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Amazon Fire TV (amazon.com)
388 points by ndrake on Apr 2, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 381 comments



This is pretty much what Google TV should have been all along, but Google cares too much about web search and not enough about what people actually want to do on a TV - watch shows and play games.

The gaming aspect of this will make it a winner. OUYA's big problem is that it didn't do streaming and was a bit clunky. Amazon has a big game library and just needs controller support.

As a parent, a $100 streaming box and game console that has cheap/free games is very appealing.

As a developer, the economics of game development for such a console is not so great, but maybe IAP would make it worthwhile.


If you look back at the timetable, Google realized the Chromecast was a better direction then Google TV and but all efforts into Chromecast. That's why I'm really disappointed Amazon choose to create yet another platform for companies to develop apps and games for instead of building on one already in place. Games work just fine on my phone and tablet. So does searching for content. I say that as a parent that has been doing a lot of Netflix->Chromecast streaming of kids shows & movies lately. I would like to buy some of the content that Amazon has and Netflix does not without plunking down $99 more and another boz to manage and another ecosystem.


it's just an android sdk add-on: https://developer.amazon.com/sdk/asb/overview-gs.html

that's not quite the same as a whole new platform.


It looks like it could take minimal effort to map controls to the controller or remote. This gives existing android games and developers a quick in-road to the living room.


Kinda sorta. One of the problem points for Google TV development was that its not just a simple process of adding the SDK support and throwing your app on screen. Attention has to bee paid to input interaction and how the UI displays on such a large screen, so things like margins, color choices, and touch focus support need to be addressed (which many apps don't do correctly or need adjustment).


This is why I think Android is going to be an increasingly important platform going forward. It's a logical foundation for almost any new consumer electronics device.


It's interesting how different perspectives work:

> The gaming aspect of this will make it a winner. OUYA's big problem is that it didn't do streaming and was a bit clunky. Amazon has a big game library and just needs controller support.

I think the gaming aspects are the worst part and are entirely useless. Who wants to casual game with an underpowered box on a giant TV screen? Goofy games are fun on a 4-7" screen because expectations are low. On my TV I expect a crazy immersive experience, not "Candy Crush".

Perhaps they would have been better served by spending their time getting HBO-Go, Starz/Encore and Spotify all hooked into their little box. If they want to be the central hub for all things "media" and want to compel people to move off of their existing platform ( Roku and ATV ) it seems like they need to offer a more complete package.


> Who wants to casual game with an underpowered box on a giant TV screen?

Over 100 million Nintendo Wii consoles were sold. Now, we can bicker about how many of those buyers were into casual games or not, but regardless:

The market exists.


The market exists for Nintendo games, not for shitty consoles with the same games you can play in your phone.


comparing Wii games to phone games is a bit of a stretch. They might be more casual than xbox and ps4, but they are far bigger and better than than phone games. Mario, zelda, candy crush, which one of these is not like the others.


Wii didn't just sell Mario games though, it also sold a plethora of carnival games and the like. I mean, the bundled title was Wii Sports, and they made huge splashes with Wii Fit and Wii Music.

And meanwhile, there are phone games that are comparable to the big headline titles of the Wii etc - Bard's Tale, Oil Rush, GTA, etc.

If Amazon pushes the gamepad hard for the Fire TV, we could definitely see it in that space.


Yeah, but I'd buy a lot more "Nintendo-like" casual-ish games if they were $5 a pop instead of $60. Add the fact I can sit comfortably on the couch with my wife and play, and I'm in.

I just hope there are enough 2 player games worthwhile.


Perhaps they would have been better served by spending their time getting HBO-Go, Starz/Encore and Spotify all hooked into their little box

Give it time. These are usually 3rd party apps not built by the provider of the platform (as a note, my company just finished building Starz/Encore/Movieplex Play for Xbox 360). The important thing is that Amazon provides an Ecosystem,it just needs some time for all the other offerings to get on there.

The SDK just opened up to all third parties today as well https://developer.amazon.com/public/community/post/Tx1K5ORNN...


The SDK is a big deal. According to the page, existing Android code should just work. Some tweaking may be necessary to properly support the controller(s) and fitting to a 1080p screen.

I'm looking forward to XBMC or other local streaming software coming to the platform. If that happens, this will literally be the ultimate set top box for me.


It looks like Plex is available at launch, so my local media library should be playable (with transcoding) on day one.


Yup. It's basically just a Jelly Bean 4.2 (API 17) fork. Should be able to run anything JB can.


So Amazon's fork gets to Jelly Bean before official Google TV (still on Honeycomb) does? Ouch.


How do you know Amazon is forking Jelly Bean?


https://developer.amazon.com/sdk/asb/overview-apps-games.htm...

The Amazon Fire TV runs Fire OS 3.0, based on Android Jelly Bean (API level 17).


You can also get more specs on it here http://bit.ly/1pLH83y



"Who wants to casual game with an underpowered box on a giant TV screen?"

Young kids. There are lots of them about.

PS4 is very expensive. iPads are expensive, fragile, don't have user accounts, and you can't keep an eye on what's on screen from the kitchen while cooking dinner after school.


> Who wants to casual game with an underpowered box on a giant TV screen?

My 8 year old would eat it up. He LOVES his iPad games. If he can plan on the TV with his friends, he would be thrilled.

And I'd be fine dropping $99 for a box and < $5 for games.


It would be a gateway console for little kids who want to play Angry Birds (which is basically all my 6 year old wants to do).


Ouya's other problem was the selection of games. Most of the games on the play store have controller support. You're talking candy crush, I'm thinking emulators and titles like GTA, Modern Combat, Minecraft, and many other rpg and fps titles.


I wouldn't knock it until you tried it. The graphics for games like Bard's Tale and many others are pretty damn good on mobile devices. We all have great mobile gaming experiences, wouldn't it be awesome if you could share that with anyone you had over on a big screen?

You may expect a "crazy immersive experience" but I would venture a guess that you are not the casual mobile gamer.


Does the casual mobile gamer want their casual mobile game on a giant screen? Isn't part of the allure of mobile games that they are private, games that you play in your hand? Why would someone want these broadcast to a giant screen? Does that add any enjoyment?

To me, the Wii U was a failure in this regard. They tried to marry the "fun game in my hand" with the "fun game on the big screen" and the result was a messy, confusing experience.


Possibly. Some games won't cross over well, or at all. For instance, Fruit Ninja wouldn't work. Angry Birds would. Tap Tap Revenge or whatever wouldn't. Etc.

One thing to keep in mind is mobile is a form factor, but no longer a "platform." In this case, the platform is Android. There are plenty of game types that would cross over well. Even better if you could sync state between platforms for a seamless anywhere experience. Imagine playing FFVII on your phone, and then when you get home pick up a PS2 like controller and continue playing that same game on your HDTV?

I think the biggest hurtle is the fact that consumers already have similar devices, and at $99 its not like the FireTV is a no-brainer. If they timed it right, and people are "rolling over" to the next set of devices?


have you ever tried playing regular games with virtual controls and buttons on a touch screen. Your fingers slide all over the place. For most titles it borders on unusable. The amount of touch focused titles are actually small in comparison.


Who wants to casual game with an underpowered box on a giant TV screen? Goofy games are fun on a 4-7" screen because expectations are low. On my TV I expect a crazy immersive experience, not "Candy Crush".

Infinity Blade, Real Racing, etc. show you CAN get "crazy immersive experience" (or near enough thereto that 95% of users won't notice a difference) on a "phone". Given an iPad Mini (retail replacement cost $250 so you know it costs less than that to make) take away the HD+ display, touchscreen, cellular radio, battery, speakers, mic, and most of the flash storage, and you've got a sub-$99 dual-core 64-bit box that ALL your iOS games - from Candy Crush to Infinity Blade III - can run on right now ... and anything you get for that big screen can, in turn, run on your phone when Mom says you have to get in the car and you want to take the in-progress game with you.


