Amazon’s own line of TVs with Fire TV-OS and Freeview Play built-in is finally coming to the UK, with three different models and various sizes and price points.
The Fire TV tellies (that is – actual TV sets) have been quite popular in the US in recent years, but have been sorely missing from the UK – where only a handful of models, manufactured by 3rd party companies like JVC and Thosiba, were being sold.
Today, Amazon finally announced that its in-house Fire TV sets are coming to the UK, and are already available for pre-order, with deliveries starting on April 15.
Three different models are now available in the UK – including the high-end Omni QLED Series, the mid-range Fire TV 4-Series, and the brand new, budget-priced Fire TV 2-Series (see my first impressions below).
Prices start at £249.99 for the 32″ 720p model, and go up to £1,000 for the 65″ 4K QLED model.
For a limited time, Amazon is offering introductory pre-order discounts of up to £300, depending on the model you buy.
Amazon’s Fire-TV powered televisions combine a TV set with a Fire TV streaming device in one. The TVs also support Freeview (when you connect an aerial), and Freeview Play, with regular support for catch-up programming via the broadcasters’ streaming apps (iPlayer, ITVX etc.)
To be clear, these TVs don’t support Freeview-via-streaming, unlike Sky Glass, for example – and you still need an aerial for live Freeview channels that don’t currently have their own app (see our Fire TV Omni VS Sky Glass comparison).
All models include Amazon’s Fire TV remote, which adds several dedicated TV-related buttons, a shortcut button for Freeview Play, and the standard Alexa voice search button.
Fire TV Omni QLED Series
Amazon’s top-of-the-line Fire TV series has been available in the US for more than a year, and is now finally coming to the UK (along with Amazon’s cloud gaming service – Luna).
The Omni QLED Series features a 4K QLED display with full-array local dimming of up to 80 zones (depending on model size) and offers built-in support for HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision IQ, and HDR10+ Adaptive.
The series’ Adaptive Brightness feature uses an ambient light sensor to dynamically change brightness levels, providing optimal contrast across content sources, formats, and lighting conditions.
Therefore, if the light coming from your living room windows gets bright – the TV will automatically adapt its brightness levels. Then, if clouds cover the skies, and it gets darker in your room – the brightness levels with change again, even mid-movie.
The Omni QLED series will be available in four sizes, 43”, 50”, 55“, and 65” – and they all support 4K HDR content.
The TV serves both as a Fire TV streaming device, and a hands-free Alexa assistant, as it has a near-field microphone (so you can talk to it without having to use the remote – just like the Fire TV Cube or Amazon’s Echo devices).
As a Fire TV device, it will support the full library of Fire TV apps – from streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and ITVX, to informational apps and games (see our list of recommended Fire TV apps).
And with this being a huge screen that sits in your living room, Amazon is also introducing the ‘Ambient Experience’ – which uses the screen to show personalised art, photos and widgets.
The Fire TV Ambient Experience can be controlled hands-free and includes:
Alexa Widgets: Powered by Alexa and similar to what you can find on the Amazon Echo Show 15, widgets are optimised for the TV, providing glanceable information to keep you informed throughout the day.
So you can see your schedule with Calendars and Reminders, leave Sticky Notes for other family members, control other smart devices like a thermostat or a Ring doorbell, receive TV recommendations and more.
Widgets can be customised, collapsed, or expanded to match what your home needs.
Dynamic Art: The Fire TV Ambient Experience also features dynamic art and new backgrounds, which adapt to your current environment – based on temperature, time of day, proximity, weather, and more – to showcase novel pieces of art, purpose-built for you.
Gallery-quality art, motion backgrounds and personal photos: With no monthly subscription required, you can turn your Omni QLED Series into an in-home art gallery, with free access to a growing collection of more than 1,700 gallery-quality photos and curated art pieces (including art from the UK galleries and museums).
The Omni series is already available for pre-order, with the 65″ available for delivery on April 15. The 43″, 50″ and 55″ models will be available for delivery starting June 1.
- Omni Series 65″ TV – Check Price
- Omni Series 55″ TV – Check Price
- Omni Series 50″ TV – Check Price
- Omni Series 43″ TV – Check Price
Fire TV 4-Series
The Fire TV 4-Series, is a mid-range offer from Amazon, with prices starting at £429.99 for the 4K 43″ model.
The series combines 4K UHD resolution with HDR10 and HLG, and includes the Alexa Voice Remote to easily find, launch, and control your content or check the weather, sports, and more.
Unlike the Omni series, the 4-Series doesn’t have a hands-free microphone on the TV itself – so you’ll need to use the remote for Alexa-powered voice commands and searches.
The lineup includes 43″, 50″, and 55″ model sizes, and features a fully-integrated Fire TV experience.
- Fire TV 4-Series 55″ TV – Check Price
- Fire TV 4-Series 50″ TV – Check Price
- Fire TV 4-Series 43″ TV – Check Price
Fire TV 2-Series
The all-new Fire TV 2-Series (it wasn’t even available in the US until today’s launch) features 32″ and 40″ model sizes, and offers customers affordable options to bring the power of Alexa and access to their favourite apps to any room.
