Amazon Fire TV is here: Amazon’s TV gadget!

Amazon Fire TV is here: Amazon’s TV gadget!

“This is your captain speaking…we are now leaving the rumor zone!”

Amazon has just announced its TV gadget:

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

I can’t link to it the way I’d like yet, but I went ahead and ordered it with expedited shipping for myself. 🙂

I’m going to post this first so you hear about it right away, then update the post.

press release


Okay, one of the first things to note is the price: $99. That makes it close to three times as much as the $35

Google Chromecast (at AmazonSmile)

which was so popular at that price, it knocked Amazon’s own Kindles off the top spot for electronics…sold at Amazon.

What does this do that will make people think it is three times as good as Chromecast?

Well, first, that’s not really the calculation for most people…just the fact that it is Amazon will get a lot of people to buy it (honestly, that’s why I jumped on the Buy button, and “splurged” for 1-day shipping so I can write about it sooner).

They seem to be highlighting a few things:

  • Integration with Prime video (of course). Prime just signed 24 to be an exclusive, and they have a lot of popular exclusive titles…it comes registered to your account (assuming you have one), so you can just plug it into your TV, connect it to your wi-fi, and you are pretty much good
  • Voice search. Is that a killer app? Maybe…Xfinity promotes theirs a lot. They say they are the only “streaming media player with voice search”. They have a good commercial with Gary Busey (all of this is on the product page), extolling the benefits of “talking to things”
  • They are touting their tech specs, and they do look good
  • They have “ASAP” (Advanced Streaming and Prediction), which will predictively load what you want to watch, to reduce download speeds. I wouldn’t say that the predictive thing in Silk was a big hit, but I could see how this could work. I work my way through series (like Arrow), and it would be nice if when I finished one episode, it just downloaded the next one…for the next time I wanted to watch it. I’m not quite sure if it works that way yet, of course
  • The remote connects via Bluetooth, which is a nice touch…that means no line of sight required (my Roku doesn’t require that, either)
  • They are really pushing this as a gaming device, which some people thought might be done separately. You can use the included remote for some games (I’m thinking simple things like Angry Birds…simple in terms of the needed user input). They also are selling (for $39.99): Amazon Fire Game Controller (at AmazonSmile). That’s a more full-featured controller, so you can do those button-mashing combination moves 😉 I wasn’t going to get one, but I might…they have a special deal that gives you 1,000 Amazon coins (basically, $10 for purchase of apps and in-app buys), and their new exclusive game, Sev Zero. That deal is good through May 2nd, so I don’t think I’ll order the controller right now
  • It does music, with several big name services
  • It can display your pictures and video
  • Amazon FreeTime, parental controls, are coming next month
  • Yes! It will mirror the Fire…and do “second screen” flinging, too! I mirror my Fire pretty often, sometimes to watch internet videos. The “flinging” part includes X-Ray, powered by IMDb (owned by Amazon). That’s a great way when you want to find out more about an actor in a scene, for example

Their list of games and apps is impressive! I’m not sure people will see it as blowing away the Chromecast, but remember that with mirroring, anything you see on your Fire you can see on the screen. I can’t plug in an HDMI cable and watch the Xfinity app (at least, I couldn’t last time I checked) because it is blocked then. I can mirror it to my TV, though, using my Fire.

The apps (and other things you can use) include:

  • Netflix
  • Amazon Instant Video
  • Hulu Plus
  • Crackle
  • YouTube
  • Showtime Anytime
  • WatchESPN
  • Bloomberg TV
  • Vevo
  • Pandora
  • HuffPost Live
  • I Heart Radio
  • Vimeo
  • TuneIn (I use this app sometimes…to listen to radio stations)
  • NBA Game Time
  • Red Bull TV
  • Plex
  • Now This News
  • AOL on
  • Flixter
  • Qello Concerts
  • Frequency
  • Minecraft Pocket Edition
  • The Walking Dead (the Telltale game)
  • The Game of Life
  • Riptide OP 2
  • Sev Zero
  • Daily Burn
  • Tasty Trade
  • Asphalt Airborne 8

On many of those, I’m just copying from the logos shown on the page…you may need to pay extra (like a subscription fee or a one-time purchase) for some of them.

They appear not to have worked out a deal for HBOGO, yet.

Formats? It says:

Video: H.263, H.264, MPEG4-SP, VC1
Audio: AAC, AC-3, E-AC-3, HE-A, PCM, MP3
Photo: JPG, PNG

Note! You will need an HDMI cable (not included) to use this, from what I am seeing. They recommend this one

AmazonBasics High-Speed HDMI Cable (6.5 Feet/2.0 Meters) – Supports Ethernet, 3D, and Audio Return [Newest Standard] (at AmazonSmile)

which I already own. 🙂

I suspect we’ll see a lot of complaints on the forum that it doesn’t come with one…people will get one expecting to use it right away, and then have to get a cable. If I were Amazon, I’d make that a very clear “package” option.

