After years of speculation, Amazon finally confirmed what many had already speculated: Amazon has their own mini-console/streaming set top-box.
Held in a special convention in New York, Amazon shed light on this diminutive console meant to compete with Rokus and Apple TVs. The specs as per Polygon: “The 0.7-inch-thick box features a 1.7 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Krait 300 CPU, 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage, as well as a Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU, along with a dual-band wireless radio and two antennas for 1080p streaming over 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi.” The Fire TV also comes with a Bluetooth enabled remote.
While the console can play games, it is not built to compete with the Xbox One or the PlayStation 4, as evidenced by its $100.00 retail price. Despite that, Amazon is selling specifically branded Amazon controllers for $39.99 currently, indicating that Amazon does regard their console to have certain gaming capabilities. Rather, Amazon regards their Fire TV to be an answer to problems that Rokus, Chromecasts and Apple TVs have: search, performance/slow apps, and a closed ecosystem.
In regards to ecosystem, the Fire TV runs on an open Android ecosystem, having apps such as Neflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora and many more. However, as noted by Gizmodo, certain apps such as HBO Go and Vudu were not present. As for search, Amazon has designed the Fire TV for ease of access – easy to use, easy to find. As an example, you can buy or rent shows right off the menu. The Fire TV also uses voice search, which worked well in the demonstration given. Time will tell if it’ll work nearly as well in a less controlled environment. As for performance, Gizmodo observed that the interface moved rather quickly.
Other things that Amazon demoed were instant access to photos on Amazon Cloud Drive, a companion app similar to SmartGlass in regards towards integration with movies, and ASAP (Advanced Streaming and Prediction), which predicts what you want to watch and has it instantly streamed. The console also comes with FreeTime, a setting that allows parents to set a specific constraints such as setting time limits, control over what shows kids can watch and preventing kids from accessing content that is for adults only.
As noted, while the console can play games, it is clearly not a current focus of Amazon, according to their VP Peter Larson. Calling them a “bonus” he told Polygon, “On top of the core video experience we’ve added a bunch of things we think customers will love, including games. These are great games at surprisingly low prices and packed into a tiny, but powerful box.” He also explained that the console runs the ‘Mojito’ version 3.0 of the Kindle Fire OS, allowing for easy porting.