The Fire TV 2-Series 32″ only supports 720p resolution (and costs £249.99), while the Fire TV 2-Series 40″ features Full 1080p HD resolution (but not 4K).
The entire 2-Series lineup includes support for HDR 10, HLG, and Dolby Digital Audio.
Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED Series UK – First Impressions
According to Amazon, TV sets with Fire TV built-in are the fastest-growing segment of the market.
And with the Fire TV being the most popular streaming stick in the UK – it was unfortunate that we had to wait this long for Amazon’s in-house TVs to reach our side of the pond.
But they’re finally here, and are ready to compete with 3rd party Amazon Fire TV sets, as well as with the various Roku TV sets sold in the UK.
During Amazon’s launch event in London, I was able to take a close look and get a hands-on feel for the localised version of the Omni QLED series. This is not a full review – but a few early thoughts.
While it’s always hard to judge picture quality in a well-lit showroom, Amazon’s flagship series definitely looks good, especially when you watch 4K / HDR content.
The promotional pre-order pricing is quite aggressive, at £699 for the 65″ – but even at the regular £1,000 price point, these will compete nicely in the mid-to-high-range segment of the market.
Fire TV users will feel right at home, with Amazon’s rich (and, I would say – cluttered) interface being at the forefront of the TV. So you don’t have to switch to a USB stick – the Fire TV OS is right there, ready for you to use with your favourite streaming apps (though there are quite a few ports on the side of the TV – depending on the size and model).
Amazon’s “Ambient Experience” (which only works on the Omni series for some reason – and not on the 4 and 2 series models), is – let’s face it – a glorified screen saver.
But if you’re willing to leave your TV on any time someone’s in the room (and the TV’s sensors can turn it on and off automatically when someone steps into the living room), it’ll be a beautiful screen saver (if you choose to show art).
The ‘Widgets’ for the TV can also be useful – with a calendar widget and a Notes widget, for example, that sync with your phone/PC and other Alexa devices.
It’s handy on a kitchen-based device like the Echo Show – but in a living-room TV, do you really want all your guests to see your proctologist appointments?
The hands-free experience (a la Echo or the Fire TV Cube) is quite useful. You can even use it when an art piece is shown on the screen – to ask Alexa what it is exactly that you’re looking at.
You can also control the TV and the remote’s functions with your voice – without having to press the Alexa button on the remote.
Granted, it will always be easier to just press the Volume Up button on the remote – but asking Alexa to bring up and start playing a specific film on Prime Video, for example, is indeed useful.
Furthermore, we were shown a sneak peek of a feature that will be coming later this year – AI Images. Yep, with AI being all the rage these days, Amazon’s Omni TV is jumping on that bandwagon – and you will be able to ask Alexa to “create” an image for you – using your voice prompts – and then use that image as your screensaver.
Another common sore point for many Smart TVs is the speed – and, thankfully, the interface feels fast – switching between screens, apps and live channels is quite snappy.
Keep in mind, things may slow down a bit on the 2-Series, as cheaper TVs often have weaker CPUs – but I haven’t tested that one yet.
Freeview Play On The Fire TV Omni Series
As with any TV sold in the UK, the TV includes a Freeview tuner – but you’ll need to connect an aerial for the non-streaming live channels.
In an interview I did last year with Amazon’s Vice President for Entertainment Devices and Services, Daniel Rausch, he said Amazon would be looking into Freeview-via-streaming, a feature that now exists on devices from Sky, Virgin Media and BT. Alas, that is nowhere to be found yet – not even on these new TVs.
However, Amazon’s Fire TV sets also support Freeview Play, so you get all the default streaming apps preinstalled – BBC iPlayer, ITVX, All4 and the rest.
The Electronic Programmes Guide (EPG) is integrated with the streaming side, so some programmes can be streamed instantly via their connected app, when you choose them on the EPG.
Just remember that since the Fire TV sets don’t have a hard drive, there are no built-in Freeview recording capabilities.
Unfortunately, as is the case with Roku’s Freeview Play TVs in the UK, the two parts – Fire TV and Freeview Play – feel quite separate.
You can’t, for example, mark programmes on the Freeview EPG and add them to the Fire TV’s global watchlist (though you can add programmes from the standalone streaming apps, such as BBC iPlayer or ITVX).
It’s also unclear yet whether Alexa’s search on these Fire TVs is integrated with Freeview. That is – can you use your voice to search for the name of a programme that will air live on Freeview tomorrow?
That type of global search is available separately on the Freeview Play side of things, but I’m still waiting to hear from Amazon whether it will be integrated with Alexa’s search capabilities.
All in all, Amazon’s Fire TV sets have been sorely missing in the UK. And while it’s too early to tell how well they’ll do – or how good their displays are – they’re certainly a category to watch out for.
For more news about Fire TV and streaming, be sure to Subscribe to our free newsletter.