Earlier today, a mysterious streaming media device believed to be the next generation Fire TV surfaced in a new FCC filing. That assumption has been strengthened with the discovery of a new remote control (FCC ID: 2ADU9-3876, Model: DR49WK) and a new game controller (FCC ID:2ADU7-5487, Model:DE38UR) that have also appeared in new FCC filings on the same day. As you would expect, confidentiality requests are keeping the most revealing documents hidden, but one interesting piece of information can be determined from the available FCC documents. Both the new remote and the new game controller connect to the new Fire TV via WiFi and not via bluetooth like the current generation peripherals. Could it be due to the inclusion of onboard 3.5mm audio jacks?
The new suspected next generation Fire TV device does contain bluetooth capabilities. The FCC documents even note that a bluetooth mouse was used with the device during testing. However, it appears Amazon has opted to use 802.11a/g wireless as the communication protocol for their new remote and controller. This could explain why the Fire OS 5 Developer Preview oddly creates its own WiFi hotspot. The new controllers may search for and connect to this wireless hotspot. Since existing Fire TVs running the Fire OS 5 preview are creating a wifi hotspot, it could mean that these new remotes and controllers are backwards compatible with the existing Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
Choosing to use WiFi over bluetooth has several advantages. For starters, signal range is more than tripled, increasing from around 30ft with bluetooth to over 100ft with WiFi. Additionally, data transfer rates for 802.11a/g wireless are more than double those of bluetooth. With bluetooth you have a theoretical maximum transfer speed of 24 Mbits per second, while the WiFi variant used caps out at 54 Mbits per second.
The question begs to be asked, do these new peripherals have a reason to need more range and transfer rates? The most likely reason to switch to WiFi over bluetooth is if the new remote and game controller include a headphone audio jack for private listening. With this new found information, I’d say that’s looking like a very probable new feature for the next generation Fire TV. Watch out Roku.