Amazon Introduces Amazon Fire TV

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001.pngAmazon has introduced the Amazon Fire TV (Amazon.com), a tiny Apple TV-like box that you can use to stream Amazon Prime Video, and video from other services. Amazon describes the $99 box as follows:

Amazon Fire TV is a tiny box that connects your HDTV to a world of online entertainment. With a huge selection of TV episodes and movies, voice search that actually works, plus exclusive features like ASAP and Amazon FreeTime, it’s the easiest way to enjoy Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, low-cost movie rentals, music, photos, games, and more.

Like the Apple TV, or Roku, the Amazon Fire TV has HDMI out, and handles 1080p video. Like the Apple TV, it also has an optical audio output. But the Fire TV also has a quad-core processor, and 2 GB of RAM, notably because it runs games.

The main reason to buy this device is to watch Amazon Prime Video on your TV.
You can certainly do this with AirPlay from a Mac or iPad, but it’s certainly a lot easier to have a dedicated device. However, at $99, many people will hesitate.

Personally, I’d like to get one. Amazon introduced Prime Instant Video here in the UK, and I have an Amazon Prime account. But I’m surprised that they haven’t launched the Fire TV in the UK at the same time. This is the only country, other than the US, where Amazon does video, so I’d have expected it available here now. I’ll just be patient and wait until they bring it to this side of the pond.




18 replies
  1. Chucky says:

    “But the Fire TV also has a quad-core processor, and 2 GB of RAM, notably because it runs games.”

    Not to mention the 8GB of storage for buffering. I think the beefed-up specs are for far more than just gaming. I think they’re also there for the apparently superior voice recognition, a more responsive UI than the competition, and the apparently very impressive (from initial hands-ons) ASAP pre-fetching to let you start watching immediately without pre-buffering, not to mention the ability to skip around in the video and again immediately play. (According to Engadget, “When you click through to the page for a movie, it automatically starts downloading it in the background. If you hover over a selection for a period of time while browsing it’ll do the same. And if you’ve been watching Alpha House it will automatically cache a portion of the next episode.”)

    Reply
    • Kirk McElhearn says:

      I don’t want things to start downloading before I start playing them; I have a download limit.

      Reply
        • Kirk McElhearn says:

          Don’t you think I’d have fiber if it were available? I have 2 Mbps DSL, and satellite internet, which is limited to 50 GB per month. The former is too slow for some services, and the latter limited.

          Reply
          • Chucky says:

            “Don’t you think I’d have fiber if it were available?”

            DIY! The free sample of this book should give you all the info you need to get going.

            Reply
          • Chucky says:

            “I have 2 Mbps DSL, and satellite internet, which is limited to 50 GB per month.”

            So, imaging myself in such 4th world conditions:

            I don’t use Cupertino video service, but if understand correctly, you can download the physical files to your iTunes computer, and then play them from your Apple TV, no? If that were to be the case, then you could watch OTT video by downloading the files slowly via DSL, no?

            If all that is true, then Cupertino is your only realistic solution. In the US, retail TiVo’s can download Amazon videos to their hard drives, which would also work for your 4th world scenario. But I doubt the US retail scenario works with Branson’s TiVo’s, even if you were in place to order them.

            Reply
            • Chucky says:

              “Yea, that’s what I generally do. Can’t download Amazon videos though.”

              Huh. Congrats, you’re the first use-case-scenario for buying Cupertino’s video services absent some ‘same box as AirPlay’ rationale that makes excellent sense to me.

      • Chucky says:

        More seriously, you ought to consider Roku. No pre-fetching, it’s got Prime, and you can buy it now.

        Reply
  2. Chucky says:

    “The main reason to buy this device is to watch Amazon Prime Video on your TV.
    You can certainly do this with AirPlay from a Mac or iPad, but it’s certainly a lot easier to have a dedicated device. However, at $99, many people will hesitate.”

    Well, while Prime is indeed an incentive, (and of course you don’t want to use Prime via AirPlay to an AppleTV due to the noticeably lower PQ), I think there are far more reasons to buy this device over an Apple TV.

    - It lets you buy/rent content from the superior Amazon store.
    - It has more and better channels than the Apple TV.
    - It has a significantly better remote than the Apple TV’s, and that’s even before the voice recognition feature gets factored in.

    I’ve been using a Roku as my streamer box, as even it is superior to the Apple TV. But I think Amazon’s offering is going to be superior enough to the Roku for me to switch.

    Reply
  3. Jay-Squared says:

    As it keeps reminding me aggressively, Amazon does video now (rather than relying on Lovefilm) in Germany as well.

    Reply
    • Kirk McElhearn says:

      I didn’t know that; thanks. Did they just start a month or so ago? That’d be the same time as the UK.

      BTW, Amazon owns LoveFilm, so they’ve just shifted their videos to their own name.

      Reply
  4. Kirk McElhearn says:

    “Huh. Congrats, you’re the first use-case-scenario for buying Cupertino’s video services absent some ‘same box as AirPlay’ rationale that makes excellent sense to me.”

    AirPlay is an awesome feature. I use my Apple TV a lot more for streaming music than watching videos: either with AirPlay, or by loading my iTunes library on the device.

    Reply
    • Chucky says:

      “AirPlay is an awesome feature. I use my Apple TV a lot more for streaming music than watching videos”

      No doubt. I’ve got a Mac Mini HTPC hooked up via HDMI running AirServer, AirFoil, and the normal Apple iTunes services that I use constantly for audio. (I ever wrote a simple remote AppleScript Studio app to control the audio in the HTPC back before they went to AppleScriptObjC.) A Mac beats an Apple TV everyday in my book. But for video services, (for folks with non-4th world internet connections), I advise a Roku box for video services so you can do your business with Amazon instead of Apple. And with an iteration or two, the Fire might become the best video service box.

      Reply
  5. Chucky says:

    So, stipulating that in the OTT video receiver market, we’re approaching the ‘iPod moment’ in the MP3 player market:
    1) In a weird way, Eddy Cue is the only guy who matters in winning the war. Sign the right deals with the right partners in enough foreign territories to go global, and you win.
    2) The Fire TV is the iPod in this ‘iPod moment’. It’s got better specs, better buffering, a better remote, and probably a higher BOM, in all these excessive ways that the original iPod used to take over the MP3 market. (The major difference being that Apple wanted big margins and Amazon doesn’t care about margins.)
    I have no idea which of those two scenarios is correct.
    3) Google wins.
    I doubt that scenario.

    Reply
    • Kirk McElhearn says:

      First, I think the Chromecast is too limited. As for Amazon, they’ve got the right idea, but the 800 pound gorilla – Apple – isn’t present on their box (as they’re not present on any devices other than their own). This may hurt them in the long term: as people use other services, Apple’s absence may make others more attractive. For example, I won’t buy books from iBooks, because I can only read them on Apple devices. Kindle books can be read on anything, and I really like the Kindle for outdoor reading; iPads suck in the sun.

      Reply
  6. Chucky says:

    “For example, I won’t buy books from iBooks, because I can only read them on Apple devices. Kindle books can be read on anything”

    Yeah. That’s the beauty of Amazon. I buy video from them, and I can watch it on my TiVo DVR, my Roku, or someday on my Amazon Fire TV. (And if I were dumb enough to have a smart TV, I could probably watch it there.)

    Maybe the real Microsoft/Apple in the ’80s comparison is current Amazon/Apple…

    Reply

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