Back in May I got a chance to see the new Amazon Fire TV Edition demoed. While it just became available on June 27th, I have now been playing with it for a few weeks, and I have to say…loving it.
My 43″ review model is not the cheapest HD TV in the world, even at $449, but it’s damn close, especially for a 2017 smart tv. Speaking of smarts, this set is smarter than some of my old classmates. The Fire interface works perfectly, and is actually a bit better than Fire streaming boxes. Why? One word – Alexa.
The Alexa integration seemed like a cute gimmick at the demo, but when you have it on a day-by-day basis, it’s shockingly useful. Aside from the home control aspects (“Turn off the light” for mood lighting, am I right?), the voice searching is wonderful. And guess what? You can even search live TV. Amazon was including a free TV antenna while available – now you pay for it but it still works perfectly. The Channel Guide has all the information you can want, and is honestly more useful than any cable one I’ve used. Reception may vary (I had to move my set to another room), but once you get a signal it works like a champ. Particularly awesome is that the aforementioned Alexa can search live TV (and fast-forward, rewind, change channels, etc).
Now, of course, a budget TV is going to have some sacrifices. The back-light on the screen, for example, is more low-end than an edge-lit screen, although hard to notice unless you’re a snob. The 4K TV comes with smoothing on by default, and turning it off isn’t obvious (you have to go into a video first, then press the home button, go to Picture/Advanced Option/Motion Smoothing, and then finally choose “bypass”). However, there’s also 16 GB of built-in storage, and it takes up to an additional 128 GB. This will let you record from live TV, a feature you’re not going to find on budget sets.
So… who are these Amazon Fire TV sets for? It’s certainly not for someone who needs the world’s greatest screen – but that guy’s not buying a budget set. This is, of course, the perfect consumption device for someone finally upgrading to a flat, checking out 4K, and/or devoted to the Amazon ecosystem. It’s a great way to manage your Amazon media and get one foot in the Alexa door.
Also? Consider the insane sales Amazon does from time to time on their own products. Super cheap Fire Tablets? The Dash Wand thing? Now imagine them doing it with this TV. Even if you don’t need one today, I strongly suggest watching the price very, very closely (Prime Day is coming, after all).
Note: Element provided me with a 55″ Fire TV for 4 weeks. It’s going to leave an empty hole in my life, it is.