yourself. This may be easily accomplished by using a powered USB hub.
Secondly, FAT 32 is the only supported filesystem, limiting the media to 4Gb files. Sadly enough, lots of full-HD media files will be bigger than 4Gb, thus won’t be readable by FireTV. In addition, your Fire TV will only mount the first FAT32 partition it finds.
You will find a new System option, called “USB Storage” that will cope with the functionalities and idiosyncrasies of USB Mass storage.
Bluetooth Headphones officially supported on your Fire TV
Your Fire TV will recognize and pair up your bluetooth headphones. You will find a new option called “Other Bluetooth Devices” inside System – Controllers settings: You will be able to pair and view your bt headphones from there.
A weird message will appear each time you turn on your BT Headphones, stating that they may interfere with wifi connections. Nonsense, BT and Wifi radio signals are 100% compatible, so don’t be alarmed by it.
The Audio streamed into your Bluetooth headphones will be flawlessly synched on Prime video playback.
The Caveat: There is still an audio delay when used with third party apps like Kodi. Thankfully enough, Kodi includes an option to skew audio that will let you synchronize it fairly easy with your video. But other apps, sadly enough, will keep their audio skewed against video.
As final words, I would expect the caveats to be ironed out either by the official Fire TV coding team from Amazon, or eventually by community effort, with different patches, tricks or tips. In any case I will keep you informed!