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Amazon To Put Android In Set-top Box To Compete With Apple, Roku

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the just-a-humble-little-bookstore dept.

Android 104

sfcrazy writes "Amazon is all set to get Apple and Roku some serious competition with its own 'web-TV' or set-top box. According to reports, Amazon will be using Google's Android to build the box. Amazon already has a huge library of content (from Amazon Prime) which it can push to the living room through the box. Amazon, like Netflix, is also investing heavily in producing content to their own set-box. Amazon has also been hiring game developers and it won't be surprising if the company also dabbles into gaming." And while it may be only a rumor, the idea's got some reasonable legs: besides the content on Prime, Amazon has been making media-centric Android devices for a few years with its Kindle Fire line.

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Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 9 months ago | (#46317359)

Unless the other features include something compelling, not sure the motivation to buy this. Even on Apple TV, you can play Amazon Video content if streamed via AirPlay from an iPhone/iPad.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

t0qer (230538) | about 9 months ago | (#46317443)

Roku doesn't have the Play store (tm). If Amazon allows you to connect controllers, it will be emulation happy times.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (2)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46317583)

Unless the other features include something compelling, not sure the motivation to buy this.

The ability to use a phone other than an iPhone. Currently, Apple has a monopoly on phones compatible with Amazon video.

Even on Apple TV, you can play Amazon Video content if streamed via AirPlay from an iPhone/iPad.

But then you have to buy an iPhone/iPad first.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 9 months ago | (#46317613)

Why would you buy an Apple TV if you didn't already own an iPad/iPhone? Maybe it will be a worthwhile thing to consider if/when Apple refreshes the device, but as it stands now Roku is probably the best bet for someone iOS/Android agnostic. And Roku can indeed play Amazon Video, whether you control it from the dumb remote or from the Android/iOS Roku App.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 9 months ago | (#46317653)

I really like my AppleTV, but you're exactly right. If you don't own a Mac or an iOS device, AppleTV loses a significant chunk of its appeal.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

CrankyFool (680025) | about 9 months ago | (#46317941)

We're an iPhone-free house, and while my wife has my old iPad, neither of uses it.

We've had a Roku here, but we ended up standardizing on the ATV as our preferred streaming platform. Its ease of use and interface, for us, were superior to the Roku. We also consume a bunch of iTunes rental movies, which obviously aren't available via Roku. While the Roku lets you rent movies from other sources, those other sources (e.g. Amazon) didn't have the selection we wanted.

Re: Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (2)

Karlt1 (231423) | about 9 months ago | (#46318071)

The ability to use a phone other than an iPhone. Currently, Apple has a monopoly on phones compatible with Amazon video.

That's a weird business decision on the part of Amazon. Amazon Instant works on the Android based Fire. Why they decide not to support other Android devices is anyone's guess.

That question really rankles (1)

Marrow (195242) | about 9 months ago | (#46319155)

The don't allow you to even watch video in a browser on any other Android device.

Re: Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 9 months ago | (#46321581)

Amazon is just trying to build itself a walled garden (like Apple) and its a bit hard to do if they let every one in. So they cut access to some of their services to the outside world to give people a reason to buy their device. I question why anyone would be mad enough to bother though. From a hardware perspective their devices are all right but the software is just poor by comparison to standard android and the app store is more expensive and features less apps.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 9 months ago | (#46318979)

...

The ability to use a phone other than an iPhone. Currently, Apple has a monopoly on phones compatible with Amazon video.

Even on Apple TV, you can play Amazon Video content if streamed via AirPlay from an iPhone/iPad.

But then you have to buy an iPhone/iPad first.

Then what is this doing in Play?
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.avod&hl=en [google.com]

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46319499)

From the page you linked: "This app is incompatible with all of your devices."

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 9 months ago | (#46321093)

Are your devices registered with Play?
It's an Android App or it would not be on Play...

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#46322237)

Amazon instant video literally only works with obsolete Google TV devices. Some users have reported getting it to work on 3.x-based units, but it was made for 2.x-based units only. I've tried sideloading the APK on a variety of devices and it fails on all of them.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46322543)

Yes, my first-generation Nexus 7 tablet is registered with Play. Yes, my first-generation Nexus 7 tablet running Android 4.4 is listed as incompatible in Play.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | about 9 months ago | (#46323001)

Have you checked this out?
http://www.the-digital-reader.com/nates-reviews/stream-amazon-instant-videos-android-tablet [the-digital-reader.com]
It specifically mentions the Nexus 7 but you may need a hacked version of flash via a link provided in Troubleshooting. In the comments I see someone saying this works with Nexus 7 running KitKat.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

CronoCloud (590650) | about 9 months ago | (#46322177)

Let me guess, your devices are running Android 3.X or older.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46322437)

The application is marked incompatible with a Nexus 7 tablet upgraded to 4.4.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 9 months ago | (#46322997)

One thing a lot of people miss is that Google TV isn't the same architecture as the rest of the ecosystem, so there's almost no cross-compatibility. It may as well be an Apple device, from the Android point of view.

