Amazon isn’t just playing with streaming. The new Amazon Fire TV Edition is a direct “come at me bro” to Apple, Google, and Roku. Available in a variety of sizes from Westinghouse and Element, these Ultra HD sets think they have what it takes to own the smart TV sector. Announced today and available for pre-order, it will be available in 43″ ($449), 50″ ($549), 55″ ($649) and 65″ ($899) dimensions, all of which will be pumping out 4K UHD content.
Let’s look at what makes the Fire TV Edition special.
4. An “Everything Up Front” Interface
I was very impressed with the update to the Fire interface that was worked out for the TV. Everything lives on your home screen. There are no hidden menus for switching inputs—instead you get a row of icons. Live TV channels live on the same screen as Amazon’s apps—normally you have to switch to a different input for that. Speaking of live TV…
3. It Makes Live TV Smart
Amazon is including a free HD antenna with purchase (for a limited time, a $15 value), so you can see just how well Fire TV Edition handles over-the-air signal. By partnering with Gracenote, they’ve crafted a TV that knows what is playing on every station for weeks. You can pause live TV (90 seconds by default, longer if you install a MicroSD card), and can set your channel guide to ignore certain channels (both live and cable).
What’s great about this is that when you search for say, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, you won’t just get streaming options, but your local PBS affiliate.
2. Alexa Is Everywhere
The only other TV solution I have seen that uses voice this effectively is the AppleTV, and that lacks 4K and the ability to search apps other than Apple’s. Amazon has given the TV edition a full-on Alexa experience. You essentially have an Echo baked into your TV. So you can control the TV, but you can also control your entire home. Imagine sitting down to watch a movie and having the lights dim themselves, resetting your thermostat, etc., all from your remote. I also love the ability to switch inputs with a voice command. Heck, if you name the port, it will use that trigger word. So if you want to play Xbox, all you have to do is say the word.
Also? It’s via a hardware button on the remote. Your TV is not always listening. That’s a good thing, people.
1. It (Potentially) Does More Things Better Than the Competition.
A bold claim, yes? But like I mentioned above, it already kicks Apple’s butt by being integrated, 4K, and having the best universal search I’ve seen so far. The voice function and live TV solution mean Roku’s integrated sets have some catching up to do. My own Hisense OperaTV set (stunning screen aside) can’t compare, and LG’s webOS TV sets can’t control your home. The only sets that even have the potential to rival the FireTV edition are Android TVs, and those don’t have Assistant yet.
Will the Fire TV Edition be slick and smart enough to be your next TV? Is it your first step towards an IoT household? Let us know in the comments if it’s tempting you. Meanwhile, we’ll be crossing our fingers for a review unit.
Note: I will be updating this story with links to the sets and their prices. Amazon/Element/Westinghouse was kind enough to give me an advanced look. No goods or services were exchanged for this article. Seriously, I didn’t even take a free beer.