This new Fire TV beats Amazon's in one big way

Toshiba M-Series Fire TV on the wall
(Image credit: Toshiba)

There's a new Fire TV for the holidays with the just-announced Toshiba M-Series, starting with the Toshiba M550KU LED 4K UHD Smart Fire TV. It represents a major first for Amazon's smart TVs, with 48 discrete dimming zones for enhanced HDR performance.

The new M-Series is Toshiba's follow up to the popular Toshiba C350 Fire TV, which is also our favorite Fire TV model of the best TVs, and features prominently on our list of the best TVs under $500. The new Toshiba M-Series TVs go on sale this month through Best Buy and Amazon.

In addition to getting an array of dimming zones — a feature sorely lacking in Fire TVs thus far — Toshiba's new M-Series set is also one of the first with hands-free voice interaction. That feature, previously offered only on the recent Amazon Omni Fire TV models, looks like it will be a key feature on all of the more premium Fire TV models going forward.

With Alexa baked in, you can power the TV on, adjust the volume, select a favorite app or show, or search for new content, all without ever reaching for the remote. Far field microphones embedded in the device let you use the TV as a smart speaker, letting you not only control the TV, but also smart home devices and Alexa skills just as you would with an Amazon Echo.

While Amazon's Omni Fire TVs boasted Dolby Vision HDR support, we were a little disappointed by the HDR performance in our testing and review of the set. With no local dimming, there's only so much a TV can do with any HDR format, and putting Dolby Vision on the Omni series felt like an unfulfilled promise. We hope that the new Toshiba M-Series delivers where the Omni fell short.

In addition to local dimming and hands free voice interaction, Toshiba is beefing up the M-Series with a sleek narrow-bezel design, more flash memory for faster performance and boosted brightness and color quality on the display.

The Toshiba M-Series Smart Fire TVs will be available this month, coming in three sizes, with 55-, 65- and 75-inch models. The 55-inch will sell for $799, the 65-inch for $999 and the largest 75-inch model for $1,199.

Brian Westover

Brian Westover is currently Lead Analyst, PCs and Hardware at PCMag. Until recently, however, he was Senior Editor at Tom's Guide, where he led the site's TV coverage for several years, reviewing scores of sets and writing about everything from 8K to HDR to HDMI 2.1. He also put his computing knowledge to good use by reviewing many PCs and Mac devices, and also led our router and home networking coverage. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.