Amazon Fire TV: UK release date, news and features

The Amazon Fire TV release date, price and app list explained

Amazon Fire UK

You can ignore the name - the Amazon Fire TV is not a TV, it's a set-top box that brings smart TV-like features to any screen.

The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, does it, but the new box is currently rolling off the assembly lines and shipping to customers in the US of A across the pond. It's not out in the UK yet though, but we'll get to that.

The device was announced by Amazon in New York on April 2, and a significant amount of time was spent demoing its 1080p capabilities while Amazon compared its creation favourably against its direct competitors - namely the Apple TV, Chromecast, Roku 3 and Roku Streaming Stick.

Here's everything we know so far about the UK version of the Amazon Fire TV.

Amazon Fire TV: UK price

Amazon Fire TV is currently on sale in the US for $99 which is precisely £59.60 in the olde worlde. Frankly, though, we doubt this price conversion will hold up when it comes to the UK.

As a direct competitor to Apple TV and Roku 3, it's far more likely to be priced a little closer to the £99 that it costs to buy one of Apple and Roku's set-top boxes.

That's still the sweet spot for new streaming platforms shared by everyone except the Google Chromecast right now.

Chromecast, of course, costs just £30 but it's a far more basic proposition to the Amazon Fire TV, so whether you end up deciding to buy one or the other will absolutely depend on what you're specifically looking to get out of it.

amazon fire tv
The Fire TV comes with a remote with built-in microphone

Amazon Fire TV: UK release date

Amazon surprised pretty much everyone when it annouced that the Fire TV would launch immediately in the US. It's currently available to buy and can ship to any State-side address with Amazon's convenient Prime two-day free shipping service.

However, there's no word on a UK release date yet or any hint at when we might be treated to such details by Amazon. TechRadar has been invited to an Amazon Kindle/Prime event in London on April 16 so it's possible we'll hear more then, but we're not holding our breath.

Amazon Fire TV: specs

Amazon Fire TV has the same compact form factor as the Apple TV and Roku 3, but it's reportedly packing three times as much processing power and four times as much memory.

It's powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8064 system-on-a-chip which is coupled to a Krait 300 1.7 Ghz quad-core processor and a dedicated Adreno 320 GPU. That's quite a lot of power for what is essentially a little streaming box

So that'll be good for full HD video without breaking a sweat, then. 4K though? Unlikely in version 1, sadly.

Along with 2GB of RAM, these components will of course also be able to play any 3D Android game to the best of Android's abilities and the Amazon Fire TV also includes dual-band MIMO WiFi for super-speedy streaming, a feature matched only by the dual-core Roku 3.

Amazon Fire TV dimensions
It's larger than a Chromecast, but still pretty small

Amazon Fire TV: connectivity

Amazon chose to launch its first streaming hardware as a set-top box instead of going with the emerging trend of designing a thumb-drive-sized stick like Chromecast or the Roku Streaming Stick.

There are some advantages to this decision. On the outside, Amazon is able to fit more ports and supply living room dwellers with more connectivity options.

HDMI-out, optical audio out, Ethernet and a USB port adorn the back of the Amazon Fire TV. You won't find an Ethernet port on a dinky streaming stick which could be a problem for anyone without a robust wireless network at home.

Amazon Fire TV: uk apps

Amazon Instant Video will obviously be leading the way, which is a big deal for subscribers to the service as its not available natively on Apple TV or Chromecast.

But Amazon is also inviting outside competitors into its "open ecosystem." In the US this equates to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, Crackle, iHeart Radio and YouTube.

The US version does also have Showtime Anytime (but not HBO Go) so when Amazon Fire TV launches in the UK, you can probably expect the likes of BBC iPlayer and 4OD to be part of the package. But until we get word from Amazon, we can't say for sure.

Amazon Fire TV review
The elegant remote uses Bluetooth to talk to the box

Amazon Fire TV: remote

Amazon has proven that the TV remote control isn't going extinct just yet, despite the fact that Chromecast does away with the accessory in favor of an iOS or Android smartphone.

Amazon Fire TV sticks with the physical remote control while taking the age-old accessory to the next level with voice search, similar to what the likes of Sony was doing with the Google TV platform before it sank without a trace.

A tiny dual digital microphone with noise suppression technology has been integrated into the remote, enabling you to call out TV shows, movies, actors, directors and genres.

Amazon's "less search, more watching" mantra does away with the need to hunt down every letter in a movie title or person's name, though that's still available via its 5-way directional button remote.

amazon fire tv controller
The Amazon Fire TV's control pad is sold separately

Amazon Fire TV: gaming

Another Amazon-exclusive is game support with an actual controller and the promise of thousands of games by the time it comes out in the UK.

The dedicated Amazon Fire TV controller looks quite similar to an Xbox One gamepad. It's slightly elongated and contains video playback buttons in addition to game buttons.

This dual analog controller is priced separately at $39.99 in the US, which works out at about £24. Word is that games will be (almost?) as cheap as they are on mobile devices.

Minecraft Pocket Edition, Asphalt 8, The Game of Life and Amazon Game Studios' own Sev Zero are being highlighted by the company for the device's launch.

Amazon is also touting partnerships with EA, Disney, Ubisoft and Double Fine Productions so that it can take its 100-plus launch games to 1,000 in a matter of 30 days.

Amazon Fire TV games
Sev Zero is the first exclusive Amazon Fire TV game

Amazon Fire TV: what about the kids?

The Amazon FreeTime feature which comes built in to the Fire TV is designed to limit content that children can access, and it will go beyond just filtering out 18-rated movies.

These kiddie custom profiles encompass movies, TV shows, apps and games and parents are able to set daily screen limits. Kids are about to grow up with parents insisting "I didn't turn off the TV, Amazon did it."

Interestingly, Amazon has chosen to charge $2.99 a month (about £1.80) for what it calls an "enhanced FreeTime Unlimited service".

Intended for kids ages 3 to 8, it supplies content from Nickelodeon, Sesame Street, PBS Kids and other similar stations. Whether this service is part of the UK package remains to be seen.

Amazon Fire TV: UK review

We'll bring you a UK review of the Amazon Fire TV just as soon as we're able, but in the meantime if you want to get a flavour of how the device works in the real world, check out our first look review of the US version: Hands on: Amazon Fire TV review

Should Apple TV, Chromecast and Roku be worried about Fire TV? We think so: