Last month I took Amazon's Fire TV for a test drive and came away pretty damn impressed. It's a nice box with a lot to like – but there's also some pretty stiff competition in the streaming box arena. Companies like Google and Roku are both ready to take your money in exchange for enhancing an otherwise stale television experience.
Since there a variety of options on the market today, we decided to take four of the most popular and put them in a head-to-head deathmatch.
In 1994, Amazon started as an online bookstore. Since then, the company has grown into one of the most important sites on the internet, and the largest online retailer in the world. In 2007, it released the Kindle, its first ebook reader. From there the Kindle line grew to include the Fire and Fire HDX, full blown tablets running Amazon's Android-based Fire OS.
Over the past 20 years, Amazon has broadened its horizons more than most other companies can even dream of.
If you've already splurged and bought a FireTV, you've probably noticed one pretty annoying thing: the much-touted voice search feature only shows Amazon content. That makes it far less helpful than it could be. Thankfully, Amazon realizes this and announced today that it will be working with Hulu, Crackle, and Showtime to bring voice search features to their respective apps. That's fantastic news.
For those who may not be familiar with FireTV's voice search option, it's pretty simple: hit the mic button and speak into the remote.
There's no doubt that Chromecast is cool. You know what else is cool? Casting stuff from your phone or tablet to AppleTV, FireTV, Roku, Chromecast, Xbox 360, Xbox One, WDTV, a SmartTV, or other DLNA-certified devices. And that's exactly what Koush's AllCast app does – makes streaming locally-stored and some cloud-stored (Dropbox, Drive, G+, or even a server) media simple and easy.
Along with beta support for streaming from Google Drive and to FireTV, Koush also recently added another new feature to AllCast: redemption codes to enable premium features.
Today Amazon announced FireTV, its new preferred set-top box for pumping media out to your TV. The $99 box primarily emphasizes shows, movies, and music, but it can also run apps and games. Now Amazon Game Studios has provided a sneak peek at what it's working on. These are games that, as the company describes underneath the first YouTube video, are "built from the ground up for Kindle Fire tablets and Fire TV." Whether any of this content will eventually arrive on other Android devices remains to be seen.
Gary Busey has carefully crafted a reputation as a lunatic. True, a good part of that might just be his Hollywood persona, but you've got to admit it's entertaining. Someone at Amazon agrees, because they enlisted Mr. Busey's services for one of the first promotions of the new Android-powered FireTV set-top box. In this one-minute spot, Gary Busey talks to a lamp.
Amazon takes the initiative here, using a crazy shouting man to illustrate the fact that the competing Roku set-top boxes don't have voice control.
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.