Amazon Fire TV streaming device announced, just $99 with gaming support and more

April 2, 2014
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After all the rumors and gossip, Amazon has now taken the veil off its own media streaming device dubbed Fire TV. Despite previous claims that the device would have a dongle format similar to the Chromecast, the Fire TV has a design more akin to Apple TV with a size close to that of a CD case.

The Hardware

The Fire TV is powered by a quad-core CPU with 2GB of RAM, a dual-antenna Wi-Fi with MIMO support and 1080p support through HDMI or optical. As you can tell, it’s specs are a bit beefier that you’d normally expect from a streaming box, with Amazon claiming it has “at least three times the power” of Apple TV, Roku and the Chromecast. Amazon doesn’t specify, but we imagine this is running a tweaked version of Fire OS (hence the name) and therefore is technically running Android (or at least a fork of it).

While the Chromecast ditches the remote in favor of your phone, the Fire TV has its own small remote with seven buttons and a circular direction pad. There’s also a microphone within the remote that lets you control the UI via voice commands.

The Software and apps

Turning to the apps, the Fire TV offers all the basics such as Netflix, Hulu, WatchESPN, MLB, Crackle, NBA, Youtube and Vimeo, with more coming down the pipe. Obviously it also supports Amazon’s own video services as well and will be rolling out music services next month including Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio and more.

Probably one of the most impressive things about Fire TV, however, is its ability to load videos instantly without skipping a beat. While Amazon doesn’t specify how it’s able to instantly load videos, we imagine speculate that it probably uses some kind of pre-caching technology that predicts what videos you are going to watch.

Amazon also mentions an X-Ray feature that gives you details on the movies you are watching via your Fire HDX tablet. Parents will also be happy to know that there’s a FreeTime Zone that lets you customize and restrict content for your children. There’s even a “FreeTime Unlimited” mode that gives you content from Nickelodeon, PBS Kids and plenty of other free stuff.

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Gaming through Fire TV

In addition to all the normal software features and apps, the Fire TV also puts an emphasis on gaming with support from Disney, Gameloft, EA, Ubisoft, Sega and many others. Amazon says there will be “thousands” of games to choose from by next month and that you can play the games with the FireTV remote or by using an app on your Amazon tablet.

For those looking for a more traditional gaming experience, Amazon will offer an Xbox-like controller called the Fire controller, which will be priced at $40 and includes 1000 Amazon coins that you can use to buy games with.

Some of the games demonstrated are Minecraft, Asphalt 8, and Monster University. Amazon also showed of its own in-house game called Sev Zero, which is a first person shooter where you zap at aliens. It’s worth noting that the graphics are every bit as good as you’d expect on a high-end Android device, though obviously not nearly as good as you’d get with a traditional game console.

Pricing and availability 

The Amazon Fire TV is available right now for a price of just $99! Considering the wide level of features offered, this honestly isn’t a bad price and in many ways one-ups both the Roku and Apple TV. Of course, it’s still quite a bit more than the Chromecast. What do you think of the Fire TV, impressed or not?

Comments

  • Josh McMurdo

    its cool, but it is too little, too late. Chromecast FTW

    • wat

      Not comparable really.Until we have lag free streaming from mobile device to Chromecast it won’t play games and films as good as this will. I hope Google will make a Nexus TV box as rumoured still because fuck Amazon and their closed stores.

      • Chuck Cortes

        Last I checked most streaming is done by the Chromecast not the mobile device. Any lag experienced is either your network or the Chromecast in most cases. Personally I rarely get lag even when I use Plex. The one reason i loved my GoogleTv was being able to play my local media easily, something even the Roku box can’t do without Plex. The Chromecast was lacking this till Avia and Plex came along and now there will be several more coming soon. At this point my GoogleTV box will be used only for the keyboard remote on the Tv. I already have 2 Chromecasts, just need one more HDTV to replace the old one in my sons room so I can get the 3rd one and say goodbye to the GoogleTv and have the Roku 2 and 3 as a backup.

        As for this FireTV no thanks, I like the Chromecast mainly because its a dongle and because I prefer using my tablet as my remote and app station. I also dislike the fact that it is designed to work better with only Amazon products, just like the AppleTv works better with Apple products where as the Chromecast works just fine with Android and iOS. Not sure about WP8 though, haven’t checked but works fine with Windows 8.

        • MrMagoo

          Oh ok I have a Chromecast and love it to death, but lemme ask you… how well do games work on you’re Chromecast? Bluetooth controllers work good on it? How often do you browse the internet on your Chromecast? Oh and how the hell did you get it to stream Amazon Prime?

        • wat

          I don’t think you understand how either work. The hardware in Chromecast is not powerful enough to play games so the only way to game on it is using a powerful enough device and streaming to it. At the moment it is too laggy for this though.

  • Andrew J.

    Will you be able to stream/play local files and videos?

    • pops87

      Don’t see anything about that. That feature would’ve made it a must-have device for me.

    • takpro

      It appears to have the Plex app which does that.

    • Joji Mow

      Would be great if it can could via the usb port.. but amazon has said it currently does not, but may be possible in a future firmware update

  • Lisandro O Oocks

    Not impressed, however for the price you get quite enough. Hopefully 2 GB of RAM is good enough.
    Not that i care for it, but are we sure YouTube will be available?

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      pay separate for controller?!

      that’s it! i’m out

  • Guest123

    Sounds like a great peace of hardware, however, I’m not a fan of Amazon’s locked in mentality. . . I can go to apple for that.

    If Amazon produced a more open/standard version of Android that played nice with everyone I would buy them in a heart beat.

  • Bryan Z

    for a $140 + tax is cheap enough to give it a try

  • Shark Bait

    Seems like another push for android gaming, could finally be a success with the right backer a and hardware. Price is also right too!
    Chrome cast still looks better to me though, cheaper and simpler and still provides mostly the same things , I love it !!