Two days ago Amazon announced a tiny black box that supposedly does everything better than all of the other tiny black boxes. Always excited to investigate such claims, we ordered one and cracked it open. What did we find? A stylish — yet hard to disassemble — black box full of fairly ordinary components. It was a doozy to take apart, and quite repair-unfriendly given that a single board holds all the vital components. It scored a midpack 6 out of 10 on our Repair-ometer.
Not satisfied with yet another board-in-a-box, we soldiered on and took apart the Fire TV’s remote and controller to reveal all the fun things inside!
• The Fire TV seems to put off a lot of heat. To keep this sparky box from becoming an arsonist, Amazon included a heatsink that encompasses most of the bottom case.
• Our first attempt at removing the heatsink involved an iOpener and an overwhelming lack of luck. Fortunately, we are experienced with both fire and ice, and we used the old ice-cube-tray-twist to dislodge the heatsink.
• Once we’d doused the Fire TV, we moved on to the included voice-controllable remote. Replaceable batteries? Check. We dread the day when even remotes no longer house removable batteries.
• The remote has an MD v1.2 microphone, the same one we’ve seen in the Kindle Fire HD.
• The controller is tamper-proofed with a variant of the tri-wing screw family. They look cool and resemble shurikens, but we don’t know anybody who keeps a shuriken driver on their tool belt. It’s not a perfect fit, but our tri-wing screwdriver from the Pro Tech Screwdriver Set worked fine to remove these screws.
• The console, remote control, and controller contain fun, NSA-approved RFID tags. We’re guessing they’re used for inventory/tracking during manufacturing, but you never know…
• Console silicon:
- Samsung K3PE0E00QM-CGC2 2 GB LPDDR2 RAM—the same we found in the Moto-X.
- Quad-core, 1.7 GHz Qualcomm Krait 300 processor layered beneath the RAM
- Toshiba THGBM5G6A2JBAIR 8 GB eMMC NAND flash
- Qualcomm PMM8920 power management IC
- Atheros AR8152-B PCI-E fast ethernet controller
- Pericom PI6C557-03ALE PCI-E clock
- Texas Instruments DIT41921 digital audio transmitter
- Qualcomm Atheros QCA6234XH integrated dual-band 2×2 802.11n + Bluetooth 4.0 chip, the same seen on the Kindle Fire 7″ HDX.
• Remote silicon:
- Texas Instruments MSP430F5435A 16-bit ultra low power microcontroller
- Texas Instruments CC256 Bluetooth and dual-mode controller
- Winbond W25Q40BW serial flash memory with dual and quad SPI (Serial Peripheral Interface)