1 minute review
Amazon’s announcement that it would be creating its own TV series came as a surprise, but the company has clearly done its homework. Amazon Omni TV offers a bright 4K/HDR color display with smart platform and Alexa integration for a fraction of the price.
While we’d consider the Omni TV a budget model in line with the TCL 4-Series and Vizio V-Series, it runs much closer to a mid-range model with above-average brightness and color saturation. Contrast is still a sad point, and you might notice some screen lighting consistency issues like we did with our review sample.
For gamers, the original board’s 60Hz refresh rate and single HDMI 2.1 port are – and rightly so – likely deal-breakers. But smart home enthusiasts might find some fun in owning an Alexa-imbued TV that can control doorbell cameras and smart lights.
It won’t challenge LG OLED or Samsung QLED for the best picture quality, but if you want a budget-friendly screen with some useful features, Amazon Omni TV offers an experience that far exceeds its price.
Price and availability
The Amazon Omni TV was released in 2021 and is available in five different sizes, ranging from 43 inches to 75 inches.
In terms of pricing, the Omni TV’s list price starts at $400 for a 43-inch model, however, it can often be found for under $300. 4K TV for under $300? This is exciting in itself.
Moving to the 65-inch ($600) and 75-inch ($899) versions will bring Dolby Vision support to the table. Since they both stay at their original 60Hz refresh rate, don’t expect any improvement in motion processing, though.
From an aesthetic point of view, Amazon isn’t trying to do much out of the ordinary with an Omni TV. The 43-, 50- and 55-inch models feature black bezels around all sides and black U-shaped feet that support the TV near the outside edges, while the 65- and 75-inch variants have a silver bezel along the bottom and silver feet.
All models have a built-in Alexa microphone located at the bottom of the screen. It will light up when you hear the wake-up word (for most people, that’s “Alexa”) and you can talk to it just like any other Echo device.
Rotate the TV to the back and you’ll find a decent number of ports to choose from. There are three regular HDMI 2.0a ports and an HDMI 2.1 eARC port that you can use to connect your speakers. Obviously, more HDMI 2.1 ports would be better, but it doesn’t matter much considering this is only a 60Hz TV.
In terms of panel design, you are looking at a live LED-lit LCD screen. The lack of local dimming hurts the overall package, as this is something Vizio includes on entry-level TVs – we’ll cover the full implications of that in the performance section.
Inside the box, you’ll get a plastic remote control that can also be used for voice commands if you’re sitting far from the TV or want to walk into another room for a minute and still give the TV some commands, like changing music.
In terms of design, everything has pretty face value here. That all changes when you start talking about Omni TV’s feature set and performance.
Features is a bit of a mixed bag for the Amazon Omni TV. On the one hand, it is very useful to get a smart TV with Alexa voice recognition for a pittance, but on the other hand, you do not miss a number of subtleties such as Dolby Vision. Moreover, some of the advertised features, such as Casting, do not always go smoothly and may require some attempts to start working.
Let’s start with the good points. Setup is very easy, especially if you already have an Amazon account. Basically you’ll need to enter some Wi-Fi information and sign into your Amazon account to link the TV, after which you’re done. You’ll also get Fire TV’s new user interface feature right out of the box. It’s straightforward and easy to understand, plus it puts the content first.
Sure, most of this content will lean heavily in favor of Amazon’s own service, but it’s nice to see a row of recommendations front and center.
Despite being Android based, Fire TV is definitely a different beast from both Android TV and the newer Google TV that the company introduced two years ago. Ads are more prevalent on Fire TV and the entire ecosystem feels a bit confined to Amazon devices.
That last part isn’t too bad, especially if you’re using other Amazon smart home devices. The ability to use the built-in Alexa to turn off the porch light at the end of the night or turn on the front door camera when the package is delivered are useful features. Other TVs promise this level of integration, but because Amazon already has information about your smart home devices in the Alexa app, you can talk to the TV just as you would any other Echo device in your home. It is very convenient.
The other advantage of having Alexa built in is that you will be able to control the TV without picking up the remote. For us, it was mostly as simple as turning on the TV with our voice, turning the TV on to the HDMI 1 our Xbox Series X was connected to, and then turning off the TV with our voice when we were done with that day – no remote control needed.
