Amazon is officially entering the streaming video settop box competition.
The online retailer-turned tech company and content provider announced its new Amazon Fire TV product today at an event in New York City. The $99 is available for order now on Amazon.com.
The 0.7-inch thin WiFi-supporting settop box streams 1080P high definition and connects to your TV via HDMI. It comes with a remote that lets you use voice to search for content; available separately is a $39.99 controller for playing video games.
"Tiny box, huge specs, tons of content, incredible price—people are going to love Fire TV," said Amazon.com founder and CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. "Voice search that actually works means no more typing on an alphabet grid. Our exclusive new ASAP feature predicts the shows you'll want to watch and gets them ready to stream instantly. And our open approach gives you not just Amazon Instant Video and Prime Instant Video, but also Netflix, Hulu Plus, and more. On Fire TV you can watch Alpha House and House of Cards."
Amazon hopes that Fire TV gives it an advantage over streaming competitor Netflix, which does not sell its own connected devices but is available on more than 1,000 devices including smart TVs, Blu-ray Disc players and video game consoles. Amazon "sees the millions of set top boxes that they sell, they know this is a hot market," said analyst James McQuivey, author of Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation. McQuivey was among several analysts and tech journalists attending the event, providing updates on Twitter about Amazon's announcement.
The new settop box, unveiled by Peter Larsen, the company's vice president in charge of Kindle, is "very thin, about the size of a small piece of toast," McQuivey said. And the Fire TV name "makes good sense, builds on the brand," he added.
BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield posted that the Fire TV settop box promises to be three times as fast as competing products. For Netflix, which is a competitor in terms of streaming video content, Amazon's announcement is good news in a way. The "more IP-enabled TVs the better for #netflix - makes it easier to get to their service on the big screen," he noted on Twitter.
Among the other services beyond Amazon Instant Video and Netflix that are pre-loaded on the device: WatchESPN, Hulu, Pandora, YouTube, Crackle, Showtime and music services Amazon MP3, TuneIn, Pandora, iHeartRadio and VEVO.
Amazon announced the availability of its first video game Sev Zero from Amazon Game Studios. The sci-fi action game is played on the TV with the Fire TV controller; another player can join in at the same time on a Kindle Fire tablet.