Everything you need to know about the Amazon Fire TV

The original focus of Amazon’s hardware business was pushing its library of ebooks with the Kindle. That device was soon followed with the more media-centric Kindle Fire tablet series, which expanded to Amazon’s library of digital videos and music. Now the online retail giant has its sights set on a new frontier: your living room. They believe they have just the device, too. It’s called the Amazon Fire TV, and it was announced earlier today.

What is it?

amazonfiretv-freetime

Amazon Fire TV is an internet-connected set-top box for your HD television set. The Fire TV brings together your personal media, content from Amazon partners, and Amazon’s large ecosystem of digital goods to provide an all-in-one entertainment package in one powerful little box. The setup includes the box itself and a tiny remote, its seven buttons all that are needed to navigate the simplified main menu to find content and initiate playback, which Amazon boasts will begin instantly — no buffering needed.

And it runs Android?

As with their Kindle Fire line of tablets, Amazon has once again turned to Android to power their latest hardware. Like the Kindle Fire, you can expect a completely different experience than what you have seen on other devices. The Fire TV’s heavily modified version of Android, the latest branch of Amazon’s Fire OS dubbed “Mojito,” incorporates HTML into its framework. The result is an operating system that web and Android developers both can easily port their offerings to, but don’t expect access to the Google Play Store and other associated services like Google Play Music, movies, and video.

What about specs?

amazonfiretv

For its size — it measures 4.5-inches squared — the Fire TV packs plenty of punch. Amazon claims the box features best-in-class processing power on top of other hardware that you might expect in a top-tier smartphone. Here’s the complete rundown:

  • 1.7GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 (Krait 300 CPU)
  • Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8GB internal storage
  • 802.11a/b/g/n MIMO (dual-band) WiFi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • HDMI 1.4b output
  • TOSLINK optical audio output
  • USB 2.0
  • 10/100 ethernet
  • 4.5” x 4.5” x 0.7″
  • 9.9 oz.

The bottom line? The Fire TV looks capable of handling just about anything you could throw at it. Dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth make for plenty of wireless connectivity options, though Amazon has gone the extra mile and included some nice hardwired options, including optical audio for those looking to connect the box to their home theater systems.

What content is available?

amazonfiretvhomescreen

Here is where Amazon has a chance to dominate. Not only does the Fire TV leverage Amazon’s existing content library, which includes 200,000 movies and TV shows and millions of songs, but a number of launch partners will also bring popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu to the box out of the gate. A small selection include:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • WatchESPN
  • Showtime Anytime
  • Pandora
  • iHeartRadio
  • and more…

Even better, users will be able to enjoy their own content on the Amazon Fire TV with apps like Plex or by uploading photos and videos direct to Amazon’s Cloud Drive.

Does it play games?

Does it play games? Of course it plays games! At launch over 100 games are available, including a version of Minecraft built specifically for Fire TV (this ain’t no port). Other titles include Telltale’s The Walking DeadRiptide 2, and Asphalt 8: Airborne.

amazon fire tv game controller

What’s more, not only does the Amazon Fire TV play games, but a dedicated controller peripheral is also available. Priced at $40, the controller features a full compliment of buttons and joysticks perfect for 3D gaming. It is a likely must-have for anyone that plans to get their dollar’s worth out of gaming on the Fire TV.

How does it compare to Google TV? Apple TV?

FireTV chart

So the million dollar question: is Amazon Fire TV a better buy than a current Google TV box? What about Apple TV? In terms of pure hardware power, the Fire TV excels in this area. New Google TV boxes are few and far between, and the ones on the market feature considerably older hardware. Likewise, the Apple TV hasn’t seen a major update in quite some time. The closest competitor is perhaps Roku, but even its latest iteration lags behind in terms of processing power and on-board RAM.

But content is king, they say, and the Fire TV holds its own in this department as well. It features more options in the streaming department than the likes of Apple TV and even surpasses Chromecast when it comes to certain services (including Amazon Instant Video).

And games? Forget about it on Apple TV and any Google counterpart. Roku does offer some options in this department, but their selection of titles is rather sparse.

So when can I get it?

Right now. Amazon had the Fire TV up for sale only minutes after its announcement so you won’t have to spend weeks impatiently waiting for the thing. If you want it, you can have it.

And how much does it cost?

$99. The price is on par with the competition, matching Apple TV and the Roku 3. It’s not Chromecast cheap, but that’s a pretty unfair comparison, anyway. The Amazon Fire TV does streaming and so much more.

