Described as a "tiny box you connect to your HDTV", Amazon's $99 Fire TV hits a crowded field, with Roku and Apple already offering nearly-identical products. The difference Amazon touts is more powerful hardware--a quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM--and the claim that it has freed itself from the "closed ecosystems" that reduce the appeal of small set-top boxes to people already renting big ones from cable TV providers.
Amazon Instant Video is the deal, with apps for Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, MLB and the NBA also available at launch. There's a bunch of Amazon Cloud Drive stuff, too, allowing photo sharing and other stuff of scant living-room appeal.
Most interesting, though, is what else is enabled by the beefy specs that Amazon packed into the hipflask-size gadget: it's a game console, with the Amazon Fire Game Controller a $40 upgrade. Each comes with $10 of credit for games, with 100 or so titles available at launch, including Minecraft Pocket Edition and Monsters University.
Games will be cheap and cheerful, with an average price point under $2. This is no PS4, or even a WiiU: expect 20 million free-to-play titles by christmas.