Why do you assume underpowered? My iPad 4, which is a few years old now has amazing graphics at higher than HD resolution. I don't know enough about the processors to compare them directly, but I don't see any reason to count out the Fire TV.

By making it easy to port Android apps they could do well with this.


The midrange SoCs found in boxes like this have a surprising amount of power. They are capable of powering games with graphical fidelity that falls somewhere in between the PS2 and PS3. Plus they aren't as RAM starved as those consoles.

The market has so far been defined by the capabilities of mobile devices. That means simplified controls and gameplay designed for short sessions. There's no technical reason for these limitations in the streaming box market, OUYA failed and Amazon might fail but the market still exists. Consumers have bought tens of millions of these devices just to watch TV, eventually someone will be able to expand to tap the couch gaming market. The price point is low, install base high, and the processing power is just sitting there and waiting.


The box has a snapdragon 600 chip in it, so not exactly underpowered. They also seem to be addressing the 'immersive' segment more than 'Candy Crush' type of games - they mention Asphalt 8 will be supported soon and Amazon has been hiring/acqui-hiring AAA-title devs for broader support since a while now.


There are some big, immersive games on Android. Granted, they're very few now, simply because playing them on a touch screen is not great and playing with a controller on a phone is clunky.

But if the Fire TV gets enough traction there could be more "real" games on Android.


How is the simple inclusion of the feature the "worst aspect"? You don't have to play games on the device, of course. They didn't force the controller with the base purchase. Given that it's Android powered, I suspect they didn't have to spend much engineering effort on making it capable of playing games.

Also, don't sell mobile gaming short. There are current generation mobile chipsets capable of PS3 level graphics (especially given that many smartphones now have a resolution greater than that big television), and in this case they don't even have to live within the power bounds of a battery power deviced, opening up the high end (they claim it's a "dedicated" GPU, which is an odd phrasing in the era of SoCs).

PS3 level graphics are beyond satisfactory for a huge range of gaming genres (especially given that many of the PS3s limitations were courtesy of the 256MB/256MB memory limit).


As a more than casual android gamer I'm not sure I would call the graphics ps3 quality. Perhaps on a small screen some of these games look nice (like modern combat series and nova) but when playing on a tv at 1080p the lack of definition of textures and overall quality is very aparent.

mobile games are much closer to ps2. Gta3 was released for ps2 and now runs on android. My experience with gta3 wasn't a smooth one, although maybe a galaxy s5 would have a more consistent/smoother experience.

I feel like we have a ways before we get to true ps3 graphics. But I also agree not to discredit mobile games. For the price (about $140) and all the other benefits you recieve from the streaming video offerings, doesn't seem like a bad deal to me.


Well, PS2 with much higher definition. That's part of the problem comparing Android gaming graphics to consoles... they're high-definition but comparable to SD-era consoles like the Wii and PS2.


I was speaking more to the capabilities of the hardware than specific games or apps, and it is absolutely true that most games optimize for the lower end (in vertex count and texture size), so they don't really show off the high end. As higher end hardware becomes more commonplace the standard moves up, especially for things like models and textures that are simply resources that can vary.

In this case while I was hoping it would be something really compelling like a Tegra K1, it's a 1.7Ghz quad-core Krait 300 APQ8064 with Adrena 320 graphics. That pushes about 225 million triangles per second, while the PS3 pushes 275 million. The PS2 pushed about 35 million. Of course triangles per second is an entirely incomplete metric, though the PS3 and the Snapdragon feature similar memory bandwidth (and fill rate), though the PS3 has dedicated video memory while the Snapdragon shares it with the CPU.

Overhead of Android and OpenGL ES eats into this significantly of course, but the fact that such a comparison is at all viable is pretty incredible.


As a developer, the economics of game development have got to be pretty good, actually.

Most game development companies have a multi-platform approach. Either they accomplish this with cross-platform development tools, or target iOS, Android, and XBox/Consoles separately.

Amazon has already gone through motions to making getting your Android app onto their Kindle Fire devices smoother, so I imagine getting it onto the FireTV wouldn't be much different.

So the story goes, you have a successful game that is gainin traction on multiple platforms and you want to expand your user base. Add game controller support to your android version, and now you're in every Prime customer's living room? edit: This is of course if people purchase the device, so that's the starter.


With screen mirroring, Apple TV offers the ability to play any game in the App Store on a TV wirelessly without having to buy a controller. That game library will likely always be larger than this one. Granted, you must have an iPhone or iPad, but I am surprised that Apple does not tout this feature more. I use it daily and it is pretty awesome.


The lag is terrible with mirroring. Apple TV won't be viable for gaming until the game is played on the box itself and there is a low-latency controller.


Yes, this. It is really stretching it to say that you can effectively "game" on your TV when airshare'ing from your iPad /iPhone to your Apple TV. It sucks.


Similarly, I've never understood the purpose of ChromeCast. The lag makes it completely unusable for video (I'm getting ~1 frame / 3 seconds), making it a glorified radio with cellphone/laptop remotes.


I think people confuse the ChromeCast tab/screen mirroring (which is slow and laggy) and ChromeCast DIAL/casting from apps like Netflix which actually just sends a URL to the Chromecast to stream


Yeah, ChromeCast is a great product and a major marketing failure. Hardly anybody (even techies!!) understands that it is about competing with Apple TV (and now Amazon Fire TV) in the streaming market, not sending arbitrary stuff from the browser to your TV. Honestly, they should have launched without any of the confusing and crappy tab-casting functionality at all and probably called it something different than ChromeCast. The thing has (ridiculously cheaply) solved my entire internet-television-entertainment problem but I've literally never once used it for a browser tab.


as a techie that doesn't know how to use ChromeCast the way it should be used (as you've mentioned) would you mind enlightening me? How, exactly do you use it if not with the tab-casting?


Use any of the following apps, and use the button supplied in those apps to instruct your ChromeCast to play the given media directly.

https://www.google.com/intl/en/chrome/devices/chromecast/app...


I don't understand why Google are so bad at advertising and marketing. Probably the only reason Chrome itself took off was that they put a big ad for it on the Google homepage. Maybe they should now switch that ad and advertise something else?


But even with the latter there is lag for pausing/playing.


Okay, that's great. But I don't use Netflix at all. I'd like to watch something from VLC, but apparently the plug in that enabled that was killed. Google's so simple its stupid makes it impossible for me to find out how the thing actually works and why I can't try to configure it to work any better.


It's awesome for YouTube and you can stream any local media using Plex.


+1 for Plex - works perfectly from the browser/iPhone/iPad/Android phones and tablets. Great Chromecast integration.


AllCast (one of the more notable apps that supports streaming from local apps like VLC) got its Chromecast support back once the official SDK (finally) came out:

http://phandroid.com/2014/02/04/allcast-chromecast-update/


Odd, I've streamed Netflix to Chromecast and my laptop video to Chromecast just fine. It may be your wifi connection.


I believe there is something more nuanced going on with Chromecast "casting" performance.

Netflix is fast obviously because you are just telling the chromecast to stream netflix itself, not "casting" it to chromecast. Same goes with youtube.

However "casting" performance for me is even worse than the described .3fps on my Chromebook Pixel that isn't running ChromeOS. And my LAN is fast enough to use mplayer over ssh/x-forwarding... Trying chrome tab casting in Debian on a Chromebook Pixel burns the Pixel up, with it being very obvious that the Pixel is the bottleneck.

Trying to video encode the "cast" tab without using hardware support maybe? I'm not sure, I haven't really investigated it further.


I find the critique confusing, too, because I streamed a 1080p movie to my Chromecast by dragging it into Chrome and then casting from Chrome itself.

No problems. It played fine.


Is Chrome actually decoding the file then reencoding it / pushing raw video frames, or is it just streaming the file to the Chromecast? I suspect the later.

Maybe I'll try that myself later.


