A new update to the Silk Browser for Fire TV devices has greatly improved streaming video playback on older Fire TV hardware. The first generation Fire TV Stick, in particular, had a hard time playing online videos for long periods of time in the Silk Browser. Version 64 of the Silk Browser is much more stable than previous versions, resulting in smoother playback that no longer crashes the browser after prolonged viewing sessions.
I created a video, embedded above, comparing video playback in the new version of the Silk Browser and the older version. The video shows a screen capture of Silk v64 in the upper half of the screen and a screen capture of Silk v63 in the lower half. I used both versions of the browser to play a YouTube video on the first generation Fire TV Stick.
The video starts about 4 minutes after this YouTube video has been playing in each version of the Silk Browser. I have the Fire TV Stick’s developer system x-ray menu displayed for each version of Silk in order to see the device’s live CPU and memory usage. Also being displayed is YouTube’s “stats for nerds” which displays video player information, such as dropped frames.
Immediately, you can see how the scrolling credits in the video being played are scrolling fairly smoothly in Silk v64 (top half) but stuttering in Silk v63 (bottom half). This is because the older version of Silk is unable to keep up with the video and drops more frames as a result. As the video continues to play, you can see that the available memory (white part of the bar chart) of the Fire TV Stick continues to drop in Silk v63 as more and more RAM is used up, but the available memory remains fairly constant in Silk v64.
I then fast forward the screen capture to roughly 6 minutes into the video playback. At that point, the Fire TV Stick running Silk v63 runs out of available memory, causing the video to freeze. A few seconds later the developer system x-ray crashes, causing it to disappear, and a short while later, the YouTube webpage in Silk v63 crashes. Meanwhile, Silk v64 continues to play the web video smoothly.
The poor performance of Silk v63 demonstrates what many first generation Fire TV Stick owners have been experiencing ever since Amazon was forced to replace the default YouTube app with their Silk Browser, due to Google threatening to block YouTube access from Fire TV devices. While other Fire TV and Fire TV Stick models played YouTube in the Silk Browser without any issues, the Fire TV Stick’s weaker CPU and lower system memory often resulted in video playback deteriorating after 5 to 10 minutes of continuous playback.
It’s great to see that Amazon’s Silk Browser team has addressed the issue and managed to get stable web video playback on the first generation Fire TV Stick. They could have easily abandoned the older hardware and said it was incompatible with the Silk Browser, like so many hardware manufacturers do these days, but instead, they put in the effort necessary to fix the issues.