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Amazon Takes Shots at Apple TV and Chromecast, Announces FireTV

April 2, 2014 - Written By Alexander Maxham

So you know that long awaited set-top box that we’ve been hearing about for ages from Amazon? Yeah the company just made it official today. This morning, Amazon is having a press conference about their video business where they essentially announced the FireTV. Of course, during the keynote they took stabs at the Chromecast – saying it’s laggy –  and the Apple TV in which they bashed for having a closed ecosystem. Amazon’s new set-top box is named the FireTV, which is a play from the Kindle Fire lineup of tablets they offer. Obviously, Amazon Prime Instant Video will take center stage on this device, but there will also be apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, MLB, Crackle, YouTube, and many other providers out there. Amazon also says they have over 200,000 TV Shows to buy and rent on Amazon Prime Instant Video, however it’s unclear if that’s episodes or Shows.

The FireTV will also support gaming features. And as expected it is running a forked version of Android. The part about it supporting gaming features isn’t really surprising since we did see a controller leak out for the FireTV a few weeks ago, but so far nothing about it has been talked about in the keynote, which is still on-going. FireTV also uses Voice Search, which from the demo it looks really good. It was able to understand everything, which is a first.

Amazon is also announcing X-Ray for Movies and TV Shows. This will give you details about the actors in the movie or TV show you are watching. And if you have a Kindle Fire HDX, you are able to see the notification that comes from the FireTV. It stays synced with the show and shows data from IMDB. X-Ray also works for Music, so it will show the lyrics on-screen. Which is pretty cool. Amazon also has “Freetime” which is a customized environment for kids ages 3-8. The background in the Freetime mode is blue, so parents are able to see easily that they are in Freetime. Once more, you need a password to leave that mode. Pretty good idea for those with young kids. Additionally parents can whitelist content into the Freetime zone that their kids can watch.

Amazon is likely to really push this device and price it at cost for them. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it priced around the same price as the Chromecast. Everyone in attendance at the event is getting one today, so far release date and pricing is unknown and as soon as we learn more we’ll be sure to send it along to everyone. As far as specs go, it sports 2GB of RAM and a quad-core processor with a dedicated GPU. Now Amazon hasn’t given the specifics on the processor or even the rest of the specs, so that’s all we know so far.

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