Amazon announced their new stream box, on Wednesday, beautifully named Fire TV. For $99 this compact set-top box boasts a Qualcomm quad core CPU, 8GB of internal storage, 2GB of RAM and dual band, dual antenna WiFi (because no one likes waiting for their movies to buffer). All you need is an HDMI cable and a high definition TV and you’re good to go! According to Amazon the specs alone makes it roughly 3x faster than both Apple TV and the Roku 3. Fire TV packs alot of…fire power (I know I know but I couldn’t resist).
The Fire (I want to call this the ‘Fire Box’ so bad) also has some features that you probably never knew were necessary on a set top box. The first (and my personal favorite) is ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction) which basically learns your viewing habits and readies your favorite shows for you without buffering. Freetime is a feature that limits screentime, ensure safe viewing for kids and allows kid profiles making it easier to search and navigate kid-friendly topics and subject matter (this feature is not available as of the publishing of this article but should be available in May 2014).
But the Fire does more than just stream your favorite movies and TV shows it’s also a gaming machine (which explains the beefed up specs). With the costs of gaming consoles continuing to rise (not to mention the rumors of Apple also looking to incorporate this into their next AppleTV model) Amazon has partnered with the likes of EA and Disney who have produced games tailored to the Fire’s interface. A wireless gaming controller can be purchased separately for $40 and some games can be played using your Amazon Kindle Fire tablet (way to incorporate the entire eco-system Amazon). While Amazon has promised to offer most of their over 1000 games for free, some will be priced at a little under $2.
To me, FireTV isn’t necessarily a revolutionary device, it just does everything better than the current market choices. I can’t honestly say I’ll be picking one up. Hey call me old fashioned but I like my casual games on a phablet, tablet or phone. All this ‘playing games on my TV from my streambox’ is for you young whipper-snappers. I had a hard time this past Christmas trying to decide which gaming console to get my 8-year-old daughter. This may be an option because a $500+ PS4 definitely is not. Is there anyone who is excited for this? The streaming set top box playing field has expanded but does anything about the Fire set it apart from the others? Sound off in the comments and thanks for reading.