Wednesday Apr 2 '14Amazon releases Fire TV

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Amazon this morning announced the availability of their new streaming media player device called Fire TV.  Its a litte black box modelled after the Apple TV and Roku devices millions of people are already familiar with, though less slick in design but with massively better technology under the hood.

This entry into the streaming media player market for Amazon is a brilliant move to leverage their existing licensed catalog of thousands of hours of film and television content ('Amazon Prime') and make that content far more accesible whilst using some innovative UI to blend their content with other titles a viewer may want to watch from the supported apps on the device (including Netflix and Hulu Plus.)

In my opinion, the best feature seems to be the combined search and recommendation engine which Amazon has built into the OS; which will make the device stand amongst competition for making it easier to find new content within apps on the device - something most hardcore Netflix users are already frustrated with.  The second best feature is what Gary Busy is jabbering on about in the attached video; you can search with your voice, a la Siri - by simply pressing a button and speaking into the remote.

In addition to the better hardware (a quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM alone should make streaming a lot smoother than other similar boxes) and UI improvements, the box does pretty much everything its competition does whilst supporting a device ecosystem owned by Amazon; its Kindle Fire tablet can act as a wireless controller for the box, with second-screen information (like artist bios as they appear in content being watched) and the ability to continue watching stopped/paused content remotely.

Even long time Apple TV fans are going to covet the Amazon Fire box - unfortunately only those in the USA can currently get it shipped to them via amazon.com though.