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This article was published 2/4/2014 (1176 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
NEW YORK -- Amazon is making a bid to enter living rooms with Amazon Fire TV, a new streaming device that delivers online video, music and other content to televisions.
The company says the $99 device has better speed, performance and search functions than other streaming boxes such as Apple TV and Google Chromecast. But Amazon is coming late to the streaming-device game, and it remains to be seen whether the company is offering enough new and better services to lure customers away from their current streaming methods.
The device, about the size of a CD case, runs Google's Android operating system and offers Netflix, Hulu and other streaming channels in addition to Amazon Prime instant video. It comes with a Bluetooth remote, which lets users search for video by talking to the remote. Customers will get a free, 30-day trial subscription to Netflix and Amazon Prime when they buy a Fire TV.
Amazon vice-president Peter Larsen said the retailer sells millions of streaming media devices each year, and its own box is an effort to address three complaints it commonly hears from customers: The search is too clunky, there is not an open ecosystem that allows people to use several different streaming systems and performance isn't good enough.
Fire TV also offers a range of other services, including channels like YouTube and Pandora and "Free Time," a customizable interface for children.
The box, which started shipping Wednesday, will also feature thousands of free and paid games like Minecraft and Monsters University starting next month. Games can be played using the remote. An optional Fire game controller will be available for $39.99.
One analyst called the offering "underwhelming." Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said the device is too expensive considering it doesn't offer notably more than similarly priced devices. Apple TV is $99 and the top-tier Roku is also $99, although it makes cheaper versions. Google's Chromecast is $35.
He also said Amazon missed a chance to lure more Prime customers by offering six months free of the service to Fire TV owners.
"I don't really get it," he said. "There's no real meaningful advantage to buying the box."
CRT Inc. analyst Neil Doshi was more positive.
"We expect that Fire TV should sell well and further bolster Amazon Prime's ecosystem," he said.
-- The Associated Press