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Amazon Launches Android-Powered 'Fire TV' For Streaming and Gaming

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the bookstores-sure-sell-a-lot-of-stuff-these-days dept.

Android 180

Today Amazon launched 'Fire TV,' a new video streaming box designed to compete with devices like the Roku and Apple TV. The Fire TV runs Android on a quad-core Qualcomm 1.7 GHz processor with 8GB of internal storage and 2GB of RAM. It supports 1080p video output at 60fps and measures 4.5" x 4.5" x 0.7". The Fire TV is also explicitly designed to support gaming, and Amazon has concurrently launched their own game controller. The Fire TV's remote control includes a microphone and a button that lets you search TV show and movies by voice.

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Is it free software? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641231)

Or user-subjugating software?

Re:Is it free software? (1)

alucardX (734977) | about 7 months ago | (#46641265)

I'm sure we can all guess what it is...

Re:Is it free software? (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 7 months ago | (#46641299)

Will it run XBMC?

That, or I just keep my FireCore ATV2.

Re:Is it free software? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 7 months ago | (#46641367)

No, but it will conveniently record everything you say, in case you need it for future reference. Say, for instance, you're having a "debate" with your wife.

Re:Is it free software? (2)

erlegreer (1994842) | about 7 months ago | (#46641531)

I already have a device which records my discussions with my wife.

Re:Is it free software? (4, Funny)

RavenLrD20k (311488) | about 7 months ago | (#46641573)

I already have a device which records my discussions with my wife.

I'm presuming the device your talking about is your wife? Marriage. Ain't it wonderful?

Re:Is it free software? (1)

TykeClone (668449) | about 7 months ago | (#46641853)

It's better than being a widower.

Re:Is it free software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46642467)

You obviously, and mistakenly, think *you* would be the survivor.

Re:Is it free software? (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 7 months ago | (#46642585)

Every husband knows that, in any debate no matter what the evidence is, the wife is always right. And if, by some chance, she's wrong, it's probably the husband's fault somehow. This is stipulated in the fine print of every marriage contract.

Side-loading channels? (3, Insightful)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#46641273)

My Roku 3 will let me side-load channels. If this won't, not interested. No pron, no go!

Seems like it should (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46641293)

It's Android based so I assumed you could load other alternate things onto it.

The one odd omissions was no HBOGo. Perhaps that's forthcoming.

Re:Seems like it should (1)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#46641339)

The Kindle Fire is Android-based too. And IIRC, it's pretty locked down.

Re:Seems like it should (1)

Cammi (1956130) | about 7 months ago | (#46641363)

Except for the whole side loading thing .....

Kindle Fire tablets support Unknown sources (2)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641379)

True, it's more expensive to get an application into Amazon Appstore ($99 per year) than into Google Play Store ($25 for 25 years). But the last time I tried a Kindle Fire tablet, the "Allow installation of applications from unknown sources" checkbox was just as easy to get to as it is on my Nexus 7 tablet.

Re:Seems like it should (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 7 months ago | (#46641867)

The Kindle Fire isn't particularly locked down. Sideloading is explicitly allowed, and most complaints are more along the lines of "I bought all these games on Google Play and can't transfer them" (because Google doesn't licence Google Play for Kindle - ie it's Google's decision, not Amazon's), not "I can't install APKs I've developed myself."

Re:Seems like it should (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 7 months ago | (#46641535)

>The one odd omissions was no HBOGo.

Not really. HBO have been doing their best to prevent willing, paying customers watching their shows for a long time.

Re:Seems like it should (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641617)

Roku and AppleTV have it.

Re:Seems like it should (2)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 7 months ago | (#46641713)

>Roku and AppleTV have it.
Not if you don't have a HBO cable account. I have a Roku that is HBOgo capable, they will not sell me access.
 

Re:Seems like it should (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about 7 months ago | (#46641815)

Because they have huge contracts with cable companies that say they won't. This isn't the fault of the set-top boxes.

Re:Seems like it should (2)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 7 months ago | (#46642145)

Correct. It's the fault of HBO.

Re:Seems like it should (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641841)

HBO Go is sold through resellers. Call your local cable company and ask for the "Locals and HBO" package.

Re:Seems like it should (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46642113)

For only $79/mo with another $19 in fees and taxes.

