Amazon Sparks Fire TV With 4K and HDR
Amazon is broadening its Fire TV lineup with a new model that bakes in support for 4K, High Dynamic Range, 60 frames-per-second video and Dolby Atmos audio, plus an Alexa-powered voice remote, for $69.99.
The addition, which is also equipped with Alexa “skills,” is also 40% more powerful than the Fire TV stick, and follows a 4K-capable Fire TV device, which has more processing power than the product announced today, that Amazon introduced in the fall of 2015.
The new Amazon Fire TV is now available for pre-orders and will start to ship to U.S. customers on Oct. 25.
The new device, which uses a dongle-style form-factor, comes equipped with a 1.5 Ghz quad-core processor, dual-band 802.11ac WiFi, 2GB of memory, and 8 GB of storage. Amazon noted that the Alexa component of the device will also bring voice control and navigation to apps and services that include Hulu, Showtime, PlayStation Vue, CBS All Access, NBC, Bravo, CNBC and NBC News.
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Amazon said Fire TV is also working with partners to bring single sign-on capabilities to TV Everywhere apps from programmers such as ESPN, NBC, ABC, Disney Channel, AMC, CNN, Food Network, E!, Freeform and USA, among others.
For a limited time, Amazon is also bundling the new Fire TV and Echo Dot for $79.99 or the Fire TV Stick and Echo Dot for $59.99. Eligible customers who buy and activate the new Fire TV by Nov. 15 will also get two free months of Hulu (the SVOD service with limited commercials or no commercials), one month of Showtime’s OTT direct-to-consumer service, and a $10 credit to rent or buy content from Amazon Video.
Amazon’s new streamer will go toe-to-toe with other streaming players and platforms from Apple, Roku and Google (Android TV and Chromecast) that support new video and audio formats.
Of that group, Apple recently launched a version of the Apple TV that embraces 4K video, HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, but starts at a loftier price of $179. Amazon’s new device uses HDR 10, but not Dolby Vision.
RELATED: Apple Intros Apple TV 4K
“In terms of performance, the new Fire TV device is notably slower in graphics/gaming performance than the PowerVR GPU-equipped 2nd-gen Fire TV that it replaces, falling in between the aforementioned and the current Fire TV Stick in GPU capabilities,” Paul Erickson, senior research analyst for service provider technology at IHS Markit, said in a statement.
He said Amazon went in that direction so that it could deliver core capabilities while reducing cost substantially at the expense of gaming performance.
Amazon also introduced a new version of the Echo smart home hub for $99.99; a new Echo Plus for $149.99; and the Echo Spot, a compact version with a screen, for $129.99.
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