Today Amazon released a refresh of its Fire TV media player and mini-console. The original device was unveiled in April 2014 and the 2015 version sees some upgrades in the internal components and connectivity.
 
The biggest change is the upgrade from the original Snapdragon 600 to MediaTek's new MT8173 SoC. The MT8173 was originally announced at MWC this year and surprised a lot of people as the Taiwanese semiconductor vendor was the first to show off working prototypes with ARM's new Cortex A72 CPU core, and it seems the Fire TV is the first device to ship with the new SoC and CPU architecture. 
 
  Fire TV (2014) Fire TV (2015)
SoC Qualcomm APQ8064
Snapdragon 600
4x Krait 300 @ 1.7GHz

Adreno 320 @ 400MHz
MediaTek MT8173C
2x Cortex A72 @ 1989MHz
2x Cortex A53 @ 1573MHz

Power VR GX6250 600MHz
RAM 2GB
Storage 8GB 8GB + microSD
Connectivity 5.5 mm DC Jack
Type A HDMI 1.4b output, w/HDCP
Optical Audio (TOSLINK)
10/100 Ethernet
USB 2.0 Type A

802.11a/b/g/n
2x2 MIMO
5.5 mm DC Jack
Type A HDMI 2.0 output, w/HDCP 2.2
microSD
10/100 Ethernet
USB 2.0 Type A

802.11a/b/g/n/ac
2x2 MIMO
Launch OS Fire OS 3.0 Fire OS 5.0

The new SoC is a 2x2 big.LITTLE configuration with 2 A72 cores clocked in at 1989MHz and 2 A53 cores at 1573MHz. The new CPUs should give a significant performance boost over the Krait 300 found in the 2014 variant.

The new SoC also allows for hardware HEVC decoding and Amazon is touting this as the main feature of the new SKU as it allows for halving of the required bandwidth to stream 1080p content or allows for 4Kp30 content playback. Alas it seems 4Kp60 decoding is not supported and thus makes new Fire TV not quite as future proof as one would have hoped. The new unit comes with a new HDMI 2.0 port sporting HDCP 2.2 compatibility and allows connecting a TV or monitor at up to 2160p at 24/25/30/50/60Hz.

An important change in the connectivity is the dropping of the TOSLINK optical audio out connector in favour of a microSD slot. Also added is 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity, still sporting a 2x2 MIMO antenna configuration.

As an accessory to the Fire TV, Amazon also released a new gaming controller, aptly named the Amazon Fire Game Controller. The controller is equipped with the same voice-control functionality that the Fire Voice Remote comes with, thus being able to use replace it as the main controller/remote.

The new Fire TV starts shipping on the 5th of October for $99.99 without the controller or $139.99 for the Gaming Edition which contains both the media play and the controller. Amazon also now releases the original Fire TV Stick with the Voice Remote for $59.99.

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  • anactoraaron - Thursday, September 17, 2015 - link

    The entire fire lineup has been refreshed, not just the fire tv. Reply
  • solipsism - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    1) I'm glad to see they went with 2160p, HEVC, and HDMI 2.0, as well as stating their 1080p content is being converted to HEVC. I only wish I could find the max bitrate or video profile for the various codecs supported.

    2) Notice that it also drops TOS-Link and only supports 100Mibps Ethernet. I wonder if people will be up in arms about this as much as they were the G4 Apple TV last week. I'm guessing they won't.

    3) Solid update, at a great price, that bests the new Apple TV in many HW features and in the shipping date. If the voice control works as well as with the Echo in my kitchen this could be a great living room Alexa.
    Reply
  • r3loaded - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    I'd have loved VP9 hardware decoding as well, but it seems only the Tegra X1 in the Nvidia Shield and a couple of other SoCs support it. Reply
  • chiVelle - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    I am disappointed with the drop of TOS-Link as my Insignia TV drops all HD Dolby and DTS 5.1 streams to stereo when forwarding the audio to the TOS-Link digital output to my Vizio soundbar. Is there any solution to this problem besides setting up a HTPC? Unfortunately, I can't seem to tell which tv manufacturers do unaltered digital audio output from the HDMI input. Thanks. Reply
  • nathanddrews - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    The TV you are looking for does not exist. HD/lossless audio bitstreams don't work over TOSLINK, so it's a moot point. You should probably be looking into ditching your soundbar and expand into buying an AVR (audio/video receiver) and connecting conventional speakers to it. You will be able to do just about everything you could ever want or need.

    Most soundbars are only 2-channel amps with two physical drivers or several wired in parallel, especially the budget models, so again, it's a moot point. Everything you send to it is mixed to stereo. If you have a separate woofer, then it sends lower frequencies to that, but most are still not true x.1 implementations.
    Reply
  • chiVelle - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    Thanks, that's what I thought. I have the Vizio 5.1 soundbar setup which sounds great when a dedicated TOS-Link cable is driving the input like from my Xbox One. I guess I was just hoping for TOS-Link passthrough when it comes to the tv, that way I could use a device like this Fire TV. Reply
  • Demi9OD - Saturday, September 19, 2015 - link

    I use an HDMI splitter that splits the signal from HDMI(A/V) to TOSLINK(A) and HDMI(V) with my Vizio 5.1 bar. Reply
  • webdoctors - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    Can you guys do a comparison of the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition vs the Nvidia Shield? I was looking at the Amazon table but it didn't compare to non-Amazon products and didn't have any benchmarks. With the Google credit, they're pretty closely priced to each other.

    Should be interesting if Amazon gives a free year of prime in the future like they did with their phones which are essentially free right now...
    Reply
  • Schecter1989 - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    The nvidia shield will blow that away on all fronts. Cpu gpu and gaming too. By far. Reply
  • syxbit - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    Not CPU in single threaded perf.
    Shield has X-1 with four A57. This has the new Arm A72
    Reply

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