That's not the "Locals and HBO" package (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46642323)

If you see $80 per month, you're looking at the "Digital Preferred" package, not the "Locals and HBO" package that some cable operators have started offering for around $30 per month.

Really? (1)

Nexzus (673421) | about 7 months ago | (#46641279)

Fire TV? Coming from the Fire Box perhaps?

Sigh. Almost as bad as XBone.

Re:Really? (-1, Offtopic)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#46641347)

Pay no attention to the name, it is just a concession to appeal to the gay community. What's your problem, are you some kind of heterosexual?

The name is logical at least (4, Informative)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641391)

Kindle Fire is a tablet that extends the Kindle e-reader line and runs Fire OS, Amazon's fork of Android OS. Fire TV is a set-top box for watching TV that runs Fire OS. I don't see how it's that bad of a name.

Nail in the Coffin for Ouya? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641301)

Is that the sound of Ouya dying that I hear in the background? (Not that it was truly ever alive to begin with)

Re:Nail in the Coffin for Ouya? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641523)

Is Ouya really about hardware or platform though? Soul Fjord is an Ouya *exclusive* game but I've never heard of people though trying to get it to run on a similar system. How exclusive is it? Is there firmware or something that says "This is an OFFICIAL Ouya and not a cheap knockoff". I can get a comparable set-top box running Android, plug in some kind of controller for it, but could I load the game and play it? If so then the hardware is meaningless and Ouya's will be outdated in no time with all the advances in ARM powered CPUs. If it's about the platform than it's more complicated and people might still buy Ouya's to play exclusive titles.

Downloading it in the first place (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641561)

If members of the public can't lawfully download the game except through OUYA's store, and OUYA's store applies a process that "requires the application of information, or a process or a treatment, with the authority of the copyright owner, to gain access to the work" (source: 17 USC 1201), then it's OUYA exclusive.

Buy OUYA get controller free (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641675)

The OUYA console comes with one controller. The Fire TV for the same price does not.

no sale (1, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | about 7 months ago | (#46641329)

The same price as a Roku 3 or Apple TV, but it it "tied to membership in Amazon Prime" (Which just increased its yearly price). No thanks. Even if Amazon hadn't started charging sales tax in my state I wouldn't buy into this.

Is Prime required for 3rd party services? (2)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641463)

The same price as a Roku 3 or Apple TV, but it it "tied to membership in Amazon Prime"

I'm not sure what you mean. From the TechCrunch article: "The catch here is that for free access to Instant Video, you’ll need to be a prime subscriber, which carries a price tag of $99 per year." Or does one of the articles claim that the Fire TV is like an Xbox 360 in that one must pay for Prime even to use third-party services such as Netflix?

(Which just increased its yearly price)

Which is how much more than Netflix?

Not a good comparison (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46641995)

Netlfix for just streaming is about as much as the increased Prime on a yearly basis.

But Netflix has a much wider selection.

I have been a Prime and Netflix subscriber for along time, but after this year the Prime increase means I'll probably drop it, as I hardly ever use the Prime video and don't ship quite enough to make up the Prime membership fee.

Odd Market. (3, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | about 7 months ago | (#46641341)

These TV devices seems likes a fairly odd market.
We have game consoles with Apps that do all these things. or you can hook up an old PC that you have around.
On the other end you got the Chromecast which is very cheap for your streaming from your PC.
This middle ground I don't think really fits a lot of peoples needs, Either Pay more and get more out of your purchase, such as gaming, and perhaps a Blu-Ray player. Or pay a lot less and get something good enough.

Developer qualifications; spouse acceptance factor (2)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641529)

We have game consoles with Apps that do all these things.

Including indie games? Given that the Kindle Fire has an "Unknown sources" option, I'd assume it'd probably be a lot easier for a small family business to get approved as a game developer for Fire TV than for, say, Wii U.

or you can hook up an old PC that you have around.

I've been told for years that the majority of people are unwilling to put a big noisy PC case in the living room. (See comments linked from this post [slashdot.org] .) A smaller box has a better spouse acceptance factor.

Re:Developer qualifications; spouse acceptance fac (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641957)

a) Game consoles suck power, up to 300 watts worth just to sit at the menu.
b) Old PC's not only suck power, but their idle noise is excessive. Why do you think the MacMini's fans do not spin up unless under load?

