Amazon Unveils New TV Line Designed Around Alexa
Amazon has begun making its own televisions focused on leveraging both the Alexa voice assistant and its Fire TV content design and debuted new features for Alexa on any TV. The TVs are branded as ‘Amazon-built,’ as opposed to the Fire TV Editions, which layer Amazon’s software over another company’s television. The announcement continues Amazon’s revamping of smart TVs as no different than a smart display with a larger screen.
There are two televisions in the new lineup, the Omni and the 4-Series. The televisions are likely built in a partnership with a TV manufacturer like TCL, though with more input from Amazon than usual. While sharing many similarities, the Omni offers higher picture quality in 43, 50, 55, 65, and 75-inch sizes at $410, $510, $560, $830, and $1,100, respectively. More crucially, it comes with a far-field microphone for hands-free voice control through Alexa. In other words, it can be operated like a large Amazon Echo Show smart display. The Omni can also connect to other smart home devices that use Alexa. The 4-Series comes in 43, 50, and 55-inch variations at $370, $470, and $520, respectively, and relies on the Alexa Voice Remote for voice control, though the actual commands are essentially the same. Both center the Fire TV experience the company has developed, with a supposedly more seamless interface because the TVs were built specifically for that operating system. Amazon emphasized how much voice control is part of the new TVs, in part because of how those using voice features engaged with content twice as much as other users over the last two years.
“We’ve reimagined what a TV can do by building it with two of our most popular experiences at the core—the intelligent always-available power of far-field Alexa, and Fire TV’s content-forward approach to entertainment,” said Amazon entertainment devices and services vice president Daniel Rausch said in a statement. “Our new Fire TV Omni Series smart TVs, with hands-free access to Alexa, make controlling your TV faster, simpler, and more natural.”
Amazon is also rolling out new features for Alexa on televisions, both its own and other streaming devices relying on the voice assistant. Viewers will be able to ask Alexa what they should watch and engage in a conversation on what kind of movies and shows they like, with Alexa offering ideas on what to watch based on elements like genre, performers, and awards. Those who want something faster can ask Alexa to just play something on Netflix from the home screen, and the streaming service will open and begin playing something its algorithm suggests they may like. The X-Ray feature is getting an upgrade and better integration with the voice assistant where users can ask who an actor on the screen is, and the information will appear on the bottom of the screen. Amazon is also extending its TV access to TikTok to the U.S. and Canada this year after a successful trial in the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. TikTok will play on a TV and offer a continuous feed for those who want it to scroll automatically through new videos.
The new TVs and features keep Amazon’s focus on expanding Alexa’s place in smart homes. The new Fire TV and Alexa remote augmented the existing service significantly earlier this year, centralizing Alexa as a precursor to the new changes. Amazon is keen to make the voice assistant easier for other manufacturers to incorporate in their products, whether it’s supporting an Alexa custom assistant or simply providing better access to Fire TV with a car designed explicitly around the streaming service platform. Taking some of the building in-house is the next level for that goal.