Amazon Fire Tablet — How to Mirror to Your TV
Amazon has come a long way since it began as an online bookstore in the 1990s. After expanding beyond books at the turn of the century, Amazon’s continued growth made it one of the largest marketplaces in the world, and today, the company is known for everything from food to clothing to movies or music. Though Amazon’s gadget line began with the Kindle eReader in the mid-2000s, it has since expanded to smart speakers, tablets, set-top boxes, HDMI cables, and even custom smartphones. Amazon is basically a one-stop shop for anything you need in your life, and that includes some brand new tech products. While their Fire tablets may not be the most powerful devices on the market today, they are capable of being great at media consumption, browsing the internet, and of course, shopping.
If you managed to pick up one of Amazon’s three Fire devices recently—the $50 Fire 7, $80 Fire HD 8, or the massive $150 Fire HD 10—then you’re probably enjoying watching some of your favorite Netflix or Amazon shows around the house or in the back of a long car ride. The two larger devices both have dual-stereo speakers that makes watching movies or TV shows a real joy. Of course, crowding around a 10″ tablet doesn’t make for the best of experiences when you’re trying to watch The Big Sick on Amazon Prime, and that’s where mirroring your tablet comes into play. There are two types of mirroring, and both have their own potential uses around the house. Whether you’re looking to stream a movie from your tablet to your television, or you want to display the entire tablet interface in your living room, let’s take a look at how to stream your tablet directly to your TV.
Two Types of Mirroring
Your Fire tablet runs Fire OS, an operating system built on top of Android and largely functioning in a similar fashion to what we’ve come to expect from Android. This means that your tablet is complete with many of the features of Android, simply customized to properly fit Amazon’s own ecosystem. On a standard Android device, you typically have the option to stream your content to a Chromecast-enabled device, along with several other devices depending on the app you’re using. Netflix and YouTube, for example, can both stream directly to Roku or smart TV apps, despite not directly being built for Cast. Unfortunately, Amazon doesn’t support Google’s Cast standard in any capacity—Chromecasts aren’t sold on Amazon’s website, the Amazon Prime Video app doesn’t allow to stream to Chromecast, and the software on your Fire TV doesn’t have any standard Cast support built-in.
That said, Amazon has developed its own form of screen mirroring. The company offers two distinct versions of display mirroring on their devices:
- Second Screen: Similar to the Cast standard, Second Screen allows you to push your content to a Fire TV or Fire Stick device. Some apps, including Netflix, also allow you to push your content directly to non-Amazon devices, but watching video directly through Amazon will require you to have a Fire TV or Fire Stick as your streaming device.
- Display Mirroring: Unlike Second Screen, Display Mirroring allows you to stream anything displayed on your device, from your Facebook feed to a recipe displayed on your device. Essentially, this turns your television into a wireless computer monitor controlled through your tablet. Unfortunately, there are several limitations to proper Display Mirroring, including a lack of support on newer devices. We’ll cover that more in the Requirements and Limitations section.
Which is for you? Well, it depends both on your device and your use case. Most tablet owners will probably be looking at using the Second Screen options on their devices, though if you own an older tablet, you may be able to mirror your device on your screen.
What Devices Can You Stream to?
Obviously, Amazon pushes its users to live in their ecosystem. Between the Alexa integration on their new tablet line, the ability to sync your place in their Kindle eBooks between devices, and the savings you can earn by subscribing to renewable products as opposed to opting for the one-time payment, it’s obvious that Amazon appreciates keeping their customers within a single brand. For that reason, the only device you can directly mirror your display to is the Fire TV or Fire Stick, purchased directly from Amazon for $79.99 for the former and $39.99 for the latter. Without this device, you won’t be able to mirror your tablet, stream video through Amazon Instant Video or Amazon Prime Video, or push your music to your smart TV, unless your television itself is running Fire OS (you can find the list of those televisions here; they must be purchased through Amazon).
