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Amazon Fire TV unveiled as Apple TV rival

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Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV, now available in the US

Amazon has jumped into the TV streaming set-top box game, with the Amazon Fire TV officially unveiled at a dedicated launch event in New York.

With the retailer turn tech giant having been long tipped to launch its own Apple TV and Google Chromecast rival, the company has today unveiled the Amazon Fire TV, an internet connected set-top-box which will work with the company’s Amazon Prime Instant Video streaming service.

Stating that the company wanted to “invent and simplify,” Amazon’s VP Peter Larson unveiled Fire TV while criticising a number of shortcomings in its lead rivals.

Showing off Amazon Fire TV for the first time, he stated of the set-top box: “This thing is tiny, it’s incredibly powerful and it’s unbelievably simple.”

Amazon Fire TV Features
Having criticised the clunky input method of Apple TV and the ‘laggy performance’ of the Roku systems, Amazon will be hoping to rectify such concerns with the Fire TV.

In a bid to aid performance and bottlenecking, Amazon has bestowed the first-generation Fire TV box with a quad-core CPU and 2GB of RAM. What’s more, the unit has its own dedicated GPU, with the graphics processor reportedly similar to the chips found in flagship smartphones.

“Fire TV has a quad-core processor. It’s the best in class for a product of this type,” Larsen said. He added: “Fire TV has 2GB of RAM, that’s two to four times more than other products in the market right now.”

The compact Amazon set-top box, which lines up at 4.5 x 4.5 x 0.7-inches runs a heavily skinned version of Google’s Android OS based on HTML meaning apps can be easily ported to the system. On top of this, a side-scrolling interface can be easily navigated with the bundled remote.

Further aiding these control options, the Amazon Fire TV’s remote features an integrated microphone, allowing for voice controls.

“This is voice search that actually works,” Larsen claimed in again making another dig at the company’s rivals. The voice prompts let users search for movies and play content.

Set to be compatible with Amazon Prime Instant Video and Hulu Plus at launch, Larsen has stated that Amazon Fire TV will work with additional streaming services moving forward, including the likes of Netflix.

About more than just TV and movie content, Amazon Fire TV will offer access to a selection of music services, including Pandora and TuneIn, with cloud access meaning smartphone-shot pictures can be easily ported to the TV.

If that’s not enough, Fire TV can be used to play app-based games – including the likes of Gameloft's Asphalt 8 and Sev Zero, the first product of the Amazon Game Studios - using the bundled remote. For those with more serious gaming aspirations, a separate Amazon controller can be picked up for $39.99 (£24.03).

As well as packing integrated Wi-Fi, the Amazon Fire TV box plays host to an integrated Ethernet port on the rear. Further physical connections include a single USB port, HDMI connector and Optical audio connection.

Amazon Fire TV Release Date and Price
With the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite eReader and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet both sporting extremely competitive price points, it’s somewhat unsurprising that Amazon Fire TV is going to be easy on your wallet.

Hitting the US from today, Amazon Fire TV will set wannabe owners back $99 (£59.50). There is currently no word on UK or wider availability.

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