My Roku's are awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46320213)

I really don't see the need for an additional box. I won't buy it. My Roku's do everything I would ever want, but I do see Amazon's play. Cut the cable, and make Amazon your one stop shop for all things media. Amazon is a retail company. I bet they have agreements in place for the AMC;s FX's et al, to offer better ROI if they stream through Amazon first. Hey,maybe even free AWS services.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 months ago | (#46317641)

Even on Apple TV, you can play Amazon Video content if streamed via AirPlay from an iPhone/iPad

The ios7 client can always be altered to remove this functionality.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 9 months ago | (#46317749)

Apple approved the Amazon Video App submission fully aware of its AirPlay capabilities. While anything is always possible "in the future", I think this level of suspicion is unwarranted at this point.

Re:Roku has Amazon Video Channel already, so why? (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 months ago | (#46317863)

AH. Good point. But I was thinking that Amazon might remove airplay in order to boost the sales of their box.

Chromecast (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 9 months ago | (#46317381)

I've used both Android set-top boxes and Chromecast, and I prefer Chromecast. An Android set-top box requires more attention and configuration than I like, and a direct phone-to-TV connection ties up the phone. Chromecast strikes a nice middle ground, allowing autonomous playback without the hassles of having to maintain another device.

Re:Chromecast (3, Insightful)

Scowler (667000) | about 9 months ago | (#46317451)

It is not exactly a full-fledged stand-alone streaming box. Chromecast requires a third-party smart device, usually a smartphone/tablet, to initiate the stream. While that makes it cheaper, and is not an impediment to the more tech-savvy users; it makes its overall market more limited. Amazon would be wiser to pursue a device that can be operated with either a dumb remote or a smart device, even if that makes it more expensive. Chromecast also lacks an ethernet port, which I personally find annoying.

Re:Chromecast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46317519)

In truth, the reason why the Android set-tops need more config is that NONE of them are properly refined as of right now. The closest I've seen to this was the Ouya- and it's got it's own closed, walled garden you have to sideload into to add things that people haven't planned on or worked on with the Ouya.

The others...they're more trying to make the TV more a giant tablet- which is fine and there probably ought to be some variants like that. It's just not the same thing as a Roku box or any of the other just streaming devices...well...unless they've got XBMC running on it... :-D

Sideloading != walled garden (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46317609)

the Ouya- and it's got it's own closed, walled garden you have to sideload into

If you can sideload without a separate recurring fee, it's not a "closed, walled garden". The built-in app store just has a privileged position on the launcher; choose "MAKE" from the top-level menu to use the web browser or sideloaded applications. Once I installed Rhythm Software File Manager [rhmsoft.com] , I had little or no problem sideloading APKs onto my OUYA console, so long as an application is available as an APK in the first place.

Re:Chromecast (1)

skids (119237) | about 9 months ago | (#46318107)

I just wish these products moved the phone-to-stb comunications channel over to bluetooth, instead of using multicast services over WiFi, since that creates a demand in enterprise BYOD environments for things like bonjour cross-vlan proxies, for that matter, actually turning on multicast on the enterprise WLAN. It's so much cleaner if you can just leave it off, because unless you actually managing to get more than one user on the same AP to view the same content at the same time, catering to consumer-grade equipment's lame service discovery schemes is not an especially compelling use case outside the head of PHBs.

Re:Chromecast (1)

stenvar (2789879) | about 9 months ago | (#46318207)

Quite the opposite: almost everybody already has a smart device that they are familiar with and that they are keeping updated.

If you make the set-top box a separate smart device, it requires users to install, learn, and maintain two devices. That's a lot worse than what Chromecast offers. On the other hand, if you make it just make it dumb screen mirroring, it ties up the phone.

As I was saying, I think Chromecast is better than either fully dumb or fully smart devices.

Re:Chromecast (1)

DrXym (126579) | about 9 months ago | (#46321673)

The main advantage of Chromecast for app developers is that it's very lightweight - a thin HTML client which is only responsible for streaming because the UI for authentication, account management, content browsing etc. is somewhere else. It's relatively cheap to support and relatively simple to integrate into existing Android / iOS players they may have. It's also not unreasonable to suppose most people have a smart phone or tablet they could use in conjunction with it and the device itself is very cheap.

