Amazon FireTV: 10 things you need to know

Amazon revealed its new streaming device, the FireTV. / Credit: BusinessWire
Amazon revealed its new streaming device, the FireTV. / Credit: BusinessWire

Amazon announced this morning that they’ll be releasing a new set top streaming device to compete with the Roku and Apple TV. The name? Amazon FireTV. It’s reportedly about the size of a CD case. So what does this mean for you, the user? Well, we’ll tell you.

1. How do I tell it what to do?
After some talk about improving search speeds from the laborious search and peck of old (“old” being however long we’ve had Rokus), Amazon revealed you will now speak directly into your TV remote to tell it what you want to watch. Don’t know how to spell the title of a program? Doesn’t matter. The device will find it for you. Downside: everyone will hear you shouting “Hart of Dixie” at your TV remote. You can even ask for genres, should you need to scroll through the Jason Statham oeuvre. Plus, it comes with Bluetooth, so you can talk to your tv remote anywhere in the room and the device will pick it up.

2. My old device is slow. This will be faster, right?
According to Amazon, they’ve found ways to improve on the speed of the current devices. Their content will start streaming immediately, provided you have a decent wi-fi connection (but isn’t that half the battle?).

3. I hate finding new things to watch. Will Amazon find them for me?
The FireTV comes with a program called ASAP, which will start streaming content it predicts you’ll like the minute you finish watching something. It will also learn your tastes over time. Not so different from Netflix’s “maybe you’ll like this” efforts, but with autoplay? Sounds potentially hazardous to your ability to leave the couch.

4. But what about all my other accounts?
Not to worry, all the usual suspects will be available on there. Netflix, Pandora, Hulu Plus, etc, and if you’re a Hulu Plus subscriber, those titles will show up for free through the TV watching app.

5. I like to look at photos from my phone on my TV. Can I do that?
Amazon assumes this is a thing we want to do, so yes, it’s available. You can even set up a screensaver of photos from albums, if you want to find a way to subtly get people to look at your vacation photos.

6. Can I karaoke my music?
Apparently so. With the X-Ray functionality, the device will play lyrics on the screen while songs play. About 10,000 songs are available currently.

7. But what about my kids?
They can have their own profiles on there, and you can even set up timing rules based on how long they’re allowed to watch, all through a program called Freetime. There’s a paid subscription version called Freetime Unlimited that provides access to lots of content from Nickelodeon and PBSKids and others, as well. Kids can’t exit out of Freetime once you set it up for them, and you can add content you think they should watch. Make your kids sit through the terrible special effects of the movies of your youth!

8. Can I play games on it?
Of course! Lots of games available on there, and for $39.99, you can buy a special FireTV game controller that comes with Amazon coins you can redeem for games. You still have to pay for the games, but the average price is $1.85, so you won’t be spending much more than you do on apps. They’re also working on an app so you can use your phone or tablet as the controller, which should be available next month. And Amazon is developing their own games for it as well, because why not.

9. All right, you’ve got me interested. How much does it cost?
A cool $99, which is the same as an AppleTV, and it’s shipping today if you want it now.

10. Let’s get technical. What’s going on inside?
A quad-core processor with dedicated GPU to free up space, 2 GB of RAM, and dual-band, dual-antenna MiMo wifi, which helps speed up your wifi service.


NYPD: Suspect dead after two U.S. Marshals, cop…

A suspected sex offender died during a shootout inside a West Village smoke shop that left two U.S. Marshals and an NYPD detective wounded, officials said.


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


De Blasio, Bratton defend city's efforts after Eric…

Mayor Bill de Blasio justified the city's response to the death of Eric Garner, a Staten Island man who died while in police custody earlier this month.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Joe Torre: I'm in Hall of Fame because…

Joe Torre spent 18 years putting together a near Hall of Fame career as a player. But it was the 12 years he spent as…


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.