Amazon on Wednesday finally put rumors to rest with the unveiling of its first play for the living room. Fire TV is the set-top box (not a dongle) we’ve been hearing about for months that’s actually more like a high-end smartphone than anything else already on the market – that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
During a media event in New York, Amazon’s Peter Larsen said there are three pain points associated with the current crop of streaming devices: search, performance and a closed ecosystem. Amazon aims to address all of them with the Fire TV.
Inside the petite set-top box is a quad-core processor alongside 2GB of RAM which according to Larsen, should eliminate any hint of lag. He said it is three times faster than the latest solutions from Apple and Roku. Connectivity includes a standard HDMI port, optical audio, a USB port and Ethernet around back.
On the ecosystem front, Amazon is teaming up with a number of partners including Hulu, MLB.tv, the NBA, Netflix, YouTube and Vimeo. It doesn’t sound like all of those apps will be available at launch but instead, over time. These are of course in addition to Amazon’s own streaming service, Instant Video.
The box runs Android and HTML which should make it easy for developers to port existing apps. An included remote is used for navigation and there’s even a built-in microphone for voice commands.
As was seen in leaks leading up to the event, Amazon also announced the Fire game controller. It’s priced at $39.99 with 1,000 Amazon Coins to buy games with. We’re told that the average game will cost $1.85 although there are more than 1,000 free-to-play titles as well. There are several hit titles lined up for the platform but the biggest of them all is no doubt Minecraft: Pocket Edition.
Amazon Fire TV retails for $99 and ships starting today.