Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Amazon refreshes Fire TV, adding 4K capability and gaming option

September 17, 2015 by streaming video · Leave a Comment 

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) released its updated Fire TV streaming device, adding 4K capability, higher processing power, and a gaming option with a game controller and two bundled games. The updated device was among a flurry of announcements by the e-tail giant that also included two new Kindle Fire tablets and a lower-priced Kids Edition durable tablet, all of which were developed with content streaming in mind.

Amazon

Amazon updated Fire TV devices and Kindle Fire tablets hit the market on Sept. 30. (Source: BusinessWire)

The company also added a voice remote to its Fire TV stick, which works with its Alexa platform, Amazon's answer to Siri.

The updated devices go on sale beginning Sept. 30, and their price points remain competitive.

“The team has packed an incredible amount of technology and innovation into a tiny package,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a release. “The new Fire TV includes 4K support, more processing power, Alexa integration, the largest selection, and exclusive features — for less than $100. The new Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote brings voice search and Alexa integration for less than $50.”

The Fire TV gaming edition retails a bit higher, at $139.99, and includes a game controller with voice search and an audio jack, a 32 GB microSD card, and two games: Disney's Ducktales and Yacht Club's Shovel Knight.

Amazon said its Fire TV has more than 3,000 apps at this point.

The company also released four new versions of its Kindle Fire tablets, built clearly with optimized streaming capabilities in mind: an 8-inch version retailing for $149.99, a 10.1 inch version retailing for $229.99 — both of which run on the Fire OS 5 Bellini platform, with a MediaTek quad-core processor — a stripped-down $50 tablet, and a kids' version for $99.99.

The new Fire tablets include access to Amazon Underground, which offers apps, games and in-app items for free. They also feature a couple of Amazon-controlled items: On Deck, which populates the tablet with popular Prime content and its original series and stores them in a “shadow mode” to optimize available storage; and Mayday Screen Sharing, which “lets an Amazon expert guide you remotely through any feature on your screen” at no cost. They also have unlimited free cloud storage for photos taken on the device, and Activity Center, an app for kids who've outgrown FreeTime.

The updated Kid's Edition includes a heavy-duty protective case and one year of FreeTime Unlimited. It also costs about $50 less than the older version. “For under $100 you get a new Fire tablet, a year of FreeTime Unlimited with over 10,000 books, videos, educational apps, and games, a new web browser with access to more than 20,000 age-appropriate YouTube videos and websites, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee,” said VP of Amazon Device Peter Larsen.

Fire TV and Prime have been a good combination for Amazon. The company said in a January earnings call that membership in Prime jumped 53 percent year-over-year, and that its streaming subscribers tend to cross over and spend more money in its primary online retail business, as well.

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