Amazon’s Fire OS operating system is the star of the show when it comes to the new Fire TV Edition televisions announced from Westinghouse, Seiki, and Element, but the hardware itself is just as interesting. Here is what I’ve learned about them so far during my time at CES.
As I mentioned in my overview article, even though there are three different brands of TV, they’re all made by the same manufacturer and are essentially identical. I’m told they will be sold under three brands because, for whatever reason, some brands sell better in certain regions and retail stores. The hardware and branding is handled by the manufacturer and Amazon simply provides the software.
There will be 43-inch, 50-inch, 55-inch, and 65-inch sizes for all three brands, but again, the branding is pretty much irrelevant. All televisions will be 4K UHD with a resolution of 3840 x 2160. They will support a 4K refresh rate of 60Hz and lower resolutions at 120 Hz and 60Hz. None of the TVs support HDR, but I’ve heard a 65-inch HDR version was in development, so there’s a slight chance we’ll see that announced at a future date.
Under the hood is a quad-core “T1-938” CPU, but I have not been able to determine the clock speed. The CPU is matched with a dedicated ARM Mali multi-core GPU. There is 3GB of RAM, which I assume is shared between the CPU and GPU, and 16GB of internal storage. I’m told the TVs are capable of streaming HEVC 2160p at 60fps and should be powerful enough to run all the games the Fire TV 2 can play.
Along the back are four HDMI 2.0 ports with support for HDCP 2.2. There is one set of component ports that can also be used as composite input. For audio, there’s one optical SPDIF port and one 3.5mm headphone jack, which I assume are both for audio output. There is also a coax connector for the tuner antenna.
As for connectivity, the TVs have a gigabit ethernet port as well as dual-band dual-antenna 802.11a/b/g/n/ac built-in WiFi. There is also Bluetooth 4.1+LE which can be used to connect peripherals like game pads, mice, and keyboards, as well as Bluetooth headphones for private listening.
All TVs also have one USB 2.0 port and one USB 3.0 port. They also all have a full size SD card slot. Nobody knew if the USB ports or the SD card slot could be used for app storage, but both should be accessible within apps for media/file storage.
The TVs on display actually had a USB ethernet adapter, connected to one of the USB ports, that was connected to a backup internet connection incase the convention center’s internet went down. Judging by that use of the USB port, I assume they will work with the usual assortment of peripherals and external drives.
Who’s the lady in the “red” dress?
If you mean the reflection in the first image, she works for Amazon. You can see her in this photo from Engadget. (That’s me behind the TV poking around :-P )
USB 3.0 and Gigabit Ethernet? It’s almost as if they are trying. Also, does the HDMI port support 120Hz input, like from a computer? Or is that just the speed it can interpolate?
No HDR support? Not trying hard enough, I guess.
Any info on whether these will pass full surround sound over ARC? The integrated interface for inputs is excellent, but it’s not of much value if it will downmix all my external devices to stereo (as many TVs do) before passing the audio on to the receiver. (Or perhaps it’s smart enough to recognize the receiver inputs via CEC and allow switching through the interface?)
“Under the hood is a quad-core “TI-938” CPU, but I have not been able to determine the clock speed. The CPU is matched with a dedicated ARM Mali multi-core GPU. There is 3GB of RAM”
Can anything be read into this, in regards to what may be in the FTV3?
I doubt it. The manufacturer said Amazon handled all the software and they did all the hardware, so I don’t think Amazon had any say in the chosen chips used, other than to make sure they’re powerful enough for the UI.
Lots to like here. Few things missing, but honestly, for a budget set, it’s pretty darn good.
* 4 HDMI ports, budget sets often skimp with 3… sometimes just 2!
* Component input available
* Optical output
* 4K support
* SD slot + 2 USB ports
* Seems like enough horsepower to be more like a Fire TV and less like the original (slow) Fire TV Stick
* Low refresh
* No HDR
I’m personally happy with my 1080p sets because we’re not insane TV fans, but if I were upgrading or a set died, I’d look at this if they introduce a model one step up with HDR.
I hear the complaints people make about smart TVs dying from lack of support… but I have a Fire TV plugged into my Vizio “smart TV”. The fact that there are built in apps of questionable quality didn’t bother me, because the Fire TV better suited our needs. One day, if this built in Fire software gets end of life status from Amazon, it’s still a TV and you can still plug a stick or a new STB in.
But will we still be able to load Kodi or will they lock that down?
I don’t know for sure, but I expect you’ll be able to sideload apps just like on the Fire TV.
Can you do us in the U.K. A huge Gabor and try to find out from someone in the Amazon booth when Fire TV (box and stick) in the U.K. Will be getting Alexa. Thank you.
Sorry, but they either don’t know the answer to that or don’t want to say. I’ve asked. All I know is the new Stick 2 and Alexa ARE coming to the UK at some point. I don’t know if it’s simultaneously though.