Amazon’s new Fire TV with Alexa does everything Apple TV doesn’t

Some companies like to spend months building hype for even the smallest updates to their hardware. Then there’s Amazon. As the tech community continues to investigate the new Apple TV 4K, Amazon officially announced its newest Amazon Fire TV device at a private press event in Seattle today. The new Fire TV model will support 4K resolution at at 60fps and high dynamic range (HDR) via HDR10, and comes at a very affordable $70 price point.

The new model will be a square, Chromecast-like dongle that connects to a TV with a fixed HDMI cable. In terms of market, the dongle will be aimed at those who want an Ultra HD and High Dynamic Range-capable upgrade from the affordable Fire TV Stick.  In addition to excellent picture, the new device will support Dolby Atmos, making theater-quality sound more accessible than ever.

The support for Dolby Atmos is one claim Amazon’s Fire TV can make which the Apple TV 4K can not. The new Fire TV will also not attempt to force standard dynamic range (SDR) content to 4K HDR TVs in HDR mode, an issue which has riled up more than a few reviewers already.

The new model packs a serious punch in the hardware department considering its small size, featuring a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU and a Mali-450 GPU, and offer 2GB of RAM, as well as 8GB of internal storage — better specs than the current Fire TV Stick, but still considerably less powerful than the latest Fire TV box.

Just like we’ve seen on previous Amazon Fire TV products, the new device will be able to power on any TV that supports the current HDMI-CEC standard. More exciting, though, is that the newest Fire TV model will feature more Alexa integrations than ever, allowing users to request individual TV channels like the Food Network, and playback content from Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, all with simple voice commands. For example, saying “Alexa, play Bosch,” would result in the Fire TV launching Amazon’s original series featuring Titus Welliver.

The new Fire TV device is currently available for pre-order on Amazon’s website, and will ship later this year, according to the company. Though $70 will get you a standalone model, Amazon will also offer a bundle which includes the new Fire TV and an Echo Dot (to enable far-field voice commands with no button pressing necessary) for $80.

Amazon Fire TV with Alexa

It’s worth noting that the new Fire TV device came among a number of other interesting new product announcements at the press event, including Alexa integration with upcoming BMW vehicles, two new Echo speaker models, and a brand new clock-like Alexa device that’s aimed for the bedside table. Each product took clear aim at competitors in the marketplace, with the company even going so far as to discount the price of 4K content on its website — a clear shot back at a similar move by Apple to provide free 4K upgrades of films customers had already purchased on its online store, iTunes.

One thing we didn’t hear announced from the tech company was a rumored cube-shaped Fire TV device that could replace the second-generation Fire TV box — a device that has been unavailable for sale on Amazon’s website for some time.

Update: Clarified that the Fire TV currently supports HDR via HDR10, but not Dolby Vision.

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