Amazon Fire TV devices have had a rudimentary network status check for a while that did very little. Usually, it just reported that the network was either disconnected or fine. At best, I’ve found that the tester would sometimes recommend a different WiFi channel to use if the one that is currently being used is congested. Amazon has now completely overhauled the Fire TV’s built-in network test with vastly more information as well as a built-in network speed test.
I suspect that most people aren’t aware that Fire TVs have a built-in utility to test the device’s WiFi or Ethernet connection, as it’s quite buried in the device’s settings. You launch the test by going to the Network area of the Fire TV’s settings, then highlighting your current network connection, and then pressing the Play button on the remote. A much quicker way to launch it is using my free Network Test shortcut app, which will instantly launch the built-in utility directly, as if it were a standalone app. The old version of this utility, shown above, didn’t really do much to analyze your network, so I don’t blame you for not caring about it or knowing it even existed.
The new built-in network test, which is accessed the same way as before, has been revamped and now includes a built-in download speed test. Running the optional speed test will take a few seconds and then report the Fire TV’s download rate in megabits per second. Once the test is run, a message appears informing you of the maximum streaming resolution your internet speed is capable of supporting. Note that even if your internet speed is capable of streaming 4K video, it appears as though the message will only report that you’re capable of 1080p video if you’re using a non-4K device, like a basic Fire TV Stick.
The built-in speed test is a great addition to the Fire TV’s network advisor, but selecting even more helpful changes lye behind the Advanced button at the bottom of the screen. Pressing it takes you to a screen with a slew of information about your network that can help you diagnose issues and improve connectivity. On the left is a list of network info, such as the channel, various IP addresses associated with your device and the network, the device’s MAC address, and more. All of this information could be previously accessed in various parts of the Fire TV settings area, but it’s quite nice to see it all in one place now.
More interesting than the network info on the left is the addition of network quality values on the right. Here you can see your WiFi signal strength and noise level, which, before, could only be seen through a hidden Fire TV menu that was very clunky to use. The signal strength value is displayed as the power ratio in decibels from 0 to -100. Meaning, that the closer the value is to zero, the better your signal strength is. For example, the value -16 dBM is better than -65 dBm. The noise value is the opposite, so you want that to be as low as possible. The closer the value is to -100 the better, so, for example, -92 dBm noise is better than -21 dBm.
The other two important figures listed are channel utilization and the signal to noise ratio. The channel utilization value indicates how much traffic, from all sources, exists on the WiFi channel the Fire TV is currently using. The lower the value the better. The signal to noise ratio is the difference between your noise level and your signal strength. You want this value to be as high as possible and, in general, you may start to experience poor performance and speeds if this value drops below 25. For example, if you have high signal strength (which is good) but also have a high noise level (which is bad), then your signal to noise ratio will be low, indicating you may have performance issues despite your high signal strength.
Scrolling down on the advanced info screen reveals the last bit of hand information that has been included in the new network utility, which is data usage stats. This lists how much network data has passed through your Fire TV during the current day, current week, current month, and previous month. This is an extension of the information already available in the Fire TV’s Data Monitoring capabilities, which can show you which apps are using the most data and can alert you when your data cap is reached. You can access the Data Monitoring tool directly from the network utility through the button on the bottom of the screen.
This update to the Fire TV’s built-in network utility appears to be rolling out to Fire OS 7 devices at the moment, but it’s not clear which Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, and Fire TV Smart TV models will ultimately receive the update. You can use my Network Test shortcut app to easily check if you have the new version on your device.