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Fire TV Platform Roars Into Smart TV Market

Element Electronics rolls out first integrated 4K sets with Amazon’s technology 5/22/2017 8:00 AM Eastern

After carving out a piece of the streaming player market, Amazon is joining the smart TV race as Element Electronics starts to sell a new line of 4K-capable TVs that are powered by the e-retailer’s Fire TV streaming platform.

Those TV sets also include voice remotes that use Amazon’s Alexa artificial-intelligence technology.

Element and Amazon are entering the fray with a baseline 43-inch model that sells for $449, alongside three other models: 50-inch ($549), 55-inch ($649) and 65-inch ($899). Those models feature 3 Gigabytes of memory, 16 GB of internal storage (expandable with a USB/SD card), built in WiFi and Bluetooth, four HDMI ports, and streaming resolution of up to 4K and 60 frames per second.

Those TVs will also be released under the Westinghouse brand, with timing to be announced.

Seiki has also announced plans to build and sell a mix of Fire TV Edition 4K smart TVs.

GETTING ALEXA IN THE MIX

The Element models, which come with a one-year warranty, will also enable users to tap Alexa-based voice integration to conduct searches, switch inputs, pause or rewind live TV, launch apps and control compatible smart-home devices.

Preorders started last week on Amazon.com (those products will be released by mid-June), with in-store availability expected to begin sometime next month.

In an effort to appeal to cord-cutters, preorder customers are also in line to get a free AmazonBasics Ultra Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna. Those Fire TV Edition smart TVs will support subscription- based OTT content, including services like Sling TV and HBO Now.

CROWDED CATEGORY

With an integrated TV strategy, Amazon and its Fire TV platform is entering a crowded field with a big head start. That group includes Roku and Google (Android TV and Chromecast Built-In), as well as TV makers that have launched their own smart TV operating systems, such as Samsung (Tizen) and LG Electronics (webOS).

At last week’s I/O developers conference, Google introduced an upgraded version of Android TV that features a new interface and a bigger focus on content recommendations. Google expects to roll out the upgraded version of Android TV later this year. Android TV retail partners include Sharp, Sony, Xiaomi (for the Mi Box) and nVidia (for the Shield set-top/gaming console product combo).

Android TV is also gaining some traction with pay TV operators. Sweden’s Com Hem will complement its current TiVo-based platform with one that uses Android TV, according to Broadband TV News.

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