Amazon’s Streaming Device: Everything We Think We Know

Amazon is hosting a TV-centric event in New York on Wednesday, where it will most likely reveal a streaming device. So what’s that lil’ thing going to look like? Here are the mostly likely answers to your biggest questions.

What Will It Look Like?

Most signs point to a dongle, a la Chromecast or Roku’s new streaming stick. This would likely be a small device you’d pop in your HDMI port in the back of your TV, meaning it would work with almost any television and cause virtually no installation headaches. Streaming sticks are all the rage these days, and for good reason.

Of course, Roku — one of Amazon’s biggest soon-to-be competitors in the space — offers a choice of three different hardware devices. So if Amazon wants to go blow-for-blow it may push out something more than just an entry-level, stick-style device. And any additional, bigger boxes might have additional tricks up their sleeves. Like maybe gaming…

What Will It Do?

Well it will stream media, duh. But there’s a lot to suggest it will do more than just that. A few weeks ago, Dave Zatz posted screenshots of the chunky beast that might be a controller for Amazon’s streaming device. It’s clearly a game controller, and if it is really real, that virtually assures that Amazon’s TV sidekick will play games of some sort, probably Android-based games like the ones you can find in the store on Amazon’s Kindle Fires.

It makes plenty of sense considering the Roku 3 comes with some game-friendly features baked in (but think more Angry Birds than Call of Duty), and that streaming sticks designed exclusively for Android gaming exist. It seems pretty likely that Amazon might go down that road as well, becoming the first big set-top box player to make a serious play for games and beating Chromecast and Apple TV to the punch.

What Will It Run?

Called either Kindle TV or Firetube, the system will almost definitely be a forked Android device, running something similar or identical to the Kindle Fire OS, which would let it draw on the already sizable stable of Fire OS Android-based apps.

That of course, includes a whole bunch of competing apps including streaming device must-haves such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and maybe HBO Go, all of which are already available on Amazon’s Kindle Fires in the US.

What Will It Cost?

There isn’t much intel floating around on the price, but keep a few things in mind on this front: Firstly, Amazon tends to keep its hardware dirt cheap. On top of that, one of the major selling points of both Chromecast and the Roku stick are their prices — $US35 and $US50 respectively. Amazon, presumably wanting to compete with these guys, will probably price its purported dongle somewhere in that ballpark. It’s even possible that a device like this could come with Amazon’s $US100 per year Prime service for free. Maybe.

Amazon is likely to try and shake up the scene in order to wedge its streaming device into an already established ecosystem. To that point, last week the WSJ reported that Amazon is working on a free, ad-supported streaming service for non-Prime subscribers. While it’s not likely we’ll see this trotted out at tomorrow’s event, the fact that Amazon doesn’t give a hoot about making a profit up front means it might show up down the road to sweeten this whole streaming device deal.

Will Australia Get It?

Probably not, but that hasn’t stopped you importing a Chromecast, streaming Netflix and Hulu or messing with Amazon Instant Video before, has it?

We won’t have to guess much longer. We’ll be at Amazon’s event on Wednesday with the scoop, so we’ll know more very, very soon.