ONLINE RETAIL GIANT Amazon took its first foray into the TV streaming device market on Wednesday, announcing Amazon Fire TV to challenge the Google Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV.
Amazon Fire TV looks very similar to Apple's streaming TV box, arriving as a black rectangle with an accompanying remote control. However, Amazon was keen to point out that Fire TV is not like streaming products from its competitors, slamming Apple TV and Roku for their poor search features and closed ecyosystems.
Amazon Kindle VP Peter Limp said, "It drives me bananas that I can watch my Prime Instant Video on my Apple TV."
The Amazon Fire TV will have an as yet unspecified quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM, which Amazon claimed will make the device three times faster than Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast, slamming the "laggy performance" of those rival devices. It is based on Android and HTML, which means that it likely will be easy for developers to port apps to the device.
The Fire TV will ship with a decent selection of apps including Netflix, Vimeo, Youtube and US streaming service Hulu. The interface offers the usual options; Search, Home, TV, Watchlist, Video Library, Apps, Photos, Settings and Games.
While it has a dedicated game category, the Amazon Fire TV is unlikely to win gamers away from the Playstation 4 (PS4) and Xbox One, and instead offers users a way to play smartphone games on their TV. Amazon said that a dedicated games controller will be available for its Fire TV streaming box, priced at $39.99 in the US.
Amazon demoed several nifty software features it has added to the device, including one called ASAP that apparently will know what you want to watch next. There will also be X-Ray for TV, films and music, a dedicated kids area called Freetime, screen integration with Kindle tablets and a built-in voice search function via the included remote control.
Amazon's Fire TV is already on sale in the US priced at $99. There's no word on UK availability yet. µ