New York City, New York – The field of fierce competitors in electronic devices to stream internet video content to the telly just got a bit more crowded with Amazon making the surprise announcement that they have developed their own set top box called Fire TV. The Fire TV retails for $99 and will be sold immediately at least at Amazon’s website. The video streaming box will stand toe-to-toe with similar devices from Google, Apple, and Roku.
Unlike competing devices like Google’s Chromecast or Roku’s Streaming stick, Amazon’s Fire TV is an Android-based device with close ties to Amazon’s Instant Video streaming ecosystem. Unfortunately the Fire TV will not be available in Canada at launch, according to an Amazon Canada.
“The Amazon Fire TV is not available outside the U.S. at this time,” said Katie McFadzean, an Amazon Canada PR representative.
The new product is considered ambitious by some analysts, but the market for such devices is shifting away from set top boxes towards smaller dongles that can plug into the HDMI port of a TV and which offer the same capabilities of the larger boxes. It is in the field of these smaller lightweight offerings that Google and Roku are in a fierce fight. Roku has delivered a smaller unit which offers everything their streaming video boxes offered at a retail price of $49.
In the product demonstration, Amazon cited the fact that the Fire TV is based on Android even if it is an offshoot version of it. This fact gives their unit more of an open system approach over the Apple TV’s limited ecosystem. The box has voice activation via the remote which allows users to select movies by name. It also has its own algorithm for determining shows users are likely to watch based on usage patterns. In short, Fire TV does what the competition is doing. However, will that be enough to peel market share away from the established players?
Other benefits of the device are parental controls to set both access limits and content controls. A forthcoming update will allow music purchased at Amazon.com to be streamed through the device. A separate game controller which will retail for $40 improves the gaming experience.
Amazon Fire TV Specs
Size 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 0.7″ (115 mm x 115 mm x 17.5 mm)
Weight 9.9 oz (281 grams)
SOC Platform Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064
Processor Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz
GPU Qualcomm Adreno 320
Storage 8 GB internal
Memory 2 GB LPDDR2 @ 533 MHZ
Wi-Fi Connectivity Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports public and private Wi-Fi networks that use the 802.11a/b/g/n standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication
Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.0 with support for the following profiles: HID, HFP 1.6, SPP
Cloud Storage Free cloud storage for all Amazon content
Ports 5.5 mm DC Jack
Type A HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDCP
Optical Audio (TOSLINK)
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
Content Formats Supported Video: H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1
Audio: AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3
Photo: JPG, PNG
Output Resolution Supported 720p and 1080p up to 60fps
System Requirements High-definition television, HDMI cable
TV Compatibility Compatible with high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 60/50Hz, including popular models from these manufacturers: Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse
Warranty and Service 1-year Limited Warranty and service included. Use of Fire TV is subject to the terms found here.
Regional Support Certain services may not be available outside the U.S.
Included in the Box Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV remote
2 AAA batteries
Quick Start Guide