02
Apr
AmazonFireTV_Side_Popcorn

Amazon has made it easy to access its streaming content on a number of living room devices, but now it's finally making a play for your TV with its own box – the FireTV. This $99 black box contains a quad-core Snapdragon 600 processor (1.7GHz), 2GB of RAM, optical out, MIMO WiFi, and 8GB of storage. It runs a heavily modified version of Android as the base of Amazon's new content delivery platform. FireTV will include access to streaming content from Amazon Instant Video, but also apps from YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, and more.

AmazonFireTV_HomeScreen_Front

Amazon is stressing the openness of its streaming device. Apparently any video provider that wants to make an app for FireTV will be allowed to. The system will also help users find the best deal on any title with a "best value buy box." Only Amazon's store and Hulu Plus will be supported at launch, which makes it a bit pointless until more rental options are included. FireTV also has some second-screen experiences built around the Fire tablets.

When you watch content from Amazon's ecosystem, the FireTV will be able to pull up cast details using the same X-Ray feature available on the Fire tablets. Photos you have uploaded to Cloud Drive are also accessible on the FireTV. Access to all the content available through FireTV can be restricted with Amazon's parental controls, called FreeTime. 

AmazonFireTV_Side_Popcorn

FireTV has an included remote with voice input. Just hit the voice button and say the name of a title or actor to get search results. The other input method is a bit different, but we've seen it before. The leaked Amazon game controller will retail for $39.99 and make the FireTV into a competitor to the Ouya (the remote can also be used to control simple games). The controller includes 1,000 Amazon coins to be spent on games – Amazon claims there will be over 1,000 free-to-play titles in which you can spend those coins. There will also be paid games with an average price under $2. These titles will be Android games that have been tweaked to work with the FireTV and controller. However, it might struggle with only 8GB of storage.

If you want to give Amazon's streaming box a shot, it's on sale right now. It comes with a 30-day trial of Prime and the controller. HDMI cable and game controller are not included.

[Amazon PR, FireTV on Amazon]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • AbbyZFresh

    Already arriving at my doorstep by tomorrow morning. I can't wait to use this.

    • runderekrun

      Why over a chromecast or Roku? Honestly just wondering.

      • doug

        The voice search, ability to run Android games and apps.

        • doug

          Also, if I was undecided I probably would wait tell fall or so, because price will probably drop, and this system will be more mature to help decide. And who know what Apple or anyone else for that matter may come up with by then.

      • Matthew Fry

        It does have the specs of a late 2012 flagship phone. It's not bad for the price. The difficulty I have is in its utility. Sometimes, I wonder if they even do these kinds of analyses. The fact that they can is sufficient reason to do it.

        Honestly, a PS3 is a bigger bang for buck at ~$200. It already comes with a controller in the box and can stream video from a variety of sources at 1080p.

    • Doug

      I'm thinking that way myself. I believe that good folks at XDA will make some awesome roms to really take advantage of this. 8gb storage is not good...next year improvement. But I have Roku, Chormecast, etc,so why not get it?. Just love new toys, and this truly could turn into something really awesome!

  • BiggiePhat

    If only the HDX mirroring meant it has miracast. Or do you think they will try and lock this down to only the HDX?

    • Dominic Powell

      IPad and kindles. They'll f**k android every chance the get

      • BetterWithRoot

        It's ok. Fork isn't a bad word.

  • Derek Duncan

    Looks good. But if you have a Chromecast or Roku, it's a tougher sell.

    • AbbyZFresh

      Not really. There are kids with Kindle Fires that use the game apps. Buying the Fire TV will be an easy sell with the controller included. Which neither Roku nor Chromecast offer at all.

      • Derek Duncan

        The game controller? You mean the $40 add-on? That makes the box a $140 device. Roku streaming stick is $50, Chromecast is $35.

        • AbbyZFresh

          Except the Fire TV is not a streaming stick like the other two products. People will expect to pay more since they see a box which means more content and features included. And the Amazon brand logo on it will only convince people further.

          • Derek Duncan

            Not if you have the Roku or Chromecast already though. That's my point.

          • Derek Duncan

            Not if you have the Roku or Chromecast already though. That's my point.

          • sean

            Roku has a regulr set top box for $99 as well. It makes sense if you have a Kindle Fire. If you dont I dont see the point unless you really want to play the video game apps on your tv. Also we dont know how many games will be optimized for it.

          • VladtheBad

            except there are less features and less options, except for games.Having a Brand on it convinces me of nothing these days. I have a lot of orphaned video because Amazon/Kindle/Fire doesn't chromecast...and frankly IDC. I get more content then I can deal with without having to stream all things Amazon...I'm already a Prime subscriber and glad I am but not because of stuff like this...

  • Fatty Bunter

    So...what's the stand-out feature? Why would I want this instead of the competition? Better voice control?

