Three TV brands, Seiki, Westinghouse and Element (the Best Buy house brand), will feature TVs in 2017 that have integrated the Amazon Fire TV service. However, the integration is more than just the streaming part – it is essentially the TV OS and includes Alexa for voice navigation, search and commands. Tongfang Global is the Taiwanese company that now owns the three brand names; Seiki, Westinghouse and Element.
The Amazon Fire TV interface includes a very nice integration for controlling multiple input sources with a single unified navigation screen. This shows a few channels of content that might be coming in via an over-the-air antenna, cable box, Blu-ray player, or the Fire TV streaming service, for example. Previews of the highlighted channel are shown too.
Westinghouse spokesperson, Brett Hunt, noted that Roku does not have as much integration as the viewer has to select various apps like Showtime or Hulu and open them separately to see the available content. They are all integrated together in these Fire TVs.
The Alexa voice control allows voice searching and playback of thousands of channels and apps, manage TV settings, control Alexa-enabled smart home devices and access news, weather, sports scores and more. Alexa is starting to be embedded in many home products from brands like Belkin WeMo, Philips Hue, Wink, Insteon, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, TP-Link, Ecobee and more.
We tried this feature, highlighted at CES, by asking Alexa to, “switch to Blu-ray,” for example. What is unclear is whether only certain pre-defined commands are needed and recognized or if a range of commands can create the same result (i.e. does “play blu-ray” work just as well?).
Key product highlights for all Seiki, Westinghouse and Element 4K Ultra HD Smart TVs – Fire TV Edition include:
- Sizes: 43″, 50″, 55″ and 65″
- Access to more than 7,000 channels, games, apps and Alexa skills, including over 300,000 TV episodes and movies from Amazon Video, HBO NOW, Hulu and more
- Amazon Prime customers get unlimited access to Prime Video, featuring thousands of movies and TV episodes at no additional cost to their membership. Plus, with Amazon Channels, Prime members can now get HBO, Showtime, Starz, PBS Kids, and over 100 more services. They only pay for the channels they want—no cable required, no additional apps to download, and easy online cancellation.
- 3 GB memory and 16 GB internal storage
- Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Ethernet connectivity
- Streaming resolution at 4K Ultra HD (2160p), 1080p, 720p up to 60 fps
- One-year limited warranty and great customer support
One potential deficiency is the lack of a PVR capability. These are not HDR TVs, but value models. 2018 is the likely timing for HDR models.
Pricing was not announced but it is believed the 55” for example, will be under $600. Products should arrive in the May time frame. – CC