A year after launching the original Fire TV in the UK comes an updated second-generation version. Here's everything you need to know about the 2015 Amazon Fire TV set-top box which is set to take-on the new Apple TV, along with Google Chromecast and Roku's players, using Amazon's own Prime Instant Video service and selection of casual games. See: 6 best media streamers UK: What's the best media steamer to buy?
2015 Amazon Fire TV: release date and where to buy
The wait is over as the Amazon Fire TV streaming box is available to purchase from . They start shipping on 5 October.
Apart from Amazon, you can also get the Fire TV at Argos, Dixons and Tesco and John Lewis.
2015 Amazon Fire TV: price
The new Amazon Fire TV will cost £79, which is the same as the old version. You can pre-order it immediately on Amazon's website
2015 Amazon Fire TV: specs
The small black box plugs into your TV with an HDMI cable and is able to stream new Ultra HD 4K content from Amazon Prime Instant Video. It supports the latest HEVC standard which will be used for both 4K and HD video streaming in the coming months (Amazon has said that Man in the High Castle, Hand of God, and more will arrive in the autumn in glorious UHD). You will need a 4K TV, of course, to see the extra detail over and above HD.
The real benefit will be to those on slower internet connections as HEVC requires less data for the same video quality, meaning more customers will be able to get HD (and 4K). In fact, you'll need only 15Mbps for 4K while BT's Ultra HD service requires a minimum of 44Mbps.
Amazon says there will be 100 videos available in 4K from launch day.
The updated Fire TV has 75 percent more processing power than the original box, which was no slouch itself. The new processor - for those interested in the tech details - is a MediaTek 64-bit quad-core chip with PowerVR GX6250 graphics. It's actually two dual-core chips, one running at 1.6GHz and one at 2GHz.
Also new is a microSD slot for adding to the 8GB of on-board storage for storing apps and games. It supports up to 128GB cards. The microSD slot has seemingly replaced the optical digital output, which will be a blow to some people. Now, you have to rely on the HDMI output for audio.
There's dual-band, dual-antenna 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.1.
You get the same remote control as before, with a built-in Mic so you can speak and quickly search for TV shows and movies to watch.
New game controller
There's an updated game controller - it costs £39.99 (£5 more than the old one) - that now has built-in voice search and also a headphone jack for 'private listening with Dolby enhancements'. It now works via Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth which is said to reduce latency, making it better for games where timing is everything.
Amazon has also refined the controls to make them better and says you'll get 90 hours' use from standard batteries, as long as you're not using headphones.
You get the same software features as before including 'ASAP' which means content will start playing immediately after you press play with no lag (and it really works, too). It's an intelligent system that predicts if you will click the play button, and buffers content so it's ready to go instantly. And on the new Amazon Fire TV it's 40 percent faster.
There's also X-ray for movies and TV shows which displays the names of actors in a particular scene. You can then read bios, trivia and more information from IMDb, all on your TV screen.
New is the Mayday tech support service which was previously found on the Fire HDX tablets. It lets you get free help any time of day or night and - with your permission - the agent can connect to your Fire TV remotely and help answer questions, troubleshoot problems. They can even draw on your screen, explain how to do something or do it for you.
Voice Search works well on the original Fire TV but while it's good at recognising many accents, it's much more limited than Siri on the new Apple TV. You can't ask it to show you "new releases" or "Just show me films with Brad Pitt". You have to know the name of the show you want to watch.
How does the Amazon Fire TV work: what can you watch?
As you would expect you get access to Prime Instant Video service for films and TV shows. However, you can also access other services from the little black box including Netflix, Sky News, YouTube and more, plus videos for rent and purchase. It also lets you listen to music with Amazon Music, Spotify, TuneIn and more.
Amazon Fire TV streaming box: games
As well as videos, music, photos and personal videos, the Fire TV also lets you play games. It has similar specs to modern smartphones and tablets and since it runs Fire OS - which is based on Android - you can play many of the titles available on a Kindle Fire tablet such as Minecraft, Asphalt 8, The Walking Dead and more. You don't have to buy the special game controller - the bundled Bluetooth remote control can be used for many games.