Xbox ControllerSource: Windows Central

It's been fun playing around with Microsoft's Project xCloud Xbox Game Streaming, finding our feet, discovering newer, better ways to play. And because it's on Android, there's a little bit of flexibility to try it on unsupported devices.

That's precisely what I've done here, for science. Amazon's Fire TV Stick 4K is inexpensive at $50, a great media streamer and importantly, based on Android. Just Android without the Google bits attached. It's pretty easy to sideload apps onto a Fire Stick (always done at your own risk), so that's what I did with xCloud. With a heart full of optimism.

All of which evaporated pretty quickly.

The tiny amount of good

xCloud on Fire TVSource: Windows Central

To be clear, while I might have had optimism before starting this, we're also dealing entirely with an app and service not supported at all on the Fire Stick. Sideloading is fairly easy; you don't even need to resort to third-party APK sites, there are apps in the Google Play Store that will simply send the app from your Android phone to your Fire TV Stick.

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In this regard, everything went swimmingly. The app installs fine, and aside from some weirdness during loading, it renders perfectly well on a TV, too. Since the app is designed to be used with a controller, navigating the interface is absolutely fine either with a remote or with an Xbox One controller (which is fully supported by the Fire Stick).

And then you try to play some games...

Don't try this at home

Fire TVSource: Windows Central

The excitement ends as soon as you try and play a game. It's just not possible, and I'm almost entirely positive it's not related to network conditions, and though I don't have the Ethernet adapter, my Fire Stick is right by the router and using 5GHz Wi-Fi.

There's some good: The video part of the stream loads up fast and looks great, with no real noticeable difference to my eyes to an Xbox One S in image quality.

However, the sound takes actual minutes to appear, the frame rate is dreadful, and latency can also be measured in minutes. Pressing menu to start a game, you've got enough time to go make a coffee before something might happen. It's utterly comical.

As I've already said, it's not surprising; after all, there's no reason it should work since nobody has done any work on making it a thing. And our own Xbox Editor, Jez Corden, ditched his Fire tablet because it's seriously underpowered and wasn't delivering a pleasant experience.

Amazon keeps the prices low by cutting way back on the hardware as far as it can. The Fire Stick 4K is a great streaming stick for video, and it can play a few light Android games, too. But it's hardly packing heat.

So, it was a fun idea and a neat experiment, but definitely, at least for now, one to avoid at all costs.



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