At any rate the AppleTV has been ahead of the game for quite a while, and if the Android SmartTV's are any indicator, this will bomb just as badly. You can watch Amazon stuff on the Wii U if you have it, or the Xbox360/PS3/PS4/Xbone, but the latter will be noisy.

The problem comes from how these devices work in the living room. The Wii U is probably the best option, because it a) plays video and b) plays games without requiring anything additional in the box. The PS/Xbox consoles are horribly awkward to use, and are thus user unfriendly for video. Grandma ain't gonna play with that fandangled contraption. The Wii and Wii U resemble smartphone interfaces more than "SmartTV"'s do.

Hell the only thing my parents know how to do with with the "smartTV" part of their LG is play pirated video that sits on the noisy desktop in the kitchen.

Re:Odd Market. (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 7 months ago | (#46641641)

or you can hook up an old PC that you have around.

The average PC is a big clunky box that doesn't fit in well in this environment. It's also a lot more expensive than these $99 streamers. An older or cheaper PC might not even have the HDMI output you need for connecting to a typical flat-panel TV. And a standard Windows PC is set up with a user interface that is designed to be used with a keyboard and mouse at close range, not a remote control from 5-15 feet. Yes, there are ways around all these things, but the average user would rather buy a purpose-built device than spend all that time tinkering with something they barely understand.

TVs with VGA in; Bluetooth thumb keyboard (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641759)

It's also a lot more expensive than these $99 streamers.

Not if you already own it, which makes it $0.

An older or cheaper PC might not even have the HDMI output you need for connecting to a typical flat-panel TV.

Because HDMI inherited its signaling from DVI-D, any cheap DVI-D to HDMI cable from Monoprice will work, so long as your TV has an analog audio input on one of its HDMI inputs. (Mine does.) And the vast majority of flat-panel TVs that I've seen have a DE15 jack for VGA video. I haven't seen a PC since 1990 that doesn't have a VGA, DVI, or HDMI out.

And a standard Windows PC is set up with a user interface that is designed to be used with a keyboard and mouse at close range

Not since Windows 8. There's a reason for those Metro tiles that it inherited from the November 2011 update to Xbox 360 Dashboard. Hairyfeet might also recommend a Bluetooth remote with a trackball and a cell-phone-style QWERTY keyboard [staples.com] .

Re:TVs with VGA in; Bluetooth thumb keyboard (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about 7 months ago | (#46641863)

If you have to buy a remote and IR sensor, and configure WMC (or an equivalent), it's not free, and can be a pain in the ass. Not to mention that the UI, speed, noise, and electricity cost in the set-top boxes are all serious considerations when compared to an old computer you might just have hanging around.

Roku (and I assume the other set top boxes) make it amazingly simple and quick to stream media. I have a Windows machine running WMC as an OTA DVR, and while it can stream Netflix and some of the other applications, it's not anywhere near as good at it.

Videos unavailable on devices; Hulu for free (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641947)

Roku (and I assume the other set top boxes) make it amazingly simple and quick to stream media.

Until you hit "This video is not available on devices. Add it to a playlist to watch it later on a PC." I've seen a message on YouTube when viewing certain videos, and I've read reports that a lot of videos on Hulu are "web only" and unavailable through Hulu Plus. Speaking of that, last time I checked, Hulu had a free service tier that was PC-only, and not needing a valid subscription to Hulu Plus could help a home theater PC pay for itself.

Re:Videos unavailable on devices; Hulu for free (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about 7 months ago | (#46642089)

Hulu+ is $8/month. You've got a bit of a wait if you've using that money to pay for a PC.

We're at a point in content rights where not everything is available on set-top boxes. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't use a set-top box for everything else. Car analogy: It's like using a gas-guzzling truck for your everyday commute, because your economy car can't move a piano.

What corresponds to renting a truck? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46642215)

Hulu+ is $8/month. You've got a bit of a wait if you've using that money to pay for a PC.

Nine months and you've already covered the cost of a Bluetooth remote so that you can reuse an existing PC that has HDMI, DVI, or VGA output.

Car analogy: It's like using a gas-guzzling truck for your everyday commute, because your economy car can't move a piano.

