Amazon has just unveiled their first media streaming box. The $99 Fire TV is a small box with apps for Amazon’s Instant streaming service as well as other services such as Netflix and Hulu. It doubles as a game console.
It was expected, but no one knew about the specifics. After over a year of rumors Amazon's solution is finally here to compete with Apple TV, the Roku boxes and Google Chromecast.
Amazon believes that the current crop of have three overall issues; bad user interfaces, slow performance, and closed eco systems. They want to fix that with the Fire TV box and a small black remote with "voice search that actually works".
It supports Amazon's own Prime Instant Video as well as other streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, WatchESPN, MLB, Crackle, MLB, Vimeo, NBA, and YouTube. Music apps include Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, and music that you bought from Amazon. More apps are coming.
A feature called ASAP predicts which shows you like and it can queue them for you - it starts streams instantly, says Amazon. While watching shows you can also get information on the actors and from IMDB on your tablet.
Doubles as a game console
The FireTV is also a casual game console. It has a dedicated gaming section and it will have "thousands" of games by next month. Games include titles such as Minecraft, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, and Asphalt 8. Games will typically cost below $2 dollars - many are free. Amazon has even established an in-house game studio.
You can use the remote or an app to control games, but Amazon is also bringing out the $40 Fire game controller. It comes with 1000 Amazon coins that you can buy games for.
It is based on a quad-core processor, a Adreno 320 graphics processor and 2GB of RAM. It also supports MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) WiFi for faster download and better streaming. Amazon says that it is 3 times as powerful as the Apple TV and that it supports 1080p, 7.1 Dolby Digital surround. It comes with HDMI and optical outputs.
The Amazon Fire TV runs on a ”forked” version of Android, just like the Kindle Fire tablets, which makes it easy for developers to port their apps. It cannot access the Google Play store, but instead Amazon’s own app store from where you can download apps.