Fire TV is here! Amazon announced their new $99 streaming and video game device. Actually it is not really that surprising with all of the rumors we have heard prior to its release.
The specs on the Fire TV are pretty much what we would expect these days. The box which is a thinner, but bigger square box powered by a quad core processor (Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz) with 2GB (LPDDR2 @ 533 MHZ) and a dedicated GPU (Qualcomm Adreno 320) similar to what you would find in a higher end cell phone that outputs HD 1080p over a HDMI connection to your TV. It also has Dolby Digital Plus surround sound, dual-band WiFi a/b/g/n, 8GB of internal flash memory for storage, Bluetooth 4.0, 10/100 wired Ethernet, USB 2.0 port, and optical Toslink Audio output.
Fire TV controllers, services
It supports two controllers. A remote for navigation (can also be used with some games) with a microphone for built-in voice search and game controller. The game controller is an additional $39.99 and is separate as an optional add-on from the main Fire TV unit. If you want to play games, you will need the controller. The game controller connects to the system using Bluetooth and is said to offer 55 hours of battery life.
As for streaming content, Amazon isn’t playing around. It offers the majority of the majors including Netflix, HuluPlus, ESPN, Vevo, Crackle, Flixster, and of course the Amazon Instant Video app. As for the gaming it also is serious about that as well with Minecraft Pocket Edition, The Walking Dead, RipTide 2, Sev Zero, Asphalt Airbourne 8, and NBA 2K.
Amazon's traditional competitive pricing
Coming in at $99 Amazon makes a compelling case with the Fire TV when compared to the Roku 3 and Apple TV. The Apple TV looks pretty long in the tooth when compared to the Amazon Fire TV, but we are expecting Apple to soon address this with a new Apple TV that we suspect will offer much more. The comparison to the Roku 3 is a lot closer, but it is clear that the Fire TV holds a slight edge over the Roku 3 in most of the hardware areas, but in the streaming channels, Roku is still king. In the games department, Fire TV is clearly ahead with many more titles than Roku has with a much more robust select of offerings. Sources tell us that a new higher end Roku is likely coming as well to do battle with the Fire TV.
Overall, it will be an interesting offering from Amazon. It can perhaps succeed where the Oyua hasn’t so far on the gaming side of things as an alternative to the big name consoles. As for the streaming offerings, they are off to a go start, but key offerings like HBOGo are not available at this time. The hardware is robust and should provide quite a platform for developers to work with. We will have to just wait and see if users are willing to spend the $99 for something more than what they have built-in to their TV or Blu-ray players, but we think Amazon is off to a good start.
The Fire TV can be ordered today, but the controller is currently on back order.