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Amazon heats up devices, content

9/17/2015 is heating up its selection of consumer devices and digital content. The online retailer is releasing several new Amazon Fire tablet and TV devices, and also introducing a new free digital content service called Amazon Underground.

A week after Apple announced its Apple TV live video streaming set-top box device, Amazon is introducing Apple Fire, a similar live video streaming device that will cost $99 ($50 less than the $149 starting price for Apple TV) and offer similar features such as voice-enable remote control.

While users will have access to games and entertainment content such as videos and music, as well as to the Alexa voice-activated search service and a variety of apps, there is not currently direct shopping functionality as offered on Apple TV. However, an automatic free month of the Amazon Prime paid delivery service comes with purchase of Fire TV, and Prime members will have access to Prime videos.

In addition to a Fire TV stick and special Fire TV gaming edition, Amazon is also introducing new ultrathin Fire and Fire HD tablets with a new operating systems called Fire OS 5 “Bellini.” Bellini offers a new user interface specially geared for consumption of entertainment content such as videos and apps. The base version of the new tablet costs $49.99.

All the new Amazon Fire devices will provide access to Amazon Underground, which delivers $10,000 worth of previously paid apps, games and in-app purchases, as well as videos, free. Amazon Underground is otherwise only currently available as an Android app, and users must provide their email or mobile number to get a link for download.

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