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AI Businesses Television Entertainment

Amazon Targets Cord Cutters With First-Ever Integrated Fire TV Sets (variety.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon is going to start shipping TV sets powered by the company's own smart TV operating system soon: The company began listing Element's Fire TV Edition TV sets for pre-order Tuesday, and is expected to start shipping them next month, when the devices will also reach other retailers. Amazon and Element as well as Element's sister company Westinghouse first announced Fire TV-based TV sets at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year. Now, the companies shared a number of additional details, including pricing. Element's 43-inch Fire TV Edition will retail for $449. A 50-inch model and a 55-inch model will cost $549 and $649, respectively, and a $65-inch model will retail for $899. Each of these devices support 4K video, and pack a quad-core processor, 4GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage for apps -- beefed-up specs that won't just guarantee smooth app performance and streaming, according to Amazon's VP of Smart TVs Sandeep Gupta, but are also meant to future-proof the device. "It will have a longer life cycle than a regular smart TV," he told Variety during a recent interview. The interface of the TV is virtually identical to that of a Fire TV box or stick, save for a few differences. There are extra tiles that let users switch their input devices to access game consoles, Blu-ray players and cable boxes.
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Amazon Targets Cord Cutters With First-Ever Integrated Fire TV Sets

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  • by RevDisk ( 740008 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2017 @03:48PM (#54429117) Journal
    $65 model, eh?

    Pricing isn't terrible and I expect they'll sell. I like my loss-leader Fire 7 inch tablet, which I put the play store on with exactly two commands. I prefer dumb TVs with separate media player boxes (I have a Roku) but some people like one unit.

    Amazon would be hard pressed to do a work job than many other 'smart TVs'.
    • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Wednesday May 17, 2017 @03:52AM (#54432283)

      I prefer dumb TVs with separate media player boxes (I have a Roku) but some people like one unit.

      Perhaps that is so, but in the end it is about what you will be able to buy, which most likely will be only 'smart' TVs. To anybody with a little bit of knowledge, it is clear that there is no advantage to the consumer in buying a TV with a built-in computer, over which you have little to no influence in terms of what OS and applications you get; you can get the same functionality through any PC without the tie-in, and with the liberty to use your generic computer for whatever you like - and to replace or upgrade it when you wish.

      It is a strategy many businesses have pursued quite deliberately for years - hasn't everybody had the experience of looking in the supermarket for some favourite product, only to find that it is no long available, because "There is no demand" - and as it turns out, there is no demand because they have decided to take it off the shelves; instead they want you to buy something else where they make a bigger profit and you get a poorer product. The same happens with all other products - consumers are usually not really interested in meaningless novelty features, but the producers want to ensure they have a rapid turn-over, and they want to tie you into buying their line of products to ensure a steady stream of inflated profits.

      • ...in the end it is about what you will be able to buy, which most likely will be only 'smart' TVs.

        That's my fear. For me, a TV has always been just a monitor. I don't even need the tuner, let alone any IoT crap. More and more, they're making devices that simply won't work at all without an internet connection. Electronic devices are becoming trojans for data collection.

      • To anybody with a little bit of knowledge, it is clear that there is no advantage to the consumer in buying a TV with a built-in computer

        Of course there are advantages.

        I have a TV with a built-in Roku. If it was available at the time we updated my parents TV setup, I would have gotten them one. Why? Because there's a single remote where you can change inputs on the TV, or fiddle with the Roku, or change the volume. There's no cables going here and there such that they have no idea what is what. It's easy. Easier than a Roku + Dumb TV in that you don't have a separate TV remote.

        That may not sound like a big deal to someone who is totall

        • by gfxguy ( 98788 )

          Agree about setting up for the parents (both in their 80s). For the record, I was juggling four remotes - one JUST to turn on the TV, because none of the codes worked to completely control other devices on any of the remotes I had. I do have fireTV, and found a programmable (point the old remote at it) remote that clips onto the side of the FireTV remote, so I was able to eliminate two of the remotes, anyway. If I'm just using FireTV I have the "combined" remote and that's all I need. I only need the c

  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2017 @03:50PM (#54429129)
    Curved, 3D, and Smart

    Fortunately the the first two (which were only to justify keeping prices high) are already doomed on their own merits.

