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What Sets Amazon's Fire TV Apart from the Streaming Set-Top Pack?

Thompson on Hollywood By Anne Thompson and Ryan Lattanzio | Thompson on Hollywood April 2, 2014 at 12:36PM

At last, Amazon has joined the set-top streaming space. At a press conference today in New York, the company unveiled its long-rumored video streaming device, Fire TV, to compete with other services like Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast. Until now, Amazon was mostly dependent on such devices for its streaming video service.
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Fire tv

At long last, Amazon has joined the set-top streaming space. As expected, at New York press conference Wednesday, the company unveiled its long-rumored video streaming device, Fire TV, to compete with other services such as Apple TV, Roku and Google Chromecast. Until now, Amazon was largely dependent on such devices for its streaming video service.

What sets Fire TV apart from the rest? Priced at $99 and available now, Fire TV also includes a gaming component, which gives it an edge over the competition. The device will also include a Voice Search feature, and the minimalist interface operates much in the same way as its competitors, allowing access to Fire TV streaming partners Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Showtime as well as the wealth of streaming content already available on Amazon Video. (Needless to say, no HBO Go, which remains entrenched in the Warner Bros. ancillary windows paradigm.)

Fire TV also comes furnished with X-Ray, previously only available on Kindle Fire tablets, which provides info from IMDb about actors and directors as you're watching a film. While features like this, and Fire TV's cloud-to-screen photo streaming service, already exist for Xbox and Google devices, here's something different: Fire TV is also a karaoke machine, complete with music and lyrics. And Amazon is looking at making mobile apps available as well, which would make Fire TV the first of its kind.

To stay competitive with other streaming subscription services -- Apple TV alone brought in $1 billion in revenue last year -- Amazon nabbed a passel of exclusive TV series (as of April 1, Amazon Prime is the only place you can watch Fox's "24"), while Hulu picked up a slew of NBC-Universal exclusives including Golden Globe-winning "Brooklyn Nine Nine" -- you'll be able to watch all of those on Fire TV.

This article is related to: Amazon, News, VOD, Web/Tech, Tech News, Tech


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.