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article imageAmazon's new Fire TV goes head-to-head with Apple TV, costs $100

By James Walker     Sep 17, 2015 in Technology
Not content with just unveiling tablets today, Amazon has also announced two new additions to its Fire TV range. The new model features support for 4K Ultra HD videos and a 75 percent performance increase in a package designed to rival the Apple TV.
The Amazon Fire TV only started life last year but has been considerably refined for its second generation. It still costs just $100 but now boasts the choice of 3,000 channels and apps, a 64-bit quad-core processor built by MediaTek, a dedicated graphics processor, super-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi and support for microSD cards that allows for expansion of the 8GB of internal storage.
The emphasis placed on voice commands in the original Fire TV has been further expanded with the new model. It now features Amazon's Alexa assistant found in its Echo smart listening device.
Users can now ask Alexa to play music, show a film, get the latest weather data or show traffic conditions on a map. Alexa is also integrated into a new Fire TV Voice Remote which works with the new Fire TV Stick designed to plug into any HDMI port.
Described as "tiny box, huge performance," the new Fire TV seems to have improved on many of the shortcomings of its predecessor. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said: "The team has packed an incredible amount of technology and innovation into a tiny package. The new Fire TV includes 4K support, more processing power, Alexa integration and exclusive features - for less than $100."
Amazon has also announced a new focus on gaming with the next-generation Fire TV. Apparently a customer favourite since launch, the company has now created a special bundle designed to make it easier to start playing straight away.
The 2015 Amazon Fire TV and Gaming Controller
The 2015 Amazon Fire TV and Gaming Controller
The Fire TV Gaming Edition includes the new Fire TV and a Fire TV Game Controller alongside a 32GB microSD card and the Shovel Knight and Disney's Ducktales games. The ergonomically designed game controller has a button layout resembling Microsoft's Xbox controller and includes a Dolby-enhanced audio jack for easy headset connection. Amazon promises 90 hours usage from a single set of AA batteries. The controller will also be available to purchase outside of the bundle, as an optional accessory for the Fire TV.
The new Amazon Fire TV indicates the growing importance of online streaming devices to the living room. Apple recently relaunched its Apple TV in a massive overhaul that turns the device into its own platform and app ecosystem, directly competing with the Fire TV and products like Roku's range of streaming sticks and Google's Chromecast. Amazon certainly has an advantage over Apple on price as the Apple TV will set buyers back at least $149.
The Fire TV family has managed to become Amazon's best-selling device category, beating the popular Kindle e-reader and highlighting the demand for the new generation of set-top boxes that can make existing dumb TVs smart.
The new Amazon Fire TV will start shipping from October 5 and will cost $99.99. The Gaming Edition is priced at $139.99 while the new Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote will cost $49.99 from October 22. The current Fire TV Stick can still be purchased for $39.99.
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