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.