Amazon's new Fire TV is faster, features full Alexa voice support, and is capable of streaming 4K content. It's positioned to compete with the new Apple TV, and will be available next month in both standard and gaming oriented flavors.
The headline feature here is the player's ability to pump out content at four times the resolution of 1080p. Ultra HD resolution will be supported (for limited content) by Prime Video, Amazon Video and Netflix. According to Amazon, it currently offers more 4K movies than anyone else, including titles such as Money Ball and Captain Phillips.
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The player also supports High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which is more efficient than the usual H264 format, allowing for the delivery of 1080p content to customers with slower download speeds.
The little box also has 75 percent more processing power than before, which Amazon claims makes it some eight times more powerful than Google's Chromecast stick – a key competitor in the living room. There's 8 GB storage built in, with a microSD card slot for expansion up to 128 GB, and 802.11ac MIMO WiFi is included.
Amazon is also bringing full support for its Alexa voice search service, allowing users to speak into the remote to get info on weather, traffic, sports scores, music, and more. The voice functionality can also, of course, be used to control content, with phrases such as "Alexa, resume Birdman."
The company will also sell a Gaming Edition of the Fire TV, which ships with a new controller, a 32 GB microSD card, and includes Shovel Knight and Disney's Ducktales. The new gamepad has refined ergonomics, an audio jack, and a built-in microphone for use with Alexa. It runs on AA batteries, and will be good for 90 hours before they'll need switching out.
The new Fire TV is set to ship on October 5 for US$100. The Gaming Edition, with its included controller, will ship on the same date for $140.
The company will also start selling its Fire TV Stick bundled in with a Voice Remote for $50, starting on October 22.
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