The television set-top box can stream movies, TV shows and music from a variety of content partners and services.
After months of rumors, Amazon has finally unveiled the Fire TV, a streaming device that can also double up as a gaming console.
Fire TV will plug into a television and stream video (and other) content, with Amazon’s Prime Instant video service taking center stage (the company says it has access to over 200,000 TV episodes and movies.) Third-party services will be supported as well, with the box having apps for Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, Vimeo and more preloaded. Amazon will help users find where a movie can be watched cheapest, though at launch, search results from only Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus will be included.
The “X-Ray” feature will allow users to see information about what’s on the TV. A notification on a connected tablet will let users read about actors and other such information on a title, or see lyrics for music. Speaking of music, Fire TV will stream music from users’ Amazon libraries, and as is the case with videos, from third-party services, including Pandora, Heart Radio and TuneIn. There’s also provision for viewing photos, though at the moment it looks like they will have to be stored on Amazon’s cloud service.
As far as gaming is concerned, users will be able to use a remote or controller, with titles like Asphalt 8, Minecraft and The Walking Dead available out of the box. Publishers like EA, Disney, Gameloft, Ubisoft and Double Fine are on board as partners – considering the fact that the box runs on Fire OS, the Android-based OS that also powers Amazon’s Kindle tablets, there shouldn’t be a limit to the gaming titles available, though the controller will have to separately bought for $40.
In terms of hardware, Fire TV is powered by a 1.7GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 processor, 2GB of RAM, and has dual band MIMO Wi-Fi connectivity, all of which come together to make it three times faster than the latest set-top boxes from Roku and Apple, though for end-users that won’t exactly matter much, as long as they are able to find the content they’re looking for.
Fire TV is currently available in the U.S. for $99, and will compete with Google’s Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku. It’s certainly off to a good start already, with a huge library of content and partners lined up, so it doesn’t look like Amazon will have any issues making its brand new streaming box a success.