Amazon announced the Fire TV on Wednesday, and once again Amazon has taken aim at Apple and come out swinging. It’s another box to hook up to the telly, but this one offers Amazon Instant Video (only available on Roku before now), voice control out of the box (possible after a fashion on Apple TV), and one option unseen on other boxes: A game controller and over 100 games to play (with more coming soon). Many consumers will find it compelling, and that means Apple should pay attention.
There’s a comparison chart on Amazon’s Fire TV page, showing the capabilities of the box and how it compares to the Roku, Apple TV, and Chromecast. On paper it looks impressive with a quad-core processor against Apple’s single and Roku’s dual-cores, 2 GB of memory against 512 MB in the rest, and a remote that does not require line of sight access. A notable exception on the comparison chart is that the Fire TV doesn’t offer HBO GO, and all the others do.
I didn’t know I’d be the kind of person to hook up all manner of devices to my televisions, but as it turns out, I am. I have an Apple TV, a Chromecast, and recently a Roku 3 that replaced a Boxee box. If I had waited a bit longer to get the Roku, I may well have picked up the Fire TV for a couple of key reasons: If it works, that voice control would be amazing, and Plex is an option from the get-go, without any jiggery-pokery.
I’m not terribly interested in it for myself, but as a spectator, I am fascinated by the game controller option as well. It’s almost a photonegative of the Xbox, a game playing box that has some media capabilities.
I know that Jeff Gamet said the Fire TV wouldn't impress analysts, and while that's possible, I think it will impress more than a few consumers. You know, analysts keep not being impressed with Apple and that isn't stopping them from selling products hand over fist.
I read what Katie Floyd had to say on the Fire TV, and I agree that this is virtually a no-brainer for someone invested in Amazon’s content, and a tempting option for someone who hasn’t purchased all their movies in iTunes. Either way, Apple needs to up their game if they want to compete, because Amazon is clearly going big.