Tried it myself. Chrome plays the video fine itself. Trying to cast that tab to Chromecast has the CPU usage on the casting computer spike way up. This is not a network bandwidth issue.

Incidentally I've just discovered that my Roku can have local videos streamed to it from my S3. It works flawlessly.


I just bought a chromecast now it's finally out in the UK. Streaming local video from my dlna server over wifi has been a total pleasure and works perfectly. Iplayer, youtube, any other html5 video I throw at it just works. What are you trying to do with it that gets that kind of lag? The only thing I've found which reduces framerate at all is the experimental fullscreen casting.


This is something I can't get my head round. I have a NAS which I sometimes stream stuff from my xbox 360 from. With chromecast do I need any other device for that to work. Or does it go NAS > Phone/Laptop > Chromecast. Or NAS > Chromecast.


You need to upgrade your router. I was using a cheapo D-Link router when I first got my ChromeCast and the connection was awful. Range to laptops and devices was terrible and the connection always dropped. I bought an ASUS router for $150 and life is incredibly easier. I can stream HD content from 40-50ft away across 3 bedrooms without any issues.


I'm confused: are you talking about wifi range (presumably fixable by using a WAP that's better than the one built into your router) or the bandwidth of the router itself? Only asking because ISTM a decent WAP is much cheaper than $150...


It's not necessarily bandwidth or range. Some of it can just be the quality of the router implementation. I remember having lots of trouble with a Chromecast (discovery issues, losing connections and other issues) and I couldn't figure out what was going on, especially since I had a brand-spanking new high-power access point.

But I wasn't using my new access point as a router. For unrelated reasons, I replaced the 10+ year-old router with something newer and the Chromecast started working flawlessly even though I hadn't changed anything on the wireless side.


OK so it's not the WAP, but I still think we could differentiate between an ethernet switch upgrade (for local problems i.e. with content streamed from one device to another) and a router upgrade (for upstream problems: NAT issues maybe?). Routers have switch functionality built-in, but since you were using a really old one you might have tried sticking a cheap switch between the router and your local network before upgrading. Anyway, I think the blanket "You need to upgrade your router." advice is unwarranted.


I have never, ever had video lag with my chromecast. It works flawlessly every time I use it. Netflix and HBO Go from a Moto X.


Have you tried the 'Videostream' app for the Chrome browser? Works flawlessly for me for playing local videos (although only mp4 right now). They also have an Android app so you can use your phone/tablet as a remote control.


That is odd. On mine on a poor connection it works like youtube -- it pauses for buffering. But it plays smoothly when it's not paused for buffering...


Per other commenter, you are doing something wrong. My friend has had one since it was released. Works really well.


Not only the lag, but if you're looking at your TV screen, you can't effectively use the iPhone/iPad screen as a controller, unless it's super simple.


I haven't really had a problem with it.


To the people saying they haven't had a problem with it: Have you ever tried to play an action game via mirroring on Apple TV? The lag is short enough that it might be acceptable for turn based games, but playing, e.g. Real Racing (which I have) is a terrible experience.

This is an AirPlay issue, right? For example, when I go to pause a song that is being AirPlayed to my Airport Express, there is a noticable delay before the song stops playing.


It works fine for me, and if I remember correctly the people having a problem with lag had their ATV connected via RJ-45 and switching to wifi fixed it.


Really? Mine is on wifi and lags. My guess is it's like 150 - 250 ms but it's enough to make any game impossible to play (except maybe Threes)


That sounds completely backwards to me. You should get significantly lower latency over a LAN connection than WiFi.


They might be using the wireless network for a handshake and then bypassing the router entirely with a private network shared by the 2 devices.


Sounded strange to me too, here is the discussion

https://discussions.apple.com/message/24987047#24987047


If AppleTV let me watch Amazon Prime video it would be perfect. I use Amazon Prime and Hulu+ for TV, and right now the only device I have that lets me watch both is my PS3, and its UI sucks (plus it's constantly requiring me to download updates).


Amazon added this about six months ago, but it requires another iOS device:

http://techcrunch.com/2013/09/17/amazons-instant-video-app-a...


Interesting that Amazon now has a pretty good motivation to remove this feature.


Why? That's like saying that Amazon has a motivation to remove the Kindle app from iPhones and iPads so that you'll be forced to buy their Kindle. Amazon actually doesn't care if you buy their hardware or not, they only care about selling you content.


Why? Amazon wants to make money on the blades (content), not the razor.


Except they are now selling a razor that "works best" with their own blades.


Don't get confused: Amazon will always sell you both razors and blades. They're not in the business of winning one specific category: they want to win everything.

That's why you can use the Kindle app on your iOS, or Android, or web browser. Or Amazon Prime on PS3/4, Xbox One/360, Roku, iOS.

They don't have to kill the iPad; they just have to win every book reader.


Except Amazon Prime still doesn't work on Android, other than the Fire. Kindle is truly cross platform, but Prime streaming video is not.


I've had a Roku for more than a year and it offers both Amazon Prime video and Hulu+. (And Netflix and many other apps.)


I have started to discover that a killer feature of the Apple TV is the ability to use the iTunes Music Store. It very often has movies (even obscure ones) that don't exist on Netflix or Amazon free or paid. For any given movie, the chances of me finding it on Apple seem to be best of all services.


Have you noticed how Amazon Prime now has the rubbishest films on it for the "included with Prime" section but the films you'd expect to be included are now "buy!" or "rent!"



Compared to any other device I use, PS3 updates are unusually intrusive. Almost nothing seems to be done automatically, so I'll end up with 5 minutes of downloading update apps and system updates before I can do what I intended to do when I sat down. Oh, and the updates are often "required", meaning you're prevented from even running your out of date app. I'm hopeful that they fixed most of these issues for the PS4 (hard to believe there was no App Store or Play Store when the PS3 came out).


> PS3 updates are unusually intrusive

I totally agree with that statement, I just was taken aback by the word "constantly."


They're using it as an incentive to purchase PS+ - so I don't think this will be fixed with PS4. I find it distasteful being forced to pay to prevent being blocked by updates when all I want to do is watch a video.

http://manuals.playstation.net/document/en/ps3/current/setti...


Agreed - the worst are the ones that just tell you to update but don't provide a button to take you to the update option.


Fire TV screen mirrors from Kindle Fire HDX tablets (smaller, lighter, cheaper than iPad). Not sure about other Android tablets (at least until XDA geeks get ahold of one).


I disagree that this will become a winner. No one wants to play crappy games on their TV, and Amazon can't become a winner with the small population of people who do.


Amazon in theory is looking for more than just crappy games. They grabbed Double Helix and I have to assume that was part of this initiative, and they've recently released several well regarded games in Killer Instinct and Strider.


Wrong audience, this is everything my Roku is but better. Better UI, better performance. Plus apps and maybe some games with a real controller. It is everything an OUYA is but better. And miracast support too.


This reminds me of phones before the iPhone. Yeah, "better" UI, bigger keyboards, more color, .1 more megapixel camera... Iterative stuff.

Someone or some company is going to have to completely shatter our imaginations of this market. Until then, good luck getting any massive success.


The gaming part won't do anything, in France each internet provider give a box exactly like this one, with TV and games. Guess what, nobody play the games. The people that play games in front of their TV are gamers that want AAA experience.


I feel like that last part is an assumption. That's like saying people who want more out of their phones only want to do e-mail.

I have been aching for a large library of easy and casual games I can share with my wife forever. She doesn't care about the AAA games and I'm willing to give those up if it means we can play together.

Also, the standards for games these days is really low. I see children playing total crap all the time. Gone are the days you beg your mom to spend $60 buying you one game where upon you had to spend the next 6 months playing it before you would get another one. Parents will buy a game on their phone and hand it to their kid like its the pacifier of the 21st century.


Not sure if it will be a category winner, but if the gaming works, it will definitely be a winner for me. I haven't owned a gaming console in years, but I'd certainly do some casual gaming if there was a cheap option built into a streaming. I currently own and frequently use an older Roku, but if gaming reviews come are positive I will likely switch.