Any questions?

Still have a burning question about the Fire TV? Head on over to Android Forums and see if the likeminded individuals gathered there can’t help you out with an answer. At the very least, leave us a comment below and let us know what you think of Amazon’s latest bit of hardware.

Continue reading:




  • Gideon Waxfarb

    We need to know if it will be infected with adware. Only reason I never bought a Roku is because of the giant ad they put on the home screen. I don’t mind if they have a reduced-cost ‘special offers’ version, but I’d like one that’s ad-free. I’ll even pay a little more for one.

  • Cael

    Doesn’t Apple have a patent on the circular controls? And Microsoft should due because of the controller…

    • Joseph Kool

      Yes apple has patented everything in the universe including patents.

  • Jurk

    “..but don’t expect access to the Google Play Store and other associated services like Google Play Music, movies, and video.”

    Any Android device with zero access to Google services is an abomination, imho.

    • TONY ALDO

      XDA will probably have this rooted in a few weeks.

    • Joseph Kool

      You’re just as bad as those smarmy apple fans.

  • LostHawkGSW

    spotify?

  • jakep_82

    If it doesn’t have HDMI-CEC, then I’m not interested. I never knew how great this feature is until I started using Chromecast.

  • WhoaManWtF

    They offer a 30 day trial, I am going to get it just to check it out… may keep it may not.

  • irishrally

    Are all the articles going to have gigantic pictures of the author going forward?

    • http://www.phandroid.com Kevin Krause

      I hope not…but I’m not seeing any giant pictures of myself here, either. Screenshot?

      • fechhelm

        Like this giant picture.

      • j7981

        Happens to me too

      • Montisaquadeis

        No issues on PC unless I shrink the window to a small size and get the mobile layout then Yeah MASSIVE Picture of you

      • irishrally

        Your gigantic dome is gone now.

  • blueyedsoul1

    Quote from an article on another site: “Searching on the Fire TV box will bring back results from all your streaming services – and Amazon says its voice search is the best in the biz.” To me, that is the top reason to want this box ahead of any other streaming device.

  • Luxferro

    I ordered one to replace my POS vizio costar that corrupts itself every few days. Hopefully I can install silicondust HDHomerun View, and i’ll be set with Plex, netflix, and amazon video.

  • Matt Milsap

    Roku indeed does have Bloomberg. Please fix.

  • gl

    Can it play local video content? e.g. via NAS

  • Joseph Kool

    Can I connect an external hard drive and what file formats does it support?

  • gmaninvan

    UI is a total plex ripoff. I bet the people at Plex are super pissed

    http://images.six.betanews.com/screenshots/1320083331-2.jpg

    • B Brad

      Heh, dunno. Plex seems to be trailing the netflix UI by 6 months or so. Plex is hardly the first UI with organization on the left and rows of content on the right.

      • gmaninvan

        The organization no, but look at it. It is literally identical. Right down to the text highlights

  • Jeff Breitner

    Would consider it if I could run XBMC on it, but then again I wouldn’t be gaining much other than a $99 remote.

  • http://www.terryking.us terryking

    64MB/S Question: What Internet / DSL speed is needed to reasonable run FireTC??
    Regards, Terry King …In The Woods In Vermont

  • Guest

    Can I stream my local content to it?

    • hossmandu

      Amazon lists Plex as available app on FireTV so yes you can by running a Plex server on your source and installing Plex on the FireTV (..99cents in amazon app store) I don’t know if it works yet, won’t have mine until tomorrow, but it’s on the FireTV page as supported.

  • Daniel

    God dammit! Wish I didn’t buy a Roku3 now!

    • Fred Flintstone

      wash you mouth out……

  • michael

    goddamn. if this had MX player and a way to play files over network it would be an instant buy. otherwise there is absolutely no point to a streaming box in my country.

    • hossmandu

      Plex can do this

    • Fred Flintstone

      Wash your mind out !!!!

  • Dave Goelz

    Ok question, I’ve been using my beautiful WDTV Live Hub for years now. I have all my movies stored on my home computer. I stream them all through my home network using my WDTV Hub to my TV. Does the Fire have this ability?

    • hossmandu

      I’ve also been using a WDTV for this purpose. I’ll have my FireTV tomorrow to make sure, but this should work through through Plex. Assuming it does work, it will blow the WDTV’s only advantage – ability to stream local content. You’ll have to run the Plex server on your source (NAS or PC) and install the Plex app on the FireTV.