Amazon gets into the streaming box game with Fire TV


April 2, 2014

Today Amazon unveiled its long-rumored streaming box, the Fire TV

Today Amazon unveiled its long-rumored streaming box, the Fire TV

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Rumors have been pointing to an Amazon TV set-top box for quite some time. Today the company pulled the cat out of the bag, and its name is Fire TV.

If you've ever used an Apple TV or Roku set-top box, then Fire TV is going to look very familiar. Like those entertainment devices, it's a small, flattish little box that connects to your TV via HDMI. It naturally has Amazon Prime and Instant Video services on board, but third-party services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Watch ESPN, and Showtime Anytime are all in the mix as well.

Sounds very by-the-book so far, eh? Well, one of the most interesting features of Fire TV is its remote control. It has the standard directional and navigation buttons, but it also has a voice control button. Tap that, speak into your remote, and (supposedly) instantly navigate to whatever content you want to watch. Having the mic right on the remote should, at least in theory, be more accurate than the voice control clunkiness that plagues the Xbox One (its microphone sits by your TV). The Fire TV remote connects via Bluetooth, rather than infrared, so it doesn't need a clear line-of-sight with the set-top box.

Amazon's other big differentiating feature here is gaming. The company is selling a separate US$40 game controller that plays nicely with the Fire TV. Content looks a little slim at the moment, and we're definitely looking at mobile games blown up for your TV (a la Ouya). But the company did line up participation from 2012 Game of the Year The Walking Dead, as well as Minecraft and an Amazon exclusive, Sev Zero.

To run games natively, a set-top box is going to need beefier specs than we've seen from the previous players. So Amazon threw in a quad core processor, dedicated GPU, and 2 GB of RAM. As you might expect, its maximum output is 1080p.

The Fire TV retails for the same $100 as Apple TV (which is $65 more than Google's Chromecast). It's available today from the product page below.

Product page: Amazon

About the Author
Will Shanklin Will Shanklin is Gizmag's Mobile Tech Editor, and has been part of the team since 2012. Before finding a home at Gizmag, he had stints at a number of other sites, including Android Central, Geek and the Huffington Post. Will has a Master's degree from U.C. Irvine and a Bachelor's from West Virginia University. He currently lives in New Mexico with his wife, Jessica. All articles by Will Shanklin

Chromecast should not even be compared with either the FireTV or AppleTV; it needs an external "starter" source, by that I mean you can't just switch to the Chromecast on your TV and browse or select anything.. With the other devices you don't need a browser plugin or app for your mobile phone.

Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire "...need a browser plugin or app..."

That's not a bug; it's a feature.

The real issue is: Where can I buy a TV with 32 HDMI inputs?


@Anonymous756 The day after you break down and buy a TV with 32 HDMI inputs will be the day before the successor to HDMI is announced and naturally the TV will lack ports for the new standard :)

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