A small family car like a Ford Focus can easily move an electronic sampler piano. For an acoustic model, one would normally rent a truck. I've heard the car/truck analogy applied to "mobile" devices vs. PCs as well [slashdot.org] . But in this analogy, what corresponds to rental?

Re:Odd Market. (2)

Dynedain (141758) | about 7 months ago | (#46642373)

Simple answer:

Computer UIs universally suck for sitting 6-10 feet away on a couch. Keyboard and mouse (even wireless) is a pain compared to a single-hand remote.

The best UI I've seen in this space is still Windows Media Center, but MS is systematically killing it off. So, when my HD died on my HTPC last weekend, I replaced the whole box with a $99 top-of-the line Roku. A replacement HD would have been about $100, Win 8.1 license is $120, and then another $100 to get Windows Pro Pack with Windows Media Center (since it's not included in Home anymore, and it's a real PITA to do fresh installs when your start from a WinXP Pro Upgrade license). Combine that with all the hassles of drivers, anti virus, and the fact that every week my HTPC would start doing something different (because of driver or automatic software updates) and the ease of a Roku or AppleTV is incredibly tempting.

Re:Odd Market. (1)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 7 months ago | (#46642517)

Not everyone wants a game console or PC tower sitting next to their TV. Also, having a streamlined deivce with a great UI makes sure the support calls are removed from the rest of the family. Who wants to tell their 10 year old for the 50th time to turn on the PC first and log in before using the TV? Also, I prefer to have a TV mounted on the wall with no entertainment center. These type of devices fit very well without sitting on the floor or running cables to nearby furniture. There is definitely a market...I have 3 WDTV SMPs..

A couple of limitations... (3, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | about 7 months ago | (#46641365)

1. The scroll wheel beats both Chromecast's software slider and Roku's remote, but it's still no substitute for proper chapter stop buttons.

2. No H.265 support means this model of FireTV will become obsolete later this year.

Re:A couple of limitations... (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641577)

I thought H.265 was mostly for devices that support 2160p video. Since when has Amazon announced plans to stop streaming in H.264 to its existing Kindle Fire tablets that support H.264?

Re:A couple of limitations... (3, Informative)

Ichijo (607641) | about 7 months ago | (#46641651)

While H.265 is practically required for 2160p/4k video because it uses about half the bandwidth of H.264, Netflix for example will also save a lot of money in bandwidth costs [slate.com] by converting its library of HD and SD video to H.265.

Will Netflix obsolete the Wii? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641817)

Netflix and Amazon have player apps for the original Wii console. Can the Wii's 729 MHz PowerPC G3 CPU decode standard-definition H.265 video at a steady 24 frames per second? Or are Netflix and Amazon planning to obsolete the Wii?

Re:Will Netflix obsolete the Wii? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#46641967)

Too many devices can only play H.264 video, I'm guessing Netflix will save money in the long run, even if they have to store two versions of everything.

Storage probably isn't a problem anyway, in Canada we have three streaming qualities available because our ISPs monthly caps are so low.

Re:Will Netflix obsolete the Wii? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46642093)

Way over-thinking it.

The decoding process often is less cpu intense than the encoding process. When applied to the same resolution, you get a net performance increase as less bits have to cross the bus.

That said, you're not going to get a quality increase without an increase in the CPU power. So video meant for the Wii is going to be 480p h265,h264 or h263 depending if Amazon's side has it in the format. There's little reason to switch 480p from h261/h262 to h264/h265 because there is no net increase in video quality by doing so, since the source video still would be in h262(DVD video). The only reason to switch is to send less bytes to more capable devices. Now in reverse, where a video was originally bluray (h264) and then scaled down to 480p, means that the device is still going to need to process h264 to play it. But if you've noticed from the likes of netflix, it also switches resolutions down when the CPU or bandwidth is constrained. So again, the Wii isn't going to be sent 4K h265 video, it's going to be sent 480p h264 video because that's the maximum that the app supports.

Devices that have HDMI output are going to only send 1080p30 and receive h264 or h265 depending on what their device capability is, and if it starts to suffer it will drop it down to 720p to reduce bandwidth or cpu requirements.

