Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K will support hardware 1080i deinterlacing for OTA tuners

A feature that is too often neglected by streaming media players is the ability to deinterlace 1080i video on the hardware level. This is an important capability for people with over-the-air tuners, like an HDHomeRun, that watch broadcast channels on their streaming media players. If you’re one of those people and are interested in the new Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K, rest assured because the new device does support hardware accelerated MPEG-2 video for smooth 1080i viewing at up to 60 fps.

Amazon has told me that they’ve specifically tested the new Fire TV Stick 4K with HDHomeRun network tuners and have found no abnormalities playing 1080i content. Owners of 1st and 2nd generation Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks will know this was not the case with those older models which resulted in occasional black lines appearing on the screen for 1080i video. Fire TV apps, like MrMC and Channels, were thankfully able to correct these anomalies by implementing their own software-based deinterlacing solutions.

Proper hardware support for deinterlacing 1080i channels was first introduced with the Amazon Fire TV 3 (pendant) and then later with the Fire TV Cube. Amazon is thankfully continuing that trend with the new Fire TV Stick 4K. This should mean that 1st-party apps from HDHomeRun and Tablo shouldn’t have any issues playing all OTA channels on the new Fire TV Stick 4K.

The Fire TV Recast is unaffected by support for 1080i deinterlacing on the hardware level because Amazon’s DVR transcodes all content to 720p to ensure smooth playback regardless of which device is being used to view its content. If Amazon ever decides to allow 1080i streaming from the Fire TV Recast to compatible devices, the Fire TV Stick 4K should be on the list.

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21 comments
  1. Mark B says:

    Nice. I was kind of expecting this but it’s super important. If this doesn’t seem important to you, you probably haven’t cut the cord and started using an antenna. Sports is simply a no go without Deinterlacing.

    Hope I can demo a recast somewhere.

    Now if only Amazon would stop intentionally crippling their devices firmware by blocking the Built-In Lossless audio features from working. Grrr It would be the literal end of needing my Shield for anything.

  2. Sebastian says:

    Nice to see they will have it even though their Recast doesn’t need it. Just another proof that Firestick is the best streamer out there.

  3. Vlaves says:

    Will they support 1080i h264 deinterlacing hardware accelerated? Way mor important here in Europe! They really don’t care at all about the european market….

  4. Ben says:

    Is there/What is the benefit of the Recast supporting transfer of native 1080i to a Fire TV 3/Cube/4k for playback compared to the Recast transcoding to 720p prior to transferring to a Fire TV 3/Cube/4k for playback?

    Is the native 1080i a better picture in some way relative to transcoded 720p? Or do I retain more functionality with a native 1080i (on the Fire TV’s or other devices)?

    • Sebastian says:

      I don’t believe they plan to change the way Recast sends the feed based on the receiving device. We will have to wait and see the quality of that 720p transcode coming out of Recast but I hope quality will be as close to original as possible.

  5. vlaves says:

    @AFTVNews: Do you have or can get any information about h264 1080i deinterlacing on the stick?

  6. tom42 says:

    “Owners of 1st and 2nd generation …. occasional black lines appearing on the screen for 1080i video”

    Yeah it occasional happens every 5 seconds

  7. thefrog says:

    Is it known yet which version of FireOS these devices run, or the chipset. I was disappointed when my cube did not perform as well as my AFTV2 — particularly with VC-1 videos.

  8. S. Yenney says:

    @AFTVNews, I’d appreciate it if you’d either post or email me the Amazon employee contact info of the person(s) who told you that: “that they’ve specifically tested the new Fire TV Stick 4K with HDHomeRun network tuners and have found no abnormalities playing 1080i content”.

