Remember when we just used Amazon to order books, music and films? Now the company has launched Amazon Fire TV, a device that plugs directly into your television and brings Amazon’s media streaming service into your living room. In addition to its native streaming platform, Fire TV is also compatible to show content from Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Vimeo.
The aim of Amazon Fire TV was to be as user-friendly and non-intrusive as possible. “We need to invent and simplify on behalf of customers,” says Amazon’s Kindle VP Peter Larsen. “When we looked at the living room we took the same approach. How do we make the complexity disappear?”
The device, which comes with a small remote, is shipping out to customers right now at $99 each. The timing is all perfect, of course; Amazon is on the cusp of releasing a new slew of original programmes. And unsurprisingly, Amazon recently raised the price of its Prime membership (which now includes video streaming as standard).
Says Larsen: “This isn’t a closed ecosystem. It has a ton of content. But how do you find this content? This is what you do on Fire TV…” By simply saying the phrase ‘John Malkovich’, as Larsen demonstrated at the launch in New York, “You can now see all of the movies John Malkovich is in, and easily add any of them to my Watch List. There’s a microphone integrated into the remote control so I don’t need to yell across my living room.”
“The presentation definitely made it seem like it has some advantages in terms of UI, original content and games,” said Darrell Etherington at TechCrunch, comparing Amazon Fire TV to competitors Apple and Roku’s equivalent products, “but we’ll have to wait and see how useful those differentiating factors are in practice.”