It's too early to tell what exactly Amazon and Netflix are going to do. Based on experience with Youtube, Youtube actually transcribes on the fly, because I uploaded complex lossless video to youtube, and trying to playback seek the video frequently results in problems because of the delta framing used. So youtube certainly isn't storing 30 different versions of the video, they're storing the original video and making h264 or vp9 versions on demand.

Re:A couple of limitations... (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 7 months ago | (#46641913)

2. No H.265 support means this model of FireTV will become obsolete later this year.

I think you may be exaggerating somewhat. Virtually nothing has H.265 support right now. Are you seriously suggesting every single electronic device capable of playing video will magically become "obsolete" in a few months? We'll all have to throw out our smartphones and tablets and PCs and media players and TVs? Are the landfills going to be overflowing with 250 million discarded LCD screens?

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Re:A couple of limitations... (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 7 months ago | (#46642033)

Virtually nothing has H.265 support right now. Are you seriously suggesting every single electronic device capable of playing video will magically become "obsolete" in a few months?

When a new model of a device gains H.265 support, the old model will become obsolete.

Re:A couple of limitations... (2)

The Good Reverend (84440) | about 7 months ago | (#46642183)

None of the streaming providers like Netflix are just going to "turn off" the old, non-H.265 streams just because one device gets them. And since none of them are even using them at all right now, I'd say we have many years before Netflix will phase them out (if ever - they still have non-adaptive streams and older interfaces for legacy devices, which still work just fine) .

International? (4, Interesting)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#46641373)

Apart from Netflix, which is already available on a lot of devices, is there any point in buying a Fire TV in other countries? Even Canada doesn't get things like Hulu or Amazon Streaming.

I don't think the Fire TV will sell at all outside of the USA.

Re:International? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641623)

Please mod parent up. Unless Amazon starts offering comparable streaming services outside the US, this product is going to have a very limited market. It might still be successful within Amazon's plans for its ecosystem but, as a global contender against Apple TV and Roku (*), this won't even vaguely compete without international streaming support.

*No, Chromecast is not a competitor. That's not a comment against Chromecast as a product - it's simply a recognition that Apple TV and Roku are one type of product and Chromecast is a very similar yet different type of product. The Amazon Fire TV competes with Apple TV and Roku.

Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 7 months ago | (#46641375)

I need something that will play iTunes. AppleTV and homebrew fiddly options are out. I need it to just work.

Also, I'd love to watch what happens when the voice recognition is active and you tell some "go fuck yourself". Will it immediately search for and start playing porn?

Empty set (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641433)

"Does it talk to proprietary software? I need it to talk to proprietary software, but the already available option from same proprietary software vendor is out. I need it to just work."

0 rows returned.

Re:Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641457)

Using iTunes and an Apple TV is out of the question? Why? Seems like a perfect fit if you're living in the Apple ecosystem.

Re:Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641499)

Why is the Apple TV out?

Re:Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641583)

Apple doesn't let anyone but Apple stream from Apple. You WILL DO IT THE WAY FATHER STEVE WOULD WANT and YOU WILL LIKE IT!

No Roku, Chromecast, or Apple Fire heretics allowed!! You should make penance at your nearest Apple store for even ASKING, sinner!!!

Re:Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (3, Informative)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#46641779)

Apple doesn't let anyone else stream? That must explain why I can stream from Apple, Netflix, Crackle, Crunchyroll, Vimeo, Youtube, etc.

Re:Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#46641657)

I don't understand why you're using iTunes but you won't buy an AppleTV. If it's because of the lack of support for esoteric file formats like DivX and MKV, you should buy a 2nd-generation AppleTV and jailbreak it.

Re:Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641807)

Or just convert the video with one of 100 video converters. Trivial to do.

Re:Can it play remote iTunes libraries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46642265)

MKV is about as esoteric as water is dry. It's just a wrapper for what's usually an h.264 encoded video with god-knows-what codec for audio (ac3, dolby anything, etc.). MKV support isn't hard at all, and the XBMC app for Ouya handles it rather well.

Just get a Smart TV (1)

metrix007 (200091) | about 7 months ago | (#46641395)

Not sure what the point of these devices are...turning tvs into smart tv's might make sense but eventually...everyone will just have a smart tv.

