Amazon readies its own video-streaming gadget

It's taken Amazon.com a long time to get there, but the company may finally be ready to sell its own device for streaming online video to the TV.

Amazon is expected to begin shipping the device early next month, which will carry the "Fire" name used for the company's Kindle tablets, The Wall Street Journal reports. Its price tag is still unclear.

TechCrunch reports that the device will probably be a small stick or dongle that can easily fit in the palm of your hand. It will likely look similar to Google's Chromecast, which sells for $35 and plugs into the HDMI ports in back of television sets. It would also compete with Roku, which recently unveiled a new version of its Streaming Stick device to ship in April for $49.

One of the main uses of these devices is to stream video that would normally play on a PC or tablet, to the television. It sends video from YouTube or Netflix, for example, wirelessly to the TV screen. And the tech world has been expecting a gadget like this from Amazon, which is building up a massive library of streaming videos and is even broadcasting original shows. Amazon recently announced a hike in the price of its "Prime" service, which includes video streaming.

But Amazon's gadget could go a bit further. TechCrunch, citing one source, says it could stream full PC game titles to the TV. That's more than what the Chromecast can currently do -- Google only opened the Chromecast to game developers in February. And it would tie in with the new wireless gaming controller that Amazon is reportedly working on as well.

Amazon's new device is also expected to support apps from Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora and others. But as with the Kindle line of tablets, the new device's main goal will be to showcase and sell Amazon's content. That's the end game here, and it's something that Amazon can do very well.
  • Kim Peterson

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