    On Sat. (11/24/18), using a brand new FIRE TV STICK 4K running the most current firmware update, I launched the HDHomeRun app for Fire TV and immediately experienced a blank green screen (w/ an occasional single stray frame intermittently appearing on my TV screen). After spending way too much time trying to locate the source of the problem, I eventually found a SiliconDust forum thread [ https://forum.silicondust.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=70123 ] where others were reporting the same problem. Fortunately, in that thread titled “New Fire Stick 4K deinterlace issue”, “tmmm1” (who apparently is also the developer of Fire TV version of the highly rated “CHANNELS” app) posted the following:

    ————————–
    “Hah. This is definitely a problem with the mpeg2 decoder on that device, and the MediaCodec API offered by FireOS. It is reproducible with Amazon’s official player as well. I filed a bug here: https://github.com/amzn/exoplayer-amazon-port/issues/58

    Interestingly it only affects some 1080i mpeg2 broadcasts. Many work just fine which is probably why they didn’t catch it during QA. They previously made a big deal about confirming 1080i support http://www.aftvnews.com/amazon-fire-tv-stick-4k-will-support-hardware-1080i-deinterlacing-for-ota-tuners/
    ————————–

    And if you look at the ISSUE he created on AMZN’s Github Exoplayer repo, it took another 12 days for a thankless AMZN dev to confirm AMZN’s bug by stating:
    “We are able to reproduce the issue. We are working on it.”

    To anyone who is considering calling, chatting with, or writing to AMZN’s absurdly inept Tech Support to make them aware that this problem exists and is exclusively theirs to fix, don’t bother. I’ve already done all three. Ultimately it took hours of my time to finally locate one tech supervisor who had enough unconstrained internet access to be able to actually view the Github and developer.amazon.com pages necessary to fully understand what AMZN’s port of Exoplayer is.

    He did finally acknowledge that AMZN is exclusively responsible for their port of Exoplayer and that this problem does need to be fixed ASAP, but could provide no assurance that AMZN’s Fire TV Devs would make fixing it a priority. He also told me that he could find no communication from Devs to Tech Support that would’ve have alerted them that Fire TV Stick 4K customers might experience this problem. Out of all of this, that’s the part that I find most egregious.

    • Jason Blanchette says:

      OMG this is annoying. Any idea when this will be fixed? This sucks!

      • S. Yenney says:

        Not really, but “tmm1” once again prodded AMZN Dev for a a reply (via Github), and Amazon Dev FINALLY replied late this afternoon and unapologetically stated:
        ———————————————————————-
        “The issue has been root caused to vendor drivers. We are following up with the vendor for a fix.”
        ———————————————————————-
        So Amazon is APPARENTLY asserting that the problem is with a software driver supplied by the I.C. manufacturer, which actually does make some sense since the problem doesn’t exist on i.e. the Pendant (which reportedly also uses hardware-based de-interlacing).
        *
        What’s hard to comprehend is how both Amazon’s and – assuming Amazon has correctly determined the root cause – the I.C. manufacturer’s quality assurance departments both missed finding this problem before the product was released to market. This is truly inexcusable given the financial resources that Amazon has.

  9. DoctorDrussolini says:

    Yeah I also confirm there is a problem with hardware accelerated deinterlacing on the new Fire TV stick 4k. Playing 1080i h264 on tvheadend in Kodi crashes it. Turning off Hardware acceleration plays it but the video is laggy and unwatchable… hope they get a fix soon.

    • KodiTvHeadend says:

      I have the same problem playing interlaced iptv recordings on Kodi from tvheadend on Fire TV stick 4k. Just had a quick chat session with amazon customer support and i was told initially that there is no update on the issue but after further questioning and looking to get automated updates i was told it has been escalated.
      I think the best thing to do in order to speed it up is to start hammering amazon support with support queries regarding hardware accelerated deinterlacing on Fire TV stick 4k and hopefully they will put more effort into it.
      I also have Fire TV 3 and it has no problems with this issue.

      • der-graph says:

        I can confirm this too.
        It’s exactly as you describe this issue: there is a huge problem with h264 1080i content. The deinterlacing doesn’t work here.
        As i wanted to use the 4K stick to watch live tv it’s useless for me at the moment. That’s very sad because the stick is great.

  10. Gazza says:

    Me too – I have exactly the same setup and issue as DoctorDrussolini. Wierd thing is, some HD channels work, others do not, but only with HW Acceleration off.

  11. Felix says:

    Same problem as DoctorDrussolini and Gazza

  12. Nexus7 says:

    Can someone post a link to post “me too” problem confirmations where Amazon devs/techs will see it?

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