    "Smart" though, is a cancer that's harder to get rid of, because manufacturers will even lower prices to sneak in the trojan horse that promises to track and force feed ads on you.
    • Just don't connect them to the internet and they work exactly like a "dumb" TV.
      • yeah but they come with the added costs. I like my roku and dumb tv setup
        • "Smart" though, is a cancer that's harder to get rid of, because manufacturers will even lower prices

          Or not, according to GP

      • even better, connect them to your network but NOT the internet, and they can stream media from your personal servers under your full control. Kodi side-loads nicely onto FireTV... and it can play movies off a simple file server.
      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Just don't connect them to the internet and they work exactly like a "dumb" TV.

        Unless the TV's system software won't let you switch to RF, composite, or HDMI input without first activating the TV over the Internet.

  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2017 @03:54PM (#54429161)

    Dumb as fuck.

    Their job is to look pretty and let me plug all the important stuff into them.

  • Support (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sanf780 ( 4055211 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2017 @04:07PM (#54429275)
    I know that support for Windows XP ended after 10 years or so, and most people were satisfied with that (not on this week, though!). But that extended support will not be there for this TV. Most Smart TV functions only get between one and two years of updates, becoming obsolete afterwards. So, buyers beware! It is usually better to spend a few notes on a set top box or a chromecast.

    As a side note, does anybody have any Android TV (e.g. from Sony), Tizen TV (Samsung) or similar? I would like to know if you still use the Smart TV functions.

    • I've never owned a smart TV where the manufacturer provided updates beyond a year. I consider the smart functionality to be a waste of money and a waste of electricity. I'd rather have extra inputs than any smart functionality.

    • my original kindle works just fine, thank you very much. (I just defended Amazon... ugh)
    • My family has three or four Insignia branded Roku TVs. They've served well for years now, and the software will allow me to plug in a newer Roku when the on-board smarts is well and truly obsolete. So long as we're still using HDMI and NTSC in the future, I lose nothing by getting a Roku other than the godawful remote control shipped with most televisions. The failure state is essentially that I'm going to change the wi-fi password, and pretend it's a dumb TV.
  • I had (long ago) contemplated starting a sort of neo-luddite (minus the smashing things, unfortunately) campaign against unnecessarily internet-connected displays, but was too lazy. Is there anyone here that would have actually gone along with such a thing? These things are advertisers' and snoops' wet dream, incarnate.
    • I tried to avoid "smart" TVs. I'm on my second one, but with the "smart" features turned off as much as possible. It was one of those things that was kind of a ding against the attractiveness of the TV but they otherwise had the features and connectivity (jacks) that I wanted.

      I was talking to someone that couldn't find a TV that wasn't "smart" lately. Apparently you have to look for non-consumer devices such as monitors for signage, lobby displays and such.

      • Your friend can find "dumb" TV's by adding "-smart" to their keyword search terms. There are still a lot of them out there, even on Amazon.

  • by DickBreath ( 207180 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2017 @04:20PM (#54429381) Homepage
    The problem with Amazon tech products is that their primary purpose is not to make your life better, but to advertise products to you. Products that you don't need or want. And if you do need or want them, you can go directly to Amazon and search for them and probably find them.

    I remember watching the presentation of the Fire Phone. I think that is what it was called. An Amazon phone a few years ago. I was thinking the tech looked good, but then it dawned on me. Every single thing they were touting was about some way to get the phone to try to sell you something. Newsflash: I buy a smartphone to improve my life, not to be an advertising platform for you.

    Even evil Google is realizing that the Chrome browser in Android needs an ad blocker. Google gives me an overall superior internet experience in exchange for seeing some ads I might be interested in. But I don't have to see ads merely because I bought a smart phone.

