The latest Fire TV Stick software update hasn’t added any new features or made any obvious changes, but one change under the hood has become abundently clear. The new update has noticeably improved the rendering engine used by apps like XBMC / Kodi to upscale 720p content to 1080p resolutions. A nine page discussion over on the Kodi forums about the poor image quality resulting from the Fire TV Stick upscaling 720p content seems to have caught Amazon’s attention. The issue appears to be resolved with the latest software update.
The comparison image above, and the full resolution screenshots below show the noticeable upscaling improvement. To capture these two images I installed the latest version of Kodi, Helix RC3, on two Fire TV Sticks. One running software version 126.96.36.199 and the other running version 188.8.131.52. I then played the exact same 720p x264 MKV file on each system and paused the file as close to the same moment as I could. I selected the chosen moment because it was a still closeup which reduced the chance of motion blur. Then I used the command line “screencap” function built into Android on each Fire TV Stick to capture a pixel-for-pixel screenshot. The two images below are unedited and directly from the Fire TV Sticks.
Tinwarble has let us know in the comments that the improvements are not limited to just 720p upscaling. Rather, 1080p video quality has also improved with the latest update.