Original story (published 4 April): Amazon just unveiled its TV set-top box-and it’s called Amazon Fire TV.
Fire TV is not a bare-bones device like Google’s Chromecast dongle, it’s a powerful platform with ties to the broader Amazon ecosystem.
Inside the slim black plastic box is a quad-core CPU with a full 2GB of RAM — that makes it more akin to a high-end smartphone than your typical streaming device.
And its incredibly slim, with barely enough clearance for the small selection of ports around back.
Fire TV launches with a number of video apps, such as Netflix, Hulu, and Internet video streaming service Frequency.
The usual social app suspects are also available, including Facebook and Twitter, and music apps like Pandora.
FireTV also comes with an ASAP feature, a recommendations algorithm that preloads media based on the stuff you watch.
FireTV is an extension to Amazon’s “Fire” brand, which accounted for the Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets.
Update: There’s also dual-band Wi-Fi on board, and a Bluetooth remote control that also features a microphone input so you can just talk into it to control the box. Searching on the Fire TV box will bring back results from all your streaming services – and Amazon says its voice search is the best in the biz.
Streaming in 1080p is supported, and there’s Dolby Digital Surround Sound via HDMI out too.
As with most streaming services these days, Fire TV also predicts movies and shows it thinks you want to watch and cues them up so they start playing instantly.
Check out an image of the device being held by Amazon VP Peter Larsen below:
Update: And, as was rumoured, Amazon Fire TV will also support gaming.
With FireTV, we thought of games right from the beginning, says Mike, another Amazon exec. We’ve partnered with tons of people like Disney, EA, and more to make it easy to let users play games.
“We’ve hired some of the best game designers and the best artists in the entire world. We’ve got some amazing things in the pipeline from Amazon Game Studios.”
Amazon also launched the Fire Game Controller, which will cost $39.99 and it comes with “Amazon Coins” (credits for new games).
The average price of a paid game is $1.85, and thousands of games will be free.
Amazon will also be making games through Amazon Game Studios. One of which – Sev Zero – has been displayed and sounds like an outer-space shooter.
Update: The price for Amazon Fire TV itself has been announced. The set-top box will cost $99 and starts shipping immediately.
Amazon says it sells many media devices on Amazon.com, but the company hears about many forms of frustration from these products. Search is hard, especially for titles that aren’t on “bestseller lists,” but Amazon VP Peter Larsen said customers complain about poor or slow performance of these streaming devices.
“Customers shouldn’t have to tolerate this kind of laggy performance anymore,” Larsen said. “There’s no reason for it.”
“We need to invent and simplify on behalf of customers,” Larsen said.
“We created an experience that offered state-of-the-art power and performance so you can sit back, relax and lose yourself in the director’s world.”
Stay tuned for more info as it’s announced!
Update: Amazon has announced that Fire TV is now available for pre-order in the UK. The set-top streaming service is available for £79 at Amazon. It will ship out on 23 October, complete with a free month’s trial of Amazon Prime, and will also be available at all major UK retailers.
Among the service’s available at launch on Amazon Fire TV will be Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video (which Amazon claims is the largest subscription streaming service in the UK), Demand 5, Spotify, Sky News, Curzon Home Cinema, YouTube and video rentals.
Additional features include voice search (speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor, director or genre into the Fire TV remote, and it will seek out relevant results) and ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction), which predicts the movies and TV episodes you’ll want to watch and buffers them for playback before you press play.
As mentioned above, Amazon Fire TV also has access to gaming with hundreds of games already available on the service for download. Titles include Minecraft, Asphalt 8, NBA 2K14, and The Walking Dead, with Amazon promising new additions every week.
In terms of specs, Amazon Fire TV boasts a quad-core processor with 3x the processing power of Apple TV, a dedicated GPU, plus 4x the memory of Apple TV or Chromecast. The service delivers up to 1080p HD video and support for Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.
The hardware itself has a depth of 17.5 mm thin and includes a remote control with a built-in microphone. An Amazon game controller can be purchased separately for £34.99.