But I agree that it is more fiddly. A box and remote is a simpler and more familiar arrangement. People don't have trouble visualizing how it works so its easier to demo in stores and easier to sell to the uninitiated. I bet a lot of people are confused as to what Chromecast even *is*. The downside is it will cost more, the apps will take more effort to implement and support, and I suspect many people are already capable of receiving most stream services with an existing device.

What's this new box going to do that their old ones don't? I think Amazon needs to build out cloud gaming and other functionality if it wants to separate itself from the herd.

Seriously?? Chromecast?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46319369)

I have a Chromecast ... and it is a waste of money ... even at $30

It barely does/supports anything. If all you do is watch YouTube videos, then you will be OK. Anything else (even supported services like Netflix) is a hit or mist. The device CONSTANTLY crashes (about every 30 mins) and casting video from Chrome is nothing more than a out-of-sync stream where the audio is ALWAYS late.

Re:Seriously?? Chromecast?? (1)

BobMcD (601576) | about 9 months ago | (#46323059)

With the exception of the latter part, something is wrong with your device.

Yes Chrome tab casting sucks from the PC.

But from an Android device - every single one I've tried - it's like butter. Or silk. Or perhaps silky butter or even buttery silk.

No crashy crashy for me.

Chromecast (2)

Bill DenBesten (2930931) | about 9 months ago | (#46317439)

Or, they could just add Chromecast and prime instant streaming support for existing Android devices. Much less e-waste that way.

Re:Chromecast (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 9 months ago | (#46317453)

Much less e-waste that way.

Much less e-control that way.

Re:Chromecast (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318725)

Oh, well... I'd rather have less e-waste *AND* e-control if you must know.

set box is so '90s (4, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#46317529)

I completely understand what Amazon is trying to do, but the whole set-top box thing is a bad play.

Amazon is working from an old playbook. They're trying to do now with this box what M$ did with Xbox...it's why M$ could allow Xbox to run at a loss...it got Microsoft a space on the shelf in the living room.

Shelf space as marketing tool is old news (and was never a good idea)...ex: Netflix

Amazon is going to lose money on this deal. No one wants **another** box....especially one that doesn't do anything that Netflix can't do.

Amazon should work on competing with iTunes, spotify, etc instead of this move...the movie business is almost always a losing proposition for tech...Netflix is an exception that can't easily be supplanted.

Advantage of Prime (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46317621)

Amazon is going to lose money on this deal. No one wants **another** box....especially one that doesn't do anything that Netflix can't do.

Netflix can't combine all-you-can-eat VOD and a substantial discount on expedited shipping of physical goods into one subscription.

*shipping discount* is Advantage of Prime (0)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#46317677)

nice try tepples/Amazon PR

"all-you-can-eat VOD" is bullshit corporate marketing speak...its audio & video files...seriously Amazon didnt 'innovate' that at all

and what does that leave us with???

a **shipping discount**

wow!

so futuristic and **INNOVATIVE**...i can see the TED Talk now!

no way that Netflix could ever compete with a discount on shipping! Apple? yeah right!

Re:*shipping discount* is Advantage of Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46317757)

I agree - 'all you can eat' is bullshit!

I got amazon prime and I still had to pay for food :(

Re:*shipping discount* is Advantage of Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318877)

I think you're seriously underestimating the appeal of the "shipping discount". People pay for Amazon Prime in countries other than the US, and the streaming part is only available in the US. I don't have any hard numbers but it definitely happens. Again -- people pay as much as they do in the US for the shipping benefits alone, and Amazon is working on the licensing deals to take it into more countries. If Amazon Prime is even in the same league as Netflix, even if it isn't as good, Amazon Prime simply wins with these people anyway. Unless Netflix can provide something Amazon cannot.

Also, this line is absurd:

"all-you-can-eat VOD" is bullshit corporate marketing speak...its audio & video files...seriously Amazon didnt 'innovate' that at all

It's:

1. Not bullshit.
-- I don't even know what bullshit is supposed to mean. It gets the other guy's back up, but normally it implies that the other person is lying, and...he isn't, and you know that.
2. Not corporate marketing speak.
-- Corporate marketing speak sounds like this: "World's leading Internet television network", "Domestic streaming subscription business", "delighting our customers with a focus on programming", "rebroadcasting licensed digital content as an incremental benefit to our existing subscribers". These are clipped and only slightly edited from the financial statements of both Netflix and Amazon Prime.
3. it isn't even what most people think of as audio and video files per se (since you stream them)
-- but it is the equivalent to what Netflix puts out*
4. and nobody claimed it was innovation.
-- Nobody was talking about innovation at all. They were talking about the things one company was set up to offer but not the other. As much as you are mocking it, Netflix actually cannot offer that discount on shipping. It may be able to come up with some other unique benefit. For instance, its video player is simply better IMO than Amazon's (I especially love that it's about the only streaming video service that doesn't even blink when I join or leave a VPN while streaming a video -- youtube dies, springboard dies, Amazon Prime dies *and sometimes doesn't let me reconnect because it thinks the 'other' device is still streaming*, etc.).

