Amazon announced Wednesday its contender to the contingent of streaming media players and sticks vying for a piece of living rooms with Fire TV. Shipping today for $99, Fire TV offers the usual set of media apps like Netflix, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, YouTube, and, of course, Prime, among many others.
With app offerings similar to competitor products, Fire TV differentiates itself by creating something closer to a true second screen entertainment experience — if you have a Kindle Fire HDX, that is. While watching a show or movie on the TV, Amazon's X-ray feature can be pulled up on a Kindle Fire HDX to glimpse deeper information like in which other movies you've seen the lead character.
Fire HDX users can also fling content between the tablet and TV, so that when you want to continue watching a show as you move throughout the house, you can take it on your tablet and vice versa. Amazon hopes to bring the feature to iPhones and iPads later this year.
Amazon ecosystem users will be right at home with Fire TV, because as Engadget reports, "Basically if it's a feature of the Fire OS, it's coming to the TV box," including parental controls.
Fire TV has voice activation by pressing and holding the button at the top of the remote to search for entertainment options by simply saying the title of the program. It's intended to remove the annoying alphabet grid search currently used in other streaming boxes like the Apple TV and Roku.
Gaming is also a key feature in Fire TV, so much so that Amazon has released a separate gaming controller ($40) for a broader set of controls and to allow multiplayer game play. Titles like Minecraft are available on Fire TV, and Amazon says the average price of games is less than $2.
Will Fire TV have a place in your living room?