With the Fire TV, Amazon entered an already crowded media streaming market, one that’s arguably dominated by Apple and Roku, but Amazon’s box has a few advantages that can help set it apart.

For the most part media streaming devices have the same features. There’s only so many media streaming services available, and only so many things you can do with a tiny box that connects to a TV. Amazon has to differentiate in other ways, ways that aren’t so much about content.

So how can Amazon make the Fire TV different?

Amazon Fire TV vs Competition


How did you first hear about the Amazon Fire TV? Okay, there’s a good chance you heard rumors of the box for a long time, and you watched tech news sites as they liveblogged the event and posted their first hands-on. But if you visited Amazon’s website any time since the announcement you no doubt saw the letter from Jeff Bezos on the homepage introducing the device. Even now, two days later, the letter is still there.

The reach of Amazon really can’t be overstated. Even if the Fire TV has the same basic functions as Roku boxes, more people are familiar with the Amazon brand than Roku. Of course, that doesn’t help Amazon against Apple or Google, though.

Media Prediction

Amazon Fire TVOne of the features Amazon doesn’t really seem like its touting too much is also one that could give it an edge against the Apple TV and Chromecast. Advanced Streaming and Prediction, or ASAP, sounds like a backcronym, but that doesn’t make it any less cool. ASAP is a feature that predicts what shows or movies you might want to watch next and preloads it onto the Fire TV so its available to streaming instantaneously.

Assuming the feature works and can accurately predict your tastes, it should cut the buffering times from your streaming. Buffering is a common complaint with the Apple TV, especially with customers of notoriously bad ISPs (Comcast and Time Warner, for example). By potentially cutting out buffering Amazon has a leg-up on the current Apple TV.


Amazon Fire TV Game Controller NBA2k

The last thing the Fire TV has going for it is more of a promise than anything else at the moment. With the ability to play some Android games the Fire TV is almost like a better version of the Ouya, albeit one without Towerfall (also known as the only reason to own an Ouya). Sev Zero looks like it could be a cool game, but so far it’s the only exclusive game on the platform.

Amazon is trying to build up its gaming efforts, though. It recently bought Double Helix, the developer behind the Xbox One version of Killer Instinct, and the Strider reboot on all consoles. There’s also been reports that Amazon is looking around the video game industry to beef up Amazon Game Studios. Not to mention AppStream which looks tailor-made for streaming games to the box.

Amazon Fire TV Game ControllerWith the right talent in Amazon Game Studios and enough publishers or developers using AppStream the Fire TV could be an interesting, and rather inexpensive, video game console in addition to a media streamer. Though a game controller that doesn’t look like a rejected OnLive controller design would be nice.

Is it enough?

Even with its advantages, there’s no guarantee the Fire TV will succeed against Apple, Google, or even Roku. Some of its features are neat, but not exactly game-changers, while others won’t appeal to everyone. If the Kindle and Kindle Fire proved anything, though, it’s that Amazon is willing to iterate over a few generations even if the first one doesn’t exactly blow away the competition.

What do you think sets the Fire TV apart? What would make you actually buy one over another streaming set-top box?

Buy the Amazon Fire TV – $99.00

  • Games of thrones fan.

    No HBOGO, no deal. Bummer.

    • monkey god

      I’m sure HBO GO is in the pipeline. Chromecast didn’t have HBO GO on launch either.

  • Marsg

    I won’t be getting it, I already have 4 chromecasts, a roku 3, and an apple TV in the house. I don’t see myself paying 100 bucks for predictions especially since it’s a software feature that can be added to the other listed media streamers in a future update. As for gaming, I don’t find smartphone games all that pleasing, I mean it’s cool if you play angry birds to pass some time waiting at the doctors office but I would rather play games on my pc and ps4 at home.

    • Brandon Power

      Lol why so much stuff. Are there multiple devices on your TVs

      • Marsg

        I had a roku 3 and my brother the apple TV before the chromecast was released. Then we went out and bought chromecasts for our tvs cause they were cheap and casting anything from the smartphone is a great idea. At this point it’s kinda pointless to get another media streamer lol

    • Mike Bastable

      How big is your house!

  • Iran Matias-Elias

    Cost benefit analysis, I still stick to Chromecast. Which by the way has made my house into an awesome Google ecosystem.

