CNET First Look
Amazon Fire TV: Great for Amazon addicts but too pushy for everyone elseThe new Amazon Fire TV box can deliver 4K content for less and answer your questions with Alexa. But its focus on Amazon's own content makes it less desirable for users who subscribe to Netflix, Hulu and other apps in addition to Prime.
[MUSIC] This is the new Amazon Fire TV box. Amazon video streamer is designed to compete against devices like Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and even your smart TV. Unlike those devices, its main focus is on delivering Amazon's own streaming content. Sure it has apps for Netflix, Hulu, and many others but Amazon TV shows and movies take center stage. But let's start with the hardware. The box is slim and tiny, designed to hide in your A/V system. It has an HDMI output and Ethernet jack, and of course supports the latest 802.11ac wi-fi standard. The new version drops the optical port but adds an SD card slot for expandable storage. It also has a more powerful processor, although I didn't realize any real-world improvement in response times, which were excellent. The remote is small and sleek too, and is the main way you'll talk to the new Fire TV. Press this button and the Fire TV starts listening. New for this year is Alexa, a voice assistant that replies to your commands and questions, much like Siri on Apple's iPhones. Here's a taste. Alexa, what's the weather? In New York, it's 60 degrees with clear skies and sun. Today, you can look for partly sunny weather with a high of 69 and a low of 50. [NOISE] Add a baby monitor to my shopping list. I added baby monitor to your shopping list. When is the Mets game tonight? The Mets will play tonight at 8:07 PM against the Cubs. [UNKNOWN] is a cool feature but not as useful on a device like this as an ability to search for TV shows and movies. Voice search works well on Fire TV, but the results favor Amazon content. That's fine if you only subscribe to Prime, but if you subscribe to other services too, like Netflix, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, or others. [INAUDIBLE] Chromecast has better search. And you can see here most of the categories here on the main interface goes to Amazon content despite the fact that Fire TV supports 3000 other apps and games. Speaking of games, Fire TV is also available in a gaming edition. It trades the standard remote for a game controller, a 32 gig SD card and a couple of free games. If you're really into the kinda casual games Amazon offers, most of which were originally designed to play on phones, it might be worth the extra money. Both versions on your FireTV box support 4K video too, from Netflix and Amazon currently. With more 4K apps like YouTube coming soon. 4K video looks very good on our test but not that much better than Amazon's regular [UNKNOWN] streams. And of course, most 4K TVs have streaming apps of their own, built in. All told the new Fire TV has some decent improvements over the old version, but unless your primary streaming source is Amazon Prime, its not as good as the alternatives. I'm David Katzmeyer for CNET. [MUSIC]