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Amazon Fire TV OS Goes Native For 1st Three TV Brands

Amazon is joining Roku and Google in embedding the capabilities of media-streaming dongles and set-top boxes into TVs.

Value-priced TV brands Westinghouse Electronics, Seiki and Element Electronics each launched four Amazon Fire TV Edition 4K UItra HD TVs, which are targeted to cord cutters. They run on the Amazon Fire TV OS, access the same Cloud-based content as Fire TV media streamers, and integrate over-the-air TV channels, streaming content, and apps into a single onscreen interface. The UI makes it unnecessary to toggle between separate streaming and over-air broadcast menus, the company said.

The TVs can also be controlled by voice via an Alexa-enabled remote.

Each brand, owned by Tongfang Global of Diamond Bar, Calif., will offer 43-, 50-, 55- and 65-inch Fire-equipped TVs, which will be available before the end of the second quarter. Prices weren’t disclosed.

Element TVs are available in such chains as Walmart, Target and Meijer. Westinghouse TVs are primarily sold through Best Buy and Target, and Seiki TVs are primarily sold through Amazon and hhgregg, said Tongfang marketing VP Sung Choi.

The Fire TV models will offer some features not available in the Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV set-top box, including the integration of streaming and over-the-air TV content into a single UI. The TVs also sport a different look and feel plus more memory, a spokesman said.

The TVs’ Alexa Voice Remote taps the Alexa Voice Service to enable natural-language voice control of the TVs’ media-streaming apps, over-the-air channel changing, and “skills,” including control of smart-home devices from more than 50 companies, including select Samsung and GE major appliances.

A total of more than 3,000 skills can be activated by voice with voice responses, including purchasing items on Amazon, ordering an Uber ride or Domino’s pizza, asking questions of Wikipedia, creating shopping lists, checking personal calendars, getting traffic reports and the like.

Consumers can use their voice to select more than 300,000 TV episodes and movies available through the TVs’ video apps, including Amazon Video, Netflix, HBO Go, Showtime Anytime and Sling TV, which offers live TV-channel streaming.