Amazon has announced a new version of its Fire TV Stick, which now comes with support for the Alexa virtual assistant. The upgraded version of its Google Chromecast-rivalling streaming dongle features more powerful hardware and will start shipping in October.

The new Fire TV stick costs $39.99 (£30, €27) and is 30% faster than its predecessor, according to Amazon. The stick contains a quad-core processor and support for the faster WiFi 802.11ac MIMO standard, yet the most notable feature is the inclusion of a built-in voice remote for Amazon's voice assistant. This means you can now ask Alexa to launch apps and find films for you, as well as check local film times, order a taxi, give you the news headlines and take advantage of the many other internet-enabled abilities the virtual helper has to offer.

The new device will be launched in the US on 20 October. Customers who activate their device by 31 October will receive a free content bundle including one month of Sling TV, two months of Hulu and $10 of credit for Amazon Video. A 30-day free trial of Amazon Prime is also included with every purchase of a Fire TV Stick.

Amazon hasn't given any word on when the new Fire TV stick will be released in the UK. The company currently sells its base-level streaming stick for £34.99, while the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote goes for £44.99. Given the US pricing, we expect the latest device to fall somewhere between the two and for the older Fire TV sticks to receive a price-drop.

The introduction of the new Amazon Fire TV stick comes just ahead of the expected launch of Google's Chromecast Ultra, which will support 4K video streaming. While the new Fire TV stick maxes out at 1080p, a more feature-packed device from Amazon may still do well to steal some of Google's limelight, particularly given the lower price tag.

If you do want to access Amazon's ecosystem in glorious 4K, you'll have to shell out £79.99 for Amazon Fire TV instead.