SEATTLE—Confirming rumors that surfaced recently, Amazon today announced the launch of its first TV sets, integrated with its Fire TV OS and available with Alexa hands-free control. The company also announced a new Fire TV Stick with support for next generation Wi-Fi.
In making its move, Amazon is going where Apple refused to. Despite years of rumors, Apple never released a TV set based on its Apple TV OS. The oft-cited reason for Apple's reluctance was the low profit margins for large screen TV sets. However, Apple also doesn't have the retail power base that Amazon has and its Siri voice command service doesn't match the ubiquity of Amazon's Alexa AI in smart home devices.
“We’ve reimagined what a TV can do by building it with two of our most popular experiences at the core—the intelligent always-available power of far-field Alexa, and Fire TV’s content-forward approach to entertainment,” said Daniel Rausch, Vice President, Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services. “Our new Fire TV Omni Series smart TVs, with hands-free access to Alexa, make controlling your TV faster, simpler, and more natural.”
The top of the line Fire TV Omni Series sets offer smart home controls, and far-field voice controls from Amazon’s Alexa AI platform. It is available in 43”, 50”, 55”, 65”, and 75” model sizes, with 4K Ultra HD (UHD) resolution, as well as support for HDR10, HLG, and Dolby Digital Plus. The 65” and 75” models feature a slim bezel and added support for Dolby Vision.
Hands-free Alexa voice controls are always available whether the TV is on or off or when using an HDMI input. Alexa will deliver a viewer’s favorite show without the viewer having to remember which channel name, streaming service or input device to switch to. Voice control can also be used for playback, closed captions, and brightness, and manage TV or soundbar volume, switch inputs, and more. In addition, by using an “Alexa, kick off my day” command, viewers can set up a routine to allow the Fire TV and smart lights to turn on, and Alexa will share the weather, read a personal calendar, and tune to the news on live TV.
With Fire TV Omni Series and Alexa Home Theater, viewers can wirelessly connect Echo devices such as the Echo Studio for Dolby Atmos, or pair other Echo smart speakers for immersive sound. The Alexa Home Theater experience works across any compatible device connected to Fire TV Omni Series, including cable boxes, gaming consoles, or antenna sources.
The Fire TV Omni Series also provides for Live View Picture-in-Picture, which allows viewers to check their smart cameras without interrupting TV viewing, and shows Ring video doorbell views when someone is at the door. Later this year, the all-new smart home dashboard will allow viewers to view and control connected devices throughout the home.
Targeting the more economical consumer, Amazon’s Fire TV 4-Series combines 4K UHD resolution with HDR10 and HLG. The lineup includes 43”, 50”, and 55” model sizes, and features a fully-integrated Fire TV experience. The Fire TV 4-Series supports many of the same Alexa experiences as the Fire TV Omni Series, which you can access by using the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote.
A new version of the Fire TV Stick 4K was also announced. The Fire TV Stick 4K Max includes many new Alexa voice features, 40% more power than Fire TV Stick 4K, a new quad-core 1.8GHz processor, and 2GB of RAM. According to Amazon, it is the only streaming media device that supports Wi-Fi 6 under $179 for smoother streaming in 4K and cloud gaming with Amazon Luna.
Fire TV 4K Max supports 4K UHD, HDR, and HDR10+ streaming, as well as Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. It comes with the latest Alexa Voice Remote and is Amazon’s first streaming stick to offer Live View Picture-in-Picture. Like the Fire TV Omni Series and 4-Series, Alexa Home Theater is enabled, so viewers can wirelessly connect with Echo Studio or a pair of Echo (4th Gen) smart speakers for immersive sound, including multichannel Dolby audio formats.
The Fire TV Omni Series will be available in 43” ($409.99), 50” ($509.99), and 55” ($559.99). The Fire TV Omni Series with Dolby Vision will be available in 65” ($829.99), and 75” ($1,099.99). The Fire TV 4-Series will be available in 43” ($369.99), 50” ($469.99), and 55” ($519.99). All TVs will be available next month in the United States, exclusively at Amazon and Best Buy. Starting today, buyers can save $110 on the 50” Fire TV Omni and 4-Series models for a limited time during the introductory period.
Fire TV Stick 4K Max will be available in the United States for $54.99.
Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Technology (www.tvtechnology.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.
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