Set-top boxes commonly look like particularly flat media players, and they usually sit beneath a TV or above it, or in some section of the desk or table it's on. The new one from Amazon is particularly nondescript.
One might say that a price of $99 / €99 isn't all that super-appealing for a set-top box, not when there are plenty of them on sale for fifty bucks.
However, it's one thing to buy a set-top-box and another to actually seal a contract with a TV carrier. It's why TV providers ship set-top boxes as part of their contracts.
So yes, Amazon may be demanding $99/€99 for its TV streaming service, called Fire TV, but the deal comes with access to 200,000 TV episodes and movies, hundreds of games and millions of songs. There's a 30-day free trial of Prime included, for access to TV shows and films.
The STB will even let you search content just by speaking a search query (actor, TV show title, directors, etc.), and the ASAP feature adds another layer of convenience by guessing what you intend to watch and pre-buffering the episodes of movies for playback.
Then, there's Amazon FreeTime, which lets you set limits for screen time, and (soon) create profiles for your kids.
Finally, since we’ve mentioned gaming, we may as well clarify: you can, indeed, play certain games on this thing, like Monsters University, Minecraft-Pocket Edition, and The Walking Dead. There are both free and paid games available.
As for the hardware, Amazon says the Fire TV is a “tiny box [with] huge specs.” The company implemented 10/100 LAN networking, Dolby Digital Plus audio, an HDMI output, Bluetooth 4.0, and dual-antenna (MIMO) 802.11n Wi-Fi (dual-band).
Everything is operated by a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 SoC, with a clock of 1.7 GHz and Adreno 320 graphics. 2 GB of RAM back it up.
All in all, the Amazon Fire TV box measures 4.5 x 4.5 x 0.7 inches / 114.3 x 114.3 x 17.78 mm and weighs 9.9 ounces / 280 grams.
If you buy one of these things, you will have access to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, ESPN, etc. Much of the content will have to be paid for separately though, and we've already seen people saying that they feel that Fire TV is just a means for Amazon to rope people into buying more of its content.
Ironically, Amazon does this often and doesn't even hide it. The Kindle e-readers and tablets, for example, were released with low prices in order to expose buyers to the many books, apps, games and other things up for sale on Amazon.