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back to article Amazon stuffs games into Fire TV box: Soz, rivals... WE don't need to make cash on hardware

Amazon moved last week to join Apple, Google and Roku as a player in the OTT Set Top space – releasing a box that gives it control of Over The Top TV experiences in the home. Its core aim is to be able to sell video that goes to a traditional TV, without lining the pockets of one of its rivals. What Amazon unveiled is called …

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Anonymous Coward

But what we ALL want to know is...

....can I wipe it and put a PROPER LINUX on there?!?!?!?!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But what we ALL want to know is...

Don't know about that but there is already an XBMC project in progress for this hardware.

Should be a good bit of kit with the new Gotham release of XBMC, (currently at beta 3).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: But what we ALL want to know is...

Looks like XMBC can already be side-loaded, and it all seems pretty straight-forward...

http://www.alashiban.com/running-xbmc-amazon-firetv-step-step-tutorial/

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Anonymous Coward

Nice to see where things are going, but for now.......

Kind of interesting, but how many hours of viewing do you get before you go over your broadband usage cap?

Somehow, with the usual channels, a PVR to timeshift and let me sample all of the goodies from Freeview (trying films I'd miss otherwise) and simply turning the volume down and reading something or surfing the intertubes, I seem to manage perfectly well without spending even more money on this kind of thing.

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Law

Re: Nice to see where things are going, but for now.......

"Kind of interesting, but how many hours of viewing do you get before you go over your broadband usage cap"

You still have a cap??

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Nice to see where things are going, but for now.......

"broadband usage cap"

What's that then?

Haven't had one of those, like, ever.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

"but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

So it's basically :

"Buffering.....2 seconds of video......Buffering.....4 seconds of video...Buffering......"

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Re: "but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

Depends on the speed of your broadband.

I've got 8mbits and I can stream HD from lovefilm on one TV and SD iPlayer through a Roku box on another TV and do general surfing on my phone via wifi usually without any problems.

I should add that I'm two miles from the exchange and most of my neighbours use the same telco (talk talk unfortunately as they're the only unbundled ISP on our exchange)

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Re: "but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

Obviously the quality will depend on the speed of your broadband, but as long as it's broadband, buffering shouldn't really be much of an issue these days with modern codecs. Even with my measly 1.5Mbps connection at my old apartment, I was able to stream Netflix on the Nintendo Wii in standard definition without buffering for more than a few seconds as I first launched the movie or TV show.

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Silver badge

Re: "but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

Buffering is the least of your worries. If your movies and shows are stored in the cloud, they are tied to Amazon services and devices. Forever.

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Re: "but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

It gets worse. I'm sure the Fire is geolocked so only the Americans will be able to see all the content.

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Re: "but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

Speed of your broadband service doesn't matter much once it's past the amount you need for video and whatever else you're sharing the connection for. We have 12Mbps service (I've measured it over 20Mbps at times) and we still often have problems with buffering. It seems more of a problem with Amazon Prime than Redbox, but it's possible that the times we have buffering problems, there are too many people sharing our upstream pipe. At the moment I blame Comcast. But video apps should have a setting to allow buffering more of the video -- say up to 30 seconds -- to improve playback smoothness.

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Bronze badge

Re: "but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

If your movies and shows are stored in the cloud, they are tied to Amazon services and devices. Forever.

Which might or might not be a concern, depending on your threat model. I'm not interested in streaming video (beyond what I get from my cable provider's On Demand service, which I use very rarely), but if I was, I wouldn't be at all worried about letting Amazon control my content leases. The risks there are so far down my list they're invisible.

Buffering issues, on the other hand, rain on rich and poor alike. Given the flakiness of my Internet service1, buffering would, in fact, be a much more serious issue for me.

I own a bunch of DVDs (mostly gifts), and most of them have been viewed once or twice, if that. Losing them would not trouble me.

1Also provided by the aforementioned cable company. In their defense, they purchased the previous, bankrupt provider a few years ago, and inherited a greatly oversubscribed, poorly maintained, and generally shoddy infrastructure, and they have been investing steadily in repairs and upgrades. I've had to put in three service calls since they took over, but each time they made substantial fixes.

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Silver badge

Pump the Primes

Judging by the specs and what the advertisement promotes, this box appears to be the "front end" for Amazon Prime users.

Although it can play android / phone style games, it's not going to supplant a hard-core gamer's platform and most people will have whatever other games they like on their phone or tablets anyway. Most of its other features and attributes appear to be aimed at content consumers: specifically the content that Prime users can get for free - if you leave aside the small matter of paying £80 a year for "free" content.

(And given that Amazon Prime costs $79 in USAland and £79 over here, what's the betting that the hardware will exhibit an equally usurious price-translation, too?)

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Facepalm

Re: Pump the Primes

(And given that Amazon Prime costs $79 in USAland and £79 over here, what's the betting that the hardware will exhibit an equally usurious price-translation, too?...

Sigh how many times......

UK inc. VAT (sales Tax)

US excluding Sales tax.

$95.99 when you add UK VAT rate of 20% to the US prices or £66.99 ex VAT.

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Re: Pump the Primes

Though you're right that the US price listing does not include any sales tax, if it were sold for the same price as in the US directly converted into GBP at the current currency trade rate, even including the 20% VAT, it would only cost about £57.89.

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GBE

Prime is now $99

"And given that Amazon Prime costs $79 in USAland"

It cost $79 in the US at the moment. It's going up to $99. Still, that's only $8.25 a month, and the selection of TV shows on Prime seems to have surpassed Netflix (at least in terms of stuff I want to watch).

My first generation Roku is going strong and is still head and shoulders above the various "smart TV" and "smart Blueray player" implementations I've seen.

