Amazon announced its long rumored Fire TV today, but why should you pick one up with so many other TV streaming options on the market?
The TV streaming market became a little more crowded today with the announcement of the Fire TV. There are already three very well-known devices on the market – Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast – with a slew of lesser known devices also on the shelves. So what makes the Fire TV compelling? Lets dig in and find out.
Fire TV Voice Search
This alone could be enough to make some people run in to the loving embrace of the Fire TV. While most TV streaming devices feature search, it is just a matter of you navigating around an onscreen keyboard selecting one letter at a time. Thanks to a built-in microphone in the remote, you can press a button and speak your search query. That will remove a lot of frustrations when you’re trying to find every available TV appearance of Engelbert Humperdinck.
Fire TV Gaming
While there had been rumors of full PC gaming being streamed through the Fire TV, it simply was not to be. That does not, however, mean that the device is game free. Amazon is lining up original gaming content for the Fire TV along with many other already available games. It is true that Roku does offer gaming on some of its models, it is unfortunately a very limited selection and awkward to play. There is an optional game controller for the Fire TV that will set you back an additional $39.
Fire TV Horsepower
Both the Chromecast and Apple TV run on single-core processors while the Roku 3 features a dual-core. The Fire TV, on the other hand, features a 1.7GHz Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core processor and dedicated graphics processor. Additionally, the industry standard has been for streaming devices to feature 512MB of RAM, but Amazon opted instead to head directly to 2GB. While this may not seem like that powerful of a device in the light of smartphones that constantly up their specs, in the world of TV streaming this is the “flagship” device at the moment.
Fire TV Design
From its physical design – its extremely thin at only .6-inches – to the user interface, you can tell Amazon put a lot of thought in to this device. We’ll wait to pass final judgement until we have had some time try out in-depth, but everything seems to flow very fluidly when it comes to the software – as it should with those specs – and that is always one of the quickest ways to win or lose your customers.
Physically, this slender box will easily hide in your entertainment center and not stand out like a sore thumb. True, it’s no Chromecast that sits in an HDMI slot in the back completely unnoticed, but this is still going to be difficult to spot for most people.
Fire TV is From Amazon
Amazon, for better or worse, has a ton of money at its disposal. It can keep Fire TV running for a long time without blinking. We don’t have to worry about this device being dead on arrival, Amazon will find a way to make it work even if it takes some time.
Can it count on support from other video providers? It clearly already is, and even if it is an Amazon branded product with Amazon Prime Instant Video support baked in, why shouldn’t other streaming companies want their apps on it? The more places you can watch that are convenient for you, the better.
In respect to gaming, the Amazon name carries a lot of weight with it and will make a lot of doors open that may not have when a company such as Ouya came calling. With a traditional controller – which is admittedly optional – and an in-house design studio working on original games, it’s clear Amazon is taking the gaming side of the equation very seriously.
Should You Buy a Fire TV?
In the end, it’s going to take some heavy analysis of your current TV streaming needs to decide whether or not you need a Fire TV in your life. There’s a lot of arguments to be made if the stand-alone set top market even still needs to exist with Smart TVs being so common now, but if you’re in the market for a streaming device, it appears as though you would be hard pressed to go wrong with the Fire TV.