Amazon has done what has been rumored, if not anticipated, for a very long time and announced its own Amazon-built smart TVs. These new Fire TV-branded TVs come in two varieties, a Fire TV Omni Series and a Fire TV 4-Series, where the primary difference between the two is that the Omni versions feature far-field microphones for hands-free Alexa voice control, in addition to a voice remote, and the 4-series relies on only a voice remote. These new TVs come in 43″, 50″, 55″, 65″, and 75″ screen sizes, with the two largest sizes offered only in the Omni Series with hands-free Alexa. All models feature 4K Ultra HD resolution, with support for HDR 10 and HLG high dynamic range, but the two largest sizes also support Dolby Vision.
At the start of this year, Amazon released Fire TV Smart TVs in India using its AmazonBasics house brand. Like most AmazonBasics products, those were, essentially, off-the-shelf white-label products that Amazon put its logo on. The difference with these new smart TVs is that they are the first to be built by Amazon and, therefore, they carry Fire TV branding front and center. While these new Fire TV Smart TVs are likely still built by an ODM, with one source suggesting TCL may be involved, Amazon seems to have more directly controlled the manufacturing.
One place where that is evident is the inclusion of far-field microphones in the Omni Series, which other Fire TV Smart TVs in the US have yet to include. While Grundig released the first Fire TV Smart TV with hands-free Alexa in Germany two years ago, US brands like Toshiba, Insignia, Element, and Westinghouse, haven’t taken that step. Another feature unique to these TVs is the inclusion of IR Emitter capabilities. Similar to the Fire TV Cube, these new Fire TV Smart TVs, both the Omni Series and the 4-Series, are able to control external home theater devices, like soundbars and AV receivers, by blasting out IR remote commands. This means that, for example, asking Alexa to change the volume will always work, regardless of what speakers you have connected. These are the only Fire TV Smart TVs that I know of to ever include this capability.
Speaking of Alexa, Amazon is touting several new capabilities, which I’ll go over in more in a separate article. These include a new smart home dashboard, slide-out shortcut panel, several new Alexa commands, a dedicated Fire TV row for security cameras/doorbell cameras, live picture-in-picture views for those cameras, and more. Another feature available is the ability to connect a USB webcam and use the TV for video calls through services like Zoom and Alexa Calling. This feature is currently only available on the 2nd-gen Fire TV Cube, so these TVs are the first additional Fire TV devices to gain the capability.
The TVs also support Alexa Home Theater, which allows you to wirelessly connect Echo speakers to the TV. If you use a pair of Echo Studio speakers, you’ll also gain Dolby Atmos surround sound, thanks to the built-in upward-firing speakers in the Echo Studio. While many stand-alone Fire TV models support Alexa Home Theater pairing, the advantage of having it in these Smart TVs is that you’ll also hear audio from HDMI input devices, like cable boxes, game consoles, and Blu-ray players, through the Echo speakers, which is not possible with a Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Stick. Amazon says that the Omni Series supports all of the new Alexa features, but the 4-Series supports “many of the same Alexa experiences as the Fire TV Omni Series,” meaning not all new Alexa capabilities are available on the cheaper TVs.
As for raw specs, little is know so far about what is under the hood of these new Amazon-built TVs. As mentioned, they all feature 4K resolution, HDR10, and HLG high dynamic range. The Omni Series and the 4-Series both come in 43″, 50″, and 55″ sizes, while the Omni Series also comes in 65″ and 75″ sizes, which are the only two models that also support Dolby Vision. All models include 4 HDMI ports, of which 1 is an eARC/ARC port. They all have an IR Emitter port for the aforementioned home theater control capabilities, as well as 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, a 3.5mm headphone audio out port, optical audio out port, and a USB 2.0 port for external media playback.
Pricing for the Fire TV Omni Series, which, again supports hands-free Alexa is $409.99 for 43″, $509.99 for 50″, $559.99 for 55″, $829.99 for 65″ with Dolby Vision, and $1,099.99 for 75″ with Dolby Vision. The less expensive 4-Series models, which don’t have far-field microphones, are only $40 less expensive, with the 43″ being $369.99, the 50″ being $469.99, and the 55″ coming in at $519.99. Amazon is also selling both the Fire TV Omni Seris and the 4-Series in Canada.
lastly, Amazon is running an introductory offer on both the 50″ Omni Series and 50″ 4-Series sets which saves you $110 for a limited time, dropping those prices down to $399.99 and $359.99 for a limited time. In Canada, the discount is $140, which drops the 50″ Omni from $649.99 to $509.99 and the 50″ 4-Series from $599.99 to $459.99 All TVs will be released next month in the US and Canada at Amazon and Best Buy.