By Noah Henry • April 02, 2014
While it sat back quietly and watched the set-top devices fly off the digital shelves millions at a time, Amazon had a vision of its own. The commercial giant and dabbling hardware trailblazer threw its hat into the ring today with Amazon Fire TV.
What is Amazon Fire TV?
Imagine the biggest and baddest subscription-based streaming services bundled into one tiny box you can connect to your TV. Indeed, competitors like Roku 3, Apple TV, and Google Chromecast are years ahead of this development, but there are a number of features and capabilities surpassing these in terms of inventiveness and simplicity.
Partnering with the likes of Netflix, Hulu Plus, Watch ESPN, and dozens more, Amazon Fire TV carries in it over 200,000 TV episodes and movies, millions of songs and over a hundred games. The 0.7-inch thick box boasts a fast quad-core processor, two gigabytes of memory, and a prime graphics processing unit (GPU). It’s small enough to slip into any crevice and, as VP Peter Larson puts it, “has three times the power and performance” of the other prominent set-tops on the market. If you already have an Amazon Prime account, you can immediately seek out your personalized recommendations and favorite titles right when the Fire TV comes in the mail.
If you’re into organizing chaos, Amazon Fire TV provides for one convenience place to locate and stream not only television, movies and music, but also news and sports. Programs like Watch ESPN and HuffPost Live—among other programs—stand alongside Netflix, Showtime, YouTube, Disney, MLB and of course, Amazon Instant Video. Amazon has partnered with Pandora, iHeartRadio and even Minecraft. Whether you get your kicks playing Grand Theft Auto, singing Lorde in your living room, or watching the latest Walking Dead episode, your entertainment will begin and end in this little black box.
Special Features of Amazon Fire TV
Although Fire TV surpasses Roku 3, Apple TV and Chromecast in terms of memory, the game-changing aspects of the product live in its features. A quad-core processor is one thing, but once you unwrap it, (easily) install it, and begin getting used to it, the Amazon Fire TV will impress you with its breadth of cool features:
Voice Search: Fire TV comes with a Bluetooth remote, and you can speak directly into it with keywords or titles, and it’ll automatically search out your query. Say ‘Jim Carrey’ and Ace Ventura and The Mask will appear. Say “zombie movies” and 28 Days Later and Shaun of the Dead and Resident Evil will show. A built-in microphone allows you to instantly search by pressing down on a button and speaking directly into it.
Let Gary Busey explain:
ASAP: The acronym spells out ‘Advanced Streaming and Prediction’. It’s the small, subtle, helpful changes that tend to make someone decide to switch over to a new product in the same market, and ASAP is one of those changes. It pre-buffers the movies and television shows you love so you don’t have to wait those restless 10 seconds before they load. Your favorite videos begin immediately, right when you press ‘Play.’
FreeTime: Parents will be able to enhance their families’ experience with this free update coming later this spring. Amazon FreeTime allows parents to set time limits and viewing restrictions. With a colored background, fun fonts and general kid-friendly design, it’s meant for children 3 to 8 and gives them access to channels like Nickelodeon, Sesame Street and PBS kids. They can even navigate by topic or characters; by searching ‘princess movies’ or ‘dinosaurs’ or ‘Teletubbies’, the results will show.
X-Ray: A component that’s already featured on Kindle Fire tablets, X-Ray connects users on their tablet and phone to information on IMDB about the movies and actors they’re viewing on-screen. If you ever have that moment of insatiable curiosity while viewing a film, it’s easier to appease that feeling.
Karaoke, Anyone? As previously mentioned, the Bluetooth remote has a mini microphone built into it. The voice search capabilities are only outdone by Fire TV’s karaoke capabilities in terms of fun—you can sing along to songs with the lyrics appearing across the screen.
CloudDrive: Looking for an additional place to store your photos and personal videos besides your computer? Fire TV also acts as a storage device. You can place your digital memories in a library and view them with friends and family to your heart’s content.
Pricing and Deals on Amazon Fire TV
It costs $99 and is currently available, you guessed it, on Amazon. You will be able to purchase Fire TV at Best Buy and Staples later in April. A free month of Amazon Prime and Netflix comes with it. Gamers, you can get Amazon’s debut video game, Sev Zero, with the package. And as for the future, Larson makes no qualms about venturing into further cool enhancements, stating: “We need to invent and simplify on behalf of customers.”
Visit the Amazon website if you ask yourself, "What is Amazon Fire TV?"
Noah Henry Noah Henry is an amateur movie critic, foodie, bowler, and beer reviewer. But he's no amateur when it comes to saving money, so listen up!