Living Room Wars: Amazon Fights for Your TV

How Amazon says this box will change your television viewing habits.

ByABC News
April 2, 2014, 9:56 AM
Amazon Fire TV
Amazon Fire TV

April 2, 2014— -- intro: With the announcement of Amazon Fire TV, an entertainment streaming box, the hottest entertainment battleground is right in your living room.

The sleek box, which is as thin as the width of a dime, was unveiled in New York City today by Amazon's Vice President Peter Larson, who said the company's goal was to "invent and simplify."

"It's tiny, incredibly powerful and unbelievably simple," Larson said of the Amazon Fire TV, which will run on Android and retail for $99. It starts shipping today.

Users will be able to watch content from Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, ESPN on the device, Larson said, and won't be limited to "one ecosystem" -- meaning they can shop around for the best prices for watching their favorite shows.

The Amazon Fire TV comes with built-in Wi-Fi and boasts three times the performance and power of its top competitors -- Google's Chromecast, Apple TV and Roku 3, according to Larson.

Users will also be able to play games, including some Amazon originals, and can separately purchase a gaming controller for $39.99 to access even more options.

Also unique to the Fire TV is a voice search option that allows users to speak into a remote in the microphone and search for broad requests, such as "princess movies," which Larson demonstrated at the launch.

Patrick Moorhead, principal technology analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy, told that Amazon's entrance into the crowded streaming market "makes perfect sense."

"It's a conduit for what Amazon does best, which is content," Moorhead said. "What took so long is they had to find the right cost model for a price they could either give away for free or price absurdly low."

Moorhead said he expects Amazon's device to be a "major player" in the streaming marketplace and predicted that it could even overtake Chromecast, which at $35, is currently the bestselling electronics device available in Amazon's online store.

Here's a look at some of the competitors hoping to take over your living room and how they stack up to the Amazon Fire TV.

quicklist: 1title: Google's Chromecasttext: The plug-and-play device, which was launched last summer, lets users take videos they would typically enjoy on their smartphones and laptops to the big screen.

Google's Chromecast, which is the size of a ketchup packet, simply plugs into an HDTV, connects to the Internet and then allows users to control what's on the screen with an existing smartphone, tablet or laptop.

This includes content from services including HBO, Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, Rdio and more.

"Whatever happens, I expect Amazon to keep selling [Chromecast]. They have a track record for selling many competing devices," Moorhead said.

media: 23157065

quicklist: 2title: Apple TVtext: The $99 Apple TV allows users to watch HD content from a vast selection of services, including Netflix, Hulu and ESPN.

The device plugs into a power outlet and then connects to your HDTV with an HDMI cable, which is sold separately.

Simply hold your iPhone or iPad near an Apple TV and the device can sync up with your home network and automatically receive your iTunes account settings.

Using Apple's AirPlay, the device can also take content from the small screens of iOS devices and play them on the big screen.

media: 23157112

quicklist: 3title: Rokutext: Plug the Roku box into your home television, connect it to the Internet and you've got access more than one thousand channels and streaming services, such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and much more.

Unlike Chromecast, the $99 device comes with a remote control, so using your smartphone isn't needed.

Expect to see more big things from Roku later this year.

Roku CEO Anthony Wood announced in January that the company is creating the Roku TV, which can access Roku's streaming services without needing a separate set-top box.

Read More: Roku Thinks Outside the Box With TVs to Call Its Own

media: 23157170