Alexa, is there anything good on TV? Amazon has extended its voice-based assistant to yet another device, this time a 4K LED TV that starts at just $449, and will be available this month.
The Amazon Fire TV Edition, as it's called, will not only call up program information from a variety of sources, but will also display results of other Alexa queries right on the screen.
For example, in our hands-on with the Fire TV Edition, I was able to ask Alexa for the weather and nearby restaurants, and the information was displayed on the set in a card-style format; I imagine you'll see a similar presentation on the Amazon Echo Show's smaller 7-inch display.
The Amazon Fire TV Edition will start at $449 for a 43-inch model; a 50-inch model is $549, 55-inch is $649, and the 65-inch set is $899. The TV will be available for pre-sale on May 16, and will be in stores in June. Those who pre-order will also receive an AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor HD TV Antenna (35-mile range), which retails for $14.99, while supplies last.
In order to use Alexa, you have to press a button on the remote, which looks much like the one you get with Amazon's other Fire TV devices. You can't use other Echo devices to control the TV, though, which might be a good thing; I wouldn't want someone in another room changing the channel without me knowing.
Amazon Edition TVs have Alexa built right in. Photo credit: Mike ProsperoLike its other Fire TV devices, the Fire TV Edition can pull in content from Twitch, Spotify, HBO, Showtime, Hulu, Crackle, Sling TV, and of course, Amazon Prime, among others. In addition, when you connect an HDTV antenna to the set, it will display not just the channels, but up to 14 days of program info, too. When you use Alexa to search for programs or actors, the assistant will amalgamate results from all connected services, as well as from over-the-air content. The set I saw in the demo was pretty fast to bring up results, taking usually no more than a second or two to display the information on-screen.
Specs-wise, the Fire TV Edition is fairly modest. It does not support HDR currently, which is kind of surprising given that Amazon—not to mention other content providers—now streams a number of shows and movies in HDR, which results in better colors and contrast. However, it could be added via a future software update, a representative said.
The sets have a refresh rate of 120Hz (native is 60Hz). Inside is a quad-core processor, an ARM Mali Multi-core 3D GPU with 3GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage. You can also record up to 90 minutes of TV if you add an SD card. It has 4 HDMI ports, two USB, optical/SPDIF, VGA, Component/Composite, Ethernet, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
While the Fire TV Edition won't appeal to those looking for the best picture quality, it could be compelling for Prime members who are upgrading to a new TV or for those who want to access Alexa in more places.