Amazon has unleashed Fire TV, an internet-connected TV and gaming box, in a bid to bring the fight to Google’s Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku.
The Amazon Fire TV device is a small square, black box and is available in the US now for $99. A UK launch date has yet to be announced. At the current rates, the American price converts to £59 – hopefully a British price will be closer to this mark, unlike Chromecast and Amazon Prime.
The box will stream content from Amazon and on demand services, like Netflix and Prime Instant Video plus US services like Hulu Plus, WatchESPN and Showtime. Customers will also be able to tap into a cheap video rental library of around 200,000 titles. A month’s free trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime, which comes with Prime Instant Video, is included to boot.
Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive touted the box’s features, one of which was a voice search that meant viewers didn’t have to engage in “typing on an alphabet grid”. He also said it came with a feature called “ASAP” which predicted what shows you wanted to watch and had “them ready to stream immediately”.
The Fire TV box comes with a quad-core processor, which Amazon claims has three times the processing power of Apple TV, Chromecast, or Roku 3. It also has a dedicated graphics processor and four times the memory (2GB) of its rivals. It also sports a dual-band, dual-antenna WiFi. Fire TV streams at up to 1080p Full HD with HDMI and optical audio-out, enabling up to 7.1 Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.
Devices like Chromecast and the Now TV box have single-band WiFi. The advantage of having dual-band WiFi is that streams are less likley to be interrupted by other activity on your home network.
It’s not just streaming media where the Fire TV box hopes to compete either, Amazon wants to kick sand in the faces of Ouya, Steam Machines and other inexpensive consoles.
Titles available from launch include Minecraft, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2 and other titles from EA, Disney, Gameloft, Mojang, 2K and Amazon Game Studios.
Amazon said the average price of these games would be $1.85 (£1.10) Gamers can play on the Android-based device using a Fire game controller, a Fire TV remote or a the Fire TV app for smartphones and tablets.
The box also offers music services such as Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn, and music videos from Vevo. Next month, users will be able to listen to music stored on Amazon Cloud Player.
Sounds great. When can you get one? Pending an official UK release your best bet if you really want to get one is to order now from the US. Even then, there’s no guarantee that once you’ve paid for shipping that everything will actually work over here.
Amazon Fire TV Specifications
- Dimensions: 115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm (4.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.7″)
- Weight: 9.9 oz (281 grams)
- SOC Platform: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064
- CPU: Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 GHz
- GPU: Qualcomm Adreno 320
- Storage: 8 GB internal
- Memory: 2 GB LPDDR2 @533 MHZ
- WiFi: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO), 802.11a/b/g/n WEP, WPA and WPA2.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth 4.0, HID, HFP 1.6, SPP
- Connections: 5.5 mm DC Jack, Type A HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDC Optical Audio (TOSLINK),10/100 Ethernet, USB 2.0 Type A
- Audio: Support for Dolby Digital Plus, 5.1 surround sound, 2ch Stereo and HDMI audio pass through up to 7.1
- Video Formats: H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1
- Audio Formats: AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3
- Photo: JPG, PNG
- Output Resolution Supported: 720p HD, 1080p Full HD up to 60fps