The streaming device to beat them all? Amazon’s new Fire TV box has a fresh design, supports 4K HDR video and Dolby Atmos sound, and costs just £69.99/$91.
Amazon is mounting an all-out assault on your home. Not content with an impressive selection of new, Alexa-powered smart speakers to fill your house with sound, there’s also a new Fire TV to take care of your video needs.
There’s a new design, an upgraded set of specs and a knockdown price to put the fear into everyone from Apple to Roku. Is the all-new Fire TV the ultimate 4K streaming device?
Amazon has ditched the traditional box design seen on the last-generation Fire TV (now discontinued).
Instead the all-new Fire TV has taken a design cue from the Google Chromecast Ultra, and takes the form of a small, square box, complete with attached, dangling HDMI cable. It’s no longer a set-top box, more a streaming dongle.
It feels lightweight and is a magnet for fingerprints but for most people it will be handled once, plugged into a TV and then forgotten about – so the compact dimensions are what matters most. The only other connection is a micro USB slot for plugging in to a power supply.
The new Fire TV also comes with the latest Alexa voice remote, as found with the Fire TV Stick.
The new Fire TV supports 4K video, as on the last generation, but has upped the ante with support for 4K video at 60 frames per second, and HDR video. The Fire TV opts for HDR-10 rather than Dolby Vision, though conversely you will find support for Dolby Atmos audio and Dolby Digital Plus 7.1.
The 2017 Fire TV has a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of memory and 8GB of storage, and claims to be 40% more powerful than the existing Fire TV Stick.
Prime Video, Netflix and YouTube are all on board, all of which have 4K HDR video content, and in total you’ll find some 140 channels of content at your disposal (in the US, at least). You can also stream music from Amazon Music, Spotify and more.
You can use all of Alexa’s increasingy familiar commands, and add control of any other compatible smart devices – from lightbulbs to thermostats – through the Fire TV voice remote.
Gauging the level of performance was nigh-on impossible at the Amazon launch event, with no control over the TV or picture settings, or any chance to do a direct comparison with rival products.
But certainly on paper it looks a compelling offering, in no small part down to the super-affordable price (£69.99), which makes the new Apple TV 4K (£179) look rather expensive.
The absence of Dolby Vision is a shame for those wanting a device that ticks all the spec boxes, but with HDR and Dolby Atmos, it’s clearly not entirely lacking in the spec department. The new Apple TV does support Dolby Vision and HDR-10, however.
Amazon’s new Fire TV interface makes it easy to find both 4K and 4K HDR programmes and films, and an increasing percentage of Amazon Original Series are now shot in 4K HDR video for bolstering that selection. And thanks to Amazon’s solid content library, you shouldn’t be short of a film or TV show to watch.
It may be twice the price of the Fire TV Stick, but with the upgrades (on paper) in terms of video performance (4K/60fps and HDR-10), make for a compelling streamer.
The new Fire TV is a small but not insignificant upgrade. While the previous Fire TV, and other streaming devices, can support 4K video, the support here for 4K, HDR-10 and Dolby Atmos is a real boon, even if the missing Dolby Vision spec is a shame for the early-adopters. That said, 4K and HDR content will be plenty of picture goodness for most people.
But arguably the biggest draw here, is simply the price. At £89.99 it’s half the price of the Apple TV 4K and competitively-priced compared to other streaming rivals from Roku and Google. And thanks to good app compatibility, there will be plenty of 4K content, and plenty of Alexa skills at your disposal.
The best 4K streaming box on the market? The all-new Fire TV just might be.