Amazon Launches Set-Top Box

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Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) released an Android-based Internet video-streaming set-top box named Fire TV. The device is a small flat black box and is available for sale immediately in the U.S. for $99. It also has a Bluetooth-enabled remote control.

Amazon eliminates the need for scrolling and typing to search content that is normally required on the existing media streaming devices. Users can simply speak their choice into the remote to enjoy the program. Therefore, Amazon believes that Fire TV is an all in one solution to all these problems.

Fire TV, which the online retailer claims to be three times as powerful as Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) TV, is powered by Google's (GOOG) Android software and HTML 5. It can stream Internet video to a high-definition (HD) TV. The device consists of a quad-core processor, 2 GB RAM and a Graphics Processing Unit (:GPU). This means that the box can be used for gaming purposes as well.

Moreover, Fire TV is integrated with the ASAP feature that predicts what the user wants to watch and stream it immediately. The Bluetooth-based remote, which looks like a blend of the Apple TV remote and Boxee's remote, will allow users to stream videos from Amazon Instant Video service, Hulu Plus, Netflix (NFLX), YouTube and Crackle. It will also enable music streaming through Pandora, iHeartRadio and Vevo. Moreover, users can download movies, videos, TV shows and apps.

The video-streaming box serves the purpose of a gaming console. Amazon has offered a separate game-controller called Fire game-controller. It would cost $39 additionally. Games like Anomaly 2, Asphalt 8 and Minecraft from Amazon's own Game Studio will be available for an average price of $1.85.

The new product offering will help to grow Amazon’s video sales and attract new users. Furthermore, the breadth of content and sensible pricing strategy will immediately place the online retailer in the same league as Apple TV and Roku.

Currently Amazon carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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