October 3, 2016
Amazon’s newly debuted $40 Fire TV Stick is the cheapest way to access Alexa, the company’s digital assistant which enables users to find TV programs, purchase products on Amazon’s online store, hear news updates, play a song on Spotify or check the weather. According to Amazon, Alexa is currently capable of understanding 3,000 different commands and can also offer shows from 90 apps and channels. Fire TV Stick’s more than 4,000 apps include Netflix, Hulu, HBO, ESPN and Major League Baseball.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the new version of Fire TV Stick offers a “speedier quad-core processor,” improved 802.11ac MIMO Wi-Fi and a “much-needed Fire TV user-interface redesign.”
Software that rolls out in an upgrade later this year will also offer more customizability and a priority of “specific shows and movies over apps” for “the new Fire TV Stick and current 4K Fire TV (which also plays host to Alexa).” The new Fire TV Stick ships October 20. The first Fire Stick shipped in 2014, with a basic remote.
The new Fire TV Stick does not, however, offer 4K video, but “tops out at 1080p HD quality video.” To watch 4K video, the user will have to buy the “larger $100 Fire TV, or another device such as the new Roku Premiere, Premiere+ or Ultra set-top boxes.” The Fire Stick is also “not the only low-cost way” to access Alexa, since Amazon also introduced a second-gen Echo Dot speaker for $50.
Unlike Apple’s Siri, however, Amazon’s Alexa does not have a home on mobile devices. Devices with Siri “cost hundreds of dollars or more,” but are convenient to use on mobile devices. Consumers can find the Google Assistant in the Allo messaging app for Android and iOS and the Google Home speaker, similar to Amazon Echo.