* The real difference, of course, is that Netflix has a larger library, at least unless you include Amazon Prime shows that have an *additional* surcharge on top of the Amazon Prime. And on the other hand, Amazon Prime apparently tends to get new content faster than Netflix.

Re:Advantage of Prime (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about 9 months ago | (#46317681)

Netflix doesn't need to. An open platform for competiting services already exist. Netflix doesn't have to stand alone. It can stand beside competitors and benefit from their presence.

THAT was the genius of AVOIDING exactly what Amazon is trying to do here. Netflix benefits from an open platform that is not seen as an Amazon or Apple or Netflix exclusive.

It costs more per year (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46317775)

Netflix doesn't need to. An open platform for competiting services already exist. Netflix doesn't have to stand alone. It can stand beside competitors and benefit from their presence.

Which competing shipping discount service were you talking about?

Re:It costs more per year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318783)

Which competing shipping discount service were you talking about?

Shipping discount for what? It's a video-on-demand service.

Re:It costs more per year (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 months ago | (#46318851)

free two day shipping. Apparently very useful, if you live in the boonies.

Re:Advantage of Prime (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 9 months ago | (#46317705)

I'm a Prime member, and I hardly watch Amazon's streaming video because too often, after I've watched a few shows of a series, they've told me I had to pay to watch the rest.

Fortunately for them, I bought it mainly for the free two day shipping. Unfortunately for them, all this talk about the price going up has led me to reexamine just how much stuff I actually *need* to get in two days... and the list is pretty short. It looks like I'll save money dropping Prime and paying for expedited shipping only when I need it (which also has the advantage of letting me pick from other sellers).

Re:Advantage of Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318633)

For me, it was about not needing to amass $25 of stuff i wanted to get free shipping. I buy books. Lots of 'em. Not having to wait for two hardbacks to come out is nice. Being able to grab a paperback on wed and read it teh following weekend is awesome. The overnight for $4 is a real lifesaver for birthdays and stuff.

But yeah, teh fact their streaming service will not filter all paid content is really annoying.

Re:Advantage of Prime (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 9 months ago | (#46317815)

Netflix can't combine all-you-can-eat VOD and a substantial discount on expedited shipping of physical goods into one subscription.

Why would they want to? I go to Netflix for all-you-can-eat VOD, and I go to Amazon to shipping of physical goods. It's not likely I'd got to Netflix for shipping--or to Amazon for VOD.

Re:Advantage of Prime (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46317965)

Netflix can't combine all-you-can-eat VOD and a substantial discount on expedited shipping of physical goods into one subscription.

Why would they want to?

Because subscribing to Prime is cheaper than subscribing to both Netflix and Prime.

Re:Advantage of Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318827)

No the question is why would Netflix want to give me a discount on expedited shipping of physical goods when what I am after is a streaming VOD service?

Re:Advantage of Prime (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46319521)

Because unlike you, some people are after both VOD and discount on expedited shipping of physical goods.

Re:Advantage of Prime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318963)

except that amazon has shows that netflix doesn't, such Justified, The Americans, and until recently, American Horror Story.

Re:set box is so '90s (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | about 9 months ago | (#46317719)

No. This is a good idea. They risk being out of the market. If companies like MS and Apple keep owning this space they won't have a place to be in.

what 'market'? (0)

globaljustin (574257) | about 9 months ago | (#46317771)

first, just because M$ & Apple jump off a bridge, does that mean Amazon must as well?

They risk being out of the market.

wtf market...

the cheap plastic bullshit set-top box 'market'? M$ and Apple aren't doing that

the funding TV series (aka 'producing') 'market'? M$ and Apple aren't doing that

There is no 'space' that M$ and Apple 'co-own' unless you're talking about the Desktop OS...otherwise, and including this set-top 'content' box...your comparison and general notions of how the industry works are ridiculous

think about what Amazon is actually doing...compare to others...

Re:what 'market'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318949)

I'd argue that neither Microsoft nor Apple are seriously in this space, though XBox does cast a shadow over this space. If Microsoft sold a version of the XBox One without the gaming capabilities and a lot cheaper, but including a microphone for voice activation, they actually have a decent STB. If they added a DVR capability it's a winner. But MS seems to be missing this opportunity with the split focus between gaming and media center.

