Fire TV has its sights set on becoming a complete entertainment hub. It currently has the typical catalog of streaming channels: Netflix, Hulu, ESPN, Pandora, Flixster, Crackle, and of course Amazon Instant Video, among others. Amazon claims Fire TV’s functionality is what will set it apart from its competition.
Fire TV has an impressive quad-core processor with two GB of RAM to help power one of its seemingly killer features of instant viewing called ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction). Amazon claims that the device will learn user’s viewing habits over time, and eventually be able to predict what users will watch. This allows for instantaneous viewing. According to Amazon, programs will begin as soon as selected. Buffering and loading will be handled in the background prior to the actual selection.
The streaming box comes with a remote with a built-in microphone for voice searching. Users will be able to browse by saying the name of a TV show or movie, actor, director, or genre.
Fire TV’s extra horsepower also opens the door for another killer app: gaming. It’s not made to rival the power of Microsoft’s Xbox One or Sony’s PS4, but it is an affordable option that can play popular mobile games on living room TVs. “Minecraft-Pocket Edition,” and the popular driving title “Asphalt 8” were both shown during the briefing as titles that are available on day one. The platform has support from major publishers like Disney, EA, Ubisoft, Mojang and others.
Amazon will also offer exclusive titles from their in-house development team, Amazon Game Studios. These future games could be promising thanks to the help from talented development teams like Double Helix joining Amazon.
Fire TV’s game offerings can be played with the packaged remote, or with Amazon’s new game controller, which is sold separately for $39.99.
Part of the briefing focused on Fire TV’s Kindle tablet integration. Fire TV will be able to mirror the Kindle tablet screen on the TV screen, or act as a second supplementary screen, called X-Ray. X-Ray will enhance movie and TV viewing by providing program details on the tablet’s screen, such as actor bios, trivia, and other info provided by IMDb (owned by Amazon).
Amazon’s Fire TV looks like a promising little package that is priced right under $100, but its challenge will be proving itself worthy of a purchase in a competitive marketplace. Its powerful specs, and plentiful gaming lineup is a good start, but there are dozens of other devices that are capable of streaming entertainment media. It will be interesting to see how Amazon is able to develop this new flagship product.
Note: Be warned that Fire TV does not come with an HDMI cord, which is required to connect to an HDTV. Be sure to buy one seperately if you don't have a spare one lying around.