"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Thursday, April 03, 2014

New Amazon Fire TV Announced with Demo Video

Yesterday Amazon has announced their next attempt to get into the daily use of homes with the Amazon Fire TV. The tiny quad-core powered smart TV box is their answer to the Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV. Available now, the $99 box comes with a bluetooth remote, wireless connectivity, voice commands and the ability to play Android games (modified for Fire TV) with either the remote or a separate game controller that costs $40.

Hit the links below for hands-on descriptions and videos. There is also an unboxing and detailed demo video below. Overall the first impressions of the device have been excellent, citing an easy to use controller that does not rely on line of sight, a very fast response time to loading videos and a lot of potential. The game controller turns it into an inexpensive video game console, useful for those that already enjoy many Android based games. Already there is a long list of games and channels that are available right from the start but its not clear if some of those channels require a corresponding cable subscription like they do on other devices (but I assume they do).

Hands-on: Gizmodo | The Verge | Engadget

Reviews: The Verge | Gizmodo

So just based on the descriptions, is it worth buying? If you already own some smart TV solution from the last year or two, I see little additional benefit from buying a second box unless just really love video games. However, if you are new to looking for one of these devices or just wanting to replace a current one, then it does seem superior to current offerings. The AppleTV could have been great but really if you don't live in the Apple ecosystem you are paying a whole lot of money to enjoy only 10% of what it can do. The $99 Roku is an alway recommend but this new box blows it out of the water in speed and potential, along with a user interface that doesn't appear out of date and clunky. Even though it is compared to the Chromecast, that is its own separate thing that is (to me) really designed to share and view tablet content on a TV and more in addition to a smart TV box solution rather than instead of one. As for Amazon Prime subscribers, its an easy choice. There is no reason to get any other box but this one.

Based on descriptions, initial hands-on write-ups and the potential that Amazon's market share brings to bear, if you are in the market to spend around $100 for a smart TV solution, then the Amazon Fire TV may quickly become the leader in the market, especially if Apple continues to limit the capabilities of their own hardware. If you are interested in getting one, the Amazon Fire TV is available now, the game controller accessory will be out on April 24th.

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