Why put so much money into these devices? Even roku is being relegated to an app on many smart tvs

Re:Just get a Smart TV (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 7 months ago | (#46641455)

I'd rather replace/upgrade a $49 widget than a $500 TV.

Re:Just get a Smart TV (4, Insightful)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 7 months ago | (#46641503)

I won't pretend to give you a generalized answer, but rather answer it for myself and my household:

(Context: I work at Netflix, which may make a difference so it's worth noting. That said, I'm back-end cloud systems, with nothing to do with consumer devices).

I consume my media from several sources, including iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go.

I could get a SmartTV that lets me access them, but IME, smart TV manufacturers move pretty slowly; I also think of my TV as just a large display, and imbuing it with more smarts makes it more painful and expensive to upgrade to something else. By focusing on modularity -- this TV is just a bunch of HDMI ports with a big screen -- it lets me optimize the TV for display, and use another device for content access.

Which is why I prefer the AppleTV rather than a SmartTV.

(We could have another conversation about AppleTV vs Roku or the Fire TV, but that's outside the scope of this particular comment thread).

Re:Just get a Smart TV (1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 7 months ago | (#46641799)

I do it one step further. I use an Apple TV connected to a dumb computer display and convert audio with a tiny optical-to-RCA box for my headphones. There's no "TV" in the conventional sense in that setup.

Re:Just get a Smart TV (1)

erlegreer (1994842) | about 7 months ago | (#46641575)

"If you ignore ACs because they *are are* ACs you're an idiot."

No being a jerk. Just trying to help.

Re:Just get a Smart TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641609)

Who in their right mind would want an Internet connected, un-patched Linux system with a camera and microphone in their living room?

Re:Just get a Smart TV (1)

wyattstorch516 (2624273) | about 7 months ago | (#46642187)

Exhibitionists?

Re:Just get a Smart TV (2)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 7 months ago | (#46641669)

I haven't seen a smart tv where the smart features are any good.

I have a Roku 3 and it works great. Technology moves quickly though and when the Roku 4 comes out, I'd rather upgrade my $100 Roku box than my $1000 television.

I will likely buy a Fire TV. We have a two television sets and because of the way one is mounted on the wall, it's a pain to connect and disconnect the Roku. So for me, it makes sense to have a second streaming device and for $100, this one seems like a pretty good deal.

That said, I wish they would incorporate some DVR capabilities. On the Roku, I can get streaming versions of all my local TV stations. It would be nice if it could tell it to record shows from the streams.

Re:Just get a Smart TV (4, Insightful)

JDG1980 (2438906) | about 7 months ago | (#46641747)

turning tvs into smart tv's might make sense but eventually...everyone will just have a smart tv.

That might work on the low end, but if you buy a $1000+ TV, you probably don't want to have to buy another one to replace it in a few years when the company stops updating the firmware or the SoC can't handle the latest video codec or whatever. Much better to use the expensive TV as a video monitor alone, and keep the fast-obsoleting stuff on a cheap external box.

Re:Just get a Smart TV (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 7 months ago | (#46642027)

Not sure what the point of these devices are...turning tvs into smart tv's might make sense but eventually...everyone will just have a smart tv.

I used to think this way... but eventually bought an Apple TV. For home streaming, it's the only thing I've found that *always* displays the aspect ratio correctly for h.264 videos, no matter what it is. My LG smart TV (w/ Plex client) occasionally choked some movies that had oddball pixel dimensions, as did my TiVo (using several different tools).

It's also simpler to use than the TV's built in streaming tools, which is kind of sad.

Re:Just get a Smart TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46642213)

Did you ever buy a tv with a VCR or DVD built in? Yeah, they sucked. TV = monitor, feed it whatever I want, that's the way I like it.

Re:Just get a Smart TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46642371)

Not sure what the point of these devices are...turning tvs into smart tv's might make sense but eventually...everyone will just have a smart tv.

Why put so much money into these devices? Even roku is being relegated to an app on many smart tvs

I have a smart Samsung TV and I don't use those features because the experience with Netflix using their app was subpar compared with any other client for netflix. I also have a lot of media from iTunes which is why I have a 3rd generation Apple TV.

For me, the "smart" features are next to useless.

