Amazon jumped into the video streaming business by launching its own set-top box called Amazon Fire TV on Wednesday in an event held in New York City.
Amazon's VP Peter Larsen led the proceedings of the event instead of the CEO Jeff Bezos. The theme of the event was that of a living room with couches and popcorn.
Amazon Fire TV is a tiny flat Internet connected set-top box which will enable you to stream all the data on-demand. The Fire TV will also have a voice search feature and needs you to speak into a Bluetooth remote control(sold separately for $39.99). It was interesting to see that Amazon went the traditional way for their video streaming service and ditched the dongle like streaming devices used by Google(Chromecast) and Roku.
Introduction of Fire TV will heat up the video streaming industry and Amazon will try to take on Google Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku. Apple TV was leading the pack but looks like Amazon might come out as a winner in another few months.
What is so special about Amazon Fire TV?
Amazon's Fire TV packs thrice the power of an Apple TV(A5 processor) and comes with a Quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and a dedicated GPU for a great rendering. The GPU will come into play if games are made for Fire TV. Yes, Games. This is possible because Fire TV runs on Android and HTML5, which means we could see developers creating apps and games for it.
Fire TV will allow Amazon to provide content available on Amazon Instant Video directly to customers. We could hope to see a few different subscription plans being introduced. Apart from Amazon Instant Video, it will also support Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube and Pandora. HBO Go users will be disappointed since there is no support for it.
Another great feature of Fire TV is that it predicts what you will be watching next and downloads it before hand to save you the buffering time. This predictive engine is called "ASAP", just for the reason that it will allow you to watch the content as soon as possible without waiting too much until it buffers. The predictive engine just does not stop here, it keeps on learning from each of your content selections.
Amazon has added some games as a bonus when buy the Fire TV. Popular games like Minecraft, The Walking Dead, Monsters University and Sev Zero have been added. You can also download paid games which on average are available at a price of $1.85.
The price of the Amazon set-top box has been set at $99 keeping in mind the competition out there. Roku 3 and APple TV are also priced at $99 but have lower processor and RAM. The price seems to be reasonable for all the power it packs.