At Amazon’s Fire TV event in London this week, the company announced that it has sold more than 200 million Fire TV devices worldwide. It looks like Amazon’s Fire TV range is still going strong and there’s no sign of sales stopping any time soon. So what now? Only a select few TVs require Fire Sticks in their HDMI connections, and Amazon realizes this; that’s why it launched its own line of Fire OS-powered TVs in the United States six months ago.
And after a successful trial there, Amazon has decided to expand into the UK and Germany, with an all-new 2 Series Fire TV, as well as the established 4 Series and flagship model, the Omni QLED Series.
We spent some hands-on time with the Omni QLED at Amazon’s event, and while we need to test more thoroughly for our full review, we have some initial thoughts.
Amazon’s entire new Fire TV range leans towards the affordable end of the huge TV price spectrum, with the Omni QLED being the top model in the current range. Even as a flagship model, the Omni QLED starts at just £550/$450 and €600 in Germany for the 43-inch model. In addition to that 43-inch model, the Omni QLED also comes in 50-, 55-, and 65-inch variants that cost:
- 50-inch: £650 / $530
- 55-inch: £750 / $600
- 65-inch: £1000 / $800
There’s also a 75-inch model that’s not coming to the UK, which retails for $1100 in the US. Amazon is running a promotion right now though, with introductory prices knocking around 30 per cent off the price of each model, so if you’re already absolutely sold on this new TV, pre-ordering could save you quite a chunk of change.
The Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED doesn’t have the craftsmanship or state-of-the-art designs of the latest LG or Sony sets, but it’s far from an ugly TV. With its silver plastic construction and a pair of color-matched feet on either end, the Omni QLED keeps things simple and clean. It has moderately thin bezels around the screen and a small housing for the far-field microphones and ambient light sensor on the bottom bezel.
The TV looks pretty standard and isn’t particularly visually striking, but given the price and extensive feature set, we certainly don’t mind function over form.
It probably comes as no surprise that a first-party TV from Amazon is absolutely feature-packed, as the integrated Fire OS operating system already packs a host of features when popped into a Fire TV Stick. Here the Stick is integrated internally, leaving the three HDMI 2.0 ports and the single HDMI 2.1 eARC connection free.
You still get all the benefits of the Fire OS system, though, including a plethora of apps with the usual Netflix suspects, Prime Video, Apple TV, YouTube, Spotify, and Tidal, all present and correct. Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is also heavily ingrained in the system’s software and hardware, as you can navigate the entire operating system using voice commands via the included Alexa Voice Remote or the far-field microphones on the TV itself.
Amazon is also keen to use its Fire OS software to make the Omni QLED useful even when you’re not using it. A new feature called “Ambient Mode” was prevalent during the hands-on demo. This is a kind of glorified interactive screensaver combined with a sensor that detects when you are near the TV. Amazon includes a plethora of different screensaver image options to browse through, as well as widgets for reminders, smart home controls, and personalized content suggestions.
Amazon also briefly demonstrated an AI-powered screensaver creation tool, in which you can ask Alexa to create a completely made-up image; the assistant creates a visualization using AI generation. It’s a gimmick and definitely a sign of the AI-centric age we currently live in, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Moving on to the picture features, the TV uses a 4K QLED panel, something that was reserved for premium TVs just a few years ago. The addition of quantum dots should increase brightness and color saturation, although we don’t have official word yet on the nit count. The Omni QLED also supports an impressive number of HDR formats, including HDR10+ (and its adaptive variant thanks to the light sensor), Dolby Vision IQ and HLG.
With one exception, the Omni QLED also features full-array local dimming with up to 80 zones: the 43-inch model uses direct LED backlighting, with the full array reserved for the 50-, 55-, and 65-inch models.
Gaming on the Omni QLED won’t really appeal to hardcore enthusiasts thanks to the aforementioned single HDMI 2.1 connection, but that doesn’t really matter as the TV maxes out at 60Hz anyway. This means you can still plug in a PS5 or Xbox Series X for some 4K/60 gameplay, but you won’t be able to take advantage of the full range of next-gen features such as 120Hz. And we’re not yet sure if the TV also supports ALLM or VRR – we’ve reached out to Amazon to clarify.
All is not lost when it comes to gaming features on the Omni QLED, though; Amazon has announced that its online game streaming service, Luna, is making its way to the UK and will be supported on the Omni QLED. This should provide casual gamers with a cheaper and more manageable alternative to the bulky and expensive consoles available today.
Hands-on time with the Omni QLED has been both limited and fairly limited, meaning we haven’t yet been able to put the TV through our usual testing process. However, we saw some of the UI, environmental modes, short film clips and even some gaming on this TV via Luna game streaming.
It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise when we say that this TV certainly didn’t blow us away with its picture on first impression. It seemed punchy and bright enough during an ambient mode demo, with shots of impressive geographic locations looking sharp enough at a glance, and shots of foliage, snow and waterfalls all conveying a touch of drama and dynamism. However, there were some noticeable jumps and drops in brightness as room lighting conditions changed due to the adaptive brightness setting, which we hope will be ironed out in a future software update or fixed in the TV’s settings.
Of course, we’re not expecting flagship performance from an Amazon Fire TV – this set is clearly geared more towards casual streaming and as a smart home hub. To counter this, a plethora of 4K QLED sets from the likes of TLC and Hisense offer impressive visuals for the price and target audience, so we hope the Omni is competitive in our test rooms. Once we’ve put a review sample of the Omni QLED under closer scrutiny, we’ll be able to make a more educated conclusion – so stay tuned for our full review.
The conditions of the practical event made measuring the sound performance of the Omni QLED practically impossible. However, Amazon has included some hints for the TV’s audio capabilities in the product specs. All models appear to use a dual 12W speaker system that supports Dolby Digital Plus. There is also pass-through for Dolby-encoded audio, presumably intended for Dolby Atmos soundbars, via the included eARC connection.
From the brief moments we got to hear the Omni’s built-in speakers, they seemed to get the job done with ample volume and vocal clarity, especially when Alexa was speaking. Chances are you’ll want to hook up a budget soundbar to this TV to boost audio performance, as the speakers didn’t seem to carry much weight or dynamics on first impression. We’ll need to do further testing to make a final judgment on the Omni’s sonic performance.
Overall, it’s the software that’s the real star of the show when it comes to this TV, with the tried-and-true Fire OS doing most of the heavy lifting. This TV is certainly geared more towards being a lifestyle product and a hub for those who care more about deep smart home integration than top-notch AV performance. You can even think of the Omni QLED as a supersized Echo Show in some ways, with its built-in microphones, Alexa integration, and widget-based info displays.
Amazon’s Fire TV Omni QLED is a feature-first TV that clearly has a specific demographic in mind. A convenient all-in-one streaming and smart home hub with all the apps and services you need right at your fingertips, the Omni’s main priorities are smartness and convenience, and Amazon doesn’t shy away from that.
If the Omni QLED performs well in our full review, it could be a serious rival to some of the recent Roku and Google TVs we reviewed recently. However, it’s safe to say that it won’t set the world ablaze with next-gen features or advanced display technology.
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