In an effort to compete with Apple, Google and Roku, Amazon recently entered the gadget market with FireTV. Although it boasts a few unique features, it is certainly not the standard with regards to video streaming in a rapidly growing market.

Retailing at $99 for a box, the unit includes HDMI and optical audio cables as well as Ethernet, wireless and USB connections. The specs include a quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM. These specs are on par with similarly-priced products.

amazon fire tv

The box also features a Bluetooth remote with an integrated microphone that allows for voice commands. Amazon’s angle for differentiation from the competition is the voice commands that actually work. Surprisingly, through several tests, the voice functions run quite smoothly.

The FireTV software has all of the standard apps including Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and Netflix. However, it does not feature HBO Go, which is standard on most other products. Streaming music is also accessible, including MP3 files that have been purchased through Amazon.

One unique feature to the Amazon unit is access to the Kindle Fire HDX, which allows users to fling media files from the tablet to the television. A connected app informs the user of the specific music playing during the movie or provides the identity of the actor when they first appear in the movie.

Another interesting feature is that the box caches content so the user can immediately pick up where they left off in a movie with the required buffering common to most streaming video. Additionally, all buyers receive a month-long Amazon Prime free trial.

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