That said, there is a fair share of devices that certain apps can share their content through, depending on which app you’re using to stream. Netflix, as mentioned, is the big one. Bringing up the app downloaded from the Amazon Appstore made it clear that we could cast our video through to our Fire TV, our Roku Express, a Vizio smart TV, and more. Netflix tries hard to make themselves available on every platform in the world, and it’s clear that they also work to make sure their apps work with as many devices as possible. YouTube, on the other hand, didn’t seem to want to work with any of our devices, including the Fire TV. The YouTube app on the Amazon Appstore is clearly a portal for the mobile website, and not the official app, so needless to say, this was a bit unsurprising. There is a workaround available to install the official YouTube app on your tablet through Google Play, and that app did allow us to stream to any of the platforms mentioned above (as long as there was a YouTube application on the device, we were able to stream).
Basically, the amount of devices you can stream your video through seem to depend fully on which platform you’re using, along with the correct box. For example, despite both Netflix and the Play Store YouTube app working with our devices during testing, the Amazon Appstore-version of Hulu offered no way to easily stream our content to our Fire TV device, or any other set-top box we had, for that matter. Similarly, the Play Store version of Hulu also didn’t offer us these selections, despite that the normal Android version of Hulu does allow for streaming to certain devices with the Cast interface. What you can and can’t stream to your smart devices seems to depend on the platform you’re using, and the app developer implementing the ability to stream content over the web.
Device Requirements and Limitations
Not every Fire tablet is created equally, and therefore, not every Fire tablet can properly mirror content on your device. Even with a Fire TV, you aren’t guaranteed to be able to mirror your content. In fact, no 7th generation Fire device can properly mirror the display to a television, which makes it difficult to purchase a device currently on sale that can properly mirror the tablet’s display to a Fire TV or Fire Stick device from Amazon. The support page for Amazon’s own tablets state that display mirroring is limited to a certain subsection of devices:
- Kindle Fire HDX 7″ (3rd Generation)
- Kindle Fire HDX 8.9″ (3rd Generation)
- Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (4th Generation)
- Amazon Fire HD 8 (5th Generation)
- Amazon Fire HD 10 (5th Generation)
As mentioned above, the current generation of devices on sale, including the Fire 7, Fire HD 8, and Fire HD 10, cannot directly mirror their displays to any device, Amazon or otherwise. This is a pretty big hole in their lineup of features, especially if you’re looking to stream content inside the Silk web browser or another application where you may not have the ability to push the content from your device. That said, you can use your device to push the content from your tablet to a Fire TV or Fire Stick, even on those newer devices. So, with the limitations and devices out of the way, let’s look at all the ways to stream and mirror your content.
How to Stream Content to Your TV
So if you’re ready to start streaming content to your television, you’ll want to grab your tablet and make sure you have an internet-ready device. If you want to get the most out of your tablet, you’ll want to purchase a Fire TV or Fire Stick device; they’re cheap and small enough that adding it to your existing technology should be rather easy. For this example, we’ll be primarily looking at how to stream content to a Fire OS-branded device.
Using the Second Screen or Cast Experience
Whether you own an older tablet or one of Amazon’s new models for 2017, you’ll be happy to know that streaming your favorite Amazon videos to your Fire TV or Fire Stick are easy to do. You’ll want to grab your Fire tablet, make sure your Fire TV device is on and active, and unlike a Chromecast, ensure that both devices are connected to the same Amazon account. If both of your devices are not connected to the same Amazon account, you will not be able to make this work.
Head to the home screen on your device and swipe along the menu until you reach the Videos tab, then select “Store.” This will load your rented, purchased, and Prime-capable films (assuming you’re a Prime member) that can be automatically streamed from your device. Select any title on your device, and you’ll see the typical options to watch your movie.Your device will list both the “Watch Now” option, which will play the film or TV show on your tablet, and the “Download” option that stores the film for offline watching. Between both of these options, you’ll see an icon that reads “Watch on Fire TV/Fire TV Stick,” depending on the device you have plugged into your television. If you aren’t using a Fire TV, and you don’t have the same account linked to both devices, you won’t see this option. Unlike Airplay or Chromecast, Amazon’s Second Screen requires you to share an account between both devices. When you tap on this option, your tablet will load a Second Screen interface that provides additional information on the movie. You can scroll through the cast, jump to scenes like a DVD, view trivia about the scene, and more. You can also turn off the screen on your tablet once the video has begun playing.
