Amazon Unveils FireTV: Media Streaming Box Now Available for $99

(Credit: TechCrunch)
(Credit: TechCrunch)

The ecommerce giant Amazon has delved even further into the hardware space with the launch of a long-rumored streaming media device called the Amazon Fire TV. It said that it has watched these devices sell on its platform for a long time now, so it knows what is and isn’t working for customers, hence its decision to try to do this better than anyone else out there, by “invent[ing] and simplify[ing].”

Their approach was to try to make “complexity disappear,” hence the Amazon Fire TV, a sleek, tiny black box for your home theater. The console runs a special OS, and has a quad-core processor, which Amazon calls best-in-class for the category. It has 2GB of RAM, which is between twice and four times that of others on the market, and it has dual-band Wi-Fi for speedy networking. It’s a little less thick than a dime is tall, and has an interface that somewhat resembles Plex, if you’re familiar with that media software.

The remote it comes with is around the height of a piece of popcorn, and features seven buttons plus a click wheel navigator. When you press play, content starts playing back immediately – there’s no waiting. Categories display content, watchlist, access, your video library, movies, TV, games, apps and photos, with settings residing in the main home screen. The immediate playback is actually a huge difference vs. others in this space, which all require some buffering.

The platform is HTML and Android-based, which makes it easy for devs to port their apps over from both the web and Google’s mobile OS. Amazon says it will boost the Fire TV with original content from Amazon Studios, too.

Media streaming is an increasingly important space to Amazon, who has been focusing in on their video offerings. Not only does Amazon have its own Instant Video offering, competing with Netflix and Hulu and others, but it also develops it’s own original content from Amazon Studios. In both cases, taking control of the living room is the only way to build up Instant Video loyalists, whether they’re hunting down original content or just browsing through the library.

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