Hot on the heels of Apple’s announcement of its new TV streaming device, Amazon is revamping its own product offerings for the living room with a redesigned Fire TV settop box.
Although its original version had voice controls, the new device goes one step further by integrating with Alexa, the smart assistant that powers its home assistant product, Amazon Echo.
With Alexa, you can use the microphone button on the remote not only to find content more easily, but also to ask general questions like, “What’s the weather in Seattle?” if you’re going on a trip, or “What was the score of last night’s Giants game?”
Alexa through your Fire TV can do almost everything that Alexa in the Amazon Echo can do, and an exec leading a demo says that the goal is to eventually get absolute parity between the two. For people who thought Echo seemed appealing, the Fire TV is now a great deal: You get Alexa capabilities as well as video streaming and gaming for $US99, versus the $US179 that you’d pay for the Echo speaker (the main difference is that to access Alexa in the Fire TV you have to press the button on the remote, versus just speak, like you do with Echo).
Besides the Alexa integration, Amazon says its new Fire TV box streams higher quality video, faster. It uses high-efficiency video coding (HEVC) which means that less bandwith is needed to achieve higher-definition video resolution. That, combined with its 802.11 ac MIMO Wi-fi technology, means that even people who don’t have a great connection will see crisp, un-laggy streams, without wait-times between shows.
The Fire TV also comes with Amazon’s “Mayday” button. First launched with its tablets a few years ago, Mayday gives you live, on-screen customer support 24 hours a day. The new Fire TV also supports 4K video for the first time.
Here’s what it might look like if you asked Alexa a question through your Fire TV:
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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