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
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

2x2 MIMO
5.5 mm DC Jack
Type A HDMI 2.0 output, w/HDCP 2.2
10/100 Ethernet
USB 2.0 Type A

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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  • Morawka - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    do 5 minute walks every 1.5 hour for those fat feet.. and get you a good cushion. Got rid of Fat feet completely for me. all it is is water getting trapped in your legs because of circulation issues on the back of your thighs. A better chair, or decent cushion will help but the walking every 1.5 hour is instrumental in keeping your body healthy.
  • prisonerX - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    The specification tables are great for getting a quick overview, but you always seem to leave out the price, which is a key figure for any product.
  • r3loaded - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    What's the point of bothering with an ethernet port if it's only 100Mbps, especially when it also has ac Wi-Fi? Either dump it and save on costs or spend a few pennies more for a proper gigabit controller.
  • solipsism - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    GigE makes sense on a Switch, but on an end node designed for streaming media you're not likely to get any benefit over the faster port. So long as the bandwidth exceeds your per second bandwidth needs for a stream you're fine.
  • Morawka - Saturday, September 19, 2015 - link

    FastE is extremely short sighted and brands the device as a yearly commodity. Wireless is extremely spotty. Sometimes it works great, other times it doesn't. Fast E is slower than USB 2.0 and we all know how slow usb 2 is.

    The difference in cost is under 10 cents for a gigabit port vs FastE.

    they can knock 10cents out of some other component like the packaging for gods sake. You never compromise on the network i/o

    Plus with wireless, your device has to be close to your router for good speeds. 5ghz does not reach far at all. maybe 50 feet. and even then, needs line of sight. drywall, wood, brick, reduce 5ghz heavily.

    we need the bandwidth for high quality plex streams that will do 4k 30fps and 1080p 60fps. FastE cant do this
  • solipsism - Saturday, September 19, 2015 - link

    "we need the bandwidth for high quality plex streams that will do 4k 30fps and 1080p 60fps. FastE cant do this"

    Check your math. It absolutely "can do this."
  • watzupken - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    Between Nvidia Shield TV and this Fire TV, I think I am more likely to go with the former despite the difference of around 60 bucks for the controller version. Despite the fact that the FireTV is running a newer A72, Nivida's quad core and Tegra graphics are significantly faster and more suited to games. Also, Nvidia has been pretty quick to issue new Android updates, as oppose to the Amazon centric Fire OS.
  • StormyParis - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    Wait, isn't that the first shipping device with A72 ?

    Benches, we want benches !
  • ruthan - Friday, September 18, 2015 - link

    USB2 and 100 Mb/s ethernet - ancient piece of HW.
  • Morawka - Saturday, September 19, 2015 - link

    100 Mbps = 10 MB per sec.

    that's 2 iphone photos a second of bandwidth.. horrible

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