Amazon unveils $100 Fire TV box 4K video support, Alexa voice control

Amazon has announced its “newest Fire TV set-top box, a flat, plastic box that plugs into your TV and offers a variety of internet video content, now supports 4K Ultra HD video, a claim that Apple can’t make with its own set-top box. (You’ll have to be watching 4K content, on a 4K TV, to really reap the benefits of this, but at least the option is there),” Lauren Goode reports for The Verge. “Amazon has also brought “Alexa,” the popular cloud-based assistant found in the enigmatic Echo speaker, to the Fire TV through its voice-enabled remote control. ”

“There are some notable performance enhancements to the box as well. It has a 64-bit quad-core MediaTek processor and a GPU that’s twice as fast as the first-generation box. It supports 802.11 MIMO Wi-Fi technology, which is supposed to offer faster, more reliable Wi-Fi video streaming,” Goode reports. “This new box costs $99.99.”

“The box has 8 gigabytes of internal storage, but is expandable up to 128 gigabytes through a microSD slot,” Goode reports. “Finally, Amazon is taking casual gamers seriously: the company is also putting out a gaming-specific edition of the new box, which comes with a redesigned gaming controller, a 32-gigabyte microSD card, and two free game downloads, for $140. All of these open up for preorder today and will ship in October… Netflix, Showtime, WatchESPN, HBO Go, Hulu, Vevo, and of course, Amazon’s own original content, can be streamed on the boxes, and it’s adding a bunch more by year-end.”

Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa
Amazon Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD and Alexa

 
Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wonderful for passive streaming, the 4K is the draw (not for us, though, as we already get Amazon, Netflix, and other 4K content directly through the apps in our Sony 4K Ultra HDs) versus the 1080p offered by Apple TV, but the Apple TV App Store will simply be unrivaled, to say nothing of the expected Apple Internet TV bundle(s) that loom, hopefully (right, Eddy?), just over the horizon. And, of course, Apple TV’s Siri Remote offers a glass touch surface with accelerometer and gyroscope for motion control. Amazon offers nothing like it.

No 4K is a bit of a let down. Finding 4K content is a chore. Right now, we’re mainly stuck with Netflix or Amazon and their limited 4K choices to feed our 4K Sony Ultra HD TVs. Oh, well. Perhaps the hardware is capable and Apple can simply add 4K content at a later date once 4K TVs become more prevalent?MacDailyNews Take, September 2, 2015

SEE ALSO:
With the all-new Apple TV, Apple changes the game, yet again – September 14, 2015
Analyst: Apple TV streaming service on the way, could cost at least $40 a month – September 14, 2015
Local media streaming app Plex coming to Apple TV – September 14, 2015
What Apple got right in Apple TV’s user interface – and what needs work – September 11, 2015
New Apple TV has the potential to do for television what iPhone did for mobile phones – September 11, 2015
Apple preps to conquer living room with all-new Apple TV – September 11, 2015
Hands-on with the all-new Apple TV – September 10, 2015
Gruber: Apple TV will define how all TVs will work in a few years – September 10, 2015
Here’s how much RAM is inside Apple’s iPhone 6s/Plus, iPad Pro and new Apple TV – September 10, 2015
New Apple TV sounds great, but where’s the 4K? – September 10, 2015

30 Comments

  1. Why wouldn’t Apple include 4K. Sure maybe their content isn’t ready in iTunes yet, but not including it pretty much guarantees it’ll need replaced when they do finally put it in, and it makes it low-hanging fruit for competitors to easily beat Apple on 4K. I am skipping the ATV until it has 4K.

      1. hopefully, the Plex app will allow us to more easily watch home content. Lack of 4K not a deal breaker for me. My home theatre looks great with BlueRay- and cable still 720P. When mainstream 4K content is widely available, cable is updated (and my 130″ projector dies) I will be ready to upgrade. (Although i’m not looking forward to re-buying movies in 4k!)

        1. Hoping for Kodi too. I started out with Plex and it was too buggy for me. That was probably 4 or so years ago, so hopefully it got better by now. Kodi has been pretty stable over the years for me.

    1. Totally agree that Apple wasted an easy opportunity and now will look like they are again playing catch up on 4K, unnecessarily so. I don’t even have a 4K set and I’m disappointed, because I would have purchased one. I’ll still probably buy 2 of these things (rather than the 4 I would otherwise buy) but will do so begrudgingly. I do NOT love buying a product that can be reasonably considered handicapped right out of the gate, even if it offers marginally more functionality than the previous device.

      Steve made us love Apple products, Tim appears content to simply sell them to us.

    2. The capabilty may already be built in… And a software uograde may unlock this resolution.
      Maybe they are reserving it for when they announce their tv subscription plan !?

