The debut of Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HDX tablet lineup is bringing a new feature to the company’s Instant Video service — the ability to use the Amazon tablet as a “second screen” to control the playback of video on a television screen, and view detailed information related to the show being played.
It represents a new foray into the living room for the company, but if Amazon is planning to go further by launching its own set-top box, as widely reported, Jeff Bezos isn’t letting on.
“Beyond this I wouldn’t want to speculate,” said the Amazon CEO when I asked him this week about the company’s future ambitions in the living room. “I do think that getting good synchronization and real cloud second-screen functionality into the living room is going to be something that customers are going to like. As far as future roadmap goes, I wouldn’t want to speculate.”
His reference to the cloud reflects the fact that the video isn’t being streamed directly from the tablet, but rather synchronized with the tablet and streamed to the TV screen from the cloud. That frees up the processor on the tablet for other tasks — including the customized X-Ray second-screen feature, powered by Amazon’s IMDb subsidiary, that provides extra information and trivia about a particular show or movie as it’s being played. New to the experience is a feature that shows the music being played during a show at any given moment.
Amazon says the second screen feature will be available next month, starting on PlayStation 3 and Samsung TVs. It works with Amazon’s Instant Video and Prime Instant Video services.