Today, Amazon has announced its video streaming device – Amazon Fire TV for $99. The device will start shipping in the US from today and can be ordered from Amazon.com. Fire TV customers will also benefit from a 30-day free trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Specifications and features
Fire TV comes with quad-core processor, a dedicated Adreno 320 graphics engine, 2GB RAM, dual band WiFi, and is just 0.7-inch thing. It runs on a special OS that is based on HTML and Android. This makes it easier for developers to port their applications on the platform. The set top box streams 1080P high definition videos and can be connected to TV via HDMI.
It comes with a remote that lets you use voice to search for content. The voice search demo worked fine in the demonstration by Amazon, however, it needs to be seen how well it works in real life scenario where the living room is not just listening to your voice.
The USP of the device is that, as claimed by Amazon, it plays instantly a video instantly as soon as you hit the “Play” button and that you don’t have to wait for the 10-second buffer.
It’s a well known fact that Amazon doesn’t sell hardware to make money from it. Instead, it tries to make money by selling content to its users through these hardware devices. The company has already partnered with Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo, the NBA, YouTube, HBO GO, among others to bring their respective apps on its platform. Customers can search and compare where they can watch a show or a movie for the cheapest, however, initially only Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus will be included in the results.
Besides that, there are tons of apps. There’s a photo app that integrates with CloudDrive and uploads pictures from Smartphone in background and make them available on FireTV.
It has also announced a controller for the FireTV retailing at $39.99. Every controller customer will get 1,000 Amazon coins, Amazon’s virtual currency. Users can use this currency to buy games. Interestingly, Amazon claims that the average selling price for paid games will be $1.85, which brings it to the similar price range that you’ll find in any mobile app stores. Of course, these games would not compete against games made for hardcore gamers, but will be good enough for casual gamers who play games on their smartphone. Besides the paid games, there would be more than 1,000 free-to-play titles. While the entire list of game developers partnering with Amazon has not been disclosed, popular game developers such as Mojang, EA, Disney, and Ubisoft have signed up on the platform.
Amazon announced the availability of its first video game Sev Zero from Amazon Game Studios. The multi-player game can be played on TV with the FireTV controller and the other player can join the game from a Kindle Fire tablet.
With this, Amazon is directly competing with hundreds of casual gaming consoles out there. However, considering that newer gaming devices, falling between consoles and mobile devices, such as Ouya are struggling, it needs to be seen whether Amazon succeeds. By offering a gaming angle to the settop box, Amazon is following Microsoft and Sony. Yet, it has a long way to go.