Tag Archives: media streamer

Amazon gets into the media streaming hardware business with Fire TV

On April 2 Amazon unveiled their latest foray into the hardware space. After making ebooks and tablets the online retailer is directly competing with Apple TV and Roku with their very own media streamer called Amazon Fire TV. The $99 box comes packed with myriad subscription-based and streaming services including Netflix, Hulu Plus, and of course Amazon Instant Video with Prime benefits to Amazon’s catalog of exclusive content.

There really are three things that set the Fire TV apart from the competition. First is its raw power. The box is powered by a quad-core processor, a dedicated GPU, 2GB of RAM, and it supports 1080p video and Dolby Digital Plus surround sound. The company is claiming it has 3x the processing power and 4x the memory of Apple TV and Roku. These specs allow for a fast and fluid experience navigating the UI and media playback. Such generous guts support Amazon’s anti-buffering initiative they’re calling ASAP, or Advanced Streaming and Prediction; instead of waiting 10+ seconds for a video to buffer and stream, the Fire TV will smartly predict the movies and shows you will watch and get them ready for streaming so when you hit play it will immediately begin playback. More specs: ’round back you’ll find a port for power, HDMI, optical audio, Ethernet, and USB. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also inside.

Amazon’s Fire TV also supports voice search. The included media remote sports a mic that listens to your audible search queries. Simply tap the voice button and speak into the remote to instantly search TV shows, movies, actors, directors, and genres. Of course, an on-screen keyboard is provided in case the software can’t pick up on what you’re saying for whatever reason. Note that the remote is paired to the streamer via Bluetooth so direct line-of-sight for control is not necessary.

Additionally, the box is being billed as a gaming machine. Does it compete with heavy hitters like the Xbox One and PS4–no way, but that doesn’t mean it won’t fight to become an affordable way to access easy-to-pickup titles like world-builder Minecraft and racer Asphalt. In fact, Amazon is so dedicated to making Fire TV a gaming destination that it is also selling a separately sold Amazon Fire Game Controller for $39.99 that is very reminiscent of Xbox’s pad featuring dual analog sticks, a d-pad, and ABXY buttons, as well as media controls. And on top of that, the company has formed Amazon Game Studios to develop games exclusively for the Fire TV such as third-person sci-fi shooter Sev Zero. Press the GameCircle button the Game Controller to view leaderboards and achievements across the Internet. Many games are offered today (a bunch of them are free) with “thousands” more on the way. Check out the Fire TV’s games and apps catalog here. Note that most games do not require the separately sold Game Controller for use, however some do.

What else? In addition to movies and TV, the Android-powered box also streams music (Pandora, Vevo, etc.) and it can wirelessly stream your photos and video saved in Amazon Cloud Drive. You can also mirror your Amazon tablet to your HDTV in the same way iOS devices can be paired with Apple TVs and your Amazon tablet can provide a second screen experience by pulling up content that’s related to what you’re watching on the big screen. Last, Amazon FreeTime allows parents to setup personalized profiles for their kids to access appropriate movies, TV shows, apps, and games.

Amazon Fire TV is available for purchase today. Get a closer look at the media streamer and its gaming controller in the gallery below, then jump after the break to see the UI in action, a sneak peek at Amazon-developed games, and the first commercial for it starring the insane Gary Busey.

READ MORE Amazon gets into the media streaming hardware business with Fire TV

Sony shows off updated PS Vita and new game console/media streamer for Japanese market

Sony Computer Entertainment held a press conference in Japan today and although all the announcements pertain directly to the Japanese market it’s very likely that some of the announced hardware may make their way to the States and other parts of the world.

First up, Sony made it known that the PS4 will release in Japan on February 22, 2014, almost three full months after the console launches in North America. Yeah, that has got to sting, especially since Sony is based in JP. But remember, the PS3 had launched in Japan six days before it did in America…so…yeah.

Next let’s turn to hardware. Sony flashed a new PS Vita (WiFi only) that is 20 percent thinner and 15 percent lighter than the OG Vita and promises six hours of battery life. The design is mostly the same–you’ll noticed a slightly rounder look. Inside the LED screen has been swapped out for an OLED display, there’s now 1GB of onboard storage and a micro-USB has been added for syncing and charging. The new Vita will come in a bunch of colors such as black, white, lime green, light blue, pink and grey. The proprietary memory cards have fallen in price and a 64GB size has been introduced to the fold. The updated PS Vita releases in Japan October 10 for 18,980 yen (or about $190).

And now to the unexpected. Sony outed a new box to put in front of your television and it’s called the PS Vita TV. It looks like a mini console and allows gamers to play Vita titles on their TV. It comes complete with slots to insert Vita cartridges and memory cards and you control gameplay with a DualShock controller, not the Vita. The Vita TV will support 1,300 Vita games; in other words this “console” will launch with an impressive games lineup. Note, however, that it will not support all Vita titles; big ones like Gravity Rush, Wipeout, and Uncharted are not included on the compatible games list for some reason. In addition to playing games, the Vita TV will also act as a media streamer with access to Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited services, Hulu, and more. And when the PS4 comes out, a software update will turn the Vita TV into a Remote Play device akin to how the Vita will become one as well. Vita TV comes to the Japanese market on November 14 with a 9,954 yen price tag. That converts to appox. $100. Should it enter the US market at some point it’d fare as a worthy competitor against Apple TV, Roku, and the like.

Pop into the gallery below to check out the updated PS Vita and the new PS Vita TV. Video after the break.

[Via Engadget 1, 2, 3, 4; Joystiq] READ MORE Sony shows off updated PS Vita and new game console/media streamer for Japanese market

Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass

Google announced a slew of new hardware and software at this year’s I/O event for developers. From tablets to a funky-looking media streamer, to the next version of Android and even the futuristic Project Glass, the boys of Mountain View covered it all so let’s dive right in.

Nexus 7

The Nexus 7 serves the same purpose as the Nexus smartphone lineup: it provides a pure Android experience, but on a tablet. The 7-inch slate was made in collaboration with hardware manufacturer Asus, and it packs a 1280×800 back-lit IPS display with scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla glass. It measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.45mm and weighs an impressively light 340 grams. A quad-core Tegra 3 processor from NVIDIA and 1GB of RAM power the tablet, and a 4325 mAh battery 9 hours of HD video playback and 300 hours of standby time. As far as sensors go, there’s an accelerometer, GPS, a magnetometer, and a gyroscope. WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth, and NFC are also on board. Ports include Micro USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack, both located on the bottom of the device. There’s rear-facing camera, but you’ll find a 1.2MP front-facing camera for video chatting. 8GB and 16GB storage capacities are available to pre-order today through the Google Play storefront at $199 and $149, respectively. The tablet ships later this month and comes with a $25 credit for the Play store plus a copy of Transformers: Dark of the Moon and other media-related extras. It runs the latest version of Android (that is 4.1 Jelly Bean, more on this later) and Google says it was “made for Google Play.” On the homescreen you’ll have quick access to games, your music, movie, and TV show libraries, and your book and magazine collections. In related news, the Google Play store has been updated and now sells magazines, TV shows, and movies can be rented and purchased.

READ MORE Google I/O 2012: Nexus 7 tablet, Nexus Q media streamer, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, Google+ & Project Glass