To me the big questions is whether Amazon will release a first-party gaming peripheral for this device. If they make that kind of commitment to gaming, they'll have my attention. Even if it's a re-branded MadCatz PS3 controller, it would be an important move.

There are tons of dongles and sticks with gaming added as an afterthought. I'm interested in seeing somebody truly tackle the space Ouya promised to deliver - the low-cost Android gaming device.



... oh man, I missed that detail.

Seriously, Google needs to wake up and notice that other people are doing a better job with Android than they are.


I thought that was the point of Android, to let other parties do some of the work to keep the internet "open"?


That looks pretty nice, as controllers go, and better priced than e.g. the most recent DualShock.

Seeing that it's Bluetooth, I hope support for it trickles into mainstream Linux.


I'm really not that impressed. This is just Apple TV for the Amazon eco-system with gaming lopped on. The majority of people don't care about the specs of their set-top box since that really doesn't affect the performance of streaming an HD video in this day and age. So the two differentiating features are:

- Voice Search

- Gaming

Are those enough of a value proposition? Probably not to make converts. I suspect the main buyers will be those who simply have bought into Amazon Instant Video as opposed to iTunes in the past. Let's see what Apple's next revision of Apple TV offers.


>Voice Search

God yes. The level of stupidity of all the set-top boxes I've used is staggering. I sit there and use a tiny keyboard to type in B-R-E-A and get tons of hits for things nowhere close to Breaking Bad until I practically type out the whole title.

I'd love to be able to just say the title and be done with it. Heaven forbid I'm ever allowed to say "Season pass, bob's burgers, new episodes only," and walk away. I do similar things with my Nexus phone and google now. The tech is certainly here.


> The level of stupidity of all the set-top boxes I've used is staggering. I sit there and use a tiny keyboard to type in B-R-E-A and get tons of hits for things nowhere close to Breaking Bad until I practically type out the whole title.

I'd settle for a non-braindead mobile or desktop client, I don't even need voice. I have a Sony Blu-Ray/Internet box whose remote app on iOS is literally the same up-down-left-right pad the remote has, but you have to swipe just right to get it to register. Why not just give me the same menu options the box has, but in a reasonable mobile device metaphor? I can't tap "Services" -> "Hulu" -> "TV Shows" -> type "SNL"; I have to navigate the set-top box's menu while trying to look at my phone at the same time. Mind-bogglingly bad.


And that Sony remote app has ads ... on top of being a royal pain to pair with the controlled device (haven't bothered pairing the new BD player after the 4yo stripped the tray-ejection gears pushing it in on the previous model).


Try chromecast. Find a show on the apps mobile client, send it to your tv. Works pretty good with standard Chrome on a laptop as well.

It's cheap enough that even if you don't like it, your not out that much money.


> I suspect the main buyers will be those who simply have bought into Amazon Instant Video as opposed to iTunes in the past.

But that includes anyone with Amazon Prime.

> Let's see what Apple's next revision of Apple TV offers.

Is Apple's next revision of Apple TV going to let me watch iTunes content from non-Apple devices? You're glossing over this as insignificant when, for lots of us, it's a deal-breaker.


If this is just going to be offering Prime videos, they really need to improve the quality of films they offer as else nobody will hang around. They offer ancient sci-fi films from the 1950s and also incessant horror films, neither of which I have an interest in watching.

All the films you'd want to watch have to be paid for now. Pretty glad I stuck with my Lovefilm disc renting option - far better choice, despite the fuel burn used by Royal Mail to get it to me.


> ancient sci-fi films from the 1950s and also incessant horror films

Well, I'm in. If you can play Minecraft Pocket Edition on a big screen, I suspect my nephews will be clamouring for one pretty quickly.


For me, it's not. But that's just me. Besides, what happens when Amazon decides that it wants to focus on it's ecosystem and pulls their app from other devices?


Then they will fail.

People want one box that does it all. Not a GoogleBox, AppleBox, and an AmazonBox. That's madness.

They want one box, preferrable for less than 100 bucks, that will play Hulu, Netflix, Prime, Vudu, Youtube, GooglePlay, iTunes, Plex, etc.

Right now, the _only_ way to do this with one box is to build your own NUC HTPC for a couple hundred dollars.

Amazon offers Amazon devices because they think you will be a better customer if they control the complete experience. However I can't imagine they would stop supporting Prime Video and Kindle on Android and iPad just to pump up their own device market. That's putting the cart before the horse.


Being as they don't support Prime Video on any Android devices (with very limited exceptions), it's very easy to imagine them "stopping" support of it.


They have that box already, and it's called Roku.


I can't get iTunes movies on my Roku. If I could, that would be the holy grail.


> This is just Apple TV for the Amazon eco-system with gaming lopped on.

I hate the word "just". The iPad is "just" a big iPod Touch. The new feature the client wants is "just" a simple checkbox. Etc.

Not only does that single word abstract away hundreds of person-years of work; it ignores the fact that products often gain market traction despite being "just" $existingThing + $minorChange, whether by reaching a tipping point of quality and experience, or through other intangibles like ecosystem, name recognition and marketing.

I love my AppleTV (mostly), but I'm keeping an eye on this thing (hopefully its software is higher quality than the Fire tablets).


I understand your gripe you just made with the word "just" and I'm not the OP.

I had a friend excitedly text me about this today so I looked it up. On the device's page [1] there is a 'compare to xyz' box they literally place 3 other devices that have existed for a while now and looking through this, it appears to me to be "just" amazon's attempt to get into this space without providing a lot of additional value.

Looking at the list they provide there each of the devices provide all the functionality I personally would ever want in a streaming hardware solution. They have "just" provided Apple TV for Amazon, they have not extended the paradigm as far as I can see.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-CL1130-Fire-TV/dp/B00CX5P8FC


I misread it as '$extingThing'. Twice. What's wrong with me, doctor?


If you have kids, you get some love in your parent role, too: limits to what kids see, and caps by content types and times of day -- no more negotiating! And they're launching an all-you-can-eat content subscription designed for kids under 9, including e-books.


This is a killer feature for parents. It's why I bought my daughter a Kindle tablet instead of an iPad. Having the same sort of controls available for the TV is why I'll buy this and ditch my Google TV (which, actually, I really like).

I'm hoping that controls will span both devices, so settings that are made on the tablet will also take effect on the TV.


This is the exact reason I just ordered one. I was on the fence about getting the HDX due to cost, but with this we can attach it to an old TV, get the subscription, and have a hopefully well thought out limit system built into the console.


I thought I'd follow up if anyone was watching. The Fire TV is blazingly fast. As in, it puts even my PS3 running Netflix to shame.

But, and it's a big one, any video service other than Amazon is treated as a second class citizen. So, without the kids AYCE package out yet I'm a bit disappointed. I think Amazon would do well to follow the Roku style and have cross-provider search and navigation.

In any case, it will move to be the kids TV media device now as it still isn't ready to be my primary media device.


"This is just Apple TV for the Amazon eco-system"

Which is not an insignificant demographic. There's a whole lot of folks who actually arent invested in the Apple ecosystem, this addresses a huge market segment, regardless of whether games are included.


There's a third feature that is not so obvious: competition. The more the better, for us customers.


Voice Search integrated with e-commerce could be the killer feature. Imagine saying "OK Amazon buy those shoes" that are currently displayed on your TV. One or two more steps to confirm the transaction orally and it's on its way. You've already got Prime and you trust that you'll get a competitive price from Amazon. So why not just buy right away?


That's a really great idea. Sadly I can see it being dangerous when the cat sits on the remote and my wife says "I would love to buy these shoes" and we get an Amazon box turn up.

Not dangerous for Amazon, just dangerous to me!


>The majority of people don't care about the specs of their set-top box since that really doesn't affect the performance of streaming an HD video in this day and age.

