Amazon releases Fire TV set-top box with voice activation

The box will retail for $99

Amazon today released its set-top box aimed at competing with Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Roku's set-top box and recently released Streaming Stick.

One of the defining features of Amazon's set-top box is a voice search that allows users to tune into a channel or program by saying the title, actor's or director's name, TV series or movie category or channel into the remote control. The control uses Bluetooth version 2.1.

Amazon Fire TV
Amazon's Fire TV set-top box and remote control

Amazon's Fire TV set top box will sell for a retail price of $99, more than the Chromecast, which sells for $35 and Roku's Streaming Stick, for $49.

In a chart, Amazon compares its Fire TV with the Roku 3 and Apple TV, both of which retail for $99. It comes with HDMI (with support for 720p and 1080p resolution), Optical Audio, Ethernet and USB ports.

A look at the Amazon Fire TV remote.

The set-top box weighs 9.9 ounces and is 4.5 x 4.5 in x 0.7 inches in size. The remote is 1.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches.

The Fire TV comes with dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) and supports public and private Wi-Fi networks that use the 802.11a/b/g/n standard with support for WEP, WPA and WPA2 security using password authentication.

The set-top box exceeds the specifications of its competitors in several areas in particular, Amazon said. The box has 8GB of solid state storage and 2GB of memory with a dedicated Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU compared with the 512MB of capacity of its competitors.

Amazon's Fire TV runs off a Qualcomm Krait 300, quad-core to 1.7 Ghz processor. Only the Roku 3 has a dual-core processor. Other competitors come with a single-core processor.

Text about this image
A set-top box price and feature comparison (Source: Amazon).

Amazon's Fire TV is also certified for use with Dolby Digital Plus surround sound systems.

The company said the box will offer more than 200,000 TV episodes and thousands of movies through its Amazon Prime Instant Video service. The company is offering a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime with a purchase of the set-top box.

Content can be streamed from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Crackle, YouTube, HBO Go, Showtime Anywhere, WatchESPN, Bloomberg TV, Vevo and Pandora.

Additionally, an optional game controller ($39.99) can be added to Fire TV. Currently, Amazon is offering access to more than 100 games with "thousands more coming soon."

In a separate announcement, Amazon Game Studios released its new Sev Zero game built specifically for its Fire TV. "Sev Zero... combines a fast-action third-person shooter experience with the calculated strategy of tower defense gameplay," Amazon stated in its news announcement.

Sev Zero is available today for $6.99 or for free with the purchase of a Fire game controller.

A demonstration of Fire TV's voice activated search capability. (Video:

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Lucas Mearian covers consumer data storage, consumerization of IT, mobile device management, renewable energy, telematics/car tech and entertainment tech for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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