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Amazon Rolls Out Fire TV Set-Top Box

9 Apr, 2014 By: Doug McPherson

SEATTLE - Inc. began selling its $99 Fire TV set-top box – offering streamed content – last week.

Consumers plug it into their high-definition television sets and access streaming video services such as Netflix, HuluPlus, Vivo, WatchESPN and YouTube. It comes with voice search: users press a button on a remote control and speak into a microphone.

Members of the Amazon Prime free-shipping program – $99 annually – get access to thousands of titles. Video games are available for an average of $1.85. And consumers can stream music from Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, says, “Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price – people are going to love Fire TV.”

Some insiders agree. Forrester Research Inc. analyst James McQuivey says Amazon delivers “the obvious benefits a new set-top box should deliver to avoid consumer backlash” and that it does all the video consumers would expect.

McQuivey believes the box could be upgraded so users could search for products. “Why not upgrade the software to let you also buy things? If you see a new mascara on a TV ad, even if you're not watching your Fire TV, you should be able to click on the remote and say, ‘Buy the new Maybelline mascara.’ Even better, if the remote control has been listening to the TV ad all along, it knows exactly which mascara you want thanks to auto content recognition.
Only Amazon can piece that entire experience together in the living room and though we don't see evidence of that ambition here today, we should assume Amazon knows this and is planning on it."

The device is 0.07 inches wide and includes a powerful quad-core processor, dedicated GPU, 2 GB of memory, dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi, high-definition 1080p video, and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound.

Fire TV competes with Google's Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku. Apple TV leads the pack at nearly 13 percent of U.S. TV households, according to tech-tracking firm IHS, while Roku resides in 6.1 percent of TV homes.

Still, Mike Shields reports in the Wall Street Journal, that if Fire TV catches on, “Amazon could have a unique opportunity.”

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