My Roku 3 might laugh at 1080p video but there's an advantage for Amazon if they can improve on the UI (fluidity and ease of navigation).


You forgot Amazon Prime Video, which isn't available on Chromecast, etc.


If this Amazon box ever gets MLB.TV I'll buy one that day to replace my AppleTV. I don't watch enough movies or non-sports TV to make Netflix worth it to me, but having ties into what Amazon Prime streaming would be enough to pull me over.


According to this page[1], it's coming soon to the Amazon Fire TV

[1]: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/subscriptions/index.jsp?content=produ...


Was very surprised to not see MLB.tv listed despite their willingness to support any device that has a screen.


Smart TV saturation remains small, so I don't see it being a proposition where they need to convert people: If you put the Amazon Fire beside an Apple TV, for many people the Amazon device may very well represent a better choice.

As to the specs of the device, while it's certainly true that specs alone mean little (especially vague, close to meaningless specs like "quad core"), the hardware put a ceiling on what the device is capable of doing. And in this case right off the bat it can do voice search, which as an Apple TV user I would actually be a convert for: It is an act of pure brutality to search on the Apple TV device.

Even just that the remote does not use infra-red is a hugely compelling feature to me.

EDIT: given that I mentioned the specs being vague, I should correct that on Amazon's dev site they list specifics, and it has a powerful CPU/GPU combo. Actually the same SoC as the Nexus 7 (2013), running at a higher frequency.


Fire TV supports standards like DIAL[1], so app developers can enable multi-screen experiences based on open technologies.[2]

[1] http://www.dial-multiscreen.org/

[2] http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-ne...


The side-by-side comparison with Roku/AppleTV actually looks pretty bad for Amazon Fire TV...

Same price, the only differences are that the Fire TV has voice search (don't care), a bunch of technical specs that the layperson doesn't care about, and a bunch of games (don't care). It's missing the checkbox for HBO GO (deal breaker for me personally).

I was expecting something like a monthly subscription for all-you-can-watch access to any TV show on Amazon Instant (not just the free Prime episodes). Kinda bummed because I really like Amazon as a content provider, but I'll be sticking with Roku for now.


Agreed, I own a roku and a chromecast, there is literally nothing here that makes me regret either, and nothing that would make me choose the Fire TV over AppleTV if I did want to be tied closer to one ecosystem.

I guess I'm bummed that it means it's unlikely the prime video interface will get any better on Roku, but Prime Instant video quality is already so much worse for me then any other source it's not that big a loss.


> and nothing that would make me choose the Fire TV over AppleTV if I did want to be tied closer to one ecosystem.

Well, Amazon is at least available on a variety of platforms whereas iTunes is only on Apple devices -- and will always only be available on Apple devices.


Um what? These restrictions are everywhere, just a little different across platforms.

For example

- All iTunes content is available on Mac, Windows & iOS devices, and all downloaded music is playable on all devices that support AAC. Apple doesn't offer a pure streaming service (AppleTV masquerades as one) so you're stuck with iOS, Windows, and Mac for purchased video content.

- Google Play content can be streamed to any device with an app or modern browser (Linux requires Flash hacks), but can only be downloaded to Android devices. You can't download a movie to play offline on your PC, Mac or iOS device.

- Amazon Instant Video is streamable to any device (Linux requires flash hacks) EXCEPT 3rd party Androids -- Amazon requires you to buy THEIR Android Kindle devices. Downloadable/offline content is only available on Windows.

- Netflix is streamable to any device with an app (Linux requires silverlight hacks). There is no downloadable content.


You seem to be saying these restrictions are equivalent, but we're talking about video here, and iTunes is only available on Apple devices and Windows desktop (who wants to watch movies on a desktop computer anyways), whereas Amazon Instant is available on dozens of blu-ray players, smart TVs, set-top boxes, video game consoles that they do not control.

Let's be clear here, iTunes is never coming to any non-Apple device unless the company takes a radical departure from what it has been doing the past 10 years.


Apple is in the business of selling devices and having the most content available to encourage adoption (and doing a pretty good job of it). I don't give a toss that iTunes isn't available on a bunch of Smart TVs or BluRay players, I'm rarely going to buy another BluRay player or Smart TV, nor are most people, they're happy with the one they've currently got.

Amazon is in the content distribution business and playing catchup on having the devices to support it (because, for some reason, having their app on a smart TV and set top box doesn't seem to be enough).

This is a pretty good offering, but it's clear that, HuluPlus and Netflix aside, the big players [Google|Amazon|Apple] wants to have their own device ecosystem, and are fighting to differentiate theirs. For $99, these streaming devices are a disposable income purchase that gives you benefits in a particular ecosystem. Amazon has no particular advantage in this race yet, they're still coming from behind.


No, they do have the advantage of being available on a large number of platforms. This means I can buy a movie from Amazon and feel confident that in 2 years if I decide to buy a different TV, a different set-top box, a different video game console, a different tablet, I probably (but of course not guaranteed) can still watch that movie on it.

That's like, a real advantage.


"iTunes is only on Apple devices"

No; iTunes runs on Windows.

Also, you can use Apple TV with non-iTunes bought stuff[1] although it does support iTunes sourced media of course, and fewer channels than Roku et.al. I usually just use it for Netflix, streaming radio stations and podcasts, and YouTube.

[1] http://www.apple.com/appletv/whats-on/


You're right, iTunes is on Windows as a legacy feature for the days when plugging your iPod into the computer was something you needed to do.

But let's not pretend like this means that it will becoming to Roku, Android, or the dozens of other places that you're likely to want to watch media content. Places where Amazon already is, and is expanding to more.


To my knowledge, you cannot stream Amazon Instant Video content to an Android portable device that isn't sold by Amazon.


What's your point? I didn't say Amazon was available on every platform in existence, just that it's available on a large variety of platforms and is expanding. I wish it was on Android too, that would be ideal, but we're just comparing availability here. And Amazon's is pretty good.


You are claiming that Amazon is on a wide variety of platforms and that's a reason to choose their ecosystem over Apple which encourages the purchase of an Apple device.

I don't agree. Google and Amazon are trying to get into Apple's device ecosystem game as it's way more profitable and offers more control than inserting apps on devices, which seems a failed strategy. Microsoft has already taken this approach with Surface and Xbox. And they're actively putting blocks up to their biggest competitors, which all about locking-in consumers to their ecosystem.

The the market leader in the "generic video streaming app everywhere" space (Netflix) is crowding out all competitors in this space unless they have exclusive content (HBO Go, HuluPlus, etc.) Apple maintains its market in the face of Netflix because of its wider content selection and the wide availability and affordability ($99) of its devices.

Amazon will be able to compete well here (this FireTV looks like a good offering) but we haven't seen what this year's AppleTV has in store, so it's not a slam dunk.


> You are claiming that Amazon is on a wide variety of platforms and that's a reason to choose their ecosystem over Apple which encourages the purchase of an Apple device.

Correct, can't wait for the counter argument.

> I don't agree.

Great, here it comes...

And then the rest of the post is about how the lock-in strategy is more profitable. Not sure if that's true or not, but doesn't have anything to do with my argument that being available on many devices is an advantage for the consumer.


This thread is about the introduction of the Fire TV, a strategy where Amazon is introducing their own device because the approach you laud, of supporting every device under the sun has FAILED to garner significant market share.

I spoke about profitability and the ecosystem because this shit matters and will affect your assumptions. Case in point: Microsoft and PlaysForSure, which they eventually undermined by pushing their own devices.

Amazon is already blocking Android tablets. Why won't they block future things? Will they support future SmartTVs and devices now that they have their own? Doubtful.


They binned support for my 2011 LG TV. Yes, it really is only 3 years old.

