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Amazon Fire TV: Complaints about stuttering pictures with 50/60 Hz playback

09/28/2014 (Karsten Serck)

Shortly after the delivery of the first Amazon Fire TV devices, complaints about the jerky playback of individual films and series began to mount. In the case of individual content, jerky motion sequences should be seen, especially when the camera pans evenly. In the delivery state, the box is automatically set to 1080p or 720p playback at 60 Hz.

Nowadays almost all televisions with an HDMI connection accept this and works with films such as Roland Emmerich's "2012" without any problems while e.g. "The Hunger Games - The Hunger Games" can appear a bit messy when panning cameras on individual TV sets. If you switch the image reproduction manually from 60 to 50 Hz, the display is okay except for the already somewhat restless camera work.

A special case should be the series "Breaking Bad", in which the German synchronized episodes should run best at 50 Hz and the original versions at 60 Hz.

This suggests that Amazon uses material that has been optimized for both 50 Hz and 60 Hz and that the fixed image reproduction frequency of the box causes slight stuttering, which can vary depending on the TV set. In the case of individual TV models, the interframe calculation that is common nowadays is intended to reduce the problem somewhat, while in others it is intended to make it worse.

The device cannot tell which frame rate the video streams have. If really different material is used, it would probably make the most sense to enable automatic switching of the image output to the correct frequency by means of a firmware update.

The media center software XBMC, which can be installed as "sideload", has its own mode for this purpose, but it does not work on the Kindle Fire TV. The resolution cannot be changed by XBMC either. This only works via the image output parameters in the Fire TV settings. They also strictly adhere to the EDID information from the HDMI interface. For example, on a 720p device with incomplete EDID information, you cannot force the image output to 1080p, even if this works with 1080p. However, it is praiseworthy that the Fire TV box offers its own setting option for the overscan in order to be able to show the whole picture on TV sets that like to cut a little too much from the edge, which is particularly important for some apps.

Fire TV (previous model - 1st generation) at Amazon.de

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