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Amazon's Streaming Device: What to Expect

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) is set to compete with Apple (AAPL - Get Report), Google (GOOG - Get Report), and Roku by announcing its own streaming media device later today in New York. While much of the speculation surrounding the device has been on what it could offer in terms of television and movie content, Amazon may have a trick up its sleeve to take on video game giants Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE).

Recent reports have disclosed that Amazon's streaming device, which will come in dongle form, similar to Google's Chromecast, will start shipping in April and be available on Amazon's Web site, as well as multiple retailers including Best Buy (BBY). It's expected that Amazon's new offering will be part of the Kindle Fire family, given that Peter Larsen, the company's vice president of Kindle, was named on the invitation.

Amazon sent out invitations last week to the event, On the invite, Amazon said, "Please join us for an update on our video business."

The move puts Amazon further in competition with Apple and Google, both of which already offer streaming devices - the Apple TV, and Chromecast, respectively. Apple TV costs $99 and comes in set-top box form, while the Chromecast runs $35 and comes in a dongle, similar to what Amazon's device will look like. Amazon's device will also compete with Roku, which makes its own streaming devices. Roku recently announced its own streaming dongle, selling at retail for $49.99.

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Like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HDX tablets, the streaming device may use a forked, or customized, version of Google Android's operating system. Since it's a forked version of Android, it's unlikely that Amazon's streaming device will have a native YouTube app. If you search for YouTube in Amazon's Appstore, you see a variety of apps that pull content from YouTube, but no official YouTube app.

It's expected that, in addition to support for Amazon Instant Video, via Amazon Prime, the device will also carry Netflix (NFLX), Pandora (P), and Hulu Plus

While Amazon is likely to offer some or all of the same features that Apple, Roku, and Google already have, there have been leaked pictures of a gaming controller that could pit the streaming media device against Microsoft and Sony, with their Xbox One and PlayStation 4 gaming consoles, respectively.

Microsoft has tried to make the Xbox One an all-in-one home entertainment system. It's done so with mixed success, having sold 3.9 million Xbox One consoles in its most recent quarter. Sony has been the leader with its PlayStation 4 console, having shipped about 7 million PlayStation 4 consoles, since the mid-November release.

TheStreet will be reporting from the event, which starts at 11 a.m. EDT.

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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