Amazon has just joined the streaming media competition by unveiling its own new device, Amazon Fire TV, which is set to sell in the United States for $99. The small set-top-box-style streaming media player boasts four times the memory and three times the processing power of its competition, Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast. Although it’s still missing services like HBO Go and Spotify for the time being, Fire TV does support the streaming media staples, Netflix and Hulu. And of course, something would be amiss if it didn’t support its own Amazon Prime Instant Video. Fire TV also supports other streaming media applications, such as Pandora Internet Radio and YouTube, and offers music playback from Amazon.
But it doesn’t stop there. Fire TV can also synchronize across multiple devices, making it so you can pause on one device and start again on another. It also works as a gaming console of sorts. Amazon Fire TV works on the Mojito operating system, which is based on Android, so developers can port games easily. Among the list of games already available through Fire TV? None other than Minecraft and Asphalt 8. Amazon’s Fire TV also comes complete with a HDMI and optical audio outputs that can enable Dolby Digital and surround sound.
Fire TV was made to overcome three specific issues. The first is consumers difficulty to find what they’re looking for. To remedy this, Amazon has integrated voice search. Users simply speak into the remote to find the title, genre, or actors they are looking for. The second is poor video streaming quality. Amazon seeks to put an end to annoying buffering, waiting for your video to catch up with itself. To do this, the Amazon Fire TV streaming media device comes complete with dual band, dual antenna WiFi, a purposeful graphics engine, and other components found in the most advanced smartphones. The third issue Amazon’s Fire TV is combatting? Skimpy content libraries, which is why Amazon has contracted with the best in streaming media, including themselves.
Amazon hopes to become a staple in living rooms everywhere with its Prime Instant Video. It’s the only streaming media service around to offer things like Dora the Explorer and SpongeBob SquarePants for kids, as well as a boat-load of other content, as well. Amazon is also counting largely on its originally created content, shows like the political drama Alpha House, on its way back for a second season. And unlike its competitor, Apple TV, the new Amazon Fire TV is pleased to contract with other streaming media device professionals in order to offer a large amount of quality programming from one specific box.
While the Fire TV, itself, is priced on the higher side of streaming media devices in relation to Roku 3 (around $50) and Chromecast ($35), a yearly subscription to Amazon Prime Instant Video will only run a cool $99 per year, making it just a little over the same price as a Netflix or Hulu Plus standard subscription. With the large amount of high-tech specifications dumped into the Amazon Fire TV, and it’s competition-friendly interface, Amazon has put itself in the running to become the next great streaming media set-top box creator, and a necessity in your living room.
By Melissa A. White-Jantzen