Amazon takes on Apple TV with new $99 fireTV streaming & gaming set-top box

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited April 2014
Already a content creator and seller, Amazon will now enter the set-top box business with the new $99 fireTV, launching today with video streaming and gaming capabilities, taking on the likes of the Apple TV, Roku, and Chromecast.





Amazon unveiled the fireTV, its new 1080p HDTV accessory at a media event in New York City on Wednesday, boasting that with a quad-core CPU and 2 gigabytes of RAM, it's three times as powerful as existing devices on the market, all while being about as tall as a "piece of popped corn," the company said. And at $99, it's the same price as Apple TV.

"Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price--people are going to love Fire TV," said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. "Voice search that actually works means no more typing on an alphabet grid. Our exclusive new ASAP feature predicts the shows you'll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly. And our open approach gives you not just Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video, but also Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. On Fire TV you can watch Alpha House and House of Cards."

Unsurprisingly, the device will tie into Amazon's ecosystem, with Prime Instant Video content available to stream, as well as any content purchased through the online retailer. Amazon has 10 original shows coming exclusively to Prime Instant Video, featuring stars such as Jeffrey Tambor in "Transparent" and John Goodman in a second season of "Alpha House."

Compatibility will also be available at launch with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Showtime Anytime, and WatchESPN and more, with other video providers are planned to be added in the future. Also included is music support from Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

The fireTV will support third-party apps, as its custom operating system is based on Android and HTML.




The fireTV comes with a remote control that has an integrated microphone that allows users to search with their voice, allowing users to find content based on actors' names, programming titles and more.

The set-top box also integrates with Amazon Cloud Drive, allowing users to push content such as photos to their television set. And established Amazon features from the Kindle Fire and Kindle lineups, such as X-Ray for content information and Free Time for parental controls, are also part of the fireTV.

fireTV will serve as a game console as well, featuring a dedicated controller with a typical dual-joystick design that is now available for $39.99.




In its presentation, Amazon called out the Apple TV, citing a customer review who was disappointed by the AirPlay Mirroring functionality offered by racing title Asphalt 8. A fireTV version of Apshalt 8 was later shown, using the dedicated controller rather than an iPad or iPhone.

Other titles showcased for fireTV included Minecraft and Monsters Inc., while Amazon also showed off its own custom third-person shooter titled Sev Zero. The company said the average price of a paid game on its storefront is $1.85, while over a thousand games are free to download.

Connectivity on the fireTV includes HDMI, optical audio out, Ethernet, and USB. The system is based on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 with a 1.7-gigahertz quad-core processor, along with a Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU. It includes 8 gigabytes of internal storage, and features dual-antenna 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 193
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    1) Lots of pros and cons with this device but I think Roku's days might be numbered.

    2) Respectable that they put HBO GO on the list even though they don't support it.

    3) Neither the Roku, Apple TV, nor Chromecast feel sluggish so making it quad-core with 2GB RAM with that GPU is strictly for gaming, which I feel is a waste as I believe most won't game with the device (even if the [I]oddly[/I] high-priced, $40 controller was included). I think it would have been better to create two models: one for the non-gamer which could come well under the Roku 2 and Apple TV, and this one for gaming.

    4) The amount of NAND seems surprisingly low at 8GB and I'm not seeing an SD Card slot, which would actually come in handy on such a device. People complained about the Apple TV having 8GB NAND and it doesn't have any games you can play. I question how Amazon's ASAP is going to work.


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  • Reply 2 of 193
    Has some nice features, but not sure I would pay $99. If it came free or at a discount with my Prime subscription, then OK.
  • Reply 3 of 193
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member

    God I hope Apple updates the ATV UI this year. Can't stand the hideous icons with the glossy overlay (ala iOS 6).

  • Reply 4 of 193
    macinthe408macinthe408 Posts: 1,050member
    Your move, Apple.

    How many times in the past two years has Cook said, "We've got amazing new products in the pipeline..."?

    Definitely a bunch of market-appeasing, gasbag bromides at this point. They sound no different than any other vaporware-producing has-been.
  • Reply 5 of 193
    scartartscartart Posts: 174member

    I feel that Apple dropped the ball here. They sat back, not introducing new features such as gaming, which has allowed Amazon to step in.

