Amazon officially introduced a new version of its $40 Fire TV stick Thursday, and also previewed a new user interface for the device as well as its Fire TV streaming box siblings that will launch later this year.
In addition, Amazon announced that it was cutting the price of the Fire TV set-top by $10. The Fire TV standalone box is now $89.99 (versus $99.99 previously), while the Fire TV + HD Antenna bundle is now $99.99 and the Amazon Fire TV Gaming Edition is now $129.99.
The new Fire TV Stick basically looks exactly like the old one, but features faster processors, and also comes with a remote control with integrated microphone. Consumers can use this to summon Alexa, Amazon’s smart digital assistant, and for example ask for for the weather, or add articles to their Amazon shopping list.
The Fire TV Stick’s Alexa integration also allows consumers to pause video playback, or skip back a few minutes in case they missed something. In the past, consumers had to pay $10 more if they wanted the Fire TV Stick with voice remote. Now, the company is adding it to every box.
Amazon’s new Fire TV user interface, which will come to the newest generation of Fire TV sticks and Fire TV streaming boxes first, is putting a big emphasis on promoting content of its partners. This includes a big banner right on the home screen that teases shows and movies from both Amazon Prime and select partners with still art as well as short video clips.
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Amazon is also trying to be more inviting to other content partners, and is more prominently featuring other ways to watch content in addition to its own catalog. That’s in part because Amazon has started to resell some of those third-party services through its own Channels platform, which allows Amazon customers to pay for video subscription services like Showtime, Starz and Seeso through their Amazon account.