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Following hot on the heels of both Apple and Roku, Amazon has now upgraded its streaming devices too. The new Amazon Fire TV is faster, supports HDR, and yet costs less than its predecessor. So is there a catch?
This is the third generation of the Fire TV, and Amazon still calls this a set-top box. But the gadget’s new size makes it seem more like the Fire TV Stick or Chromecast Ultra, as it hangs behind your TV instead of sitting under it.
How Much Does It Cost?
The all-new Amazon Fire TV has launched with a retail price of $69.99, significantly lower than the $99.99 price tag of the second-generation Fire TV.
In fact, Amazon has two cool offers to save you some big bucks. At the time of writing you can purchase the new Fire TV with an Echo Dot to save money on both.
The new Fire TV will start shipping on October 25. If you like the device, it would be a good idea to pre-order it now. This promises to be a hot seller during the festive season.
A New Design for a New Generation
The most striking feature of the all-new Fire TV (2017) is how small it is compared to the previous version. In fact, the Fire TV is now more like the Chromecast.
The new Fire TV is a small black tile that fits in the palm of your head, with an HDMI cable coming out of it. Plug this cable into your TV and the Fire TV will hang behind your TV working its magic. At least after you connect it to a power source, of course.
If your TV’s HDMI ports are located at the back this is much more aesthetically pleasing option than the previous Fire TV. There’s no cable clutter, and no need to find a base to put it on. But if your TV’s HDMI ports are located at the side then this is going to be one odd-looking setup.
Better Video and Audio Than Before
Either way, good looks don’t matter if the gadget can’t do what you want it to. And just like Apple and Google, Amazon is pushing HDR and 4K content. Plus, it boosts audio with Dolby Atmos support.
- HDR 10, No Dolby Vision: The new Fire TV only supports the HDR 10 standard, which is the basic version of HDR. Unlike the Apple TV, it doesn’t support Dolby Vision, the other (more advanced) standard in HDR programming.
- 4K at 60 fps: While the previous generation Fire TV also supported 4K resolution, the new one improves on that too. You can now watch 4K content at 60 frames per second (fps), doubling what the predecessor did.
- Dolby Atmos: The most popular surround sound standard is available on the Fire TV, even as it goes missing on Apple TV and Roku devices. Amazon clearly values this audio boost, since it was one of the main features of the new Fire HD 10 tablet.
Remember, if you want to use HDR and 4K, you’ll need to buy a 4K HDR TV that supports it too.
No Expandable Storage, You’re Stuck With 8GB
It’s annoying when a company removes a great feature just to make their gadget smaller. The new Fire TV (2017) removes the best feature of its predecessor: the microSD card slot.
Now, the 8GB of internal storage is all you get. So if you wanted to download shows to watch them offline later, you’re out of luck. This will also hit live TV DVR capabilities, since 8GB is far too little storage for saving 4K HDR video.
One of the other features of the Fire TV was the games you could play on it. But now again, you’re going to fill up that space really fast and be left without a choice.
The New Amazon Fire TV (2017) vs. Fire TV Stick
The all-new Amazon Fire TV is double the price of the Fire TV Stick, but is the new entrant twice as good? Despite the lack of storage, yes it is.
The 2017 Fire TV has a new 1.5GHz quad-core processor that makes it 40 percent faster than any other Amazon streaming device. It also has 2GB RAM compared to the Fire TV Stick’s 1GB RAM. Both factors combined, you get a smoother experience while browsing the menu or using the Alexa Voice Remote.
In fact, the Fire TV 2017 works well with all Alexa voice-controlled gadgets like the Amazon Echo series.
Plus, it supports 4K and HDR, neither of which the Fire TV Stick can handle.
How Does It Fare Against the Competition?
The big question you now face is: which media streaming device should you buy? The Fire TV 2017 and the Roku Streaming Stick Plus cost the exact same price, while the Apple TV costs twice as much. That’s a huge price advantage.
However, Apple TV will upgrade all of your previous purchases to 4K HDR for free. Which could add up to a huge amount of savings if you already have a good iTunes library. You’ll need to buy them again on Amazon or Roku, so you should factor that cost in before deciding.
Between the Fire TV and the Roku Streaming Stick Plus, it’s a tough call. Both have their selling points, like the voice control remote on Fire TV and the new Wi-Fi booster attachment on Roku. So it’s a toss-up, really, and comes down to your own personal preferences.
In fact, it might be a better idea to opt for a media streaming device that occupies the space between the Apple TV and the Fire TV 2017: the Roku Ultra. If you can grab it for under $100 it’s an absolute bargain.
What Will You Buy?
While 4K HDR support is great and the faster processor makes the Fire TV smoother, the removal of the micro SD slot is bitterly disappointing. Still, Amazon’s latest media streaming devices is pretty cool, especially with cool built-in features like X-Ray vision.
Do you like what Amazon has done with the new Fire TV (2017)? Or do you think this represents a backwards step for the company? Which media streaming device do you think represents the best value for money right now? Please let us know in the comments below!