Consumer Alert: Toshiba Fire TV Edition

First published: Sat 17 Apr 2021 10:28:13 PM UTC

Last Updated: Sat 17 Apr 2021 11:19:49 PM UTC


A member of my family has purchased a Toshiba Fire TV Edition, manufactured in 2018. For those of you who don't know, Fire TV is the device manufactured by Amazon running their Television Revision for their FireOS. It comes with Amazon Alexa&r; and numerous Amazon products.

The Fire TV Edition, beginning in 2017, is a licensed form of the FireTV bundled with the TV itself. It is not an external device. To my knowledge, the only company that is licensed to manufacture these televisions is Toshiba.

Previously, my Grandfather (the owner of the television) only used it as a television to input his Cable Box. I thought it would be beneficial to him to setup its more advanced features, and I began to pursue this. However, very quickly, I discovered that Alexa (as well as the rest of the TV's computerized features) did not work as advertised.

Puzzled, I contacted Amazon FireTV Support. My questions were general, but the woman on the phone couldn't answer them. They included basic things, but also more advanced questions such as Picture-in-Picture Support.

While the woman attempted to help me, I began to ask questions about Alexa's Capabilities. Having been performing my own Turing-test on the system, I found her to be quite lacking compared to what I not only saw in the commercials but also was reading while attempting to interface with her. I was then transferred to Alexa Customer Support.

The man almost immediately told me that the version of Alexa was out of date on the TV. This is not the fault of the outdated FireOS, as it is an independent app available from the Amazon App Store. The man attempted to guide me to updating Alexa. However, very quickly, it was obvious that this man was looking at a completely different interface than I myself was.

He provided the phone number for Toshiba Customer Support, but the phone number was in error. He told me after this he would call back in one hour to check-up on my progress.

After being unable to contact Toshiba, I decided to try to fix it myself.

Reproducing the proof


Photographs Soon

In my TV interface, the only apps available were the TV-centric apps. They could be reached through a menu labeled "Apps". The only Alexa-related app was labeled "Alexa-Enabled Apps", which was a list of Streaming Services for download.

As such, I attempted to download Amazon Silk (a web browser) to go to APKPure. I was successful in this, but Amazon Silk failed to save to disc.

Next, using the appstore on the TV, I downloaded an app called "Downloader" and did the same. I successfully downloaded the latest version of Alexa from APKPure, and installed it. This Alexa failed to open, and the integrated Alexa continued to be the only Alexa accessible.

I then went into settings and found that the Amazon Appstore (listed as an App) was inaccessible except for its settings menu. Going back to the primary "Appstore", I searched for the actual Amazon App Store and not this crippled version. This was to no avail.

Using the Downloader-app again, I then went to the Amazon Appstore Webpage. It claimed that it was downloaded, and had a clickable link to open it. I clicked it and nothing happened.

I digress from reproducing to ask those following along to long-press the Home button on their remotes. In this sidebar menu that pops-up, there is a button labeled "Apps". Go ahead and click it, and see that it opens a modified form of the other "Appstore", showing the already downloaded streaming services.

After this, I downloaded (again, using APKPure), the Amazon Appstore. Now, that sidebar menu is the method to access it. Long-press your Home Button again, and click on Apps. For the first time ever, you can open the actual Amazon Appstore. It comes back with a message saying that it can not connect to the network.


The aftermath

The Amazon Alexa Tech called me back shortly thereafter. He had said that Amazon does not deliberately cripple its services in any way, and as a consumer, I have the right to the newest software.

After explaining to him what has happened, and telling him that it seems that Toshiba has in-fact infringed upon their trademark, I submitted a formal complaint. Unfortunately, as it was my Grandfather's Television (and thus his account), and further my desire to avoid making an account, I was forced to make the complaint anonymously.

I directly and openly accuse Toshiba of ripping-off their customers, deliberately hindering and crippling their FireTV Edition televisions, and presenting an unbranded Toshiba-made interface to create a direct illusion of an Amazon interface. I accuse Toshiba of manufacturing a Toshiba Appstore, using an Amazon API, deliberately crippled and also made to present the illusion of an Amazon Appstore. I accuse Toshiba of providing a deliberately out-of-date Alexa Software that has been partially sandboxed itself, with no ability to update. I accuse Toshiba of doing these things, and believe the reason is preemptive obsolescence.

After this happened, I had to factory reset the TV because all apps stopped working, Amazon Alexa stopped working, and the TV was essentially bricked except for its standard television inputs.