Amazon set-top box may be a dongle that streams games as well as video

Credit: Source: Anatel Portal

Rumors about an Amazon set-top box and/or Android gaming console have been swirling for quite some time now. In the past few days things have really been heating up. Let's catch up.

Last week Zatz Not Funny spotted a document on a Brazilian regulatory agency that included images of what was reported to be a game controller for the Amazon box. It's a big ugly thing that basically mirrors an Xbox 360 controller, only adds media playback buttons.

The controller leak suggests that Amazon's streamer would double as a game console of some sort. But haven't we learned that Android gaming consoles don't sell? We have the Ouya, the GameStick, the MOJO and none of them seem to be setting the world on fire.

Yesterday TechCrunch filled in some gaps. According to them, the gaming side of this Amazon 'box' will rely on streaming, much like Online or the upcoming Playstation Now service from Sony.

What makes this even more unusual is that TechCrunch also says the form factor will be similar to that of the ChromeCast; a dongle that you plug into an HDMI port on your TV.

I'm not sure all these parts fit together. A dongle for a streaming-only system makes sense, but if Amazon wants a serious game-streaming device they're going to need to offer a wired Ethernet port, at least as an option, and that doesn't fit well with a dongle form-factor. (Game streaming is more sensitive than video streaming is to the kinds of bandwidth blips we often see on a wireless network since you can't really buffer it.)

I'm wondering if we're going to see a family of TV companion boxes from Amazon. A small dongle that just handles streaming, and something slightly more substantial that comes with the controller and supports PC game streaming?

I also wonder what Amazon will do to sweeten the deal and get us to put aside our Rokus, Chromecasts, Tivos, game consoles and smart TVs and choose instead to use an Amazon streamer? My suggestion to Amazon; give us a free recent movie rental every month. They do something similar with the Kindle. Each month you can borrow a Kindle book, but only if you use actual Kindle hardware; the offer isn't available to folks who use the Kindle app on non-Amazon hardware. If you figure a movie rental costs $5, that adds up to a $60/year perk.

As for the gaming angle...I'm not sure it's a good move for Amazon. Streaming PC games and coupling them with a game controller hasn't really worked well for OnLive. Do you think Amazon can make it work?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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