Keeping Up With Amazon

As Amazon nears the anticipated spring launch of its first set-top box/video streamer, details of what will go inside (and connect to) the device, continue to emerge .

While Amazon has shielded the details of the project behind its Lab126 unit (company chief Jeff Bezos was willing to tell  60 Minutes about a drone-based delivery program but tap-danced around set-top questions), the latest details uncovered by GigaOm and gadget blog ZatzNotFunny show that the Amazon, expected to follow in the footsteps of its tablets with a “forked” version of Android, will share traits of Roku and Apple TV devices and a scent of a gaming console.

On the content end, GigaOm said the Amazon video device will ship with some of the usual suspects, including apps from Netflix and Hulu Plus. Presumably, it will also house Amazon Instant Video app. The report adds that the device, which (like Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets) will use a “forked” version of Android, will ship with a remote control,  but is also poised to support DIAL (Discover And Launch), a technology that will enable users to fling video, Chromecast-style, to the TV via  smartphones and tablets. The Roku 3 also supports DIAL, as will the new Roku Streaming Stick (HDMI Version). 

ZatzNotFunny’s Dave Zatz notes in his blog that the Android connection makes “gaming out of the box quite likely,” along with his find of an Amazon-branded wireless Bluetooth controller. He speculates that Amazon could sell the controller as an accessory and perhaps work with Amazon’s tablets as well. If so, then it gives Comcast another reason to further pursue its plan to build “console-quality” gaming into its X1 platform.

As for what Amazon’s box likely won’t do – support a virtual MSO service. Recall that Amazon struck down reports that the e-retailing giant was working on a pay-TV service, as it instead focuses on beefing up its Prime Instant Video library and originals via its Amazon Studios unit.

And this just in on the timing of the debut. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday (March 17) that the new Amazon device will go on sale in "early April" on the company's site, as well as through retailers such as Best Buy and Staples.