To say sorry, they sent me a Bluray drive that would stream so I can't complain really. It is just a fact that with a renting subscription service, they can end it and change it any time they want without much warning, and you're stuck. I probably need to get out of the mindset that they're going to be loyal with you after you're loyal with them. There isn't any loyalty with a subscription service (I get a month's film viewing when I pay for the month so I get what I pay for).

This appears to be the problems of subscription services, and to some extent cloud services, particularly those from Google and Ubuntu (goodbye One!). Apple seems to be better as their MobileMe system has been going forever.


Thanks for making your point clear.

I don't see any evidence that they are going to abandon other devices. The Kindle Fire didn't stop them from releasing an iPad app for Amazon Video, for example.

In reality the number of platforms they need to target is fairly small. There is the iOS world, there is Android, Roku, and HTML5. The vast majority of TV and blu-ray player apps are the same HTML5 app.

I would be concerned if Fire TV and Kindle Fire became too popular that they might abandon/neglect the other apps, but that's not likely to happen.


What's the prices for films on Apple TV? Can anyone enlighten me? When I last looked on iTunes, they wanted me to pay the equivalent of the price of DVD for a compressed download that I couldn't necessarily keep.

I'm in the UK. Is there some sort of subscription capability for a flat monthly fee? (Easier to budget for you see)


Eh, looks pretty good to me. Our wants are diametrically opposed: Voice search (do care -- Apple TV search is painful), tech specs (non line-of-sight remote -- Apple TV is line-of-sight), games (eh, might be a nice diversion for a few minutes after an episode of Walking Dead), and I don't have an HBO subscription.


I know the Apple TV came with a remote, but I never use it, because I have an iPhone. The RF remote isn't a huge win for people that use their phones to control the TV, which, as time goes on, will eventually be "everybody".


Looks like Roku with a better UI. I'll be getting one.

> I was expecting something like a monthly subscription for all-you-can-watch access to any TV show on Amazon Instant (not just the free Prime episodes).

That would be prohibitively expensive. You're talking about basically every popular show on TV.


[deleted]


Update: Amazon could not confirm that HBO Go is coming to the Fire TV, only saying "we're working to get more content."


And amazon customer service, which while not talked about often is truly top-notch.

For a person already invested in the amazon ecosystem, this doesn't have to be better than roku, it merely has to be about as good.

I own two rokus, but I also have amazon prime and my kid has a kindle fire. I will definitely consider this next time I need to upgrade (about once every 3-6 years judging by history)


I was actually impressed that they included the comparison chart, even though they didn't win every single category. Comparisons were the first question on my mind and they answered it without my having to go off page. Very sneaky of them, now people won't be so inclined to find independent comparisons that might be off-putting.


I suspect the missing checkmark beside HBO GO is more about putting pressure on HBO than on Amazon. It's got to be just about price and term, with Amazon showing strength by announcing without them.

But when both sides agree on price and ink the deal, HBO will get a premium announcement compared to the others. It will work out just fine.


Amazon FreeTime (coming next month, according to this page) is the most interesting piece for me - customized child safety settings for each child, with monthly subscriptions at $2.99 for children's TV shows.

It seems like Amazon recognized the popularity of streaming services for parents of young kids and is setting this up just for them...


Kindle FreeTime Unlimited is available now. http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?&docId=1000863021


That is incredible. Makes me consider buying a Kindle Fire for my daughter (age 5) instead of letting her use a legacy iPad when my wife upgrades her iPad 2.


But not in Canada. Not surprising given that Amazon would have to negotiate redistribution rights with an almost completely different set of distributors, but annoying none the less.


Ugh it's $2.99 a month if you have Amazon Prime. Otherwise it's $4.99 month. That kinda changes the deal since $4.99 a month gets you closer in cost to other services.


FreeTime is more along the lines of what Apple should have done instead of Guided Access for iOS7.

The only Amazon device I have is an old Kindle, but FreeTime would be used a lot if I had a Fire.


Further, the voice-driven interface is an interesting feature for young kids. Soon they'll expect to be able to talk to every machine in the house.


I know this is a nitpick...I really do, but for some reason things like this in marketing copy really annoy me:

"Remote with no line of sight required" - not checked for Chromecast. While kind of true since Chromecast doesn't have a dedicated remote, but the devices used to control it absolutely don't require line of site.


I agree, you could say the same thing for voice search since you can use voice search on your iphone/android to queue up videos to airplay/cast.


Agree with both of you and also wanted to add, who cares about how much memory the Chromecast has vs. the other devices?


And for "games" (many exist, though not of the sort that this device promises).


The same is (sorta) true of Apple TV. You can use an iOS device as a remote via WiFi.


This is a reasonable answer to Apple TV.

If you have videos on or subscriptions to iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon Prime (as I do), there's no box I'm aware of that will let you watch all three. So you end up using your Apple TV and then Roku or another box -- the Playstation 3 in my living room takes a long time to boot, and a long time to load the Netflix app, draws quite a bit of power, and is overkill for merely watching streaming video. The Amazon Fire TV, assuming it's fast enough, will add another device to my living room cabinet but make it a lot faster to switch to watching Amazon Prime videos.

Ideally Apple would allow Amazon to add Prime Streaming to the Apple TV box, or Roku would get the iTunes library. Then I could have an all-in-one box. But we all know that's not going to happen...


Apple TV lets you watch all three (iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon Prime).

Airplay is a thing.


So, the solution to the shortcomings of Apple devices is yet more Apple devices? Oh, ok.


Suspect many already have at least one Airplay capable device.


I suspect a majority of people don't.


I think only people with Apple devices buy Apple TVs. If they don't, I can see it being far less useful.


* Requires $500+ companion device.


Technically you only need an iPod Touch for $229. (Or maybe you need the better $299 one.)


OK, I'm honestly confused why I'm getting downvoted here. Can't you use the iPod touch as the companion device to Airplay from for Amazon Prime video?


I didn't downvote you, you're right, I was thinking between an iPad and an iPhone (and I had forgotten that iPad Mini is cheaper). But perhaps people are downvoting you because you are pointing out a technicality when the point is really that to get full advantage of the Apple TV you need some other device that's exclusively made by Apple and that's not cheap.


Amazon Prime is not on Apple TV. That's why I have a Roku sitting next to my Apple TV.


I actually AirPlay amazon prime to Apple TV from my iPhone. In Vietnam, playing anything off the iTunes store can be a lengthy process but somehow Amazon is almost always instantaneous.


Ah, but I want to be able to view Amazon Prime without resorting to an Airplay workaround. For my living room use case Airplay isn't an option; I'm looking for an integrated unit.


I must plead ignorance:

How is that a "workaround"?

An iPad, iPad Mini, iPod, or iPhone is your remote - the AppleTV remote is horrible anyways and I've personally long ago tossed it. Fire up your new remote and play anything you like... it's incredibly simple.


First, it's not an all-in-one integrated unit, which I was talking about in my upthread discussion. Second, it's "simple" for you, but my use case is not yours: it involves very young children and very old adults who don't want to use or don't know how to use this interface. Third, it relies on a WiFi connection that isn't as reliable as the gigabit Ethernet connection that I wired my house with.

I'm sure your solution works fine for you. But be careful in projecting your use case to everyone's. :)


They're studying the mistakes of others, and paying attention to user reviews of competing products, so they can solve real pain points:

> During its presentation, Amazon said that it has been paying close attention to the complaints of customers who have been using the other companies' devices through Amazon—namely that search is difficult, performance is laggy, and the ecosystems are closed—in order to build its own streaming device." [1]

For instance, what they're doing with the child-oriented mode is what I wish Apple had done with the iPad and iPhone, a long time ago.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2014/04/amazon-reveals-video-...


Yet Chromecast solves those issues too. Searching for content is done on website or on existing app, so its only difficult or slow as website or app is.


Yes and no. Chromecast requires you having another device to use with it. Grabbing my phone, opening the Netflix app, choosing to Chromecast, searching for a show, hitting play then waiting ~30 seconds for the Chromecast to actually play is not a good user experience. I use my Roku almost exclusively now.