    • AbbyZFresh

      The gaming features. The Amazon brand logo.

    • Bob G

      Amazon's ecosystem offerings.

      • Tykin

        You can get that with a Roku...

    • Jurk

      Nothing but the Amazon brand. That's it.

  • remister
    • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

      Yoga yoga yoga yoga yoga yoga

  • unhappybirthday

    Google Play Movies on it? Don't make me buy 2 devices. Bah.

    • Jurk

      Not going to happen I'm sure.

      I've made the mistake of buying movies on Prime and finding that I couldn't play them on any of my android devices.

      I'm sticking with the most open platform right now and that Google. At least I can watch things I buy there on any standard Android device and Chromecast.

      And this?
      "Amazon claims there will be over 1,000 free-to-play titles in which you can spend those coins"
      How is that "Free-to-play"? You mean "Pay-to-win"

  • Daniel

    Too bad the controller looks awful and brings back the terrible battery hump in the middle. I'm SO happy with the WiiU Pro controller and it's flush battery compartment. It is so much more comfortable to hold and this won't do anything my WiiU, XBox, or Chromecast can't already handle...so thanks, but no thanks. I'd care a lot more if it wasn't from Amazon and had the PlayStore...

    • John Petersen

      This is basically the OnLive controller. And by basically, I mean that aside from relocating the thumbstick and eliminating two media keys, it's identical. Same exact shape, finish, d-pad, thumbsticks. All that to say that the OnLive controller was excellent, and very comfortable, so I'm sure this is, too.

  • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

    No thanks.

  • Ryan

    lololol 100 dollars for access to prime instant videos, or just keep using tab casting in chrome with my 35 dollar chromecast. decisions decisions...

    • Aaron Berlin

      In my experience that doesn't really work with Amazon content. Are you doing anything special?

    • Aaron Berlin

      In my experience that doesn't really work with Amazon content. Are you doing anything special?

      • Ryan

        you can do it in a few ways. you can go into your account settings and change the player preference from silverlight to flash, or you can change it to flash just for individual episodes/movies when you're casting by adding "?player=flash" to the end of the URL. Or as a last resort you can use the experimental full screen casting to mirror your desktop.

      • Ryan

        you can do it in a few ways. you can go into your account settings and change the player preference from silverlight to flash, or you can change it to flash just for individual episodes/movies when you're casting by adding "?player=flash" to the end of the URL. Or as a last resort you can use the experimental full screen casting to mirror your desktop.

  • Rick Fisher

    that's a tough price point. The gaming is nice, as is voice search and streaming internet radio while browsing menus or playing games, but $99 is twice as much as a Roku and just under 3 times what chromecast costs. Each of these devices gives you something more for the increase in price, but the core functionality is the same and those are pretty big price differences.

  • bnetty

    Not enough of a competitive advantage to make me dish out $99. Amazon titles are a nice to have, but Netflix is still king when it comes to content. (Head-to-head comparison: http://goo.gl/F4wi6q) Amazon also needs to make their content available on Chromecast IMO. They keep missing out on rentals because it's just easier to rent it via Google Play or VUDU on my phone.

    • Chris A

      I believe I saw that you can get NetFlix on this device or will in the near future. Just throwing that out there. Plex is another one they are suppose to include. I'm interested to see if XBMC will work on it.

      • bnetty

        Yeah - they will have Netflix, but so does every other device out there. As I can already access Netflix via the SmartTV interface, ChromeCast, Xbox, and blu-ray player, having it on the FireTV isn't a huge selling point for me. XBMC would be cool. Love Plex via ChromeCast though!

        • Chris A

          I was taking this purely as someone who doesn't have a Chromecast. I see it as more of a competitor with AppleTV. Hopefully it will be as open an Android system as they claim which could make for some interesting things for developers. I love plex, and I was looking to put some XBMC devices on my TVs. One option would be a Raspberry Pi, but if this does XBMC as well, I very well could put this in the running as well.

        • Chris A

          I was taking this purely as someone who doesn't have a Chromecast. I see it as more of a competitor with AppleTV. Hopefully it will be as open an Android system as they claim which could make for some interesting things for developers. I love plex, and I was looking to put some XBMC devices on my TVs. One option would be a Raspberry Pi, but if this does XBMC as well, I very well could put this in the running as well.

          • bnetty

            I hear ya. I would consider it if I didn't have a ChromeCast, but the $99 price tag would make me second guess w/ both Roku and ChromeCast at much lower prices. I too hope the Amazon line of Android products become more open.

  • Alexandre Leites

    I almost pressed the buy button, buy lets wait a hands on from AP. :P

  • Steve Freeman

    No streaming options for local media? Pass.

    • Chris A

      I saw on another site that Plex will be a supported app...so that would allow local media.

