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Amazon announces $99 video streaming, set-top box

Amazon is stepping up the technology industry's push into the customers' living room via entertainment and video streaming technology.
By Ananth Baliga   |   April 2, 2014 at 1:20 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, April 2 (UPI) -- Amazon announced the launch of a $99 set-top box called Amazon Fire TV, and will aim to take on Apple TV, Roku, and the Xbox One.

At an event in New York, Amazon VP Peter Larsen unveiled the new set-top box that can stream movies, television shows and other video from the Web, and will include voice-enabled searches when you speak into the remote. The device could also serve as a gaming console as well.

“We wanted to build a streaming media device that allowed customers to play a variety of games at affordable prices," a company spokesperson said during the event. "By next month, thousands of games will be available for customers to play. Customers can use the fireTV remote, and they can also use an app for phones or tablets as a controller. There is also a dedicated game controller available as an accessory."

Larsen said their competitors' devices had three major problems: difficulty searching for content, slow performance and unreliable, closed ecosystems -- Amazon Prime is not available on Apple TV.

The device will give users access to Amazon's online video library and also include a range of content from Hulu, Netflix and ESPN. The Fire TV will cost $99 and start shipping Wednesday.

The set-top box will come with a remote and has a quad-core processor, 2 GB of RAM and a graphics processing unit for gaming. According to Amazon, Fire TV is three times faster than the $99 Apple TV.

The Roku 3 set-top box sells for about the same price as Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV at $99.99. Roku last month began shipping the $49.99 Streaming Stick to compete with the more affordable Google Chromecast, which uses a dongle to stream content to users' televisions.

The online retailer has been making a strong push into the living rooms of customers, with its Prime Instant Video service. The service that comes with Amazon's two-day shipping Prime service, streams videos and past seasons of popular shows, apart from some Amazon-created content.

The announcement also signals Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos' intentions of moving the Internet retailer into the entertainment and hardware industry. Amazon is involved in the manufacturing of tablet computers, e-readers and delivery drones.

[Amazon]
[Mashable]
[New York Times]

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