Better than last year, cheaper

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 4K UHD Smart TVs.

Amazonia

I tested AmazoniaThe new Fire TV Omni QLED 65-inch 4K UHD smart TV from. If you’re a casual TV watcher like me, the new Fire TV is easy to use and has great picture quality for the price.

And speaking of price, it’s retailing for $550 at the time of publishing, about $250 less than its introductory price, making it cheaper than last year’s model that Amazon still sells. There’s also a pricier 75-inch model that costs $1,100.

The company made its foray into Amazon-branded TVs last year with a model that was okay, but not great. This year’s version has many upgrades that make it a better buy. Most noticeably, the picture is improved, there’s new ambient display graphics, and the speakers are an improvement.

But Amazon doesn’t make much money from hardware. It is a cloud company and an online retailer. Instead, its hardware acts as a portal into its services, like Prime Video and even the Amazon store. You can talk to Alexa, which is built in. It’s a big window on Amazon that you can hang on your wall. And people who use a lot of Amazon services might like it.

Here’s what you need to know about it.

What’s good

The new Fire TV will fit right into your smart home ecosystem if you already use the company’s Alexa voice assistant through other products like the Amazon Echo. The TV features hands-free voice commands, so when you can’t find the remote, you can just yell, “Alexa, turn off the TV.” Even more complex commands are possible. I was able to tell the TV to “play next episode” of “The Devil’s Hour” on Prime so I didn’t have to watch the credits.

This feature is not new. Last year’s TV also featured hands-free Alexa, but it’s still a nice feature and I was able to use it easily. You can mute the microphone if you don’t want to use the Alexa feature.

My current TVs are hard to see in my living room, which gets a lot of natural light. But this Fire TV was very bright, so I was still able to watch TV clearly even in lots of sunlight.

There’s a new “ambient” experience on this year’s model that uses sensors to detect your presence in the room. It’s a little creepy in theory, but I now see the utility of having the larger screen in my living room as decoration, or even as a space to display important information like calendar events and digital sticky notes.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED 4K UHD smart TV with widget display.

Amazonia

There are some great ambient mode features. One turns your TV into a work of art. The art is sourced from a collection of 1,500 photos and fine art, including in the National Gallery of Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Samsung’s “The Frame TVs” also have this feature, but you have to pay to show the art, while Amazon’s TV art gallery is free.

Amazon Fire TV Omni Series QLED 4K UHD.

Sophia Pitt

You can view your photos on the TV, a nice but common feature found on other sets. You can customize on-screen widgets with news, reminders, sticky notes, and calendars, and you can add control centers for your smart home devices. I used the sticky note option to leave my husband a reminder to pick up the oat milk from the grocery store.

Amazon Fire TV Omni Series QLED 4K UHD.

Sophia Pitt

You can also play music from the TV even when the screen is not on. I wasn’t expecting to use this feature as I have a pretty beefy stereo system, but I was impressed with the sound quality and volume from the TV’s built-in speakers. I have soundbar speakers for my other two TVs at home because the speakers are so bad, but I didn’t feel the need for them here. The new Fire TV gets loud and the sound is crisp. However, soundbars provide deeper bass and richer sound.

What’s wrong

Alexa couldn’t always hear my commands when the TV volume was turned up, which makes sense but can still be a little frustrating. You’ll need to use the remote to pause to talk to Alexa.

Also, this TV isn’t the best option for people who don’t like Alexa or don’t sign up for Amazon Prime. All Fire TVs feature Prime content prominently on the main UI. You’ll see suggestions for shows to watch, like Amazon’s “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.”

As you can see from the image below, there are a lot of ads for Prime Video shows, there is a queue of Tubi-sponsored movies, and I have often seen other ads. It can get annoying if you are not interested in them.

While the brightness and picture will be sufficient for casual TV viewers, there are other TVs in the same price range that can get brighter. And others may provide better and smoother gaming experiences. Hisense Class ULED Premium U7H QLED Series Quantum Dot Google 4K 65-inch offers a 120Hz refresh rate, for example, while the Omni QLED only offers 60Hz. The U7H is priced at a similar $700, and the image also has deeper blacks and more lifelike tones.

Amazon Fire TV Omni Series QLED 4K UHD Prime user interface.

Sophia Pitt

Should you buy it?

You’ll love it if you’re immersed in Amazon’s ecosystem of products and services. I appreciate that it makes the biggest screen in your home worthwhile with its “ambient” experience. It’s very easy to set up and using Alexa to navigate is a breeze. The new Amazon Fire TV Omni is a big improvement over last year’s model, particularly when it comes to the screen, and its current price cut makes it an even better deal for its capabilities and size.

    .

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: