Amazon's streaming software powers new smart TVs

Alain Brian
Mai 17, 2017

Amazon is going to start shipping TV sets powered by the company's own smart TV operating system soon: The company began listing Element's Fire TV Edition TV sets for pre-order Tuesday, and is expected to start shipping them next month, when the devices will also reach other retailers. That said, at the end of the day, you're still getting a budget set here, along with all of the shortcomings of having smart TV functionality integrated directly into a device with a much longer upgrade cycle than a set top box. More importantly it can also do a few TV-specific things, like switching inputs, jumping to a specific channel, skipping episodes, and looking up when or where a specific show is playing - if you search for "Gotham", for example, it'll look for it on streaming services you have access to and it can also tell you when the show is playing for free on broadcast TV. While users can still buy an Amazon TV box, there's a new set of televisions with the abilities of Amazon TV inside. Or are you happy to choose your TV and then pick up a cheap Fire TV or Fire Stick?

The Amazon Fire 4K TV package comes with great access to numerous apps and includes a remote control with voice search capability and support for Alexa. Amazon has also tailored the interface to display visual aids when you're interacting with Alexa on the TV so you can see restaurant ratings and reviews when you look up the best dining locations around you. These TVs will also be sold under the Westinghouse brand (instead of Element) depending on market.

Would the presence of Amazon's Fire TV ecosystem influence your TV purchasing decision?

But the big feature of this TV is the software. However, folks must use the bundled voice remote if they want to use Alexa, since the TV will not constantly listen for the "Alexa" hotword.

Speaking of which, the TV offers a solid mix of ports.

This photo provided by Element Electronics shows a blend of streaming TV services and over-the-air channels on an Element TV. The world's first set with the Fire TV setup built in is now available for pre-order. It connects easily with dual-band Wi-Fi, built in Bluetooth, and four HDMI ports. But just like Roku TVs, the selling point here is simplicity. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks.

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