Amazon launches Fire TV set-top-box and game console


#1

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#2

20 million “Free”-to-Play, probably.


#3

And we care about this why???

A quad core processor! Sorry, but my old-fashioned Roku can handle 1080P just fine. 4K TV is not quite affordable yet, and 4K content does not really exist, so why do you need more processing power right now?

Also, my Roku can get Amazon videos just fine. I see no real need for this box. As far as “closed ecosystem,” Amazon has been as guilty of this type of thing as anybody else (cough Kindle cough).

The games may be neat, but this promises phone-quality games with the hassle of being tethered to your television.

Thanks, but I see no reason to buy this.


#4

Let me play my own video files from networked storage without using Plex or some other such reencoding nonsense or GTFO.

For the love of pete, why won’t anybody make a freaking box that does everything that I want??? WDTV has direct network file playback and Netflix, but no Amazon. Roku has Netflix and Amazon, but no direct network file playback. This new Amazon box doesn’t seem to do anything different than my Roku…


#5

Unless it uses the DIAL protocol that the chromecast implements, I’m not sure why I should care.

All these companies are coming out with crap to gobble up hdmi ports on my TV and I get why they feel the need, they want to lock me into buying into their streaming service, but I can’t see how that’s a sustainable option because it’s going to create an environment where no one can speak anyone else’s language.

Sell me the streaming and let me play it through a web browser or smartphone and then dump it to my TV with an open protocol… this is infinitely more consumer friendly.


#6

Have there actually been 20 Million unique games in the history of video gaming? Has there been more than (I’m being optimistic) 500 actually worth playing?

If they really want to impress people they can say they have 52! (factorial) different unique games of Solitaire.


#7

Partially marketing hype, partially because they also want to do gaming and assorted other stuff.

The Roku(at least the original, I’m sure they’ve spec-bumped a few times) actually shares a CPU with the rPi. As an application processor… not much to write home about… but the ‘VideoCore 4’ and some fixed-function video decode blocks are blazing fast at decoding and displaying video, and only at that.

For a pure streaming box, almost anything is laughable overkill: you need a fixed function decoder, and something capable of chewing on IR input and painting a few menus. If you fancy doing a spot of gaming, or anything that doesn’t lean directly on the h.264 decode unit, the demands on the application processor and GPU tend to climb pretty rapidly.

$100 for a quad-core ARM of some description is about the going rate, so this is only worth a second glance if you are an Amazon content thrall, or Amazon conveniently forgot to encrypt something and provided a standard (which is an improvement over the zillion-and-one mysterious pacific rim models) for people to hack on.


#8

Feh . . .


#9

Barring a minor miracle, DIAL is at considerable risk of being a mess outside of a few well-tamed Google-and-Partners situations. People are just starting to get ‘compress it and send over wireless to the decoder’, a conceptually trivial problem, working, and then DIAL comes along and proposes a hybrid of a little of that, uPnP multicast autodiscovery, also remote control over IP networks of arbitrary applications by other arbitrary applications, and assorted other bits and pieces.

That’s… certainly not lacking for courage…


#10

Thank FSM! I was running out of devices to play Angry Birds on.


#11

Sorry, but my old-fashioned Roku can handle 1080P just fine. 4K TV is not quite affordable yet, and 4K content does not really exist, so why do you need more processing power right now?

If we limit ourselves to talking about the visual content of 1080p, there are perceptible differences between what streaming services offers, what video on demand offers,what bluray offers, and what is offered in the theater as “2k” video. Usually, the compromises are made in scenes with a lot of fast moving action.

The latest video codec, h.265 promises better compression than the current state of the art-- meaning that fewer compromises need to be made to compress the video into 4Mb/sec, or 10 Mb/s, or whatever is the current streaming standard for “HD” movies. Unfortunately, H.265 requires a lot of video processing power.

But ultimately, decompression of H.265 will be a trivial task, offloaded off to some ASIC, eliminating the demand for a “4 core” processor.

The real issue is games. Titanfall, for instance, renders at only 792p on the Xbox1-- not 1080p. It’s upscaled to that resolution. And yet, the Xbox One has a pretty hefty processor.

The Xbox 360 was also able to run some games at 1080p-- if 1080p was all that mattered, the XBox one and the ps4 wouldn’t be selling. Gamers are buying the new machines not for the sake of 1080p games, but because the new machines are able to render far more complex graphics within that same 1080p frame buffer.

The Fire TV won’t be at that level. But the extra cores may help it run more complex games with more involving graphics than a 2 core box would.


#12

Doesn’t matter what the specs are, unless Amazon can magically make more broadband choice happen it doesn’t matter which box or dongle can process 4K or give me access to awesome games or whatever. When faced with a choice between paying an Imperial Crapton of money per month to the evil TimeWarner for moderately fast broadband and paying a U.S. Crapton of money to the slightly less evil AT&T for adequate DSL, I went with the latter. And I live in a fancy neighborhood in a huge US city. I think these hardware makers are going to be competing for a smaller and smaller market unless we can get our infrastructure worked out in this country.


#13

I wish they would include some DVR capabilities in it. I have a Roku and I can stream lots of channels, including my local network channels (ABC, NBC, etc…) but only live TV. Why not include the same functionality my crappy cable company DVR has and let me record shows that are streamed by my local tv stations?


#14

Sorry, but this is weak sauce. Games are more about the graphics engine and less about the CPU. Ideally, both should be balanced. I am afraid, however, that with a $100 price point, you are NOT going to get Titalfall to run on here.

With processing power roughly comparable to a modern Android phone, this thing is good for casual games. This means multi-player, because single-player games can be played on a phone much easier. My Generation-2 Roku can play Angry Birds just fine, but I never use it, because I would rather play a simple game that an on my phone. I still see this as a solution in search of a problem.


#15

There are games that are more complex than Angry Birds, yet less complex than Titanfall.


#16

After Aamazon finished design and marketing on this product, it should have thrown it all away and kicked itself in the balls.


#17

Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
FreeTime Unlimited is an all-you-can-eat content subscription designed for kids
ages 3 to 8 that brings together movies, TV shows, apps, and games that
kids and parents love. Subscribers enjoy unlimited access to content
from Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids, and more from just $2.99 per
month.

Look, it’s also an electronic babysitter!


#18

As others have noted, I assume the quad core is for game support.
Here is a single-core android “TV” device: (a Kickstarter that I supported)
Infinitec’s Pocket TV and air remote turns any TV into a smart android TV.
The reviews can be summed up as “single core CPU can barely function”.


#19

You can get a refurbished xbox 360, for less than $150.


#20

I might be among the few here, but I think Amazon has a win here (at least until the next Apple TV). Adding gaming to the standard roku-like dongle is a great move. This device will appeal to people who would never buy an Xbox or Playstation themselves, nor buy their children one. This is for the content consumer and casual gamer, and in that market, it’s a great device especially for the Amazon loyalists. There are some problems with the gear though, if this is what they’re aiming for; first, the controller needs to be bundled, not extra. This is not just for price purposes, but also just to get gaming mainstreamed with these consumers. Second, the controller should be more approachable than the standard double-thumb stick design - it’s a little too “pro”. If they’d made it a remote for the video and a controller for the games all in one, perhaps something more like the GameBoy Micro or whatever that thing was called, I think it would have helped them a lot.