Amazon enters the television business

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Amazon wants to offer two of its own TV series: the Fire TV Omni and Fire TV 4. In the Omni models, the microphones are built into the display – Amazon relies on a “Fire TV Experience” and means that the television can be controlled by voice at any time and the link with Alexa Skills. In the somewhat cheaper Fire TV 4 televisions, the microphone is in the remote control; so you have to press a button before the TV listens.

The microphones built into the Omni-TV can be electronically deactivated, according to Amazon. Of course, the Fire TV televisions understand voice input, and they should bring new Alexa skills with them. These contain questions about video recommendations (“Alexa, what should I watch”) or, more specifically, about video content on Netflix, TikTok or Prime Video. Many other TV manufacturers already offer something similar.

For the screens, Amazon apparently relies on LCD technology without special features such as direct LED backlight, local dimming or quantum dots for color improvement. That was not to be expected in the targeted price range – the devices should cost between around 350 euros for a 43-inch TV and 1100 euros for a 75-inch TV, depending on the size.

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The Omni series has a slightly higher quality appearance with its narrow panel bezel. The TVs connect wirelessly to Amazon Echo devices and, in combination with the appropriate Echo speakers, can produce surround sound with Dolby Atmos. They have a picture-in-picture function to display external signal sources in the current main picture – for example, content from the networked door camera. A dashboard is also being planned that will show the status of all networked devices in the household.

For video calls, you should hang a webcam on the TV’s USB port, and the Omni devices will also support zoom in the course of the year – with smart TVs, video calls have so far only been possible via Google Duo. Amazon does not yet say which webcams are compatible with the omni televisions.

Anyone who has ever used a Fire TV stick can use the Fire TV interface of the new Amazon televisions immediately; the same applies to the slim remote control. On the surface there are streaming apps for Netflix, Disney +, YouTube, Hulu and of course Amazon Prime Video. The first Smart TVs with Fire TV OS from Grundig were similarly equipped, but the Grundig TV from the c’t TV comparison test was still missing the streaming app for Disney +. Apple’s streaming service seems to be missing from the recently announced Fire TV televisions.

The TVs from the Omni series are available in five diagonals, only the two largest TVs can handle Dolby Vision.
(Image: Amazon)

All new Amazon displays with Fire TV OS show Ultra HD resolution with 3840 × 2160 pixels. They support the high-contrast formats HDR 10 for videos and HLG for TV signals. Only the two largest Omni TVs with 65 and 57 inch diagonals (1.65 m and 1.90 m) can handle Dolby Vision. The Fire TV 4 televisions will be available with diagonals of 1.07 m (42 inches), 1.27 m (50 inches) and 1.40 m (55 inches). With this series, Amazon is targeting the lower price range. The TVs from the Omni series are also available in these three sizes and also with 65 and 75 inch diagonals.

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Grundigs 55 GUB 8040 from 2020 was one of the first smart TVs to use Amazon’s Fire TV Edition.

All Amazon TVs have four HDMI ports, one of which has an audio return channel (HDMI-ARC). There is an analog audio connection for headphones (jack) – which is by no means taken for granted these days – as well as an optical audio output. A USB port for storage media or cameras, an Ethernet socket and one for the TV tuner can also be found on the side of the housing. Recordings on the hard disk do not seem to be intended. Which tuners will be installed will be revealed when Amazon offers the devices online. You can find them Omni-TVs and the Fire-TV-4-TVs already on Amazon, but still priceless.

Amazon’s Fire TV 4 series is available in three sizes with a diagonal of 43, 50 and 55 inches.
(Image: Amazon)

According to a US press release, the 43-inch Fire TV 4 television set will cost 370 US dollars, or around 310 euros – but plus VAT, which varies in the US depending on the county and is therefore not shown in the press releases. As a result, 43-inch models could be traded for around 350 euros in this country.

Prices without VAT according to the Amazon press release:

Fire TV Omni

  • 43-inch TV costs $ 410, which is the equivalent of 347 euros
  • 50-inch TV costs $ 510, which is the equivalent of 430 euros
  • 55-inch TV costs $ 560, which is equivalent to 474 euros.

Fire TV Omni with Dolby Vision

  • 65-inch TV costs $ 830, which is the equivalent of 700 euros
  • 75-inch TV costs $ 1,100, which is the equivalent of 930 euros

Fire TV 4-Serie

  • 43-inch TV costs $ 370, which is the equivalent of 313 euros
  • 50-inch TV costs $ 470, which is the equivalent of 400 euros
  • 55-inch TV costs $ 520, which is equivalent to 440 euros.

In terms of price, the Amazon televisions are therefore in a range that is due for similarly equipped televisions. The Grundig 55 GUB 8040 TV with 55-inch Fire TV Edition currently costs 600 euros, around 100 euros more than its Amazon counterpart. Amazon’s Omni-TV undercuts the 75-inch models with Dolby Vision from Sony and Nokia with Android TV by around 100 euros, but the cheaper 75-inch TVs do not support the HDR format from Dolby. The 65-inch Amazon TV is slightly more expensive than comparable models from Hisense or Nokia (see price comparison above).

We compared smart TVs with an operating system that includes the usual streaming apps. There are a number of devices in the lower price range that have a very slimmed-down surface and are not particularly smart. Such simple surfaces are also used by large TV manufacturers in their cheap series.

Amazon’s Fire TV televisions will initially go on sale in the United States in October, exclusively from Amazon and Best Buy. When the devices will be available in this country – and whether at all – is still unclear. Since there are already televisions with Amazon’s Fire TV operating system from Grundig and OK, whose experience Amazon could fall back on, it is not unlikely that the devices will also be offered in this country.


(uk)

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