Amazon unveils new TV sets, including one built in-house

(Image courtesy Amazon, Graphic by The Desk)

Amazon unveiled its newest line of smart television sets on Thursday, including one that is designed and built by the tech company itself.

The Amazon Fire TV Omni bills itself as an “all-in-one entertainment device” that is built for streaming and traditional television, gaming, music and other media.

The Omni Series is the first built entirely by Amazon and features far-field microphones that work with the company’s smart assistant Alexa.

“Simply ask Alexa to tune to your favorite show and you will jump right into the program you’re looking for, without needing to remember which channel name, streaming service or input device to switch to,” an Amazon spokesperson wrote in a press release on Thursday.

Like Amazon’s line of Echo smart speakers, the Amazon Fire TV Omni can also control other Alexa-enabled devices like security systems, doorbell cameras, smart lightning and thermostats.

The microphones are always listening for Alexa’s wake-up word, even when the TV set is off, though users can disable the microphone with a switch found on the front-bottom of the device. A remote control bundled with the Amazon Fire TV Omni also includes Alexa functionality.

Amazon is hoping to lure movie fans and videophiles with the Fire TV Omni series: The ultra-high definition (4K) sets include support for HDR10, HLG and Dolby Digital Plus. An Ethernet jack allows users to hard-wire the sets into their modems, though they also come with built-in WiFi for flexibility.

Four HDMI ports allow users to hook in other devices like gaming consoles, streaming boxes and dongles made by other companies and video cameras. The Amazon Fire TV Omni sets also include USB ports, which will allow users to plug in a variety of devices, including a webcam for Zoom meetings — one of the first TV sets to support the Zoom platform out of the box.

The Amazon Fire TV Omni comes in a wide variety of sizes to choose from, starting at just over $400:

Along with the Amazon Fire TV Omni series, Amazon also announced two other Fire TV-enabled TV sets: The Series 4, built by manufacturing partner TCL, and a new budget line of TVs made by Pioneer.

The Amazon Fire TV Series 4 sets offer many of the same features as the Omni series, but lack the ability to make two-way calls over Zoom. They also do not offer hands-free voice control of Alexa, though it does come bundled with an Alexa-enabled remote control.

The Amazon Fire TV Series 4 are geared toward everyday use and come in three screen sizes: A 43-inch set at $370, a 50-inch version at $470 and a 55-inch version costing $520. Amazon is currently running deals on all three versions of the Series 4 when customers buy them before they are released.

The Amazon Fire TV Omni and Amazon Fire TV Series 4 will begin shipping in late October. The Pioneer TV sets come in 43-inch and 50-inch varieties starting at $370 and can be purchased on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy.

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