Great Alexa features but poor picture
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- The Omni Fire TV is one of the first Amazon-branded smart TVs to hit the market.
- It integrates Alexa for easy voice control and even lets you connect a webcam for video calls.
- The TV’s picture quality is poor, however, and can’t match competing models from TCL and Hisense.
from Amazon Omni Fire TV is one of the very first televisions developed by Amazon itself. With a built-in microphone and access to tons of apps, the Omni is essentially a 4K display, Echo Dot, and Fire TV streaming stick all in one device.
But, while the set’s hands-free voice control is handy, the Omni’s picture quality can’t match similarly priced TVs from Vizio, TCL and Hisense. With a list price of $830, the Omni 65 inch is just too expensive for what you get.
That said, the Omni rarely comes at full price. Amazon frequently discounts the TV to just $500. At this price, it offers better value, but it’s still hard to recommend unless you’re someone who really prioritizes Alexa convenience over picture performance.
Amazon Omni Fire TV Specifications
Amazon sells two different smart TV models: the Omni Series and the Series 4. The 4 Series is positioned as the entry-level model, while the Omni is meant to be the brand’s flagship (or top-of-the-range) offering.
Both series offer 4K panels with high dynamic range (HDR) support and voice remotes, but the Omni steps things up with hands-free Alexa capabilities, webcam support and Dolby Vision playback. .
Omni TVs are available in 43, 50, 55, 65 and 75 inch screen sizes, but Dolby Vision is only supported on the 65 and 75 inch versions. We received the 65-inch model for review.
The Omni is powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system (OS), so using the screen is a lot like using a Fire TV Stick. The home screen lets you see rows of recommendations, as well as recently used apps and recently watched content.
Amazon supports all major streaming services, so there are no notable apps missing. The interface gets the job done and works well, but we find the simpler, app-focused design used on Roku TVs easier to navigate.
Browsing speed is solid but can be inconsistent. Getting around the home screen is generally quick, but the occasional lag occurs when navigating through individual app menus.
Boot times for most apps are similar to what you’ll get on other streaming devices, but some services, like HBO Max, can take up to 20 seconds to load. That’s double the time it takes for Amazon Fire 4K Max TV Stick.
There’s also the occasional lag if you try to open the Omni’s settings menu while the TV is playing video. It can sometimes take a full five seconds for the menu to appear after clicking the button.
Despite the lag here and there, the overall speed is similar to other models in this range. But, with the Omni positioning itself as Amazon’s best smart TV offering, we were hoping for an experience more on par with the company’s. Fire 4K Max TV Stick.
One of Omni’s biggest selling points is its support for hands-free voice control with full Alexa functionality. There’s also a handy switch on the front of the display to mute the microphone for privacy protection.
You can ask Alexa to turn on the TV, change inputs, adjust volume, open apps, pause videos, scroll through menus, and search for content without ever touching the remote . Alexa can also answer questions, check the weather, set timers, and handle other tasks when the screen is off, just like any other Echo device.
Response time is good, but it’s a little more delayed than an Echo Dot. Speech recognition is also solid, but we encountered some issues with Alexa misunderstanding some search queries. For example, the TV tends to hear “Hulu” instead of “Vudu” whenever we try to launch the latter app.
Alexa isn’t a complete substitute for a remote, but you can watch plenty of content on the Omni without ever lifting a finger.
Video calling has become an integral part of many people’s work and personal lives, which is why Amazon has included webcam support for the Omni. Just plug in a compatible webcam (sold separately) into the TV’s USB port, and you’re good to go.
The Omni supports video calling using Alexa Communications and the Zoom app. Amazon provided a Logitech C920x with the TV so we can test this feature, and it works great. Thanks to the Zoom application, we were able to participate in a meeting with the family. The app works smoothly.
Compared to typical video calls on a laptop or phone, being able to sit on the couch and see everyone on the big screen makes the chat feel like they’re in the room with everyone. While we wouldn’t call it a must-have feature, it’s a handy option to have and it’s not one many other smart TVs support.
The Omni’s image quality can be described as entry-level. The TV lacks many of the handy contrast and color features you’ll find on mid-range TVs from competitors like TCL, Hisense and Vizio. As a result, it simply can’t compete with these similarly priced screens.
Most notably, the Omni does not support local dimming. Local dimming allows LCD TVs to lighten and darken in specific areas of the screen to create deeper black levels and brighter highlights.
The Omni only has a standard backlight, so the black levels veer towards a gray appearance when watching movies in a dark room. Brightness is also limited with a maximum of around 300 nits when using the TV’s “Movie” picture mode, which is the display’s most accurate setting.
That’s fine for casual viewing, but it’s not enough to really show the benefits of high dynamic range (HDR) content. Wide color gamut support is also missing, so HDR movies and shows aren’t displayed in their full color gamut.
For comparison, the 65 inch Hisense U6G, which often sells for $550, has local dimming with up to 600 nits of brightness, as well as quantum dots with wide color support. If you’re buying a TV with HDR performance in mind, you’re better off going for a set like the U6G.
That said, for people who don’t care about home theater-level image quality, the Omni looks decent enough. 4K movies look sharp, colors look punchy despite some accuracy issues, and the TV actually has solid contrast given its lack of dimming. Remember that you can find much nicer TVs for a little more money.
The bottom line
Amazon’s first attempt at its own smart TV is a decent effort, but it’s not quite up to par with the competition. At the list price of $830, the Omni 65 inch is way too expensive. When it’s on sale for $500, the TV offers better value for money, but only if features like hands-free Alexa and webcam support are strong selling points for you.
Buyers who want a budget home theater display with much better HDR performance should pay a bit more for the TCL 5 series Where Hisense U6G. These TVs have better picture quality features, like quantum dots and local dimming, for a typical retail price of $550 to $600.
If you really want the Amazon interface, you can also just pair a Fire 4K Max TV Stick with one of the screens above. You’ll lose the Omni’s all-in-one Alexa integration and webcam support, but overall performance will be better.
Advantages: Built-in Alexa support with hands-free voice control, video call capability when paired with a webcam, Fire TV OS with access to many apps
The inconvenients: No local dimming, can’t get bright enough to display HDR content, doesn’t support wide color gamut