Amazon Fire TV Streaming Media Player

Posted: April 02, 2014
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At first I wasn't sure if it was a good idea for Amazon to spend 42 seconds of its 60-second Fire TV video promo filming Gary Busey talking to his lamp, his pants, and his living room dinner bell, but in the end I had to concede that I would rather watch Busey behave like a creature from an L. Ron Hubbard book for that time than listen to some dull spokesman or voice over drone on about what the Amazon Fire TV box is when I already know what it is: the newest kid to plop down with Roku, Google Chromecast, and Apple TV in the streaming media playerpen. It does, however, bring a few unique toys with it, including voice search, surround sound, and games.

Connect Amazon's Fire TV box to your HDTV and it will stream Netflix, Amazon Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, el-cheapo movie rentals, and gaming adventures in 1080p. Fire TV provides unlimited access to Amazon's 40,000+ Prime Instant Videos, including exclusives such as Downton Abbey and Justified. Its total bank of watchable movies and TV episodes is in the 200K range, and available songs are in the millions.

The Fire TV's biggest bragging point seems to be its voice search function, which it calls "voice search that actually works." Given the extent of the system's media database, and presuming this statement is accurate, being able to say the name of what you want to watch or listen to and then have it start rolling in seconds will certainly simplify the translation of WiFi to HDTV. Amazon's 4.5" x 4.5" x 0.7" box also has a quad-core processor (Apple TV, Roku 3, and Chromecast have single or dual), 2GB of memory (others: 512MB), a dedicated GPU, and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. It comes with a remote requiring no line of sight for operation.

Fire TV setup should be straightforward. Purchases are pre-registered to buyers' Amazon accounts, so there is no lag between installation and use. Upon opening, connect the box to your TV. Then connect the box to your WiFi service. Then assume the fetal position on your couch.

Gaming options, currently in the hundreds but anticipated to reach the thousands, include free and paid titles, the latter starting at 99 cents. Sample titles include Minecraft - Pocket Editiong, The Walking Dead, and Monsters University.

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