Amazon launches Fire TV set-top-box and game console

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.

Notable Replies

  1. And we care about this why???

    A quad core processor! Sorry, but my old-fashioned Roku can handle 1080P just fine. 4K TV is not quite affordable yet, and 4K content does not really exist, so why do you need more processing power right now?

    Also, my Roku can get Amazon videos just fine. I see no real need for this box. As far as "closed ecosystem," Amazon has been as guilty of this type of thing as anybody else (cough Kindle cough).

    The games may be neat, but this promises phone-quality games with the hassle of being tethered to your television.

    Thanks, but I see no reason to buy this.

  2. Let me play my own video files from networked storage without using Plex or some other such reencoding nonsense or GTFO.

    For the love of pete, why won't anybody make a freaking box that does everything that I want??? WDTV has direct network file playback and Netflix, but no Amazon. Roku has Netflix and Amazon, but no direct network file playback. This new Amazon box doesn't seem to do anything different than my Roku...

  3. xzzy says:

    Unless it uses the DIAL protocol that the chromecast implements, I'm not sure why I should care.

    All these companies are coming out with crap to gobble up hdmi ports on my TV and I get why they feel the need, they want to lock me into buying into their streaming service, but I can't see how that's a sustainable option because it's going to create an environment where no one can speak anyone else's language.

    Sell me the streaming and let me play it through a web browser or smartphone and then dump it to my TV with an open protocol.. this is infinitely more consumer friendly.

  4. Thank FSM! I was running out of devices to play Angry Birds on.

  5. Doesn't matter what the specs are, unless Amazon can magically make more broadband choice happen it doesn't matter which box or dongle can process 4K or give me access to awesome games or whatever. When faced with a choice between paying an Imperial Crapton of money per month to the evil TimeWarner for moderately fast broadband and paying a U.S. Crapton of money to the slightly less evil AT&T for adequate DSL, I went with the latter. And I live in a fancy neighborhood in a huge US city. I think these hardware makers are going to be competing for a smaller and smaller market unless we can get our infrastructure worked out in this country.

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