Update: right now (6:00 PM Pacific on Wednesday) Amazon Fire TV is the number one item in electronics at Amazon.

  1. Amazon Fire TV
  2. Google Chromecast
  3. Kindle Paperwhite (wi-fi only) ad-supported
  4. Roku 3500R streaming stick
  5. Kindle Fire HD2 7″ 8GB
  6. Roku 3 Streaming Media player
  7. Apple TV
  8. Kindle Fire HD2 7″ 16GB
  9. Kindle Fire HDX 7″
  10. Kindle Paperwhite (wi-fi only) full price

There you go! Whew! What do you think? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


10 Responses to “Amazon Fire TV is here: Amazon’s TV gadget!”

  1. Phink Says:

    There is one big problem with it for me. It does not support VUDU that I can find. I think Amazon is making the same mistake Apple made, but to a much lesser degree. I love all things digital and bought over 100 iTunes movies in the past. Then my Apple TV 1st gen tore up and I realized the only way to watch them on my TV through a box was with an Apple TV box. We all know iTunes is a very closed market. Amazon does allow some companies to stream their vides such as ROKU (my preferred device). However, most tablets will not play them but VUDU allows tablets to play their videos and they have a very open format. Therefore, when I switched from iTunes movies to VUDU the only reason Amazon did not win my business is because VUDU is much more open than any other company. I am happy with my latest ROKU player but I love the Amazon company and the voice command so if it’d play VUDU I’d be in because I need another box anyway. Now some say Amazon videos not playing on tablets is a problem with flash or something but all I know is VUDU gets around it. This is not meant as a bash session for this new box or Amazon. This looks like a great box but at first glance I think ROKU is better for me and perhaps many others as well. Besides, most digital copies that come with DVD’s these days are Ultraviolet which is VUDU.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Phink!

      Remember that Amazon allows the installation of apps from “unknown sources” (you do take responsibility for the, of course). There are Vudu apps at 1Mobile you could install on the Fire (and then you could mirror the Fire). I think the Flixster app may play them as well.

      As to Prime video, I think you can see it on many devices…I don’t think it particularly requires an Amazon device. Here’s a list:

  2. Tom Says:

    I was very pleased to see they included miracast! Of course I was hoping, since they had promoted it with the HDX but didn’t want to buy a separate box. Surprised to not see amazon music listed? I’m sure that will come, the interface I hope will be better than the one on roku.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      They didn’t call it out separately, but they said,

      “You can also access your entire Amazon MP3 library, so you can enjoy any albums and songs you’ve previously purchased from Amazon (coming soon).”

  3. enodice Says:

    I’m a big fan of Roku (currently using Roku 3). Still, I was intrigued enough to order my Fire TV today. I also almost opted for 1-day shipping, but decided against that since I won’t have much time to use this until Friday anyway. Roku will likely move to a bedroom.

    I’m expecting a speed improvement over Roku, and tighter integration with Amazon content. I already have all my music and photos stored in Amazon’s cloud. I view many free Prime videos and I purchase videos from Amazon as well. I also use Netflix and Hulu Plus, but since I’m most heavily entrenched in the Amazon ecosystem, this should be a nice fit for me.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, enodice!

      I also like Roku a lot. One of the things which has always been an attraction for me has been the simplicity of the remote and the set-up. I’m guessing the set-up is even easier with the Fire TV, but I don’t know yet about the remote.

      Unfortunately, I apparently didn’t click it over to the 1-day shipping in my haste (I was afraid they might sell out), so I should have it Friday as well. I probably couldn’t have written much about it today anyway…

  4. Tom Says:

    Gave 2nd screen a try tonight. Had issues connecting with Fire TV and HDX. I used May day to make sure I had the settings correct. It was the reps first Fire TV call. He went up to tier 3 and they said an update should come out within the week.

    It did work.for about a minute. Looking forward to hearing if you ran into the same problem Bufo..

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I mentioned that in my post, after I’d seen yours. I thought it might be universal, but two other readers say it works for them.

      Are you wired or on wi-fi? If the latter, do you mind sharing your router model? I’m wondering if it is generation of network…

  5. Tom Says:

    Oh the screen saver has very pretty pictures. 🙂

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I haven’t seen a screen saver yet, but I believe you can use your cloud pictures for that…is that what you are doing?

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