Better than last year, costs less

Amazon’s Fire TV Omni QLED Series 4K UHD Smart TV.

Amazon

I tested Amazon‘s new 65-inch 4K UHD Fire TV Omni QLED Series Smart TV. If you’re a casual TV viewer like me, the new Fire TV is easy to use and offers great picture quality for the price.

Speaking of price, at the time of publication it’s $550, about $250 off the introductory price, making it cheaper than last year’s model, which Amazon is still selling. There’s also a more expensive 75-inch model that costs $1,100.

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

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

Here’s what you need to know about it.

What is good

The new Fire TV fits right into your smart home ecosystem if you’re already using the company’s Alexa voice assistant through other products like the Amazon Echo. The TV has hands-free voice commands. So if you can’t find your remote, you can just shout “Alexa, turn off the TV”. More complex commands are also possible. I was able to tell the TV to play “the 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 had Alexa hands-free, but it’s still a nice feature and I was able to use it with ease. You can turn off the microphone if you don’t want to use the Alexa feature.

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

This year’s model offers a new “Ambient” experience that uses sensors to detect your presence in the room. It’s a little creepy in theory, but I now see the value in having the largest screen in my living room as a decoration or even as a place to display important information like calendar events and digital sticky notes.

Amazon’s Fire TV Omni QLED Series 4K UHD Smart TV with widget display.

Amazon

There are some cool Ambient Mode features. One turns your TV into a work of art. The art comes from a collection of 1,500 photos and artworks, including those from 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 QLED Series 4K UHD.

Sophia Pitt

You can display your own photos on the TV, which is a neat but common feature on other devices. You can customize widgets on your screen with messages, reminders, sticky notes, calendars, and add control centers for your smart home devices. I used the sticky note option to leave a reminder for my husband to get oat milk from the grocery store.

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 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 fairly robust 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 one here. The new Fire TV gets loud and the sound is crisp. Nevertheless, soundbars offer deeper bass and a richer sound.

What’s happening

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

Also, this TV isn’t the best option for people who don’t really like Alexa or don’t subscribe to Amazon Prime. All Fire TVs offer Prime content on the main user interface. You’ll see suggestions for shows to watch, like Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Power Rings.

As you can see in the image below, there are a lot of ads for Prime Video shows, there are a number of Tubi sponsored movies, and I’ve seen other ads frequently. It can get annoying if you are not interested in them.

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

Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series 4K UHD Prime UI.

Sophia Pitt

should you buy it

You’ll enjoy it as you delve deep into the Amazon ecosystem of products and services. I appreciate that it makes the biggest screen in your house useful with its “ambient” experience. It’s very easy to set up and navigating with Alexa is a breeze. The new Amazon Fire TV Omni is a big improvement over last year’s model, especially when it comes to the screen, and its current price cut makes it an even better bargain for its capabilities and size.

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