My LG Blueray player does Netflix and Prime in a horrible, half-assed manner. Every press of the remote takes 1-2 seconds to be recognized (Roku response is always instantaneous). Things that take two button-presses on the Roku take 8-12 on the LG.

The only feature missing from the Roku is subtitles -- but that's been fixed for the past several generations of Roku boxes.

It sounds like the Fire box might be a worthy competitor...

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It's English, but not as we know it, Jim

"to help inform content purchases and choices."

Wouldn't it be of more use to provide information to the purchasers and choosers than to the abstract nouns describing their output?

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Bronze badge

Re: It's English, but not as we know it, Jim

That ship has sailed, foundered in a storm at sea, and sunk with all hands lost.

The use of "inform" as a transitive verb applied to activities has a long history, both in the sense of guiding (which seems to be the intended use here) and of providing an essential characteristic ("informs the practice of X"). I notice the Merriam-Webster lists the former usage as "obsolete", but I think they're too hasty there.

Thanks for playing, though.

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Amazon doesn't need to make cash on hardware?

Then why isn't it free for prime users?

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Re: Amazon doesn't need to make cash on hardware?

Because it costs money to build

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FAIL

Don't need this

As a Prime customer, I see no reason at all to get this. My roku/ps3/pc/phone etc already allow me to to watch all the streaming I want. Also, given the next tv I buy will already come with some Android smart tv stuff, this makes even less sense to buy. Had this hit the market 2 years ago, then I think the situation would be different. In the end this just looks like sonething else to stream Netflix.

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Re: Don't need this

Believe it or not - most people don't have a roku or games console, and don't want to watch streamed TV on a phone or pc.

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PS4 OTT

Does the PS4 really do this? Or did I just misread that section like a fool?

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Silver badge

"predicting the content that a user is most likely to watch and pre-caching"

Such a bad idea. Amazon can't manage to recommend books I actually want to buy, what makes them think their recommendations will be any better for films / TV programmes? If it downloads things you haven't asked for then some people will hit their broadband caps and others may hit fair usage limits without knowing why. Personally I don't want anything that could use large amounts of bandwidth just downloading when it feels like it - what if I am trying to watch a stream on a different device or playing an online game at the time!

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Bronze badge

Amazon can't manage to recommend books I actually want to buy,

"Anyway, everyone generalizes from a single example. I know I do." (Steven Brust)

what makes them think their recommendations will be any better for films / TV programmes?

Probably the success of their recommendation system at driving additional sales, which they can estimate by measuring conversions (how often people click on recommendations, and how often they then go on to purchase a recommended product). There will be some false positives, but it's possible to estimate those too, with decent accuracy, using other proxies and studies.

But - and prepare to have your mind blown - what does not work for you as an individual customer might work for other customers!

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Anonymous Coward

Is this why...

They haven't made Amazon Instant Video available on the Roku in the UK when it is in the US?

I mean it SHOULD literally just be a case of change the API endpoint and publish to UK channel store... but Amazon support insist they are unable to give any timeline for when it will be available if at all.

Personally I'm very happy with my 3x Roku LT's. They work brilliantly and I have Plex streaming children's DVDs in one room and Netflix for my wife and I in another 2x rooms. Games is not something I've ever really wanted from a TV streaming box, just TV, but hey!

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Re: Is this why...

Still waiting for the Android version of LovePrime.....

Having used a Roku in the USandA I was about to purchase one, until I saw they haven't got Prime love in the UK!! :(

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Thumb Down

Re: Is this why...

"They haven't made Amazon Instant Video available on the Roku in the UK when it is in the US?"

This is why I don't really like most of these devices. They limit consumer choice rather than, as they would have you believe from the marketing, "increase" consumer choice. Why? Because you have to keep buying more and more devices and subscribing to more and more services to get that choice.

Vertical integration is the worst thing to ever happen to the TV delivery market from a consumer point of view. Why can't I buy just one box and get everything I want from it? Albeit with subscriptions to particular "channels".

Game of Thrones is a good case in point. Many people want to watch it but it's not legally available to them. So now it's the most pirated TV show on the planet. But are the distributors doing anything to address the problem? Yes! They are sending the UK Police after the "pirates" instead of increasing their distribution channels.

They claim we in the UK get it "late" because "It is an extensive process requiring dubbing in multiple languages" according to a BBC article.

I guess the producers think we don't understand "american" over here and need it translating it our quaint, old fashioned version of "english" which we borrowed off them and basterdised.

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If even NetFlix can't deliver content to US customers without a load of hassle, what makes Amazon think it can do any better?

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It doesn't do the one thing I bought the Apple TV for....yet no one mentions this is the glowing reports....AirPlay. Sure, they bring up that it'll do a feature like AirPlay for one of their tablets, but the Apple TV works (with a third party app) on my Lenovo lappy as well as my iPad.

Not a fanboi by far, but since my television already has all of the streaming services built in, all I needed was the wireless display.

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Bronze badge

Fail

"but all of your video is stored in the Amazon cloud."

Considering I rip all of my DVDs/Blurays and place them on a NAS at home for ease of access, anything that stops me from accessing them is immediately written off my list.

Eventually, *someone* will come up with a source-agnostic media player with appropriate plugins for each of Amazon/Hulu/Netflix/Etc... which presents them all in a unified format.

Personally I'm currently using a home-built HTPC with remote, running MediaPortal with assorted plugins (love the TV Series plugin). YMMV. It's not perfect and only handles Netflix so far, but it's better than being locked-in to a single provider.

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They don't need to make money on hardware???

But they sell their hardware at the same price or higher than rivals. The games controller is another $40 on top of the price of the hardware. I'd say they really are making money on the hardware. The games aren't that sensational to justify the cost and the voice search is a rip off, it directs specifically to only Amazon 'pay to view' programming.

I'll pass.

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