As we mentioned above, some apps—including the Netflix app and the YouTube app available in the sideloaded Google Play Store—have the ability to stream not just to the Fire TV, but to any device with their apps installed. This is done using the identical settings we’ve seen from Chromecast-capable applications. Load the application and select the Cast icon in the top-right corner of your display. A menu to select your streaming device will appear in the corner of the app, and you can use your device to select a specific playback device, like a smart TV or a Roku player. This is on an app-by-app basis, and depends entirely on who developed the app you’re using.
Mirroring Your Device
If your device matches one of the device models mentioned above, mirroring your device to your television can be done quickly and on a system level. If you aren’t sure whether your device matches the above list of models, you’ll need to dive into the settings of your tablet and select “Display.” Look for the option labeled “Display Mirroring” in the settings menu. If you see this option, congratulations—you can use device mirroring. Simply select the option, ensure that your Fire TV or Fire Stick is on and enabled, and select your Fire TV from the device list that appears on your display. Amazon states it may take up to 20 second for your device image to appear on your display, but once it does, you’ll be able to view the image on your tablet from your television directly.
Of course, anyone who picked up a Fire tablet in 2017—and specifically during the latter part of the year, after Amazon had updated the Fire 7 and HD 8 in the summer, and the HD 10 in the winter—will be unable to access this option, an obvious problem when it comes to new Fire owners mirroring their devices. We have a bit of a workaround for this, though it requires an outside application that may be well-known to any Android user. AllCast, which has an app on both the Play Store and the Amazon Appstore. Upon opening the app, you’ll be able to view a list of players you can use on your network. In our tests, Allcast managed to pick up both Roku devices on the network, as well as the Fire Stick also connected to the device. Using the app depends on you having the Allcast app also installed to your device, though some players (including Roku) can use AllCast without having a separate install.
There are a few notes for AllCast. First, you shouldn’t expect AllCast to directly mirror your device. Instead, AllCast will allow you to stream photos, videos, music, and more directly to your player, as opposed to just being able to mirror your display. Most users looking to mirror their tablet will be doing so to display content like photos or personal videos, and in that sense, AllCast does the same. Second, the device on the receiving end and your Fire tablet must be connected to the same network. Third, the free version of AllCast is limited; you’ll only be able to stream content for five minutes at a time. To get the most out of AllCast, you’ll need to purchase the app. The AllCast listing on the Amazon Appstore has a wide listing one one-star reviews, with users complaining the app wouldn’t connect to their Fire Stick or Roku. In our experience, we were able to stream to both platforms, so we can give this app the thumbs-up. Before paying for the full version, make sure you test the free version out on your tablet to make sure the app does what you need it to do.
One final workaround, for those willing to get their hands dirty with installing the Play Store on their device, is installing the classic Google Home application on your tablet to properly mirror the tablet. You’ll need a Chromecast for this, so if you’re using a Roku or Fire Stick, you can probably forget it. But since the Fire tablet line is running a forked version of Android 5.0, installing the Google Home app on your tablet is as easy as finding its listing the Play Store. You can connect directly download this app from the Amazon Appstore, but if you follow the instructions to installing the Play Store at this post here, you’ll find that getting the app up and running is easy.
You can also view more information about mirroring your device with the Google Home workaround here, since the app follows the same procedures it would on any other device. Just note that you may receive a warning stating that mirroring is not designed for this device; that’s to be expected, as the Fire tablet is not a proper Google-approved Android device. You may experience problems when mirroring your display with this method, but it is available to any users willing to put in the work.
It’s unfortunate that Amazon made the decision to remove the ability to directly mirror their devices to the Fire Stick or Fire TV from newer devices. While their tablet line has become more and more focused on the budget-focused shopper, the 2015 Fire HD 8 was no more powerful than the 2017 lineup of devices. With Fire OS 6, based on Android Nougat, coming to tablets sometime over the next few months, we’ll have to wait and see if Amazon adds back the ability to mirror your screen to a Fire TV device. Still, with Allcast and Google Home both existing as workarounds, not to mention the general second screen experience, it’s not too difficult to find a middle ground capable of streaming exactly what you want when you want it.