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Fire TV: Roku competitor unveiled by Amazon

Amazon unveiled the Fire TV on Wednesday, giving it a competitor to Roku, Google Chromecast and Apple TV.

The set-top box was unveiled at a press event in New York City, with shipping taking place on the same day. Priced at $99 and thinner than a dime, the Fire TV features 1080p HD video, 2GB of RAM and a quad-core processor. Amazon says the streaming device offers performance three times faster than Roku 3, Apple TV and Google Chromecast.

Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon Inc., introduces Amazon FireTV during a news conference in New York.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon Inc., introduces Amazon FireTV during a news conference in New York.

Like the company's Kindle Fire tablets, Amazon's Fire TV will run a modified version of Google's Android operating system, and give users access to third-party apps like Hulu Plus, Netflix and YouTube.

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Fire TV will offer voice search that "actually works" Amazon said, letting users speak into their Bluetooth-enabled remote control in order to find content. That will eliminate the need to "hunt and peck your way through an alphabet grid" like on Roku, said Amazon's Peter Limp.

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Over the last year, Amazon has been ramping up its video offerings with original series like "Alpha House," a political comedy starring John Goodman. On Tuesday, it announced sole streaming rights to "24" for its Amazon Prime Instant Video service, a big win considering the amount of people who will want to watch before the May 5 debut of the series reboot "24: Live Another Day."

Currently, Amazon lets users buy and rent TV and movies individually through its Amazon Instant Video service, or access many of them for a $99 annual fee with Amazon Prime, which also includes perks like free two-day shipping and free e-books. Both are available on its Kindle Fire tablets and competing streaming devices, like Google Chromecast and Roku.

—By Keith Wagstaff of NBC News

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