But for now, Roku's the real winner.

Re:set box is so '90s (1)

evilviper (135110) | about 9 months ago | (#46318151)

Amazon is going to lose money on this deal. No one wants **another** box....

You clearly have no idea how many STBs are out there.

Even if you assume there's no overlap between xbox/playstation customers (unlikely) and that they all use their game consoles to stream tv/movies, and throw in the rounding error that is all the other STBs from Apple to Roku and Chromecast, you're still only talking about 25% of the US, at best.

So, if we just assume Amazon isn't even interested in existing STB owners to buy their box/service, they've still got an open market of 75% of the US. I think that'll be a big enough for them.

Re:set box is so '90s (1)

DexterIsADog (2954149) | about 9 months ago | (#46318351)

Amazon is going to lose money on this deal. No one wants **another** box....especially one that doesn't do anything that Netflix can't do.

You didn't think it through. I have a Roku, which is great. I have Amazon Prime, which is great. Dealing with Amazon video through the Roku is a little inconvenient.

If Amazon gives me something that does what Roku does, and ties it so conveniently to my Amazon account that it eliminates the Roku hassle, I won't want **another** box, I'll want a **different** box.

I'm not sure why you posted that absolute statement.

Re:set box is so '90s (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 9 months ago | (#46318899)

The world doesn't revolve around Xbox. There are plenty of households without a console who would benefit from a cheap video streaming device.

Re:set box is so '90s (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 months ago | (#46321135)

Amazon is going to lose money on this deal. No one wants **another** box....especially one that doesn't do anything that Netflix can't do.

Amazon doesn't care for hardware. They sell their kindles and such at practically cost.

You see, Amazon's business model is use hardware to sell content. The hardware's sold cheap, because people will use Amazon's content store to buy content for it, making up the money and encouraging more Amazon-only sales. Amazon doesn't care that they sold the box for a loss, as long as it leads you to buy content only from Amazon.

Contrast this with Apple, who uses content to sell hardware. The iTunes store content sales make some money, but the hardware sales make a whole lot more. Thing is, once you buy an Apple, the content's there as a convenience to you the user. Apple doesn't care if you buy an iPhone and only buy music from Amazon or Google. Or pirate it.

not another box (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 months ago | (#46317537)

Hi! We're looking for a new Receiver, and it should probably have about 20-30 hdmi ports.

Re:not another box (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 9 months ago | (#46317665)

It's annoying, but best thing might be to buy a standalone HDMI switch and put all your less frequently used boxes on this one. If you stack this HDMI switch on top of your living room ethernet switch (if you have one), you can also get nerdy with the cable pairing symmetry.

Re:not another box (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#46322197)

The best thing is to get a TV or receiver which can switch all your inputs. That way you don't need to deal with yet another remote, or a stupid expensive multifunction remote - they either cost a hundred bucks and up or they pound sand.

My TV has eight inputs, only hardcore console aficionados should need more than that. Six of 'em are HDMI. I have a wii, an android stick, a PC, and a Blu-Ray hooked up, there's still a port free for when I bring in the 360, and then there's still some more ports free.

My shortlist (2)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#46317567)

If it:

- Accepts large (TerraByte) external storage media via USB and understands FATxx, NTFS, ext3fs and HFS+
- Understands and plays m4v files to at least the level supported on current iPads (i.e. H.264 video, AAC surround, captions and chapters)
- Can translate AAC 5.1 to LPCM 5.1 when using HDMI output and/or and has 5.1 analog outputs and converts AAC 5.1 to them

I am pre-ordering NOW. I mean really NOW. Amazon, please take my money... please....

Use UDF instead (1)

tepples (727027) | about 9 months ago | (#46317651)

Accepts large (TerraByte) external storage media via USB and understands FATxx, NTFS, ext3fs and HFS+

I'd be surprised if Microsoft and Apple would allow licensing of NTFS and HFS+ patents at a reasonable royalty. I think it'd be better to use UDF for removable USB mass storage, which GNU/Linux, OS X, and every Windows operating system since Vista can read and write [ortolo.eu] . The last desktop PC operating system to lack UDF write support will lose security updates in two months.

Re:Use UDF instead (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#46317691)

They actually do. WD TV Live Streaming box lists FAT32, NTFS and HFS+ as supported filesystems. I used FAT32 and NTFS so far and they work fine. I guess WD paid some license fees.

Re:Use UDF instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46318493)

I'd also guess reading is so much easier/safer than writing filesystems as well. the NTFS driver for linux is fantastic for saving dying windows partitions, but still is not reliable writing to them.