I too am somewhat underwhelmed... (2)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 7 months ago | (#46641443)

Regarding the assertion that you should just use a game console or old PC, many people don't game seriously enough to warrant a $400+ game console, and don't want to uglify their TV setup, or deal with the kludge factor of a PC-based solution.

That said, this thing retails for $100, which means it has no price advantage over Apple TV, and there are several Roku models (not to mention Chromecast) that undercut it. The purchase also oddly does not include the game controller, which seems more or less a necessity to play the games, which is positioned as a major selling point of the unit. As it is, there seems no compelling advantage over existing set-top streaming boxes.

This would have been much more interesting if it had included the game controller and a pack-in game at the $100 price point (Minecraft, anyone?) of if they had done a more minimalist device a la Chromecast with its own remote, that they could have thrown in as a freebie for all their Prime members, to offset the recent Prime price bump...

Re:I too am somewhat underwhelmed... (1)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 7 months ago | (#46641465)

As someone who already owns a Roku 1, a WiiU (for the kids) and several iOS devices, I can find no compelling reason to get this thing, even though I have Prime.

Games available for Fire TV but not Wii U (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641643)

As someone who already owns a Roku 1, a WiiU (for the kids) and several iOS devices, I can find no compelling reason to get this thing

The compelling reason is if your kids find a particular game they want you to buy and its web page says something like this:

Windows: Buy Now
Linux: Buy Now
OUYA: Buy Now
Google Play: Buy Now
Fire TV: Buy Now
Wii U: We are seeking a publisher. If you represent a licensed publisher that is interested in bringing this game to Wii U, contact us.

Market positioning (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641479)

Doesn't look significantly different that the other options on the market. Slightly higher specs, but tied to an Amazon Prime account. It they really wanted to make an impact and push people to sign up for Prime, they should include this device for free with Prime membership. That would be a move that could really shake things up...

Chromecast mystery solved (3, Insightful)

BobMcD (601576) | about 7 months ago | (#46641537)

I guess this solves the mystery as to why Amazon never batted any eyelashes towards Chromecast.

Re:Chromecast mystery solved (1)

space_jake (687452) | about 7 months ago | (#46641805)

Still seems silly considering the hardware probably isn't the profitable piece.

Chromecast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641545)

And now I know why Amazon never supported the Chromecast.

Can it play locally LAN-streamed media? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641567)

How does the Fire TV compare to Western Digital's WD TV Live box (which can play almost any media format I throw at it over my LAN)? Or is Fire TV cloud/internet stream-only (i.e. no locally hosted content)?

Interactive media (1)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641661)

Western Digital's WD TV Live box (which can play almost any media format I throw at it over my LAN)

Can WD TV play interactive media formats? Fire TV has games according to the featured article.

Re:Interactive media (1)

JMZero (449047) | about 7 months ago | (#46641929)

There are some games that WD TV can play - but I have no idea how they're packaged, what their limitations are; the ones I've seen have all been very simple affairs.

If one of these low cost set top boxes could get a good selection of games, I could certainly see that being a big differentiator (and possibly a blow to consoles).

Re:Can it play locally LAN-streamed media? (2)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 7 months ago | (#46641691)

I think you are going to need something like Plex to stream local content.

Just get a CuBox-i (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 7 months ago | (#46641613)

Just get a CuBox-i [solid-run.com] . 2"x2"x2" cube, available in three editions [cubox-i.com] . The quad-core with 2 GB of RAM version that's equivalent to this Amazon thing is $130 and it has a microSD card slot, so you can fill it with as much or as little flash memory as you feel like paying for. I run Android on mine, but it also boots any of several different Linux distributions. It doesn't come with a remote or a game controller, but it has USB, and the quad-core version has BlueTooth. All versions have an IR receiver. No Amazon prime subscription needed, no custom manufacturer-mangled smart TV version of Android required, and it has access to the Google Play store.

Small business that doesn't have a "tie the world to our services" agenda can still deliver a product designed for customers, rather than consumers.

Re:Just get a CuBox-i (1)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 7 months ago | (#46642103)

That's nice, but unless it's capable of streaming video from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, et al, then it's not a replacement for the Fire TV. It's not actually that hard to build a "media streaming" box that no commercial services support. The CuBox is very easy on the eyes, but it's aimed at an entirely different application than the one under discussion.

