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Amazon Debuts Fire TV, a Set-Top Box for Streaming and Gaming

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Amazon entered the set-top box market today with the introduction of the $99 Fire TV. At a time when the living room streaming market is being led by smaller devices and lower prices, the Fire TV's size and price tag at first seem a surprise. But the Fire TV doesn't just want to replace people's set-top boxes, it also wants to replace their gaming consoles.

The Fire TV has some power under the hood, with an Android-based OS, a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and dual-band Wi-Fi. The device can play content from a user's watch list with no buffering, something that Amazon demonstrated at the New York City launch event earlier today. The Fire TV also comes with a 7-button remote that includes a microphone for voice commands.

Besides Amazon Instant Video, buyers can get content from Netflix, Vimeo, MLB.tv, Showtime Anytime, ESPN, Hulu Plus, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn, among others.

Extras include a watch list, a photo app that works with CloudDrive to upload and share smartphone photos, a rich metadata lookup called X-ray that works with a smartphone or tablet, and time-limiting parental controls.

Amazon is aiming to provide a gaming experience that can compete with consoles, and will debut thousands of titles next month. One of the first will be Minecraft. Amazon will sell a gaming remote for $39.99 that includes 1,000 virtual coins for game purchases. The company promises thousands of free games, with an average price of around $1.85 for paid games.

Amazon Fire is available today for $99. With purchase, buyers get a 30-day trial of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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