I actually find it much easier to search or browse for content using my tablet or phone, then choose to throw it up on the TV via Chromecast, as opposed to searching for content using a remote like on a Roku or my Xbox.

It just seems easier for me to do this in my hand than ten feet away, especially when I have to try to enter text into a TV interface.


I found Chromecast OK when I was using it by myself, but sharing it is a problem. It's difficult to have two or more people crowded around a smartphone screen deciding what to watch. The big screen interface works much, much better.

Even that aside, my girlfriend doesn't want to use my phone to navigate, so she has to install Netflix on her phone too. And set up the user account there. Multiply that by every service we have (and Amazon Instant isn't on Android)... it's just clunky. Fine, but clunky. Having it all centralised on one box works better, as far as I'm concerned.


I agree... I really like the Chromecast most of the time. Browsing for content on the phone or tablet is much easier than via a remote sometimes.

But there are other times when I wish there were another option available as well.


This thread is perfect. I'm compiling a first-world-problems encyclopedia and needed material.


It's a thread discussing an on-demand video streaming box that costs a hundred dollars and is designed to solve a first world problem.

What exactly were you expecting to read in here?


heh.. humorlessness is a treatable condition. Chill pills are often effective against it ;)


> Chromecast requires you having another device to use with it.

So does the Fire TV. The remote control is still a device you have to have in hand. And, personally, I'd take using my phone or tablet instead anyday.

It's gotten to the point that I think any device that uses its own proprietary remote control with physical buttons is a failure in UI design.


You do realize that a remote control is always going to be faster than pulling out your phone, unlocking it, and finding the app whose content you want to view, waiting for the app to launch?

I've done countless usability studies and in-home studies where we looked at the behavior of people who have access to a remote control and apps on their phone or tablet that can launch content or control their set-top box. People loved the idea of this, but guess what the majority of users end up doing? Picking up the physical remote control.

And tasks that you may think are easy and intuitive are not always for the average user. We saw many people struggle to play content via AirPlay.

Remember, part of good UI design is embracing 40 years of ingrained behavior.


Not if the remote control is e.g. a Roku remote control. By the time I've done all the things you list in your first paragraph on my phone or tablet with my Chromecast, you'll have typed about three or four letters into the onscreen keyboard that Roku uses.


The remote is shared, though. It sits on the table. If my smartphone is the remote then no-one can use it when I'm not at home. So instead you have to set up every smartphone as a remote. And what about children? Do you want them to use your smartphone?

A cheap, disposable remote is no bad thing.


If my smartphone is the remote then no-one can use it when I'm not at home. So instead you have to set up every smartphone as a remote

That's not how it works. Anyone connected to your Wifi, is "set up" to use the Chromecast and can stream from any number of apps like YouTube, Netflix, Google Play Music and Movies, Pandora, and now even Rdio and Vudu.


I know, I have a Chromecast.

They still need to set up those apps on their phone. They need to log in to Netflix, Amazon Instant, etc. etc. even if they never watch content on their phone.


You log into those apps once when you install them on your device. How difficult is it to install an app one time?

Amazon Instant doesn't have an app that works with Chromecast that I'm aware of.


Do you want a child with unrestricted Internet access on a mobile device?


Something along the lines of a shared iPod Touch that sites on the table solves this problem. Perhaps it's not cheap and disposable, but I would view that as the price of a better solution to a remote control (that can also be more than a remote control).


You would think that but a remote is handy because it's on the couch, and my phone is either in my pocket or charging.

The bummer with this remote (and the roku remote) is that if you have an AV system hooked to the TV you need a separate remote for volume. I wish there was a tiny bit of learning on these sort of remotes.


Your Chromecast takes 30 seconds to load content? In our house someone pretty much always has either their phone, tablet, or laptop nearby and with the HDMI-CEC, you don't even have to find the TV remote to switch inputs, you just queue up want you to want to watch and it plays. And then people can take turns with their respective devices (if you're watching YouTube videos or playing music, etc.)

We also have a Roku and used that before the Chromecast, but the Chromecast is more popular with everyone (kids) in the house for the aforementioned reason of communal use. It's like the Nexus Q was supposed to be, but for video.


Has anyone confirmed if Fire TV has HDMI-CEC?


So I got my Fire TV. It has some CEC support because it shows up as a source to my TV and the TV and receiver correctly switch to it. My TV remote, however, does not control the Fire TV. Given that the HDMI hardware supports CEC, I think this was their choice and one that they hopefully will change with a software update.


This is the thing I want to know the most. So I bought one and will probably return it if it doesn't.


But I already have a smartphone in my pocket. Its not like I'm gonna run out and buy one just so I can use with Chromecast. I don't find the delay to play any worse than my "smart" blu-ray player. And the navigating is so much quicker. Netflix saves my position in show or series so resume watching Sesame Street or House of Cards is a click away.

As to your other point, I see lack of shared remote as a good thing. I get to control what they kids watch. And when they are old enough to stay at home they will most likely have their own device.


That's pretty funny, as a long-time Roku user. The search couldn't be easier, whether you're inside a specific app, or using the cross platform search feature. Performance is snappier than these services on a desktop browser, and the ecosystem is as open as anyone could want.


As a long-time Roku user I curse ours almost every day. Performance is slower than every other device we own (except the Chromecast). They constantly "reset" themselves while trying to navigate through the Netflix and Amazon listings. Videos will just sporadically stop playing or run into constant buffering issues. There are no parental controls. They didn't support DLNA until a few months ago.


"long-time Roku user."

How old is your box? I'm still happy with mine, despite it being a couple of years old. I was thinking of getting a new one, but if the new ones are of poorer quality...


We own a Roku 2 XD and a Roku LT, both about 2.5 years old. Both worked great for ~ 6 months and then... something changed and they haven't worked well since.

I used to have one of the originals, it was great.


I did notice that the UI gets slower and less responsive, but I blame myself for being a cheapo and expecting a $70 box to last years.

I'm waiting a bit to see if the next RokuBox or AmazonBox ends up supporting iTunes videos (which is a nice to have, but not a must have.)


Seriously? There is a lag moving between characters. Typing is painful. The UI is horrible.

I am getting ready to dump a good $500 on a brand new setup just to replace my Roku because it is so bloody painful to use.


For me, AirPlay is the killer Apple TV feature. Any time a new app comes out for iOS that supports streaming video, I know I'm going to be able to play it on my television. The local content provider apps on the device don't really matter that much to me. I can even stream Amazon Prime video to my Apple TV, so I'm having a hard time seeing why I would want this instead of waiting for the next generation Apple TV.


FireTV supports Miracast according to the PR: Miracast according to Press Release:

You can also wirelessly mirror your tablet display to your Fire TV with Kindle Fire, as well as other Miracast-enabled phones or tablets starting later this year. Fire TV supports standards like DIAL, so app developers can enable multi-screen experiences based on open technologies.

http://phx.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=176060&p=irol-ne...


Ah, this is one of the problems with isolated ecosystems, I guess. Until Apple opens up AirPlay (never), I'm stuck with whatever they give me. :/


The only way to get yourself out of the lock in is to stop buying their devices.


>Any time a new app comes out for iOS that supports streaming video, I know I'm going to be able to play it on my television.

Unless they block Airplay, which is not unusual. Like Amazon Prime didn't allow streaming until recently. HBO Go also took a while to allow it.

http://venturebeat.com/2013/09/17/amazon-primes-ios-app-fina...


I just bought the G-Box MX2 and it can do almost everything you request; play Netflix, local media, pandora, etc. However, Prime is not available on it since that is Amazon exclusive.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CH643A8/ref=oh_details_o...


XBMC have builtin AirPlay receiving capability. And you can install XBMC on pretty much any ARM/x86 based device


I think this will be huge.

It will only take one great game for this thing to pop. With a system that enough users will have in the living room someone is going to put together a fun free-to-play FPS and that will be enough for it to be the clear winner over AppleTV / Chromecast.