    • Shark Bait

      Me too, I think the main selling point is gaming, which ouya kinda proved doesnt work, (I hope they prove me wrong though). I’m waiting to see if any devs can bring games to the Chromecast

      • Ash

        GamingCast..look it up

    • Lisandro O Oocks

      Similar opinion, I may just wait for it to drop at least $20 + by then the answer will be clearer.

  • Peter

    On gaming part, how would you play touch-based game ?
    Can I use Fire TV Remote as pointer device like WiiMote ?

    It’s kinda stupid if you have to use gamepad to play android games, which majority are designed for touch input.

    • monkey god

      Don’t think you can, but there are a ton of arcade type games that have gamepad support. Practically any type of shooter game can use a controller as well as most racing games.

    • ichuck7

      Quite a few of the quality games have controller support. I use the moga controller and it’s great. The games it doesn’t work for are obvious like angry birds.

  • monkey god

    I wonder: does this thing automatically make the Ouya obsolete? or does the Ouya offer something Fire TV doesn’t?

    • ichuck7

      Ouya was pretty much DOA. They mucked that up in so many ways.

  • Alex Ohannes

    I hate to say it, but Amazon has a real winner here. We thought the Chromecast had amazing bang-for-buck value, but the Fire TV outdoes it by quite a lot in that regard. I guess it just boils down to what you want on your TV. If you just want YouTube and some other things and don’t want to break the bank, then the Chromecast is for you. If you want something equivalent to a flagship smartphone hooked up to your TV that can theoretically do anything the hardware is capable of (I’m assuming it’s running Android, so we’ll see if it gets rooted) then the Fire TV is probably for you.

    Personally though, I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two. They aren’t meant to be equals, and the comparisons that Amazon will make between the two will purely be for marketing reasons.

    Also, I think that the games will fail big-time. More and more people are realizing the cost-effectiveness of PC gaming. Console gaming is declining, and I think it will continue to decline until the term “game console” becomes obsolete. In the near future, if people want to game on their TV, they’ll just stream the game from their PC in the other side of the house.

    • ichuck7

      Bah, hah, hah, hah. PC gaming? You’re kidding right? Console gaming isn’t declining as much as you think it is, be even so, it’s declining because of mobile gaming. Flocks of people aren’t rushing to play WoW anymore, they’re rushing to play candy crush or some game with a bird title.

      • ichuck7

        I hope that didn’t come across rude. I didn’t mean it that way. It’s hard to communicate across the Internet.

      • ziplock9000

        Casual games yes. But none casual gamers still use dedicated consoles or a PC. They won’t use an Android device that is still far less powerful

      • Alex Ohannes

        I was simply acknowledging the “bang for buck level” of a PC versus a gaming console. A PC can do everything that a gaming console can do, but a gaming console can only do a fraction for what the PC can do. Also, for the same amount of money, you can get beefier hardware if you choose to invest in PC gaming.

        That being said, I love my original Xbox and my PS2 (both softmodded, wink-wink).

  • Mike Bastable

    I will keep my apple tv and i use streambells to stream Android sourced content to it. My Blu-ray is Miracast certified but Miracast is a dog to use. However Netflix or Show box streamed via de apple tv works perfect. Amazon Fire whilst promising, in some areas, will like all Amazon products be too restricted to be real force…plus remember Amazon is NOT global and this regional nature will always be a disadvantage against the ubiquitous Apple and Google.

  • fredphoesh

    I would never buy an Amazon product since they retard the Android experience, dis-allow all Google apps… I would get an andriod box ahead of any of these closed system clowns, apple and amazon.

    • Shark Bait

      Amazon don’t disallow Google apps. Google disallow them access to their apps

      • abazigal

        Because Amazon chose to buck the terms by forking Android?

        You can’t really blame Google here for enforcing the rules here.

        • Shark Bait

          yeah i know, i wasn’t blaming them

  • rmcrys

    If I can install (also) xbmc with DTS-HD on it, I’ll buy one for sure! Very cool and practical, works well and the price is ok. Chromecast just does not do anything useful but “auto play” stuff controlled by the phone, and at the end of the day I just don’t want to use my phone anymore, just sit and relax with a “dumb” remote. Nice, very nice.

  • Mhmd Ahmd

    No HBOGO, no deal. Bummer.

  • jirokanz

    The gaming capability is the main feature that put it above the competition.
    Imagine Ouya + Roku = Fire TV.