The NTFS driver in Linux is fantastic ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46319423)

.... at screwing up the partition table. It's not even good enough to just do a read-only function on NTFS.

I would not suggest using NTFS with Linux to anybody.

Re:Use UDF instead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46319501)

You are correct WD TV live supports all of them ... but is missing support for exFAT

Also, it has a huge flaw ... it does not auto-eject (unmount) the drives when the device turns off, leaving the NTFS and HFS+ partitions in an partially corrupted (although easily recoverable) state.

Re:Use UDF instead (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#46320039)

You're correct on the corruption. It does that if you let it "build the Media Library". Which it will then write to the disk. There's an option somewhere to disable this behaviour. Anyway it's a good idea to have a backup of that disk. I would hate to have to transcode again high def video. Takes ages.

Add to that (1)

Marrow (195242) | about 9 months ago | (#46318275)

Allows you to put your Amazon purchases on said external storage so that we dont have to stream. And if they had it so that it began downloading as soon as the purchase completed...say in the middle of the night for those people that bought the entire season, then even better.

Streaming sucks. Even on cable, streaming sucks. Its only redeeming feature is that it vastly increases what is available. Just do it Amazon, give us the download to disk option. Heck, they could even setup a torrent....everybody who orders a title downloads the same image, but its useless until its decrypted onto the disk. But what goes onto the disk is drm locked to the player by the program performing the decryption.

A slightly different approach. (1)

khasim (1285) | about 9 months ago | (#46318607)

I agree with all of your specifications. And I'd like to add some form of networking and a gigabit Ethernet connection to them.

BUT!!!

How about thinking of different scenarios that you'd like supported by this?

1. Sitting in front of a TV (directly attached box) and watching a [DVD / Blu-ray / laser disc / other disc media]. (probably via external device and converter cable or whatever)

2. Sitting in front of a TV (directly attached box) and watching a streaming video from [Netflix / Amazon / Hulu / etc].

3. Sitting in front of a TV (directly attached box) and watching a video from REMOVABLE storage attached to the box.

4. Sitting in front of a TV (directly attached box) and watching a video from a network accessible drive [samba / NFS / etc].

5. Sitting in front of a TV (directly attached box) and watching a video that is being streamed from an [iPhone / iPad / Android phone / etc].

6 - 9. See 1-4 above but the box streams the video so I can watch via [iPhone / iPad / Android phone / etc] in a different room.

10. [PVR / DVR] functionality.

Any other scenarios that people would like? Might as well get EVERYTHING onto the wish list.

Re:A slightly different approach. (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#46318771)

My main application would be 3. Many people would like to do 2 & 4 too. I would be against 1 as it would mandate Cinavia.

As far as 3 is concerned, I've tested various existing devices with m4v (h.264 video + AAC audio + captions + chapters) and the results are: - WD TV Live will downmix to 2 channels when AAC is used; also it will not play the captions inside the m4v container (you'll need to demux them and save as a separate .srt file) - Playstation 3 will play 5.1 AAC sound (it converts it to LPCM before sending to the receiver via HDMI) but no captions and has Cinavia DRM - iPad will do everything right except it will downmix audio to 2 channels, however since you'd use it for portable applications with earbuds (i.e. watching movies in the plane) there's not much to complain - Roku will do a subset of what WD TV Live does

Re:My shortlist (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | about 9 months ago | (#46319041)

also add:
1. dlna support (lacking on the roku).
2. a browser [chrome?] so hbo go will work (it works on the appletv through comcast but not on the roku, apparently shotime anywhere also suffers this way). 3. a phone app that can also be used as a remote (typing into search fields on the roku app is awesome)

RE: My Shortlist (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46320393)

I'd add that it supports DLNA servers

Re:My shortlist (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#46322213)

Why would you even want to connect external storage directly to a STB? I'd rather not disturb the dust in that area. My STB already sits on my network, and can play anything on my network. As an added bonus, it doesn't have to understand the filesystem at all. Unless you really feel a burning need to run fsck on your STB there's no reason for it to support your chosen filesystems.

$20 at Amazon (heh) is enough to get you a Series 4 Pogoplug with SATA and USB2 on top and 2xUSB3 out the ass end. This is what I'm now using (running Debian) to attach my devices. You can run Debian if you don't mind booting from the SD slot or from one of your USB ports, thus rendering that slot/port useless for other purposes. Or I believe you can run openwrt from the internal flash. Sadly, Linux filesystem support is a bit shit. Both XFS and ext depend on lots of free memory to even finish replaying a journal, let alone to do a long fsck, on large volumes — so you will need swap if you expect to reliably be able to mount dirty storage devices on a device with so little memory. I'm looking at trying FreeBSD next. Not a lot of choices on pogoplug. I only mention it because it's very inexpensive and has SATA, GigE and USB3.