Re:Just get a CuBox-i (1)

JustNiz (692889) | about 7 months ago | (#46642307)

>> All versions have an IR receiver.

I would much rather see support for 802.11, bluetooth or even X10 built-in instead of IR.

I wish manufacturers would finally kill IR off in favour or some wireless-based protocol.

I use an X10-based remote at home on my mythtv box, but it would be great if someone made a physical remote that was wi-fi/IP-based.

Yes I already know about the millions of phone apps, but I find controlling a TV setup via a smartphone isn't at all convenient.

Re:Just get a CuBox-i (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46642391)

or, you know, throw in another $50 and forget about some lousy underpowered ARM boxes and get an Intel NUC - a freaking x86 PC that can run EVERYTHING...

Except this to die before it is ever allowed... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641633)

to be released. No damn way the Republicans are going to allow this to be released. They hate the idea of anything that can compete with OTA Fox. That's why, for example, in so many places you are not allowed to have Internet access fast enough to stream video. Even if the Republicans do allow it to be sold, I know that I and most of my friends can't use it because the CONservatives that rule Seattle will not allow us to have a fast enough connection to do so.

You sir... (2)

PortHaven (242123) | about 7 months ago | (#46641883)

Have issues....

Huge money loser for Amazon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641673)

This is late to the game in a market window that is rapidly shrinking with such technologies integrated into TVs and BlueRay players. There is a huge user base of Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast who do not need this. There is a huge user base of XBox and PS3 that have no desire to play silly Android games on a non-portable device.

The BOM cost approaches $130 per unit, selling at $99 each. The game controller is an absolute turd and should have never been offered as a product. The remote controller only works for the Kindle Fire TV and voice recognition has to be purchased by Nuance as the internal voice recognition was a huge faiure. Furthermore, the Qualcomm quad core processor can not run at its full potential because the ID is too small to dissipate the heat required to do so.

There is nothing innovative here and anything that is innovative has been purchased by a third party at Amazon's loss.

Gaming input isn't standard on Android (0)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46641895)

There is a huge user base of XBox and PS3 that have no desire to play silly Android games on a non-portable device.

Not all games can be easily adapted to touch control. Perhaps people would want to play more substantial Android games on a portable device if only stores would sell a portable device with a directional control and discrete action buttons. Right now it's pretty much the Xperia Play phone (way outdated), the Archos GamePad tablet (obscure in USA), several gaming tablets made by JXD (obscure in USA), and NV's Shield tablet (expensive). Set-top Android boxes like OUYA ($100) and Fire TV with a controller ($140) have these advantages:

  • Unlike standard tablets, they have gaming controls.
  • Unlike gaming tablets, they're sold in Best Buy.
  • Unlike Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo platforms, they make it easy for a small business to become an authorized developer.

Otherwise, it's portability, ease of obtaining, gaming controls, indie games: pick three.

Controls already better for touch devices (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46642069)

Not all games can be easily adapted to touch control.

Yes, but there are already very nice controllers made for those games that need buttons.

So the single game controller for Fire (especially not being included by default) puts it behind other platforms.

Searching for controller-friendly games (0)

tepples (727027) | about 7 months ago | (#46642271)

there are already very nice controllers made for those games that need buttons.

Provided a particular device supports these "very nice controllers". An iPod touch purchased the day before the fifth-generation iPod touch came out can't use them because a fourth-generation iPod touch cannot use iOS 7. And it took less than 12 months between when Apple discontinued the fourth-generation iPod touch and when Apple released iOS 7. Besides, even for those who do happen to own a suitable device, to what extent do Apple's App Store and Google Play Store let users search for games that support these "very nice controllers"?

FyreTV (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46641711)

I'll stick with my FyreTV. :)

Books? (1)

Cammi (1956130) | about 7 months ago | (#46642475)

So... we still can't read books on our TVs? WTF Amazon? Your bread and butter, and you still can't do this? Sad, sad, sad.

No local media support (2)

mu51c10rd (187182) | about 7 months ago | (#46642541)

No DLNA? This is simply a less functional Roku device. At least you can do a custom channel to play local files. I wish WD TV would get an Amazon app...but it appears that door is closed with the release of this device. Amazon hasn't realized there are a lot of people with local files as well...not just online app accounts.

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