  • Travis Halfman

    Did anyone notice a year old GoogleTV unit stacks up nicely with the Fire TV? I prefer the HDMI pass through method favored by God, but appreciate the simplicity of the Chromecast.

  • abazigal

    Aren’t we forgetting one of the most compelling reasons of all – ecosystem?

    The Apple TV lets you play your iTunes content, as well as airplay your Apple devices to your screen. At home, I can stream video content via apps which support airplay from my iPad to my Apple TV. this At work, I can hook this up to my classroom’s projector and airplay my iPad to it, allowing me to control what is shown on the screen from anywhere in the room.

    Not to mention that Amazon is actually selling the Apple Tv for $93, and I am sure a refurbished Apple Tv can be nabbed from the Online Store for less.

    • ziplock9000

      Ecosystem integration, good point. So but a Chromecast :)

  • ichuck7

    Unless the media streaming box you already have is laggy or doesn’t work anymore, I think customers stick with what they have. It’sIt’s also really hard to beat a $35 chromecast.
    On the other hand, this would be my next choice after chromecast, for the potential of gaming. The ouya is not a good comparison because that company whiffed in so many ways, the first being the name. Although I wish both had the playstore and not their own version thereof.

  • cfbcfb

    Too little, too late, for too much $. If they gave this for free or <$30 to Prime members, then maybe it gets a toehold.

    I'm not interested in gaming on an android box, and considering the total lack of buyer interest in android tv boxes for the last 2 years (ouya? shield?) neither is anyone else. I can buy a $100 ps3 or xbox 360 used and play all the games I want on a real gaming platform with thousands of cheap/free games.

    I have not only no interest in the box downloading shows it thinks I might like, I don't want it to do that, period. I have a cap on internet usage and that sort of feature would likely send me over the limit, incurring extra costs. No thanks.

    I'll take a roku 3 or chromecast, thanks…and I already did. Two of each. The roku is fast, fully debugged, has a lot of channel support, and I can get them refurb'ed for under $70. The chromecast is a cool little stick, does almost everything the roku can do, and I've gotten them for <$30 with 3 months of netflix included so they were practically free.

    I predict this will do slighly worse than the fire tablets, which were at least launched closer to when tablets were an emerging market than after the dust has pretty much completely settled.

    Someone also needs to look into the overlap between Prime users and apple households. I'll bet its a strong overlap and good luck getting appleistas to buy a fire device and not an apple tv.

    • JonnyB

      Your tight budget and plethora of boxes is skewing your view of this box. It is faster than a ps3 for loading videos by far (you do realize most people DON’T have a data cap, right?) and is very slickly done overall. It is the best Amazon Prime implementation BAR NONE. It does XMBC as well, did you factor that in? You are right about the PS3, which I think is the only thing that can touch the Fire TV, really. For those of us who do not have Chromecast and Roku boxes, this the best thing around

  • Christian Pacheco

    does this support local media playback? (via usb or local network).

  • Frankfan2112

    Needs MLB.TV and they’ll get me.

  • ziplock9000

    Gaming are you kidding? And for watching Media, Chromecast wins.

    Silly article..

  • ziplock9000

    The more I read this article, the more it smells like Amazon has paid Android Authority to give an overwhelmingly positive review. It blatantly ignores some very obvious points and is extremely biased.

  • clok

    Sadly another Tech guy who belittles the competition as throw away. Prediction on my watching patterns will most likely fail for all but the worst connections. Watch a series and it will load the next one so its “ready”, why? I don’t wait now, i want to watch show a, it starts in 5 or less seconds and I watch it, I want to watch Show B, its the same, that 5 second load would be eliminated, wow! game changer there. If i buffer non stop, then i can see an advantage, if i want to watch it tomorrow, but I want to watch 3 episodes, it cant stream and preload (if speed is an issue to start with).. so it will only help with one show later. Again, how many users will need this? games, well the Ouya has more, and will for a long time.. and well, to quote this writer, is worthless, so a game machine (one game?) is worthless in his eyes, but its ok if its with the amazon box (no proven games at all, and the same games he dismissed on the Ouya)? Any tech head would buy one of the Android boxs (or even Oyua) and just load XBMC, or side load almost all the stuff the Amazon box does, and can do it now. If you want a reason to tout the Amazon box, pure numbers, like the Tablets, it will be sold in large volume, and that is the reason to buy one.