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Amazon Fire TV takes aim at Roku and Apple TV

The Amazon Fire TV set-top box goes on sale Wednesday. 

Amazon
Amazon's new set-top box, the Fire TV, will sell for $99.

Amazon has taken the wraps off a set-top box called the Fire TV, which can be used to stream a range of content, from video games to sitcoms and feature-length films. 

At a press event in New York, Amazon brass said the device, which retails for $99 – and includes a month of free Netflix and Amazon Prime access – will be available starting today at Amazon.com. 

Amazon Fire TV can be used, in conjunction with any HD television set, to access platforms such as Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and YouTube; in addition, Amazon has promised legions of "high-quality, low-cost" video games, which can be played with the Fire TV remote, the Fire TV app, or with an optional controller. Amazon says the average price of paid games will be under two bucks. 

But how does the Fire FV actually handle? Well, Dieter Bohn of The Verge got his paws on the device this morning, and he's impressed with what he sees, even in the context of the device's competitors – Roku, Apple TV, and Google's Chromecast among them. 

"Fire TV seems to be a really solid option – at least in the $99-and-less category," he writes. "It feels faster and more intuitive than a Roku, it's easier for the average human to understand than a Chromecast, and the voice search on the remote is definitely nicer than pecking things out on the Apple TV. Each of those competitors has its own distinct advantages, too, so this is far from a blowout – and we'll have much more to say when we fully review it." 

Speaking of Apple, for years now, rumors have swirled around a possible Apple-branded television set. Last spring, news broke that the television set was being held up as the Cupertino company figured out problems in the supply chain.

Other onlookers, such as DisplaySearch's Paul Gagnon, wondered if the "iTV" would simply be put on hold, "possibly to be replaced by a rollout of wearable devices." 

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