Koushik Dutta, a leading Android developer whose work can be seen in Cyanogen (the open source Android firmware), ClockworkMod (the Android rooting tool), and Helium (a 3rd-party tool for backing up apps), took some time this weekend to see how well the Fire TV worked with Allcast.
Allcast is a $6 Android app that enables users to take whatever they see on the Android device in their hands and stream it on other devices including set top boxes like Roku and the Apple TV, gaming consoles like the Xbox and Playstation, and even SmartTVs.
According to the Google Play description Allcast is supposed to only work with video, music, and photos (the related Mirror app handles apps and games), but apparently the Allcast app has been updated to support games as well.
Koush posted a video to Youtube which shows games being played on how Android smartphone being mirrored to Fire TV. He describes it as low-latency, but not quite low enough to play Flappy Birds:
Koush originally posted this on Google+, and he also happens to mention that he compard the Fire TV against Chromecast and Apple TV. It should probably come as no surprise that the Fire TV scored the best:
- Fire TV - Great audio and video quality. Works on any 4.4+ device.
- Apple TV - Great video quality. Great audio quality, but I don't have audio implemented yet.
- Chromecast - Good video quality after 2 minutes, when WebRTC ramps the bitrate up. Terrible audio quality, not sure why. I think that it encodes the audio stream to be optimized for voice. Requires a hardware vp8 encoder, currently only available on Nexus 5.
Koush didn't include the Roku 3 in this comparison, but I would expect that the Fire TV will still have much better performance. The $99 Roku 3 has much weaker specs than the Fire TV which costs the same, and I bet that we'll be able to see the difference in capabilities when streaming from an Android device.
While the Roku 3 has a much broader selection of sources, the fact that the Fire TV works well when paired with another Android device is a strong point in its favor.
Koush has given me the first good reason to buy the Fire TV, namely that it is can work closely with the Android device I use every day. Given that I don't watch much TV that means more to me than the Fire TV's streaming abilities.