Re:My shortlist (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 9 months ago | (#46323927)

- Accepts large (TerraByte) external storage media via USB and understands FATxx, NTFS, ext3fs and HFS+
  - Understands and plays m4v files to at least the level supported on current iPads (i.e. H.264 video, AAC surround, captions and chapters)
  - Can translate AAC 5.1 to LPCM 5.1 when using HDMI output and/or and has 5.1 analog outputs and converts AAC 5.1 to them

  I am pre-ordering NOW. I mean really NOW. Amazon, please take my money... please....

First, tell me how this benefits Amazon in any way. Amazon makes no money selling hardware. They only sell hardware to sell content. (Apple sells content to sell hardware, so they're far more likely to make your box than Amazon).

Amazon will tie it into their services - you buy music, movies and TV shows exclusively from Amazon and whoever partners with Amazon to provide content to their boxes. And if your search for something comes up blank, they'll provide a nice "Buy it now" option to purchase the DVD or Blu-Ray or whatever.

means nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46317577)

this all means nothing if someone does not fix the war between the ISP's and the content providers like whats going on with NETFLIX

Already Exists: Gbox Midnight MX2 (1)

corychristison (951993) | about 9 months ago | (#46317593)

I personally have been looking at the Gbox Midnight MX2. They come pre-rooted, with a bunch of pre-loaded software such as Xbmc.

Right now I use a WD TV Live, and it works alright. I really do not like how it organizes content and is not very customizable.

I had a HTPC at one point, running Linux and my own custom interface I developed myself, but the lack of Netflix is what drove me to the WD TV Live. Now netflix is supposed to be easier to set up on Linux via pipelight, I haven't played with it yet though, and I'm sure I could integrate it into my software... but the Gbox Midnight MX2, with Full Android and access to Google Play, hard to pass up, honestly.

Gbox Midnight MX2 and lots of clones (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | about 9 months ago | (#46318073)

There must be about a million varieties of Android STBs. The Gbox doesn't appear to be anything special and as the webpage says (it's framed as a warning, but actually it's an advertisement) there are lots of cheaper versions around. It also seems to be "last year's" tech - given that the newest Android STBs sport 2GB of RAM and quad-core processors.

I really don't see why Amazon would try to get into a well established and over-supplied market. They don't have anything original or worthwhile to offer.

The Kindle Fire is the worst of all worlds (1)

linuxci (3530) | about 9 months ago | (#46317629)

If this is like the Kindle Fire I'd suggest people stick with Roku:

- The Kindle Fire has stuck a worse UI over Android than even Samsung managed with Touchwiz
- As Amazon wants you to use their store over Google Play it also means you lose out on Google Maps, Chrome, etc
- It's the only tablet I know where you need to pay to remove ads from the lock screen.

- Regular Android tablets and the iPad already have access to Amazon content, so there's no reason to buy a device that makes it difficult to get content anywhere else.

I can't see a Kindle TV box being any better.

Re:The Kindle Fire is the worst of all worlds (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 9 months ago | (#46317867)

That explains why the Kindle Fire is the third best-selling tablet [mirror.co.uk] .

Re:The Kindle Fire is the worst of all worlds (1)

linuxci (3530) | about 9 months ago | (#46319057)

Doesn't mean it's any good. Windows is still the biggest selling OS and I'm sure mcdonalds doesn't make the best hamburgers.

I've used iPads, the popular Android tablet and the Kindle series and I think the kindle offers a poor experience.

If someone in the UK asked me to recommend a cheap tablet I'd recommend Tesco's Hudl (not sure if it's available elsewhere under a different name). Best midrange device is a Nexus 7. Above that I still think the iPad is the best but the gap with the Nexus is small and mostly personal preference.

Re:The Kindle Fire is the worst of all worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46319125)

>Doesn't mean it's any good. Windows is still the biggest selling OS

Not for long. It will be surpassed by Android in 2014 and then by iOS in 2015 or 2016.

Re:The Kindle Fire is the worst of all worlds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46323321)

Android is going to OUTSELL Windows? Wow, that's delusional. If you mean be on more devices, well that's already happened.

Yup, this is what we need. (2)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 9 months ago | (#46317657)

Yet another set top box. Yet another walled garden. Yet another service that will not interoperate with other services. Yeah, it is "android", but if it is locked down and can only run apps that were pre installed in the factory, what is the point of it being android?

What advantage any of this will have over a Chromebook + HDMI cable + bluetooth keyboard & mouse combination?

