Apr 03, 2014

What does Amazon’s Fire TV set-top box do that is different from existing products?

Amazon just announced its new set-top box called Fire TV, but it seems to me that there are plenty of established products already. Roku, Apple and, to an extent, Google all have streaming devices on the market. Does Fire TV do anything new, or does it do the same thing as all the other products, just with the Amazon name on it?

It has apps and games, which I don't think the Apple TV currently provides.

It doesn’t seem to be radically different from the other options that you mentioned. It does have a reasonable price ($99) as one would expect from Amazon, and it offers quite a lot of content right out of the box. It is a more complete streaming video device on day one than the Chromecast, for example, but then again Fire TV does cost three times as much. One feature that is interesting is the “best value buy box” that compares the price if you want to purchase a movie or show, and tells you the cheapest one. Right now, it only checks Hulu and Amazon Streaming Video, but it could be quite useful if it expands to other video providers.


Fire TV also offers some integration with Amazon cloud storage for photos, and perhaps other content, so you can look at all of your photos of Fluffy on the big screen from the comfort of your couch. An upside of this for Amazon is that it gets you invested in their cloud offerings, and they hope you never leave. 


One other thing that will be offered is gaming. I don’t know many of the details about this, but I would expect something more like Ouya than a XBox One or PS4. I personally am not interested in playing mobile style games on my TV, but it might be attractive to some people. If you do want to, it will require the purchase of a $40 controller.

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