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You've heard of "fire sales"? Get ready for a Fire TV fire sale. In honor of Black Friday, Amazon has slashed the prices of four big screens, all of them smart, all of them brand-new.
And by that I literally mean "new brand": Just a couple months ago, Amazon introduced the 4-Series and Omni Series, the company's first TVs. (Best Buy has been doing this for a while with its Insignia brand.) Already competitively priced, these discounts represent some pretty significant savings.
OK, but what are the differences between these two series, and which of the four models should you pick? Let me queue up the deals for you, then circle back with the answers.
First things first: Obviously your budget and available space will be the main deciding factors for which series and size you choose.
If space isn't a consideration, you'll never regret going with a larger screen. Either way, there's only $30 separating the 4-Series and Omni Series — and if that won't break your bank, I do recommend the latter.
Why? Although the two series are very similar, especially at these sizes (the 65- and 75-inch Omni models add image-enhancing Dolby Vision to the mix, but that spec isn't available here), the Omni stands out with a few key advantages — starting with hands-free Alexa.
That means you can say, "Alexa, turn on the TV," or "Alexa, go to Netflix," without having to touch anything. In other words, the Omni works just like an Amazon Echo smart speaker or display. With the 4-Series, you have to pick up the remote, press a button, then speak your command.
Such a hardship! OK, not really, but there's no debating the indulgent convenience of a totally hands-free Alexa experience. The Omni Series also has a physical button you can press to disable the microphones, just in case you have privacy concerns.
Other Omni advantages: picture-in-picture support for, say, checking out your Ring video doorbell feed while watching a show, and USB-webcam support for Zoom and other video calls. (Of course, nearly any TV can do this via products like the Facebook Portal TV.)
Why a Fire TV and not a Roku TV?
Great question! Amazon's Fire OS, which is baked into these and other TVs (as well as Fire TV streaming sticks), provides the user interface for accessing all the different streaming apps (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon's own Prime Video, etc.).
I actually find the Roku interface a little easier to understand and navigate, but Fire OS offers one big advantage: games. Using either the TV remote or a sold-separately game controller, Fire TVs let you play Candy Crush, Crossy Road, dozens of Jackbox party games and more.
On the other hand, Roku supports AirPlay and Google Cast, while Fire TV does not. You can mirror your phone or tablet to the Fire TV to show off photos or the like, but it's not as easy or convenient.
Alas, I haven't had any hands-on time with either of Amazon's new TVs, but I'm seeing mostly positive reviews from customers and professionals alike. These are budget models, no question, but absolutely good enough for everyday entertainment.
If you're holding out for something larger, stay tuned: They're not discounted now, but I'm quite certain the 65- and 75-inch Omni Series models will go on sale soon.
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