Amazon arms Fire TV with generative AI, unveils two new streaming sticks

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What just happened? Amazon has unveiled two new Fire TV Stick models packed with performance boosts and clever AI tricks. They also lifted the lid on an affordable Fire TV Soundbar and some wild new AI search smarts.

Starting with the hardware, the Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the flagship, boasting a zippy 2GHz quad-core processor that makes it Amazon’s “smartest and most powerful streaming stick yet.” It doubles down on speed with Wi-Fi 6E support and twice the storage of the previous top model.

Also present is the Fire TV Ambient Experience – a feature that lets this device display calendars, sticky notes, smart home controls, and more when you’re not watching anything.

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The less powerful Fire TV Stick 4K gets Wi-Fi 6 and a decent performance bump from its 1.7GHz chip. Neither stick will break the bank at $59.99 for the Max and $34.99 for the 4K. If you want bigger sound, the new $109 Fire TV Soundbar promises to bring cinematic audio to your living room via DTS Virtual-X and Dolby Audio tech.

Besides the new sticks, Amazon has also brought about some fresh AI magic. The Fire TV Ambient Experience screen lets you summon AI-generated artwork just by asking Alexa to “create an image” and describing it. It’s a free feature hitting the Max stick by year’s end in the US.

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That’s not all. Soon you’ll also be able to ask Alexa nuanced, open-ended questions about movies and shows. You can search by topic, such as asking it to show sci-fi shows about time travel, or ask for a specific genre (“Korean horror films”), plot descriptions (“movies where people get stuck in a video game”), or even quotes (“What has the ‘Winter is coming’ line?”). Amazon’s AI will then surface personalized picks across your streaming subscriptions.

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Amazon says that these new search superpowers combine AI with Fire TV’s entertainment content and app library, helping you find personalized recommendations. And it’s all powered by an Amazon-built large language model.

This advanced AI search aims to solve a nagging streaming problem – we spend way too much time scrolling aimlessly through apps and recommendations. Amazon cited stats showing the average viewer burns 10 minutes per session just looking for their next binge.

Amazon says the feature has already started rolling out to customers in the US in English on select Fire TV devices running FOS6 and later. This will be expanded to all eligible Fire TV devices in the country in the coming weeks.

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