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

elrous0 (869638) | about 9 months ago | (#46317751)

That's one of the many reasons I love the Roku 3: no walled garden. Side-loading channels is easy.

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#46317759)

What advantage any of this will have over a Chromebook + HDMI cable + bluetooth keyboard & mouse combination?

Well, it can be smaller, quieter, more energy efficient and use a "TV remote" for interface (instead of keyboard and mouse). As a bonus all the family members could use it. From the kids looking for cartoons to grandpa that couldn't be bothered to learn how to operate a computer.

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 months ago | (#46318921)

I have many remotes in my house, including a Harmony. The best remote, hands down, is my ipad remote program, that hooks into my AppleTV. Why?

Three reasons: it uses a network connection instead of line of sight IR. It has a two way connection. And it has a keyboard.

I just wish it could control more things-- such as volume and mute.

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

NapalmV (1934294) | about 9 months ago | (#46319029)

The Playstation 3, which predates the iPad by some 4 years, has a TV style remote that uses Bluetooth to communicate. If your main application is watching movies, I personally think that a TV style remote is better suited than a keyboard :-)

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about 9 months ago | (#46319183)

right, but my receiver, my tv, and my disc players all have ir remotes, not bluetooth. It should have been standard years ago.

keyboards are useful for vimeo, youtube, hulu, netflix, and most any client that needs a login.

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 9 months ago | (#46322229)

XBMC has the same thing, with an Android app which is capable of controlling XBMC on any platform, including Android. There might be an iOS app too, I wouldn't know. I use XBMC on a MK908 as my STB, with a Minix airmouse for control. Then I can drop out of XBMC and run Youtube or Netflix, etc.

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 9 months ago | (#46317857)

I think the advantage is that it doesn't require a Chromebook + HDMI cable + bluetooth keyboard & mouse...

Re:Yup, this is what we need. (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 9 months ago | (#46317897)

and can only run apps that were pre installed in the factory

False [http]

I guess ill stay with cable (1)

alen (225700) | about 9 months ago | (#46317721)

Im not buying a half dozen boxes and subscribing to their services just to get all the exclusive content

Seems unlikely. (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 9 months ago | (#46317793)

Seems unlikely.

All of the Amazon protected video content is protected by FlashAccess, which would mean a working implementation outside of the built-in one that's in the official Google Chrome, but not in Chromium.

This wouldn't be such a PITA, but at the end of Feb of 2012, the verification mechanism for the FlashAccess plugin for Flash changed. Unless the box contained a TPM and a trusted boot path, it would be possible to have one device impersonate another by interposing the unique device identifier reporting channel at a kernel level, unless you were (alternately) willing to further lock-down the Android being used so that it was unable to be used for anything else.

It turns out DRM has holes; who would have guessed?

No Chromecast? (1)

digitalhermit (113459) | about 9 months ago | (#46317883)

If they would make a Chromecast app I'd be more than willing to buy movies through their service. I already have about 30 Google Play Movies titles but there are some titles in Amazon streaming that are not available. Until they make it viewable on my screen, I won't buy any more from them.

Higher Amazon Prime Fees To Include Set Top Box? (2)

bostonidealist (2009964) | about 9 months ago | (#46318911)

There have been regular rumors that Amazon will be raising Prime subscription fees. It seems plausible that they would include the set top box for free with increased Prime fees to control PR and incentivize renewal. Amazon already treats other devices (e.g., Kindle) as loss-leaders.

Disappointed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46319455)

I misread this as "Put Android in Sex-bot" while I was scrolling and excitedly thought "THE FUTURE IS HERE!" before slowing down to read it carefully and crush my dreams.

That explains it... (1)

John Pfeiffer (454131) | about 9 months ago | (#46319831)

I guess now I know why the Amazon Instant Video viewer app isn't available to any normal Android device... Bugs me because I already have an Android set-top box that flawlessly plays 1080p video, not just streaming stuff, but like h264 and whatnot... And it only cost me $25 unlike the $100+ I'm sure Amazon is going to charge.

Once again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46319889)

I've got a half dozen old phones. Why can't I convert these to set top boxes for little or no cost? They're just as powerful as the roku...

Had a really nice market- now fragmentation (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 9 months ago | (#46321397)

Netflix was one stop shopping.

Now Warner things I will pay the same price for just their movies.

Will amazon Prime box be the same problem with Roku?

Do they really expect me to hook a half dozen boxes to my TV when one box with software apps would do?

Seems like VHS vs Betamax-- and ROKU is pretty well established so It's probably VHS.

Hulu free? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46324003)

... and if like all things Android, it doesn't support free Hulu, no sale here.

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