“Cutting the cord,” is a buzz phrase that means getting rid of cable TV and replacing it with video content streamed over the Web. Given the arrogant service and ever-increasing charges inflicted on customers by the cable giants, it’s no wonder that many consumers would like to make that leap. But because the technology is still evolving and the industry has yet to solve a myriad of licensing issues, making the switch isn’t easy.
But it isn’t as difficult as it was, and this week’s debut of Amazon’s Fire TV is yet another sign that the days of monolithic cable offerings are numbered.
Fire TV, is a $99 box that will provide access to streaming video from Hulu Plus, Watch ESPN, Showtime, MLB, Disney, YouTube, Netflix, and, of course, Amazon Instant Video. It also features an optional gaming controller accessory for an extra $40 and a supply of very cheap games – Amazon says they average $1.85 each.
Fire TV was launched yesterday and is already available on Amazon.com.
Amazon says Fire TV has a voice search that actually works. “The old way of searching with a TV remote — scrolling and clicking one letter at a time on an alphabet grid — is painful. With Fire TV you simply speak the title, actor or genre into the remote and you're done,” the company said in an announcement on its Web site.
I haven’t tried Fire TV's voice search yet, but as a veteran user of both Comcast and Dish Network, I’m always astonished at how difficult it is to search for anything on those services, so if Fire TV’s voice search really works, that’s a real advantage.
Without having tried Fire TV, I certainly can’t give it a thumbs up or down. But I’m excited to see yet another alternative to the cable monopolies. Fire TV joins Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast in the race to win a place in your living room.
I’m not sure how long it will take, but cutting the chord will become a viable option at some point in the not-too-distant future and won’t it feel good to say goodbye to the Comcasts and Time Warners of the world?