Amazon considerably upped its Fire TV game with today’s announcement of the Omni QLED series 4K TVs. The new sets, which will be available in 65-inch and 75-inch screen sizes, bring features typically found on higher-priced TVs like Quantum Dots and full-array local dimming, and also come with a new Fire TV Ambient Experience that lets you so that artwork and photos are displayed when the device is not in use.
The quantum dots in the Omni QLED arrays will allow an enhanced range of colors to be displayed with high dynamic range (HDR) sources, while the full-array local dimming backlight (up to 96 zones on the 75-inch model) should result in , more detailed and more uniform blacks – a shortcoming of the company previous series Fire TV Omni sets.
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Amazon’s new TVs also support Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, which work to bring out more detail in dark HDR images when viewed in regular lighting conditions.
The Fire TV Ambient experience appears to be Amazon’s variation on the “gallery” modes found on TVs like Samsung’s The Frame and models from other brands that allow the set to display art and personal photos when you’re not watching a video. A gallery of 1,500 images will be available, with collections from the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC and the Art Institute of Chicago.
In addition to art and photos, Alexa Widgets can be added to the screen that shows news, weather, grades, calendars, sports scores and more.
In keeping with the green initiatives that Amazon announced at today’s press event, the new Omni QLED TVs feature presence and ambient light sensors that turn the Fire TV Ambient experience feature on and off based on someone’s presence in the room.
Like the company’s previous Omni Fire TVs and its Fire TV Cube, which has also received a serious revamp, hands-free Alexa voice control lets you direct many of the set’s functions, including volume up or down and search, while a feature O What Should I Watch gives you personalized viewing suggestions. Omni Fire TV QLED models can also be used as a smart home hub, with voice commands available to launch Alexa routines for home control.
Amazon’s Omni Fire QLED TV sets are available to pre-order from the company today for $799 (65-inch) and $1,099 (75-inch).
Review: Amazon really wants the Fire TV to be your smart home’s digital home
While the performance improvements that Amazon is bringing to its latest lineup of Fire TVs make them somewhat more competitive with the best 4K TVs (although adding a mini-LED backlight for greater brightness and finer shadow detail handling, as budget competitors like TCL and Hisense offer in their newer sets, would have been a plus), the company’s real aim here is install Alexa in the center of your home.
Echo speakers and Show devices (which, according to the company, are used as TVs, with up to 70% of homeowners tapping into them for video viewing) scattered around the house are a way to bring us into the Alexa world, but the screen Big TVs like the new Omni QLED models are where the real action is, with features like What Should I Watch, allowing Amazon’s AI to forge a personal relationship with family members and learn their preferences. Alexa widgets with information like calendars and notes increase Amazon’s data collection, putting the company in a similar position to Apple and Google when it comes to personal communication and organization.
Furthermore, the new Fire TV Omni QLED 4K sets are a pleasant surprise and show that Amazon is serious about improving the quality of its TVs, which until now were mostly cheap and basic offerings. With additional improvements, Amazon could potentially own the budget TV space – something I’m sure it intends to do.