    1. I *really* would have liked the Apple TV to be 4K since I have a 4K TV, but in reality even the most optimistic market forecasts have just 10% of US households (5% worldwide) with 4K sets at the end of 2016. That number will ramp up to roughly 25% worldwide — in 2020, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple released a 4K-capable box in 2 to 3 years.

  2. Apple’s hardware may already support 4K, it could be just software. If not, then if gives them an option to add another model to the line up that does when there is actually some serious 4K content to view.. Right now, there is next to nothing.

  3. Get over it!

    UHD is barely mainstream. The penetration is slower. The codec aren’t ready for prime. The bandwith is the issue. The catalogs are thin…

    So suck on your 4k and get to see if your life is there somewhere.

    BTW, Sony will record and broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympic game in 8k…

    So all of you can reset your switch and start a fresh rant!

    1. You sound like such an idiot. Maybe it doesn’t seem mainstream in your trailer park or run down lower-middle class neighborhood. Just because Apple isn’t doing something doesn’t mean the world doesn’t want it. Go enjoy your VHS tapes, jackass.

    2. Apple may already have it 4k ready. You would think they would have announced it, but hopefully its easily enabled by a software update and they held back for some odd reason. But 4k isn’t ready, yea there are movies here and there, but I want my cable to be 4k so all my channels are 4k. Heck they don’t even display 1080p, most is 720p. Not sure how outdated this is, but for an idea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-definition_television_in_the_United_States

  4. Apple’s hardware may already support 4K, it could be just software. If not, then that gives them an option to add
    another model to the line up that does when there is actually some serious 4K content to view.. Right now, there is next to nothing. Not to mention, the # of people that actually has one is very limited, Apple probably sold more 6S models last weekend then there are 4K sets in living rooms

  5. No 4K TV and no plans to get one unless my TV happens to die and the TV I found happened to have it. Only 4K content is either extra of on services I’m not interested in paying for, and my internet wouldn’t support it. Really not a major selling point for a good few years yet.

    “popular cloud-based assistant” define popular.

    1. Being poor or a cheapskate is not a valid argument for not getting 4x resolution. “Oh I can’t afford decent internet”, “I’m too cheap to ever buy a new TV”, “I still use my VHS and will never buy DVD or Bluray of iTunes digital content”, “9/11 was a conspiracy and them governments better not take away my guns and tabacco”, “ah hyuh ah hyuh”. Fucking idiot lower class scumbag. Go play with your android tablet.

      1. I have 3 tv’s in my house, 55″ never gets watched.
        The one that gets ALL the use?… The 36″ in my office, and it gets less use than my iMac.
        I end up working in the office and watching something on either the iMac or the smaller TV.

        Has nothing to do with my income.. Has more to do with it not being worth it.

        Let me go cram a 80″ 4k TV next to my desk so I can see the difference!

        4k is nice… But the number of people who actually have a 4k TV… Very small. I don’t do Netflix (if they even have 4k) I don’t have any service that even has 4k, that I’m aware of. I rarely even watch tv anyway.. No time to do anything else other than a little background noise at times.

        Amazon having a 4k fire TV box means nothing to most people.
        And like someone else said, the new Apple TV may support it later.

        I’m buying the new Apple TV and 4k support means nothing to me… Nice but not needed yet.

      2. It is not a case of being cheap. My TV is perfectly good and displays excellent picture in HD and SD. I’m not going to spend a load of money getting a new one just so I can watch next to nothing now and potentially more in a few years. I’d rather wait those few years, by which time my TV will likely need to be replaced, the cost will have come down and content will be more readily available.

        I’m perfectly happy to buy and use new technology, but I don’t feel the need to throw money away for little tangible benefit. I love my iPhones, and multiple Macs and will be getting the new Apple TV. 4K is just not a strong selling factor right now. If a device that I’m getting anyway supports it then fine, but it’s not something that I’m going to spend money on in its own right. Since I live in a relatively remote place (telecommunications wise), it’s not going to be immediate that I get fibre internet, and I’m not going to move house just so I can get it and watch 4K tv.

  6. I can only presume 1) the hardware is 4K ready though you would have thought they would have pushed that. 2) want to save it for when their own bundles are sorted though that suggests some considerable delay unless the timing will simply tie in with the above timing issue expressed in (1) or 3) they want to take whatever technology it requires up a notch before committing to manufacturing it which they can do because they real that there simply isn’t the content to make what they deem an inferior solution avaiable now. Certainly as the opposition over the next 6 months or so will all offer it I suspect it doesn’t do Apple any favours in looking at the forefront even if in reality its not that useful at present, as someone said unless there is a very good reason this is likely leaving money on the table and prevents it from being a killer device which could be rather short sighted from a marketing point of view rather than a technical one.

  7. All these boxes suck if your tv is mounted on the wall with all wires in the wall.

    Could care less about 4K. No one is really talking about the bandwidth required for 4K streaming or downloads.

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