      • Steve Freeman

        OK, then it could work for me. I've been looking to replace my crappy WD TV Live Hub (the thing's ridiculously slow), and this could be a relatively inexpensive solution.

        • jm9843

          Chromecast?

          • Steve Freeman

            Yeah, that's an option, but I only have wireless-g in my house so I would prefer something wired.

          • John Petersen

            For the $65 difference, you can buy a pretty awesome n or a/c router.

          • vdubtdi

            Chromecast struggles on HD media and really isn't an option when it comes to HD local media. Same goes for Roku's devices. If this can stream local media with good format support it could do well.

          • Sluma

            Then why can I stream HD movies with no problem?

          • vdubtdi

            Chromecast struggles on HD media and really isn't an option when it comes to HD local media. Same goes for Roku's devices. If this can stream local media with good format support it could do well.

  • jamesfuston

    The headline here should also read, "didn't run out of stock in 10 minutes"

  • jamesfuston

    The headline here should also read, "didn't run out of stock in 10 minutes"

  • Michael

    Will it be able to be rooted and have an aosp based rom installed? If so it may be worth it then.

  • Nick Hilliard

    So much for my hope of Amazon Instant Video for all Android devices....sigh

  • Lexcyn

    US only. But with Chromecast this will be a harder sell, especially to people who don't subscribe to Prime.

    • vdubtdi

      Chromecast is a throw away media player that can't handle HD media. I don't see a meaningful comparison between them. It's practically useless with my projector on a 130" screen and no HD/multichannel audio with CC either.

      • michael interbartolo

        Vudu streams HDX5.1 on my Chromecast.

      • ltredbeard

        Chromecast doesnt have problem with HD on my projector.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    So this is where the Double Helix efforts went?

  • OniKyanAE86

    Fail from the start..... 8GB Internal Storage, now-a-days the minimum on newer smart phones is 32GB.....

  • OniKyanAE86

    Fail from the start..... 8GB Internal Storage, now-a-days the minimum on newer smart phones is 32GB.....

    • TylerChappell

      New smartphones also cost $600+. This has the same processor and amount of RAM of what a $600 smartphone was just a year ago, the HTC One. And generally, 32GB usb sticks are about $20. Do I think 8GB is a wee bit small for a content device? Yeah, Should it be at least 16GB? Probably. Is the hardware, capabilities, services, and Amazon's amazing customer support worth a $100 device (less than the price of 2 console titles), it most definitely is, especially if you are a Prime subscriber and don't own any other streaming devices.
      As for me? I am a Prime member, I have 4 Chromecasts (living room TV, parents bedroom, my bedroom, brother's bedroom), and I watch Amazon Prime content in my room through my 50" Samsung Smart TV.
      Will I be buying a FireTV? Maybe in the next few hours or days, to use in the living room, since my home internet is finally up to 16-20Mbps compared to less than 3Mbps 2 weeks ago.

  • Rich Nahra

    I rather have this than my POS ouya console which is now collecting dust somewhere in my basement. I'm really happy with my chromecast / openelec combo.

  • http://jefferai.org/ Jeff Mitchell

    Hey Amazon, I'll buy your box as soon as you let me stream Prime Instant Video on my Android phone. No? See ya.

  • atlouiedog

    I don't know if it will work with this box, but Plex is on sale for 99 cents in the Amazon Appstore today, at least in the US.

    • br_hermon

      According the Amazon's product page for Fire TV it is compatible with Plex.

      • atlouiedog

        They say Plex is compatible, but I wasn't sure if it'll require a different app, similar to how some apps they sell are Kindle Fire editions and won't download to other Android devices.

  • cy_n_ic

    Gamefly will blow all these services out of the water once they get going with streaming movies. Because nobody else rents out games.

  • Eduardo Mateos

    Is this the definitive XBMC box we've all been waiting for?

    • atlouiedog

      That's what I'm hoping for. Streaming apps + XBMC for local content, DVR, and live TV (just as a frontend of course) all designed with a remote in mind sounds like the box I've been waiting for.

      • Frank

        That would be great! And that snapdragon would make for a sweet, sweet htpc :-) Any idea if we can plug-in an external HD?

  • Martin Holička

    I'm hoping for root and some nice soul who will port Kitkat and Playstore into it.

  • atlouiedog

    "Remote with no line of sight required" and no mention of an IR receiver. I guess I won't expect my Harmony to work with it.

  • Jeremy

    This really needs more storage. Didn't they learn anything from Ouya? My Ouya is pretty much just for XBMC and some emulators, but the low storage is the main reason I don't have actual android games on it..

  • didibus

    I wonder if the controller can work with my PC using bluetooth or other android devices, because for 40 bucks, it looks like it could be a pretty good cheap bluetooth controller.

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    I found that part pretty funny I have to be honest - "other platforms are closed" yes.... but the Chromecast isn't and you still can't give a valid reason why you won't support it.

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