Take that, Apple TV: Amazon unveils new 4K Fire TV box
James R | On 18, Sep 2015
Amazon has unveiled an updated Fire TV box, which can stream content in 4K.
The streaming media device, which first launched last year, swiftly became the online retailer’s fastest-selling product. But the gadget, which boasts the unique ability to offer both Amazon Prime and Netflix to subscribers, faces increasingly fierce competition from Roku’s streaming boxes and stick, Google’s Chromecast and the recently launched update of Apple TV.
Now, Amazon is hitting back by upping the quality of its own hardware beyond that of its rivals. The new Amazon Fire TV will support 4K Ultra HD, while the Fire TV Stick will also get its own Voice Remote.
Fire TV’s catalogue of services has expanded in the past year, with MUBI and Curzon Home Cinema joining Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, Demand 5, Spotify and Plex. Amazon also claims its new box provides access to more 4K Ultra HD movies than any other streaming media player. Already available in 4K are Amazon’s original shows, such as Transparent, third party movies such as American Hustle and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and Netflix content, including Better Call Saul, Narcos, and Marvel’s Daredevil.
The processing power has also been pimped, with 75 per cent more power through a MediaTek 64-bit quad-core process, alongside souped up Wi-Fi, and support for High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC), which is roughly twice as efficient at encoding video than the current industry standard, H264, so less bandwidth is needed to deliver high-quality video.
The box will also include a microSD card slot to allow for up to 128GB of storage in addition to its built-in 8GB space.
A new, improved Amazon Fire TV Game Controller (optional) now includes voice search and – borrowing a trick from Roku – an audio jack for private listening with Dolby enhancements.
Amazon has also introduced a new version of its kids-only Fire HD tablet. The child-friendly device will feature its new Fire tablet model with a new kid-friendly web browser, an updated kid-proof case and one year of its subscription kids’ service, Fire for Kids Unlimited.
The Fire TV box will ship from 5th October for £79.99, while the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote will ship from 22nd October for £44.99. The Fire Kids Edition will start shipping from 30th September for £99.99.
The announcements follows Amazon’s claims to have the fastest-growing library of apps and content out of all streaming media devices.