The New Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
Last week we talked about the recently announced Apple TV and subsequently mentioned that Amazon’s new Fire TV was sure to be on its way. The ecommerce giant didn’t make us wait long. Earlier today Amazon posted a press release announcing their own new and improved TV system. For $100 ($50 less than the upcoming Apple TV), the new Amazon Fire TV will support 4K Ultra HD streaming, improved voice controls with Alexa, and offers more channels, apps and games than ever before.
The Fire TV press release served as mini conference, starting with Amazon patting itself on the back for the Fire TV becoming “the #1 best-selling Amazon device category” while it’s smaller, cheaper counterpart – the Fire TV Stick – has become “Amazon’s fastest selling product ever”. I.e. in case anyone didn’t know, Amazon’s doing well.
“Yeah, yeah. Get to the improvements!” You say?
The improvements are as follows:
• 4K Ultra HD Streaming
The new Amazon Fire TV is one of the first TV boxes of its kind to offer 4K Ultra HD streaming, something the new Apple TV doesn’t have. It’s pairing this feature with 4K support from Prime Video, Amazon Video and Netflix. As it says in the release, you’ll be able to watch everything from hit TV shows like Orphan Black to major blockbuster movies like Captain Philips in 4K resolution.
And it’s significantly cheaper than current 4K streaming devices that do a lot less, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
• Improved Voice Features with Alexa
The original Fire TV came with voice control functions that allowed you to search for shows and movies by simply saying the name of what you wanted – essentially what the new Apple TV just improved to. Now they’re adding Alexa, which sort of Amazon’s version of Siri.
Some of Alexa’s functions include saying commands like:
“Alexa, play some jazz”, which causes her to immediately play music within the genre you choose and provides you with the album, artist and song name onscreen.
“Alexa, when do the Seahawks play,” will give you the time of the next Seattle Seahawks game.
Of course you can also ask Alexa for the weather, traffic conditions and various other things.
What’s really interesting is that Amazon is already talking about the next update for Alexa. By sometime next year, Fire TV users will be able to say things like “Alexa, resume Star Wars,” or “Alexa, play Orphan Black,” to immediately resume and play TV shows and movies through voice command.
Alexa integration is also going come as a free software update for existing Fire TV and Fire TV Stick users. All you need is a Fire TV Voice Remote, which you can buy for $29.99 if you don’t already have one, to make use of the new voice functionality.
• Over 3,000 Channels, Apps and Games
Amazon claims they’re offering more channels, apps and games “than Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast, or any other streaming media player”, which can neither be definitively confirmed or denied. But the actual number aside, the new Fire TV is launching with a lot more. They’ll also be adding more over time, mentioning A&E, Lifetime, HISTORY, and PBS services as just a few of the 10 additions that will be added to the ever growing catalog later this year.
As it has since day one, all of the channels, apps and games are accessible through Fire TV’s universal search, allowing you to easily find the content you want most within the massive network.
• Improved Wi-Fi and Hardware
The new Fire TV comes with an 802.11ac MIMO, the latest and greatest Wi-Fi technology has to offer. It “gives you faster throughput and longer range for better performance, even if your router is located in another part of the house.”
The device has also been upgraded with “a MediaTek 64-bit quad-core processor, a dedicated GPU, plus 4x the memory of the latest generation Chromecast, and Roku.”
• MicroSD Storage
Are 8GBs of on-device storage not enough? The new Fire TVs are coming with a MicroSD storage expansion slot, enabling you to expand your device’s storage capacity by 128GBs in order to download more apps and games than ever before.
• Dolby Audio
You can now get Dolby Audio from your Fire TV through HDMI or AV connections. It even offers headphone audio enhancement for Bluetooth headphones, providing you with “virtual surround sound, consistent quality, and enhanced volume leveling while listening to your favorite movie or TV show with headphones.”
• Enhanced Gaming
Amazon is so sure of the gaming enhancements it’s added to the Fire TV that it’s offering an Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition. In addition to the Fire TV, it comes with a Fire TV “Game Controller, a 32GB microSD card, and two games—Disney’s Ducktales and Yacht Club’s Shovel Knight—all for $139.99.”
The product page for the new Amazon Fire TV boasts “over 800 games – the most games of any other streaming media player – there is something for the entire family, including Minecraft, Lego Star Wars, and Pac-Man 256.”
• $100 Price Tag and October 5th Release
With all the enhancements and improvements, you’d think the new Amazon Fire TV would cost a good bit of mullah. But the device is actually 33% cheaper than the Apple TV and available for pre-order right now for only $99.99.
It’s also beating Apple’s late October release by rolling out on the 5th, which is less than 3 weeks away!
Want a Smaller Alternative? The New Fire TV Stick was Announced Too!
Amazon also announced the new Fire TV Stick, which is essentially just a smaller version of the Fire TV. It costs $49.99 and comes with a Fire TV Voice Remote so you can enjoy all the same Alexa integration as regular Fire TV users. You get access to all the same apps as the Fire TV, just with less storage and lower end hardware.
Essentially, the Fire TV Stick is perfect for people who are looking for a pure video streaming device without all the gaming and 4K streaming capability.
The new Fire TV Stick comes out on October 22nd, and you can already pre-order yours today.