Amazon today announced an all-new Fire TV model. It is the first Fire TV capable of playing 4K video at 60 frames per second, since the 2nd-generation Fire TV could only play 30 fps 4K video. This new model is also the first Fire TV to support HDR video, which combined with the higher frame rate 4K capabilities, makes its video playback superior to the 2nd generation Fire TV. For that reason, Amazon is officially calling this the 3rd-generation Fire TV.
This new Fire TV should come as no surprise since I leaked it earlier this month and it’s the Fire TV model that Amazon codenamed “Needle” which has a build name of “AFTN.” An early benchmark of this Fire TV also leaked earlier this year.
While we know Amazon is working on a second new Fire TV, codenamed “Stark,” that will have built-in far-field microphones and additional features, there was expectedly no mention of that device at today’s hardware event. That device, which carries a build name of “AFTA,” might be announced closer to the end of this year or early next year.
The new 3rd-generation Fire TV announced today has a 1.5 GHz Amlogic S905Z quad-core CPU and Mali-450 MP3 GPU, which is a newer version of the SoC found in the Xiaomi Mi Box. Relative to other Fire TV models, the new Fire TV’s gaming capabilities fall just under the 1st-generation Fire TV. It also has 2 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal storage.
Since it carries a pendant form factor, like the Chromecast Ultra, ports are limited to an attached HDMI cable and a micro USB port used for power. Amazon has also announced an official Ethernet adapter that plugs into the micro USB port, which also works with the 2nd-generation Fire TV Stick. Support for an Ethernet adapter is a very good indication that, like the Fire TV Stick, this new Fire TV will support OTG cables that will allow you to connect an external USB drive.
Wireless connectivity for the new Fire TV comes in the form of 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz dual-band 802.11ac WiFi. It also supports Bluetooth 4.1 BLE, which it uses to connect to its included Alexa voice remote, as well as peripherals like Bluetooth headphones, game controllers, mice, and keyboards.
The HDR capabilities of the new Fire TV are unfortunately limited to HDR10 and do not include Dolby Vision HDR, making the upcoming Apple TV 4K the only mainstream device that supports both HDR formats.
The new Fire TV does support H.265 HEVC hardware decoding with a Main 10 profile level 5 and both 8-bit and 10-it color spaces, as well as the expected assortment of H.264, H.263, VP8, and VP9 codecs. The last of which is necessary for 4K@60fps YouTube support, which the Apple TV 4K does not support. It is also the first Fire TV to support Dolby Atmos for 7.1 surround sound audio.
We don’t know too much about its software capabilities, but it will be the first Fire TV to ship with Fire OS 6 based on Android 7.1. Amazon has said that Fire OS 6 will support Android TV’s Picture in Picture, Content Recording, and Time-shifting capabilities. We’ll have to wait and see the details of how that pans out when the new device arrives.
The all-new 3rd-generation Fire TV is available for pre-order now for $69.99 and will be released on October 25. Amazon is also bundling the new Fire TV with an Echo Dot for $79.99, which is a savings of $40 over buying the two devices seperatly. It seems like a no-brainer to buy the bundle since it’s just $10 more and it’s always nice to have an extra Echo Dot to expand your network of Alexa devices.