In terms of connecting your TV to other apps, we’ve had some successes and some failures. Connecting to YouTube via Casting has always been tricky or missing (it often goes wrong), but we haven’t had any problems getting Spotify Connect to work after installing the Spotify app on TV.
In the image quality department, Amazon Omni is a surprising star among some of its more dim and less colorful competitors. Even with a normal out-of-the-box setup without calibration, the Omni TV shines with its bright highlights and deep colours. It makes most HDR games and movies look totally phenomenal.
This TV is clearly built for 4K HDR content, and that’s where things look even better. Playing games on the Xbox Series X and PS5 looks great, despite not being able to run at 120Hz. Shows like Chef’s Table and The Witcher (both available in 4K HDR on Netflix) come in vibrant colors.
However, while colors and luminance push much higher than their weight here, contrast isn’t the TV’s best strength. On gray screens, it’s easy to see where the uniformity issues are with the Omni TV’s direct backlighting with some LED spots shining brighter than others. This can result in lower black levels when viewing a night scene or in space.
Plus, motion handling is good once you’ve taken it out of the box with no apparent impact in any content we’ve watched – you don’t always get a smoother response when watching fast-paced sequences like a Formula 1 race or football match on TV.
You should also watch out for upgrade issues. While Omni TV does a decent job of taking 1080p content and upgrading it to fit a 4K screen, it’s not perfect. You won’t see any grain, but you may see a slightly softer picture than you would on a mid-range model.
All of these issues should give you pause, frankly, but for TVs in this price range these issues are often significantly worse. With that in mind, Amazon’s first outing is a hit in terms of image quality, in our opinion.
Don’t expect much from the Amazon Omni TV’s 8W speakers in terms of great sound quality. Dialogue was often hard to hear unless the volume was turned up to 40 or 50 and the balance was never really right no matter what audio preset or volume level we chose.
Just as bad, the sound reproduction is very flat. Again, this isn’t really common on a TV in this price range, but it does mean that movies and music sound a little less impactful than they would on the higher model.
You can of course fix this by adding a sound bar, but, as far as we know, you can’t make the TV go through a Dolby Atmos signal. You will have to stick with Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 audio instead of the 7.1.2 amplifier.
However, Amazon has one trick to help make the situation a little better for the nascent home audio enthusiast. Allows you to use your Amazon Echo as a surround speaker.
Setting this up isn’t very intuitive (you need to get into the Alexa app, then tap the plus icon to add a new home theater group) but once you’re done, you can divert audio away from the TV’s speakers to up to two Echo or Echo devices Studio and subwoofer. This will greatly improve the sound quality and is worth considering, especially if you have additional Amazon Echo speakers.
Should you buy the Amazon Fire TV Omni Series?
Buy it if…
You want a 4K HDR TV on a budget with a good feature set
The Amazon Omni TV doesn’t do everything, but at this price point, it does most things better than the competition. It’s rare to find a TV of this quality in this range, and Omni TV easily rivals some of the leaders in the budget category.
You are restricted to the Amazon hardware ecosystem
It’s not a necessity, but you’ll enjoy more from Amazon Omni TV if you’re already tied to the Amazon hardware ecosystem. Being able to check out your Ring cameras from your TV and using Amazon Echos as surround speakers aren’t essential features, but they are subtle things that Amazon users will enjoy.
Always check the remote control
It’s hard to use your voice for everything (navigating in settings is still better with the remote) but for folks who often misplace a remote, Alexa built into the Amazon Omni TV is a godsend. Being able to change the input and volume without tracking down the remote can save you valuable time and you’ll quickly find that you can do most of your daily tasks without having to pick up your plastic buddy.
Don’t buy it if…
You plan to pair it with your Xbox Series X or PS5
Disappointingly, the Amazon Omni TV is a 60Hz TV. This means no 120Hz refresh rates from the latest and greatest video game consoles.
You are interested in watching sports content in 1080p (or lower)
Another issue is that the TV’s upgrade versatility and motion handling are slightly less than par. It’s not the worst we’ve seen, but it leaves room for improvement that only a mid-range or high-end TV can provide.
You want crystal clear dialogue and impactful sound
Unless you have two extra Amazon Echos that you can connect to some giant floor-to-ceiling speakers, you shouldn’t expect any extravagant sound here. What the Omni offers is basic 2-channel audio with a power of 8 watts that just doesn’t pass through. In all likelihood, you may want to use the speakers in the very near future.
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