There's a new box in town - for streaming content to your television. It's called Amazon Fire TV, and it costs $99.
For years, Amazon Prime members (those who pay the company for unlimited shipping) have had access to Amazon's massive database of movies and TV shows from their "smart" TVs or Blu-ray players. Some programming is free, some can be rented or bought. Now it's a little easier to connect with that content through the company's new Fire TV set-top box. It joins similar devices like Apple TV, Roku and Google's Chromecast which all bypass your cable provider to deliver TV content straight from the Web.
Related: Which Streaming Video Device Is Right for You? (predates Fire TV)
Unlike the others, the remote for Fire TV offers voice control. ( Here's a hysterical commercial with Gary Busey touting this new feature.) If you've ever typed a search request one letter at a time into your remote, you can imagine the relief you'll get simply talking to it. There's also a library of games.
The New York Times looks at the new Amazon product with a somewhat jaundiced eye. It explains how Fire TV makes Amazon Instant Video content the centerpiece of your viewing experience, describing the new box as a "small, flat, matte black Trojan horse intended to sell you even more Amazon goods than you already buy."
What's next? Google reportedly plans to move beyond Chromecast and launch Android TV soon. It, too, promises voice control. Stay tuned.
If all this gets you thinking about cutting your cable cord, now may be as good a time as any. (You'll still need Internet access for your new streaming box, of course.) Watch AARP tech guru George Takei's take on cord cutting below:
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