It has become almost certain that every device running some form of Android will at some point be rootable. In the case of the Element Fire TV Edition televisions, it happened quicker than you’d expect because, as it turns out, the software version that the TVs ship with from the factory is rootable. It’s always great to have the option to root a device, but before you jump at the opportunity to root your Fire TV Edition television, you need to know that the release of custom recovery, like TWRP, and pre-rooted ROMs from rbox for these TVs is very unlikely. Even more important is understanding how that’ll affect the TV in the future if you do root it.
I’ve spoken with rbox about the release of custom recovery and pre-rooted ROMs for the Fire TV Edition televisions. For those of you out of the loop, he’s the one who has released custom recovery for the Fire TV 1, Fire TV 2, and Fire TV Stick 1, as well as the one who continuously releases pre-rooted ROMs for all three devices. He has told me he will not be releasing anything for the Fire TV Edition televisions.
The main reason for this is the much greater cost of making a mistake with a rooted Fire TV Edition television compared to a rooted Fire TV or Fire TV Stick. It’s one thing to render a $90 Fire TV or $40 Fire TV Stick unusable due to a mistake, but it’s a much bigger issue to turn a $400-$900 television into a very expensive paperweight. I offered to raise funds to buy rbox a Fire TV Edition television, like I’ve done in the past for other Fire TV devices, but it’s not the financial risk of bricking his own device that concerns him. Someone will inevitably brick their TV due to rbox’s involvement, and he just, understandably, doesn’t want to have anything to do with it, even if it’s in no way his fault. For this reason, rbox has decided to not release custom recovery and/or ROMs for the Fire TV Edition televisions.
Even though rbox won’t support modding the Fire TV Edition television, it’s, of course, possible someone else will. Once, when rbox skipped releasing a pre-rooted ROM version of a couple of Fire TV 1 updates because they were minor bug fixes, someone else took it upon themselves to release a pre-rooted update. The Fire TV community is full of talented people, but rbox has been so consistently awesome and generous in supporting the Fire TV that there hasn’t been much need for others to step in. Since rbox is deciding to stand clear in this case, someone else may decide to adopt the Fire TV Edition television as their own project.
Since there’s no way to know if that will happen, it’s important to assume that rooted Fire TV Edition televisions will never have custom recovery or pre-rooted ROMs and to understand the consequence of that before rooting one yourself. The best scenario you can expect if you root a Fire TV Edition television is having to always decide whether you want to keep root or gain the improvements offered by each software update Amazon releases. Without custom recovery and pre-rooted ROMs, you will not be able to have both, like you can with a rooted Fire TV or Fire TV Stick.
However, custom recovery is not only used for updating the device. As the name suggests, it’s also used to recover from a mistake that renders the device unusable. The main purpose of gaining root access is to make modifications to the device that the manufacturer does not allow. With root access comes the risk of making a change that prevents the device from booting. This is why I generally suggest not to root a device until custom recovery is released, like I did when the Fire TV Stick was first rooted. At the time, we did know custom recovery for the Fire TV Stick was in the works, which made that recommendation an easier pill to swallow for most. We don’t have that luxury with the Fire TV Edition television.
In general, if you root a Fire TV Edition television, assume you will one day be faced with the difficult choice of deciding which is more important: keeping your root modifications or gaining new features/fixes by updating. You’ll also need to be especially careful with everything you do that requires root, since there’s little chance of fixing an issue that prevents your TV from booting. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from rooting. I just want everyone to know the risks and to be willing to accept them if the worst happens.