Amazon launches new device for streaming video

NEW YORK: Amazon on Wednesday unveiled a new media streaming device, ramping up its challenge in online video to rivals such as Netflix.

The Amazon Fire TV device, which fits in one’s hand and connects to television sets, aims to boost the US online giant’s efforts to capture viewers for its Prime Video service.
“It’s a tiny box with huge specs,” said Amazon Kindle vice president Peter Larsen at a New York event unveiling the device.

The box along with a remote control device also allows users to listen to music or to play games with a separate controller device.

Larsen said that existing devices “make streaming today too frustrating” and that Fire TV would simplify the experience. The Fire TV box goes on sale to US consumers for $99, with the game controller sold at $39.99.

The device puts Amazon on track to challenge Google’s Chromecast stick and the streaming media boxes from other groups such as Roku.

Because it is open source, the device will allow consumers to watch video from rivals including Netflix and Hulu, Amazon said.

“Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price- — people are going to love Fire TV,” said Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in a statement. “Voice search that actually works means no more typing on an alphabet grid. Our exclusive new ASAP feature predicts the shows you’ll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly. And our open approach gives you not just Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video, but also Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. On Fire TV you can watch (Amazon’s original program) Alpha House and (Netflix’s) House of Cards.”