As you’re likely well aware, Amazon announced the new Fire TV 3 but did not mention the second new Fire TV device that I revealed last month which, among other features, is supposed to have far-field Alexa capabilities. Many of you have been asking me about this device and why it wasn’t announced. Here’s everything that we know, that we think we know, and that we don’t yet know about the unannounced next-generation Fire TV box.
I’ve been reading a lot of misinformation and assumptions passed as facts about the unannounced cube-shaped Fire TV. Not counting the information I revealed last month, the only thing we know for sure is that Amazon is working on an unannounced Fire TV device that carries a build value of “AFTA.” We know this because a Fire TV app developer found logs of such a device using his app. The forum posts from that developer, which were made in Amazon’s developer forum, have since been deleted, but it’s safe to say his logs were accurate because he also mentioned an unrecognized “AFTN” Fire TV model, which we now know is the Fire TV 3 that just got announced.
When the latest 126.96.36.199 Fire TV software update was released a few weeks ago, I was able to find references to the AFTA device in the code and learned that the device is codenamed “Stark.” That code segment also revealed that the Fire TV 3 that was just announced is codenamed “Needle,” Both codenames go along with Amazon’s historical use of movie/TV references as Fire TV codenames. The existence of a second new Fire TV device, its build name, and its codename are the only things we know for sure.
I revealed a lot more information about the unannounced Fire TV in my leak, which I’m confident was accurate at the time, but there’s no guarantee that it will all pan out. The fact that the information leaked, and Amazon was able to gauge the public’s reaction to the unannounced Fire TV early, could alter the device’s development.
I have no new information about Stark, the cube-shaped Fire TV that we expect to incorporate some of the capabilities of an Amazon Echo Dot. As I said in my leak, the device is not as far along in its development as the Fire TV 3, so it was never expected to be revealed along with the Fire TV 3 last month. We’ll be lucky if it’s announced, yet alone ships, this year.
There are a lot of unsubstantiated assumptions people have been making about Stark. While I did say it will be Amazon’s flagship Fire TV device, there’s, unfortunately, no guarantee it will be better than the Fire TV 2 in every way, like some people seem to be assuming.
If the progression of Amazon’s Fire tablets are any indication, they prefer to focus on making key aspects, which they think are important to most customers, better while ignoring or eliminating other aspects in order to reduce the device’s price. It’s probably safe to assume Stark is being developed using the same strategy, so while some aspects will likely be superior to the Fire TV 2, others will likely stay the same, and others will be inferior.
I would not be surprised if Stark used the same, or a similar, CPU and GPU as the new Fire TV 3. If so, that would give it superior video playback capabilities to the Fire TV 2, specifically gaining support for 4K at 60 fps and HDR video, but it would give it inferior gaming capabilities. Since Amazon doesn’t even support the official Fire TV Game Controller on their Fire TV Edition televisions, it seems like gaming capabilities are not a priority for them.
With the announcement of the new Fire TV Ethernet adapter for the Fire TV 3 and the Fire TV Stick 2, it’s plausible that Stark won’t even have an Ethernet port built-in. We really don’t know anything about its ports or expandability at all at this point. These are the types of things you should consider if you’re holding out for the unannounced Fire TV.
Amazon’s future flagship Fire TV devices, including Stark, will likely focus on solid video playback, competitive pricing, and features that set it apart from the competition, like far-field microphones for Alexa and an IR blaster to control other A/V equipment. That will, unfortunately, mean that home theater enthusiasts who want a no-compromise device will probably be disappointed by some aspects of Stark and future Fire TV models.