Bloomberg: Amazon to release set-top box this year


— 6:00 AM on April 25, 2013

Remember when Amazon was just an online bookstore? Today, the e-tail giant sells just about everything, including its own line of Kindle e-readers and tablets. According to Bloomberg, the company's next hardware product could be a set-top box primed for the living room. Sources "with knowledge of the matter" say such a device will arrive this year and be capable of streaming video to big-screen TVs. It will purportedly work with Amazon's own video services, providing instant access to loads of content.

Lab126 is said to be behind the project. This Amazon-owned R&D firm is responsible for the latest string of Kindle readers and tablets, and Bloomberg's sources say it's been working on streaming video devices for several years. If Lab126's current portfolio is any indication, we can probably expect a Kindle-branded machine with a budget price tag.

If there's one thing Amazon has, it's content. Amazon also has an app store with a collection of casual games, including Minecraft. There's no word on whether the supposed set-top box will be more than just a video conduit, but ARM-based hardware is cheap, and the Kindle Fire already has customized version of Google's Android OS tweaked to sell you things.

With Lab126 well-versed in shoehorning ARM chips into into ever-shrinking slates, I have to think the engineers could build an inexpensive set-top box with reasonably potent tablet guts, at least at the hardware level. The $100 Ouya console has a Tegra 3 chip and a case you can print with a friggin' MakerBot. As with tablets and consoles, though, the responsiveness and fluidity of the interface is critical. Operating a set-top box from the couch also presents interesting options for remotes, including integration with existing Kindle tablets and the rumored Amazon smartphone.

   
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