  • Reply 6 of 193
    "Huge specs"

    LOL. As Weird Al once said, [I]"it's all about the Pentiums."[/I]
  • Reply 7 of 193
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,755member
    That's a pretty impressive $99 streamer. I don't see anywhere that Amazon has skimped on it hardware-wise either. A better remote than any of their competitors, excellent internals for the box itself and a tiny form-factor. Then add in lots of content and even an upcoming child-friendly "FreeTime" content version that parents will probably love and I think Amazon may well have best-in-category at this point.
  • Reply 8 of 193
    mubailimubaili Posts: 392member
    $MSFT is to cut Xbox one to $99 at next week's build conference.
  • Reply 9 of 193
    hmurchisonhmurchison Posts: 12,271member
    Quad Core is marketecture.

    802.11n is old stuff.


    Apple will deliver a much better product IMO
  • Reply 10 of 193
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    How many times in the past two years has Cook said, "We've got amazing new products in the pipeline…"?

    Several, but Apple also released amazing products during that time.
  • Reply 11 of 193
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,133member

    Unfortunately Apple with it's US Centric view seems to have been chasing cable providers instead of simply opening the App/Channel store so that the content providers could do their job for them.

     

    I can see non US customers dumping their ATV's very quickly once this comes out in their country, Apples support for the international market with the ATV is a poor joke. Pay 25% more and have no local content whilst the US Customers get everything, really pisses me off.

     

    Waited years for Apple to do something about it and they just sat there....

  • Reply 12 of 193
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    That's a pretty impressive $99 streamer. I don't see anywhere that Amazon has skimped on it hardware-wise either. A better remote than any of their competitors, excellent internals for the box itself and a tiny form-factor. Then add in lots of content and even an upcoming child-friendly "FreeTime" content version that parents will probably love and I think Amazon may well have the market winner at this point.

    Haha, we'll never know because Amazon doesn't reveal sales figures.

  • Reply 13 of 193
    mazda 3smazda 3s Posts: 1,573member

    I'll buy one today if it supports the Time Warner Cable app like my Roku 3 does.

  • Reply 14 of 193
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by saarek View Post

     

    Unfortunately Apple with it's US Centric view seems to have been chasing cable providers instead of simply opening the App/Channel store so that the content providers could do their job for them.

     

    I can see non US customers dumping their ATV's very quickly once this comes out in their country, Apples support for the international market with the ATV is a poor joke. Pay 25% more and have no local content whilst the US Customers get everything, really pisses me off.

     

    Waited years for Apple to do something about it and they just sat there....


    When do u expect this in other countries? I mean Amazon videos & MP3s aren't even available in Canada yet.

  • Reply 15 of 193
    19831983 Posts: 1,183member
    This is an interesting product and pretty much what people were expecting for a next-gen Apple TV. I really hope Apple have got something to counter this in the pipeline - the sooner the better!
  • Reply 16 of 193
    pazuzupazuzu Posts: 1,728member
    Game changer.
  • Reply 17 of 193
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mubaili View Post



    $MSFT is to cut Xbox one to $99 at next week's build conference.

    Um, Build started today. 

  • Reply 18 of 193
    scartartscartart Posts: 174member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post



    That's a pretty impressive $99 streamer. I don't see anywhere that Amazon has skimped on it hardware-wise either. A better remote than any of their competitors, excellent internals for the box itself and a tiny form-factor. Then add in lots of content and even an upcoming child-friendly "FreeTime" content version that parents will probably love and I think Amazon may well have best-in-category at this point.

    I don't like the use of an external power supply. One of the best design features of the ATV is the built-in PSU.

     

    Remote seems to be bluetooth not IR. Not so great for people with certain Harmony remotes that only support IR.

  • Reply 19 of 193
    andysolandysol Posts: 2,506member

    I really like it. The voice search is awesome- really hope Apple carries that over.  Great product from Amazon.  Too bad they won't sell many of them and when Apple releases their next iteration- they'll crush them.

     

    But I'd pick this Amazon box over Roku any day of the week (if the remote works as planned)

  • Reply 20 of 193
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post

     

    I feel that Apple dropped the ball here. They sat back, not introducing new features such as gaming, which has allowed Amazon to step in.




     


    I expect Apple to announce something at WWDC, including an AppStore. I don't see how Amazon announcing something 2 months earlier is a big deal. Kindle Fire didn't stop Apple from selling a shitload of iPad minis.
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