Amazon took the wraps off no fewer than seven products yesterday: two new media streamers, four new tablets, and a new tablet operating system, Fire OS 5.
The all-new Fire TV is of particular interest: It’s one of the few media streamers capable of delivering 4K resolution, and it costs just $100. Amazon’s least-expensive tablet will also turn heads: A 7-inch model with an IPS display that will be priced at just $50.
Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick
The new Fire TV’s 4K resolution is one of its most exciting features, but I think its support for Amazon’s cloud-based voice service, Alexa, is equally as important. As I said in my review of the Echo , anyone who buys an Echo will want to buy more for other rooms of their home. Put a Fire TV in your home theater, and that’s one room you won’t need to add an Echo to.
Going back to the 4K resolution, there’s little point in delivering that feature if there’s no content to go with it. To that end, Amazon’s Director, Fire TV, Tim Twerdahl said in a briefing last Wednesday that every one of Amazon’s original TV shows will be available in that resolution, and that all of Netflix’s 4K content will be available on the Fire TV as well.
If a movie studio makes a film available in 4K resolution, Amazon will offer that version, too (movies currently available from Amazon in 4K include Captain Phillips, Money Ball, and Men in Black 3). Twerdahl said there would be no upcharge for streaming Amazon’s original content in 4K or for any 4K movies included with an Amazon Prime subscription.
“The Fire TV will recognize when it’s connected to a 4K TV and will offer content at that resolution if it’s available.” Twerdahl also pointed out that consumers who don’t have 4K TVs will still benefit from the new HEVC codec Amazon is using—which he said is twice as efficient compared to the codec in use today—because the video stream will consume less bandwidth.
Speaking of bandwidth, the Fire TV (and the Fire TV Stick) is outfitted with an 802.11ac Wi-Fi adapter, so you can take full advantage of that high-end router you invested in. (Personally, I’d prefer to have the option of a hardwired ethernet port, but I’m sure in the minority on that score.) The Fire TV also comes with a 64-bit quad-core CPU, a dedicated GPU, and 8GB of on-device storage. Users can add up to 128GB of additional storage via a microSD card slot.
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