Amazon Fire TV Counters Glitzy Apple TV By Adding 4K And Alexa Support
Around this time last week, Apple was making waves with its all-new Apple TV. Apple boasted that its new streaming device features a brand new motion- and touch-sensitive controller, potent A8 processor with 2GB of memory, support for Siri voice recognition, and a brand new App Store. However, given how long Apple took to trot out a new version of the Apple TV, there was one box on the device’s specs sheet that was curiously unchecked: support for 4K video streaming.
Like clockwork, Amazon is ready to respond with its second generation Fire TV, an introduction that we surmised was coming due to the fact that the first generation model went out of stock last month with no signal of when it would be available again. Not surprisingly, Amazon is coming out swinging, giving its Fire TV support for 4K video, which can be streamed using services like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Prime Video.
That 4K support is made possible thanks to a quad-core, 64-bit MediaTek SoC, which Amazon says has 75 percent more processing power than its predecessor. Of course, Amazon couldn’t help but get a few digs in at its rivals, saying that the SoC has five times the processing power of the Roku 3 (2015 model) and eight times the processing power of Google’s Chromecast.
Almost as important as the 4K support is the addition of the Alexa cloud-based assistant, which is one of the main draws of Amazon’s Echo speaker. Alexa on the Fire TV isn’t as potent as what you’ll find on Echo, but you can feed it simple voice commands into the included remote. You can ask Alexa to provide sports scores, weather, traffic information or even have it playback some soothing tunes after a long day at work.
You’ll also find 802.11ac support with MIMO, 8GB of onboard storage (which is expandable up to 128GB via the integrated microSD slot), Dolby Audio, and support for Amazon Mayday screen sharing.
The new Fire TV will be available for $99.99, making it $50 less than the $149 entry point for the all-new Apple TV. But wait, there’s more! Amazon is also offering the Fire TV Gaming Edition, which not only includes the Fire TV streaming box and remote, but also a wireless game controller, 32GB microSD card and two games (Disney’s Ducktales and Yacht Club’s Shovel Knight) for the bargain price of $139.99. Color us impressed.
Now, Amazon couldn’t update the Fire TV without giving its baby brother, the Fire TV Stick, some lovin’ as well. The actual Fire TV Stick, which has become “the fastest-selling Amazon device,” isn’t getting a hardware update, but it will come bundled with the new Alexa-enabled remote while maintaining its price of $49.99. If you’d prefer to leave Alexa by the wayside, you can grab the Fire TV Stick with a “dumb” remote for just $39.99.
You can pre-order the Amazon Fire TV today, while shipments will commence on October 5. The new Fire TV Stick with Alexa remote will is also available for pre-order today, but won’t ship until October 22.