    Now why would I even want to consider a Fire Stick, let alone one built into a TV. No TV should be a "smart TV". The TV should be a dumb "monitor". That expensive TV will outlast several generations of "smart TV" boxes that will come and go over the life of the TV. It seems best to me that the "smart" part is a separate box I can discard or unplug when I wish. I'll take a dumb TV thank you, with multiple HDMI inputs.
    • And to that degree, I envy the dead. They have seen the last of advertising, and all the subversion that goes with it.

    • Unfortunately, the options for a dumb TV are limited to non-existent. Just about every TV worth a damn nowadays has Smart TV features. Best you can do is find ones that least get in the way of the functioning of the TV and plug in your own stuff.

      To be honest, I think this TV looks overpriced for what it is. That being said, if it is like the regular Fire TV, you will be able to sideload applications onto it, so there is that at least.

    • All of Amazon's hardware is conspicuously weird like that. I like Amazon as a store, but every single one of their own products, from the first seconds that you start learning about it, it immediately hits you in the face with a fart smell. And it's a fart that doesn't dissipate. You know that if someone gives you one of those things as a gift, you're going to have a fart smell in your life continuously until you regift it.

      Google, even Apple and Microsoft: they all make less-suspicious, more attractive stu

      • Google, even Apple and Microsoft: they all make less-suspicious, more attractive stuff than Amazon. Amazon is the worst.

        Clearly, you haven't used Windows 10. Its default settings make it nothing short of malware. I'm not even kidding - it automatically installs apps you don't want, shows ads for apps in the start menu, harasses you to sign into OneDrive, and constantly sends God-knows-what back to Microsoft.

        At least when you buy one of Amazon's products, you can assume going into it that they're going to use it to try to sell you shit. In that regard, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Amazon really doesn't seem

  • >" beefed-up specs that won't just guarantee smooth app performance and streaming, according to Amazon's VP of Smart TVs Sandeep Gupta, but are also meant to future-proof the device."

    Yeah right. If you want a future-proof "TV", then what you want is just a "dumb" monitor/TV with EXTERNAL content supply devices. Things that can be easily replaced, updated, shipped, configured, or added. Is it really that big of a deal to plug in a Fire Stick, ChromeCast, Roku, TiVo, AppleTV, whatever? I mean, it is no

    • That's true, but let's see Amazon's cards.

      They need to promise at least 10 years before EoL if they're going to address the big middle bulge of the market. At least compatibility and security, if not new features.

      To be fair, these are the people who make Echo and Kindle devices and they're either masters at building spy products or having their products not be abused as spy products. They _could_ do this right better than most people excepting possibly Apple and Google (though Apple thinks five years is j

  • I think talking about "beefed up specs" kind of misses the real problem of a device like this. The problem with future proofing a device like this isn't about specs, it's about open source and open standards.

    What I mean is, you buy a TV for Amazon's streaming, and then in a couple years, Amazon decides to kill their streaming service. Or their streaming service starts dropping in quality. Or they change the video format. Or they redesign their DRM. Or they just discontinue support for that product. O

    • Suddenly, even if the TV isn't completely useless, a large percentage of the features stop working. It's not like you can just switch it to use Netflix or iTunes instead (unless Amazon builds it in).

      Amazon says that it's just like using the existing Fire TV devices, which means they're going to give you Netflix. If it's sufficiently similar, you'll also be able to sideload applications. How I did it was to install ES File Explorer, which is in the amazon web store, then use that to install Kodi, then uninstall ES File Explorer. Now I can use Kodi to download, install, etc.

      • Sure, let's assume that they're going to give you Netflix. For now. What will happen in the next 6 months? 2 years? 5 years?

        My general point is that it's not about exactly what they're offering now, or what specs their hardware is theoretically capable of supporting in 5 years. If you want to talk about future-proofing things, the question is, what will Amazon support in 5 years? What will Netflix support in 5 years? We don't know. Amazon could cut off Netflix support tomorrow, and the owners of th

        • Amazon could cut off Netflix support tomorrow, and the owners of this TV might have no control over that. That's the real issue in "future proofing". Whether the device has 2 GB, 4 GB, or 8GB of RAM is insignificant in comparison.

