A year after starting to offer its own TVs, Amazon is expanding its lineup with more expensive and advanced options. The Fire TV Omni QLED series announced yesterday at Amazon’s invite-only hardware event shows the tech giant is upping the ante with quantum dot displays and more advanced smart home features.
The first Amazon-branded TVs arrived last September, ranging from the more budget-friendly Series 4, which originally started at $370 for 43-inches, and the Omni Series, which originally cost $1,100 for the largest model, at 75 inches. 4K TVs aren’t particularly unique. These are HDR TVs and include HDMI 2.1, with eARC for the soundbars, and offer variable refresh rates of just 48-60Hz at 4K. Amazon Alexa is also present, of course. Alexa can work when TVs are off, enable voice control, and work with Alexa Routines, but isn’t exclusive to Amazon among modern TVs.
Amazon pays a little more attention to image quality with the Omni QLED series; however, it still avoids specific claims, such as brightness or color coverage specifications. The new 65-inch and 75-inch TVs use Samsung Display’s QLED technology with quantum dots for a claimed boost in color, along with full local dimming to boost contrast.
We won’t know how well local dimming on Omni QLED TVs works until we see them in person, but they at least include enough dimming zones to compare to TV’s biggest players, like Samsung. Samsung’s 2022 65-inch QLED TV, the Q80B, has 48 dimming zones, according to reviewer Rtings, while carrying a higher MSRP ($1,200).
Amazon could have squeezed a lot more dimming zones into the new displays if it had opted for a Mini LED backlight. Samsung’s 65-inch QN95B ($2,600 MSRP), for example, is said to have 720 dimming zones with its Mini LED backlight. And Amazon isn’t getting into more expensive Micro LED or OLED territory just yet.
Amazon has also added support for Dolby Vision IQ and HDR10+ Adaptive, which uses the TV’s ambient light sensor to adjust brightness based on room lighting. Like previous TVs from Amazon, the new ones also support HDR10+ and HLG HDR formats.
Sensors, widgets and paints
Amazon’s latest TVs also include features grouped under an umbrella presented by Amazon as the Ambient Experience. It starts with presence sensors that can turn on the TV when someone enters the room.
“Instead of a blank screen, the TV uses the power of Alexa to let you see useful information, manage your smart home, listen to or discover new content, and view artwork or family photos,” the Amazon announcement explained.
It pointed to a catalog of 1,500 “gallery-quality art” images and images offered to users for viewing on TVs, though not in such an artistic build as Samsung’s The Frame TV.
In an educational twist, users can ask Alexa questions about images in the catalog or even questions about personal photos, like when the photo was taken.
The new TVs can also display Alexa widgets, such as calendar, reminders and sticky notes, and control supported smart home devices, like Amazon Ring. It’s like having a full-size Echo Show 15, including audio streaming apps, like Spotify and Apple Podcasts.
Amazon’s announcement claimed that you can mute the TVs far-field microphone with a switch, as well as disable other ambient experience features, like presence detection.
Amazon’s QLED TVs will start shipping Oct. 27 at $800 for 65-inches and $1,100 for 75-inches.
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