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Amazon Fire TV on sale in UK now, but can it put the heat on Now TV?

Amazon's slimline streaming box gives you iPlayer, Netflix, Spotify and more for £79.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon Fire TV is now available in the UK for £79 -- but it faces heated competition from rivals including Apple TV, Google Chromecast and Sky's Now TV.

Amazon Fire TV is a 17.5mm streaming box that plugs into your television, packing a quad-core processor and pumping out 1080p HD video with Dolby Digital Plus surroundsound. When you buy it you register it to your Amazon account so it arrives all set up and ready to go -- in theory anyway.

Plug the Amazon Fire TV into your telly and you can enjoy UK film, TV and music services like Curzon Home Cinema, Netflix, YouTube, Demand 5, BBC iPlayer, BBC News and Sport, Sky News, and Spotify -- not to mention renting, buying and streaming from Amazon's own Prime Instant Video.

Clever features include voice search to find and start watching specific movies, TV shows, games or even actors, all without having to find the remote. And the ASAP feature predicts what movies and TV episodes you might want be interested in and cues them up so they're ready before you even know you want to watch them. ASAP stands for Advanced Streaming and Prediction -- we do love a good backronym.

On the gaming side, Fire TV comes with access to games like Minecraft, Asphalt 8 and The Walking Dead from developers including Gameloft, Sega, Ubisoft, and more. You can play with your remote or buy the Fire TV game controller separately. It also connects to your mobile device so you can use your smartphone or tablet as a remote or just see more information about what you're watching.

Fire TV is available today direct from Amazon, or from Argos, Currys, PC World, and Tesco. At £79 Fire TV is basically the same price as Apple TV, but of those two Fire has the better range of viewing options: Apple TV doesn't have iPlayer or Amazon Prime Instant, among other missing services.

But neither is a patch on streaming box Now TV, one of our favourite products of last year and still a solid gold bargain. Sky's Now TV includes most of the services offered by Fire (except Amazon Instant Prime, obviously), as well as giving you access to Sky Movies, Sky Sports and Sky TV channels for a few extra quid a month.