FyreTV: A Streaming Pornucopia, For a Lonely Valentine's Night In
But seriously, the FyreTV streaming porno box (NSFW link, obviously) is perhaps the best gift that a lonely and hormonal geek could give to himself this Valentine's Day. It's also one of the most dangerous devices available for single and largely heterosexual men, because it will probably cause them to sprout hair on their palms, develop embarrassing welts, go blind, etc. There's no other device like this out there -- with the exception of your laptop, of course. But that raises the question: Why would anyone buy a porn-only box when they have the vast, sticky wilds of the Internet at hand? While some people think that paying for porn in this age is about as archaic as paying to see, you know, regular movies, there is a case to be made for a pornographic unitasker.
While the current model only puts out a pitiable 480i picture, the company announced a new, 1080p model (along with an iPad Web app and a Boxee app) called the FyreBoXXX at the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas last month. The new products should land in March, but we thought we'd give the current box a... once over. You know, for journalism.
Both models, current and new, are fairly ugly. They're tasteful in the sense that they're not branded with D-cup boobies or any incriminating logos, but they are big, black and conspicuous, especially when compared to the quirky Boxee or the teensy AppleTV. The remote on the upcoming model looks a little more reasonable, while the current one sort of looks like a sex toy. Fitting, we guess.
FyreTV setup involves pretty standard stuff. You can use component or S-video outs, but why do that when the box is fitted with an HDMI connection? Our review unit had some initial trouble getting online with the optional Wi-Fi antenna, but that was only a hiccup. Alternatively, you can plug in an Ethernet cord.
Cheesy to look at -- all red and tribal designs, invoking the Spice Network circa 1995 -- but the interface is hardly FyreTV's selling point. In terms of search and filtering features, though, FyreTV actually bests Netflix and iTunes, in certain respects. You can search by title, (female) porn star, studio, or genre. But the genres are where it gets interesting: say you want to watch some BBWs, but only dig vintage flicks. After you make your first selection, just click upward and select any other requirements for custom, fetish-specific porn.
The selection is... impressive. With offerings from almost every major adult film studio (except for HD-only Digital Playground, which would seem a fitting partnership for the upcoming FyreBoXXX), FyreTV proffers selections for almost every significant fetish. (With one exception: gay porn. You've got bisexuals, feet, trannies and grannies -- but two dudes alone is apparently taboo?) But once you make your selection, everything starts up with a response time that competes with any other streaming boxes we've come across. You can even change the resolution -- from low to DVD quality on the current model -- to tweak buffering and slowdown issues (not that we really experienced any).
The movie and scene selection process is shockingly intuitive. Say you really fancy seeing a couple of barely legal girls getting a train run on them? Do a search for "barely legal" and, once your search results pop up, click off the "gangbang" option from the top menu. Maybe you only want to view a particular scene from 'Myfavorite.emosluts'? Click down when you have a film selected, and it will show you all of the films scenes, with little animated screenshots to give you a quick preview.
The FyreTV and FyreBoXXX obviously aren't for everyone. (Maybe you don't even like porn? Weirdo.) But the porn industry, which frequently leads the way in terms of technology standards, has had to deal with "tube" sites and piracy eating into its revenue stream (as a recent New York Magazine article pointed out), and the Fyre products offer a way for viewers to easily access paid-for content without compromising themselves online. The younger, torrent-happy generation will likely balk at paying for, well, anything -- but they may end up getting slapped with some of those ridiculously massive copyright lawsuits that the RIAA is so happy to dish out.
For the rest of you, you might as well order one, and grab an old sock and that hairy tub of Vaseline, because no amount of cornflakes will ever make you stop basting that ham. Happy Valentine's Day!