Amazon’s new Fire TV set top box is now available to order in the UK.
The device, which gives access to Amazon’s video streaming service as well as rival Netflix, on demand apps and games, is price matched with Apple’s TV box at £79.
That makes it £69 more expensive than Sky’s NOW TV box which offers access to its most popular channels, including Sky Atlantic, but lacks support for Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video.
Unlike rival devices, Fire TV includes voice search so users can simply speak the name of a movie, TV show, actor or director they’re looking for.
It also downloads and buffers films and shows it thinks users will be interested in watching ahead of them hitting ‘play’.
Pre-installed apps include: BBC iPlayer, BBC News, BBC Sport, Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Demand 5, Sky News and YouTube.
Customers can also buy games from the Amazon app store and play them via Fire TV on their TV set. Currently available titles include Minecraft, Asphalt 8, NBA 2K14, and The Walking Dead.
“Our customers are very excited about Fire TV, and we’re delighted to be shipping in the UK,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, Vice President, EU Amazon Devices.
“Fire TV offers powerful performance in a tiny box at a great price. For just £79 it comes with an open ecosystem that provides access to a vast selection of content through BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Prime Instant Video, and Amazon Instant Video, enabling customers to stream movies and TV shows in up to Full HD on demand.”
Fiona Keenan, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “Amazon’s extension of its current digital service into the hardware market is not surprising given the performance of the market. Paid for digital volumes have grown by 119% over the past year, and subscription services, such as Amazon’s Prime Instant Video, have soared by 152% in a year.”
However the analyst questioned whether customers would be be prepared to buy yet another device to sit underneath their TV, commenting: “Two thirds of homes in Britain already subscribe to a pay TV service such as Sky or Virgin, and these providers are offering consumers the ability to use services like Netflix and on-demand through a simple and familiar interface.
“While Amazon Fire TV offers additional features such as gaming, it is ultimately hard to see why consumers would spend an extra £79.99 on a device that effectively provides the same streaming functionality as other set-top boxes and games consoles consumers already have in the household.”