As Amazon touts its newest Fire TV, let’s look at the bigger market. Streaming dongles and set-top devices are in a fascinating place presently: Chromecast, Apple TV, Fire TV and associated products are contending over market space with smart TVs, smart receivers, consoles, and computer setups. They all offer the same capabilities for streaming content, and until demand begins to fade it’s a race to see who can offer the top content for the most sensible price.
For some time, Chromecast was a trendy frontrunner, but Amazon isn’t pleased to let that go unchallenged. Enter the latest Fire TV, a very dissimilar model from older Fire devices, made specifically for an ultra-HD, stream-happy world. Also, it looks odd.
The newest Fire TV is technically a dongle, made to plug into an accessible HDMI (not USB) port on your TV. However, the device itself is a large square hanging from a rubber strap, as if Amazon is trying to physically merge a dongle with a set-top box. Apparently it’s meant to dangle off your TV, which seems like an ill at ease arrangement at best and simple way to ruin the device at worst.
Luckily, other specs are more remarkable. Amazon has equipped the new Fire TV with a 1.5GHz processor that supplies 4K resolution support and is well-matched with Dolby Atmos. Combined, that’s some impressive performance across variety of apps including Dish, Netflix, Prime Video, HBO, and any other services you want to pay for.
And we particularly like the HD Antenna package, at a just $5 more, which makes a brilliant kit for cutting your cable and saving on payments while still picking up free stations. Compare satellite services like DirectTV vs. Dish and local cable costs to find out if saving money this way is worth it.
The new Fire TV also comes with Amazon-specific capabilities. Alexa software includes the remote so you can make use of Alexa voice commands to switch from one channel to another, search for shows, pause or resume, and more.
Of all the voice assistants, Alexa is mainly well suited for the living room and smart home (she can also order pizza, play music, etc.), so it’s good Amazon is capitalizing on this. The Fire TV can also connect with a nearby Echo for more widespread voice commands.
Of course, there’s a cost to all these, and it’s not just the $70 price tag. Amazon is counting on everyone who has already invested in Amazon technologies: this Fire TV only really shines if you are already contented using Alexa, and if you are already paying for Amazon Prime, and if you don’t have any set-top boxes to grab your interest.