Voice search is a big deal if it works the way I think it does. TV is easy, everyone knows how to use one and how to find what they want to watch. Navigating between Netflix, Hulu, Instant, iTunes, Cruncyroll, NBC ... is a pain. Even on my AppleTV navigating Netflix alone is the worst.


What I find most exciting is that this finally opens the doors for indie game developers to write games for the big screen.

It is true that Steam was already doing that, but I think the audience of people with a PC plugged to a TV screen in the living room or that owns a Steam box is not as big as what the Fire TV owners might end up being


> this finally opens the doors for indie game developers to write games for the big screen

Sony has had extensive and widely-used support for indie game development for the PlayStation platforms for quite some time.[1]

Microsoft has has had so-so support for indie developers (choice between them essentially acting as your publisher or fending for yourself in the Xbox Live Indie Games wasteland), but they're trying to fix that with ID@Xbox.[2]

Then, of course, there's Ouya, if you're in to that sort of thing.[3] It's an Android platform too.

[1]: http://us.playstation.com/develop/

[2]: http://www.xbox.com/en-us/Developers/id

[3]: https://www.ouya.tv


Everything you say is absolutely right.

What I meant to say however (and I apologize for the way I phrased it) is that this is makes it even easier for indie developers to reach a wide audience.

Not only do I expect that it will be fairly easy to port Android Tablet games to the Fire TV, I also think that the strategy of offering a TV box that has a Games marketplace as a bonus feature is a strategy that will allow Fire TVs to sell a lot more than Ouyas.


For what it's worth, OUYA's strategy was literally "let indie game developers write games for the big screen", and they successfully launched that product more than half a year ago.

OUYA has lots and lots of their own problems, but they are the most polished version of the "get indie developers on TV" idea.

Or at least, they were, until today's FireTV launch.


What if this could handle steam in-home streaming?


I am kind of surprised the Roku manages to stay independent in all the 'tv' efforts. They have a really nice player and now a nice 'stick' player. Also a pretty easy to use SDK. So why re-build all or much of that for a proprietary box? Any thoughts on that strategy?


Roku, as I understand it, derives their revenue from hardware sales. So they have such an incentive to get you to upgrade hardware that they will actually take away content[1] in an effort to force you to do so.

My guess is Amazon is doing the opposite. They're probably practically giving away the hardware in hopes they'll realize more profits on the content you buy. And a device like this is just a small piece of a larger puzzle for Amazon and with their previous hardware experience its not a giant leap for them to produce a proprietary box.

For Roku, their device line is the puzzle. So sure, they have an easy to use SDK[2] it is also proprietary. I'm guessing Amazon built the Fire TV on Android so new apps are really just Android apps.

[1]: They did this last year and as a result I will never buy another Roku product again.

[2]: I'm still dumbfounded that they based it on Visual Basic. Carl Sassenrath is an employee now. In my opinion they'd do well to scrap their existing VB-style SDK and base the next generation on Rebol.


Tut tut, brightscript ;)

I looked into writing for Roku, cracked open some docs, and that was the end of that.


I was an early Ouya backer and was really really disappointed I sold it (like 1 month after I received it. This Amazon Fire TV may be what the Ouya was supposed to be, I mean I know it's more seen as a Roku/Apple TV competitor but for me if it runs Android then I can use it as a decent Emulation machine (RetroArch etc... )

I will buy one for sure


Why did you sell it?


So that answers my question of whether my Apple TV would ever get Amazon streaming.


Not necessarily, Roku, PS 3 & 4, Xbox 360 & One all have amazon streaming.

It probably has more to do with Apple than Amazon.


Eh, I'd believe that except for the fact Amazon basically limited its 'Android streaming' to its Fire line.

I think Amazon is trying to lock customers into thinking of Amazon products first whenever they search for anything Amazon sells.


But other Android devices, weirdly, do not.


Slightly more weirdly, Google TV does have an Amazon Instant Video app. But non-TV Android does not. Well, Kindle. But non-TV Google-standard Android does not.


My guess is that Apple insists that they are the only source for pay per view/purchased films/TV programs on the Apple TV and the Amazon won't just bring their subscription Prime service without the PPV side.

This guess is made without knowledge of the specific situation between Apple/Amazon but having dealt with some similar service providers (when working for an electronics company).


That has not stopped them from making it available on the iPad... It works just fine, you just have to use the browser to buy new things.


I think you mean "any device that isn't Amazon branded", since Android devices that aren't in the Kindle Fire family also can't watch Amazon streaming stuff.

Amazon is attempting vendor lockin.


Blatantly false. I have a Sony Blu Ray player that has Amazon Instant Video on it and I use it along with Hulu and Netflix.

If this thing played Blu Rays, I could dump my DVD player, my XBOX 360 (my wife and I mostly only play casual games or Wii, this seems like a good fit), and my reliance on other gaming consoles.

Amazon wants all roads to lead back to Amazon. This strategy is clear. They have their Instant Video streaming service, as well as their Appstore on pretty much any device or platform they can get on. They want ubiquity, so they can attract streaming customers from other services and THEN, and only THEN, lock them in with original content or a better customer experience.

They haven't done "vendor lock in" the same way we think of when we think of Microsoft or Apple. In fact, they've made it pretty clear they want fully compatibility with Android, which almost assumes its helping Google in the process.


There are hundreds of devices out there capable of playing Amazon Video, they can't because Amazon either doesn't allow it (Android devices that aren't their branding) or charges a fee/device (ie. $1/Roku).

They want Vendor lock in, not in the sense that your data isn't portable, but that you rely on only their services. They do this by slowly pushing you onto more of their specific hardware and bundling more services essentially exclusively with their products


This is a valid point, and I suppose you could look at it as lock-in. Amazon of course would see customers simply choosing the better deal. Its what they do, after all.

Looking at it the other way, Amazon could build 20 teams to maintain the streaming software on all the devices, something that would be difficult to do at scale, profitably, while providing the solid customer experience Amazon has come to be known for. The detractors there would say "who cares if they don't lock you in, they cant, it sucks its slow and it crashes all the time." In my mind, Amazon is making the right choice, especially in the wake of Apple and Google.


I've never been charged a fee for using Amazon Video on our Rokus. What are you referring to?


They aren't charging you (well, directly), they're charging the device manufacturer -- the $1/Roku amount is not the actual per-device royalty.


Good thing as a customer I don't care. I can't imagine Roku would sell their device for $98 without Amazon, nor would a $69 device without Amazon Instant Video seem attractive.

As the customer, I couldn't care less. There is no "lock in" in this regard.


That's still much less locked in than Apple's approach (IIRC another manufacturer asked Apple to name their price, and was told they just weren't interested)


It has a USB port - what's that for? Think they might add a plug-in Blu-ray drive accessory?


There is an ios app for Amazon streaming...


Yes, but not on non-Amazon Android.


Interesting. I went to look it up because I thought you were wrong. You can get the Amazon Appstore on non-Amazon android devices, but it seems you are correct about AIV.

Wonder if its a DRM issue, or other hardware security issue for Android devices.


I wondered if it was security but the banking apps don't have a problem with being installed...

I suspect it's to attempt to railroad people into buying the Fire range of Android-based devices. Not for me thanks! Why do I need another Android device?

Mind you, if the Lovefilm "By Post" application is anything to go by, Amazon can't find any decent Android developers in the world to employ because that piece of software is dreadful. Truly truly dreadful. Buggy, crashy, laggy, all three. They decided to not use native lists but use some weird HTML system; look at the licenses on that app. It's rubbish.

So, either railroading or they can't find decent developers to write a video streaming app. After all, BBC iPlayer uses Air I think. That was never a painfree experience on Android.


[deleted]


We stream Amazon video all the time to ATV. This def works.


There's an Amazon Instant Video app for Google TV.


Ditto for Chromecast.


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