          I mostly agree, with the caveat that if you can load Kodi on it, and it's worth it to you to fall back to Kodi, then it's still useful. That was the premise under which I bought the Fire TV Stick. It's actually plenty powerful for Kodi. For that purpose alone, 1GB is probably enough for most anyone.

          • Oh, I didn't know you could load Kodi on a Fire Stick. You mean you can replace the OS with Linux running Kodi? If the hardware is open enough to allow loading an alternate OS, that changes things quite a bit. Not that I'm a real tinkerer or would be likely to change the OS on a device like this, but having the option makes it much more likely that the device would continue to be useful in some way.

            • Oh, I didn't know you could load Kodi on a Fire Stick. You mean you can replace the OS with Linux running Kodi?

              No, I mean you can replace the launcher with Kodi running on Android. Apparently you can root, but I haven't bothered. Kodi actually runs quite well on the Fire TV Stick, I don't see why it wouldn't run well on the Fire TV TV.

          • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

            That was the premise under which I bought the Fire TV Stick. It's actually plenty powerful for Kodi. For that purpose alone, 1GB is probably enough for most anyone.

            I run Kodi on Raspberry Pi 3s, which have 1 GB. The interface is plenty responsive, whether streaming from the local Plex server or from YouTube. Kodi on the original Raspberry Pi was a bit more laggy interface-wise with the slower processor and 512 MB, but they still played 1080p video without a hitch.

  • Because my TV set is NEVER going to be connected to the Internets. And I don't have cable.

  • The interface of the TV is virtually identical to that of a Fire TV box or stick,

    Well, the Fire TV stick's interface is hot garbage. I'm definitely not interested, now.

    • I have Two TCL ROKU Enabled Smart Tvs and I rather like them. It has only been two years but I essentially get the roku interface which I would have used anyway at no additional charge. Now admittedly Roku could go out of business or maybe there will be a media player that I like better than the Roku, but it has four hdmi ports that I could plug other devices into so it is futureproofed as much as any dumb tv is.
  • You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

    To me Smart means that the tv detects which inputs have a signal and pushing the input button switches between only those devices. Smart means that if a new device starts a signal the tv prompts me if I wish to switch to that input (or show it in a small window). Smart would be having FM or Bluetooth audio as an option so I can listen with headphones. Smart would be having standard outputs that can connect to any audio receiver (optical, digital, analog).

    But yes, please put in a scaled down computer to s

  • by ShipIt ( 674797 ) on Tuesday May 16, 2017 @05:04PM (#54429637)
    Integrating televisions with other technologies never seems to work out. TV with VCR combo... TV with DVD combo... TV with Fire Stick Combo... Just buy the TV you want and fork out the $40 for the Fire Stick.
  • This will go super handy along with my Fire Phone!

  • What, are the partnering with Samsung?
  • The fundamental problem with "smart televisions" is that people tend to keep their televisions for many years, but companies are not interested in supporting their already-sold software for anywhere near as long.

    We bought an LG smart television about six years ago. The only software updates we've seen over the past three or four years have been to remove apps which are no longer supported.

    In the end this was probably a good thing, though, since it motivated me to disable the network connection.

  • The constant stream of Avderts on the TV screen stopped for an announcement.

    "Hey Winston Smith, you have not been a good consumer this month. You haven't bought anything yet. Play your part in making America Great again. Buy, buy, buy."

    At the time of the announcement, Winston was sleeping. His latest 16 hour shift at the burger joint has gone to 20 hours. Winston was happy that he'd earned enough to actually buy a new bed. The last one although only two years old had life expired and turned to dust in front

  • My TV is fine. I watch Netflix & Hulu on my Roku box. And I'm sure that I'll be using that TV for longer than I use the Roku.

  • Fire TV? As in, if you cut the cord, it will catch fire and burn your house down?
  • All these cable replacement services advertise with a super cheap rate...for a few channels more than what you'd get for free over the air. Often times it is not even live stream but only select shows. In the end you pay as much as for the cable package. May vary by region, but in my case I would have even paid more if I dropped TV and phone and only kept the Internet service, that then gets really expensive due to lack of combo discounts. Plus, I'd have to switch constantly between OTA, web, and app broadc

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