Amazon has introduced its new Fire TV box, with 4K and High Dynamic Range (HDR).
Faster than the best-selling Fire TV Stick, the upgraded device is 40 per cent more powerful, with a 1.5 Ghz quad-core processor, 2GB of memory and 8 GB of storage. It supports 60 fps, HDR, and Dolby Atmos audio, as well as Ultra HD visuals. It also has a new, diamond-shaped design, although its biggest selling points remain on the inside.
Fire TV is one of a few streaming media devices to provide access to all major VOD services, including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Amazon Video, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, All 4, My5 and Curzon Home Cinema. It continues to support Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, with a growing library of Alexa skills and interactions, but the major new addition, software-wise, is the new Amazon Channels platform. Amazon Channels allows Prime members to add bolt-on subscriptions to their package, with contract-free subscriptions to streaming services that would normally only be available through pay-TV. These include Discovery and Eurosport Player.
“The all-new Fire TV delivers a great entertainment experience with the best picture quality, 4K Ultra HD, HDR, and an unbeatable selection of content – all at an affordable price,” says Marc Whitten, Vice President, Amazon Fire TV, who emphasises the price aspect.
Indeed, the box arrives hot on the heels of the newly unveiled Apple TV with 4K, which comes much a steeper price tag. At just £69.99, the new Fire TV is Amazon’s most affordable 4K-enabled device to date.
The 4K Fire TV is available to pre-order now, with units shipping from 25th October.
Amazon’s Alexa heats up Fire TV skills
2nd August 2017
Alexa is heating up its Fire TV skills so that Echo users can control movies and TV shows with their voice.
Amazon’s smart home system, which uses voice commands to trigger tasks with compatible devices, has been a major focus for the online giant in the last year, from its Echo and Echo Dot microphones to support for Phillips smart lightbulbs, Spotify, central heating and more. Now, Amazon is bringing together its Fire TV devices and Alexa closer together.
Fire TV was Amazon’s first foray into voice recognition, with a remote control that allows for searching for programmes across different platforms. Now, it’s going on step further, with Alexa support allowing Echo users to control movies, TV and more with their voice – and without needing the remote.
Alexa will be able to start a show, help users find a good movie to watch, control playback, and more. In addition, they will soon be able to view live video feeds from their supported smart home camera from their Fire TV.
“Alexa is built in the cloud and always getting smarter, and these new Fire TV features are the latest way that Alexa is making it simple for you to enjoy and control your living room entertainment,” says Marc Whitten, Vice President, Amazon Fire TV. “Simply ask Alexa to play your favourite show, or keep an eye on your kids’ playroom during movie night, right from the comfort of your couch. This is just the beginning and we’ll continue to create new ways to simplify the way you interact with your TV — we can’t wait to see what customers think.”
If you have only one Fire TV, your Echo device will pair as soon as you ask Alexa a question that includes Fire TV, for example “Alexa, watch The Grand Tour on Fire TV” or “Alexa, show me comedies on Fire TV”. If you have more than one Fire TV, use the Alexa app to pair your devices. Then, simply ask, and Alexa will launch apps, play movies or TV shows by title, actor or genre, and control video playback with commands such as “Alexa, play”, “Alexa, pause”, and “Alexa, fast forward”. Here are some of the other things you can say to control your Fire TV hands-free:
“Alexa, watch Bosch”
“Alexa, show me action movies”
“Alexa, go home”
You can also pair your Echo device with your Fire TV Edition smart TV and control TV settings including volume and input switching. When connected to an HD antenna, you can also change the channel, pause and resume over-the-air live TV playback, and launch the on-screen channel guide with voice commands including:
“Alexa, turn on Fire TV”
“Alexa, tune to FOX”
“Alexa, tune to NBC”
“Alexa, switch to HDMI one”
“Alexa, mute the volume on Fire TV”
Coming soon, Amazon will also enable you to use your Fire TV to view live video feeds via Alexa from your compatible smart home cameras by simply saying “Alexa, show my kitchen camera”.
You will be able to see who’s at the front door or check on a sleeping baby in the nursery. Smart home camera support on Fire TV works with a range of devices from companies including Ring, Arlo, Nest, EZVIZ, Vivint Smart Home, Amcrest, Logitech, and August.
Amazon is also opening up its Video Skill API to developers to build experiences that allow customers to easily consume video content using their Amazon Echo or other Alexa devices. Companies such as DISH, Netgem, and YouView are already working on integrating their services directly to Alexa video capabilities so that customers can control their content using just their voice.