Amazon FireTV set-top streaming box can also play games

FireTV said to solve issues suffered by rival devices, with games to cost £1 on average
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Amazon has revealed its own-brand set-top streaming box – the Amazon FireTV.

Introducing the FireTV, Amazon’s Peter Larsen said: "When we looked at the living room, we [said]: ‘How do we make the complexity disappear?’"

Criticising the performance of competitor’s streaming boxes, Larsen said that the FireTV is three times as powerful as the Apple TV, Roku, or Chromecast.

The 0.7-inch high FireTV runs on a quad-core processor, dedicated graphics processor and 2GB of RAM and supports Full HD 1080p and Dolby Digital Surround sound via HDMI or optical. Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi with MIMO is used to provide quicker download speeds.

"This thing's tiny, it's incredibly powerful, it's unbelievably simple,” said Larsen.

The box also supports Amazon’s Whispersync service with Kindle tablets, which will allow users to resume shows watched on an Amazon Kindle Fire tablet device.

Larsen also highlighted other supposed shortcomings of competitors such as Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast, including poor search functions and closed ecosystems.

"It drives me bananas that I can't watch my Prime Instant Video on my Apple TV,” explained Larsen.

"Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price--people are going to love Fire TV," added Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com founder and CEO.

"Voice search that actually works means no more typing on an alphabet grid.

"Our exclusive new ASAP feature predicts the shows you'll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly."

Alongside Amazon’s own Prime Instant Video service, the FireTV will support content from Netlifx, Hulu, WatchESPN, MLB, Crackle, MLB, Vimeo, NBA and YouTube – with more, including the WWE Network, MLB.TV, WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH ABC and Twitch, set for the future.

A ‘best value buy box’ (which currently only supports Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus) will also allow users to see which video streaming service is cheapest to watch a particular show, if the content is available from several different providers.

Larsen also demonstrated the FireTV’s search functions, which include being able to search by voice by speaking into the microphone built into the FireTV’s remote.

"This is voice search that actually works,” Larsen stated.

The remote, which connects via Bluetooth, also includes seven buttons and a five-way navigator.

The box will support music streaming from services including Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn and music purchased on Amazon.

There’s also a dedicated kids mode, dubbed ‘FreeTime’, which is a custom view displaying only parent-approved shows and films. Parents can also set time limits for kids’ viewing.

Another new feature is ‘X-Ray’, which provides details on films, shows and music, such as actors and lyrics.

The FireTV was shown to have gaming capability, with games similar to those found on smartphones and tablets proposed for the box.

Studios already said to be preparing content for the device include Disney, Gameloft, EA, Sega, Ubisoft and Double Fine. Minecraft is also slated for release on the FireTV.

Gamers will be able to play using the included remote, via an app or by using the dedicated $40 (£24) ‘Fire Game Controller’, and games are said to cost $1.85 (£1.11) on average. Over 1,000 games will be free-to-play.

Fire TV also comes with access to Sev Zero, a new game built exclusively for Fire TV by Amazon Game Studios. Sev Zero will cost $6.99 (£4) and available for free with the Fire Game Controller.

The box will cost $99 (£60), and is available in the US from today (April 2nd), with UK details yet to be revealed.

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