Alexa Smart Assistant at Core of Tiny New Amazon Fire TV Set-Top Box

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Alexa Smart Assistant at Core of Tiny New Amazon Fire TV Set-Top Box

For years Amazon has been selling its Fire TV set-top box as an alternative to devices such as the Apple TV and Roku that deliver video streaming, music and games. The latest version of Fire TV with 4K Ultra HD, might be its best yet. The $70 device supports all of the apps and services that its predecessors offered, but comes with support for the highest video resolution available. With the Alexa digital assistant included, the Fire TV can be used to smart home systems as well as video and music. But there might still be some who question whether it can compete with Apple TV and similar products. Check out this slide show to learn about the key features in this new edition of Fire TV.

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Fire TV Set-Top Box Is Tiny

The Amazon Fire TV consists of 2.6 inch square set-top box that plugs into the television’s HDMI port. Inside, an Amlogic quad-core chip is powering the device. It also comes with 8GB of storage and 2GB of RAM.

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The Power Is in the Fire TV Remote

The remote is integral to the Amazon Fire TV experience. The thin, black remote has a dial towards the top for navigating the software. The familiar play, rewind, and fast forward buttons are there, of course, but the most important component is a built-in microphone that lets users issue Alexa voice commands to control the set-top box’s software. To activate the voice control, users need to press the microphone button at the top of the remote.

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Fire TV Works With High Dynamic Range TVs

The latest Amazon Fire TV is designed to support a variety of next-generation video content. The set-top box, for instance, can play 4K Ultra HD content on compatible televisions. It works with high dynamic range (HDR)-compatible TVs to delivers sharp video with vibrant colors. Amazon Fire TV can stream content at up to 60 frames per second to ensure smooth playback..

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Amazon Prime Is an Essential Feature

Amazon Prime is a $99-a-year service that gives users free two-day shipping on Amazon and other perks. But it also provides access to Amazon Prime Video, the company’s popular streaming service. Amazon Prime isn’t a requirement, but it provides access to an enormous collection of entertainment. In addition to Prime Video, users can also stream millions of songs through Amazon’s Prime Music.

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Alexa Controls Living Room Entertainment

Amazon’s virtual personal assistant Alexa is at the center of the Fire TV experience. With Alexa’s help, users can request the app play a new episode or fast forward a certain amount of time. Alexa can also be told to “find comedies,” to find specific movie or music titles as well as launch various apps. Alexa makes, Fire TV is a voice-first product.

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Alexa Controls Smart Home Devices, Too

In addition to controlling the Fire TV, Alexa provides smart home control through the set-top box. From the remote, users can tell Alexa to turn on lights or adjust thermostat settings. Alexa can also be told to display video from a Ring video doorbell or set a calendar reminder for users. All Alexa smart home commands are routed through the Fire TV and communicated to the other smart devices in the home.

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Fire TV Is a Totally Wireless Experience

Amazon emphasized that the Fire TV is designed to be placed out of the way and not detract from an existing home entertainment setup. Wireless technology enables its discreet presence in the living room. The set-top box comes with support for an Ethernet adapter, but most users will likely connect the machine to their WiFi networks. Amazon said that the set-top box supports 802.11ac.

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Entertainment Channels Abound

In addition to Amazon’s own media services, there are a large number of third-party apps and channels that Fire TV users can access and subscribe to. Those services include HBO, YouTube, Showtime, and Netflix, among many others. Users will also get access to video games and other apps to extend the functionality of  the Fire TV. 

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Think About an HD Antenna

Amazon Fire TV is compatible with HD antennas. The feature means users can connect an HD antenna to the set-top box to access over-the-air programming in their area. Cord cutters who want more than the limited number of over-the-air shows can also opt for subscriptions to Hulu, PlayStation Vue,or Sling TV, which will beam live programming to the Fire TV.

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It's Hard to Beat the Price

The new Amazon Fire TV retails for just $70, making it one of the cheaper set-top box options on the market. Those who want the Fire TV and an HD antenna to cut the cord can get the bundle for just $75. Amazon Fire TV is available now at Amazon.com.

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