Fire Chrome Hell This Should be Awesome
I am now the proud possessor of a Kindle Fire Stick and Google’s Chromecast. Both these devices allow you to connect to the respective online media offerings of the vendors and watch them on television and even share/control the viewing with various devices — a smart phone or tablet, for example. In order for this to work you need a wireless network, a television with an HDMI port, an outlet (to provide power to the device), and internet that isn’t a joke. Here at Command Central, we have the television with HDMI. We have the wireless network — two of them actually– we have power outlets. But we do not have internet that isn’t a joke.
I encountered a few other hurdles as well, having to do with remotes with interfaces designed by engineers I can only assume were paid bonuses based on designing a device designed to be frustrating and borderline useless.
The Way This Should Work
Shiny new device removed from well designed box. Glance through the instructions. OK. That seems straightforward. Let’s go!
I hum a catchy tune as I plug it into the front facing console/hub that allows the connection of multiple inputs to my collection of devices, including the television. The console/hub recognizes the new device and walks me though the set up and network connection. I’m able to use any keyboard other than the TV’s on-screen keyboard (also designed by an engineer who hates real people) because the console/hub connects to my phone, tablet, or bluetooth keyboard.
Therefore, I enter my complex WEP password without even once thinking about changing the password to “monkeypoo” or leaving it blank. I’m connected to the wireless network and ten seconds later I’m streaming Zoolander and making in-app purchases.
Later, when I want to switch back to regular television viewing for someone else in the household, I do. No one cries or curses.
What Actually Happened
Shiny new device removed from well designed box. I give myself a pep-talk in which I assure myself that this time, I won’t lose two hours of my time trying to follow the instructions. The television has only one HDMI port and it is located at the back of the television which is very close to a wall. I go find a flashlight so I can see what’s plugged into what. Oh. The DVD player is plugged into the single HDMI port. I unplug that and plug in the Fire Stick device. The instructions say to switch the television to the new HDMI input. I have visions of ending up disabling our satellite TV and never getting it set up correctly again. Oh well. I’m not the one who watches TV around here.
Hell Is Shiny
It turns out there are two remotes and no one is sure which one will correctly switch the on-TV HMDI inputs. Cue up a 21st Three Stooges scene crossed with Abbott and Costello’s Who’s on First. Two of us stand in front of the TV, each with a remote, pushing buttons while input selections flash on the screen. “Did you do that?” “I don’t know. Did you?” At one point we end up at a screen where the Fire Stick is a listed input but none of the remotes is able to select it.
At this point, I’m thinking longingly of grain alcohol. But I persevere. Gently, I take the second remote away from my companion and we both take a deep breath. “I’m not giving this remote back to you until you promise you won’t push any buttons until I say so.” Ahem. Button pushing recommences but in a more controlled manner. Neither of us knows how we managed to select the Kindle Fire Stick input but we did.
We have to connect the Fire Stick to one of the two wireless networks (one of them is AT&T, the other is Verizon. Don’t ask.) One of them is a little too close to the data cap for comfort, so I pick the other one. The TV-screen keyboard makes me weep. The network password is complex. This is one of the levels of Hell. I hate you, too, company that was too cheap to hire a real UX designer. What the hell did I ever do to you but pay you money for this device? I had to start over twice and only narrowly avoided resetting EVERYTHING on a screen where “CANCEL” was not an option. FU dude. FU.
At last, the network password got entered. Then we watched a lame introductory video and after that we could navigate around our options for video streaming and games and to be honest it looked totally awesome. But we gave up because the network (Verizon) disconnected every 5 minutes.
I haven’t yet brought myself to try hooking up Chromecast. But maybe next week? Or after the data caps reset.