Amazon Fire TV Omni QLED review: Great smarts, decent picture quality

Amazon believes that when you’re not watching, your TV isn’t working hard enough, and its new Fire TV Omni QLED line aims to fix that. With built-in hands-free Alexa, it can do everything a powerful voice assistant can. Plus, it turns into an always-on (or most of the time) screen that doubles as a very large photo frame, and it also displays widgets to keep you informed about the weather, upcoming events, and more.

Oh, and you can use it to watch TV shows, movies, and play games—you know, just like regular TV. With its QLED display technology, it can produce a decent picture. But that’s pretty much a second thought.

A smart home hub with decent graphics

The Fire TV Omni QLED’s 4K TV has decent picture quality. But it integrates Alexa better than other TVs, making it a powerhouse for managing your smart home. Ambient Experience turns your TV into an always-on display—for better or worse.

amazon-fire-tv-omni-qled logo

Michael Gowan/CNN

Amazon’s voice assistant is now part of many TVs — in TVs that run Fire TV OS as well as those that don’t, such as those from LG and Samsung. But none have the deep Alexa integration that Amazon-made TVs can offer, resulting in a more seamless voice-controlled experience. In many ways, using your voice to control the Fire TV Omni QLED is easier and faster than using the remote. You can use your voice to turn on the TV, start a program, rewind, pause, adjust the volume, and more.


Michael Gowan/CNN

Alexa on the Fire TV Omni QLED doesn’t just control your TV. It can manage your smart light bulbs, check your smart security devices, change the temperature of your smart thermostat—and if you live in a connected home, the TV screen can be the center of it all. Alexa works when the screen isn’t on, so you can queue up music or use the virtual assistant’s other features when you need it.

Other Fire TVs can do all of these things, though Omni QLED makes the experience smoother. The innovation of the Fire TV Omni QLED is called Ambient Experience by Amazon. This feature turns your TV into an always-on display. When you’re not watching TV, it displays photos, artwork, or other images—such as giant picture frames or screensavers. You can control how long images are displayed and choose which images are displayed, choose from a library, or use your personal photos. If you like the creativity of Samsung’s The Frame TV, you’ll love the ambient experience on Fire TV.

You can also choose from several widgets to display information in ambient mode. These include showing your calendar, suggestions for what to watch, and sticky notes that allow you to post notes on the screen instead of leaving them on the fridge or counter. These widgets make your TV feel like a lock screen on your phone – you’re never away from the latest information about your life.

You can set the ambient experience to only turn on the screen when it senses someone in the room. This helps save energy, but also feels a little creepy. When you walk into a room and the TV automatically turns on, you can’t help but feel like you’re being watched. Fortunately, if you don’t feel the TV needs to work so hard, you can turn off the ambient experience.


Michael Gowan/CNN

Given Amazon’s experience building smart speakers, it’s no surprise that the Fire TV Omni QLED delivers decent sound for TVs. Even though it only has two channels, dialogue is clear and even produces a bit of bass. It sounds as good as the Echo when listening to music. However, the TV doesn’t support Dolby Atmos and lacks any virtual surround mode. A good soundbar will be a welcome addition to your setup.


Michael Gowan/CNN

The Fire TV Omni QLED has the technology you need in a mid-priced 4K TV—a QLED screen with full-array backlighting and local dimming zones, and an input that supports the latest standard, HDMI 2.1. In theory, this should produce sharp images with great contrast and vibrant colors.

But the reality is that its image is very general. Colors usually look flat. It has better contrast than non-tech TVs, with deep blacks, but in many scenes the dark areas overwhelm the light. Image quality depends on the source content. For example, while watching The Lord of the Rings: The Lord of the Rings, the TV switches to Dolby Vision IQ mode, which causes the background to fade, with dull greens but lively reds. The TV produced good contrast on the 4K Blu-ray version of Blade Runner 2049, although some colors seemed oversaturated.

There are tons of tweaks you can make in the settings to help overcome these issues, but I’ve never been able to adjust the picture to be as good as it should be.

Other TVs in this price range, like the Hisense U7H, offer a better picture. The U7H offers a 120Hz refresh rate, while the Omni QLED can only hit 60Hz – something gamers need to be aware of.

It focuses on Amazon’s services and products


Michael Gowan/CNN

All Fire TVs put Amazon Prime Video content front and center, so this isn’t an Omni QLED-only complaint. But on the home screen, where it suggests shows to watch, you’ll see Amazon content more prominently than shows on other services. And you can’t control what’s displayed on the home screen. If you’re not a Prime member, the TV’s functionality or usefulness is greatly reduced.


Michael Gowan/CNN

The Fire TV Omni QLED is available in a 65-inch for $800 or a 75-inch for $1,100 (we tested the 65-inch model). If you want what it offers but don’t have room for that big screen, you’re out of luck. Amazon’s first Omni TV (without QLED technology) released last year comes in a variety of sizes, from 43 inches ($330) to 75 inches ($1,050), and the U7H ranges from 55 inches ($570) to 85 inches ($1,800) .

Amazon Fire TV QLED Product Card CNNU

Hisense U7H product card CNNU


65 and 75 inches

55, 65, 75 and 85 inches

Dimensions (for 65″ models)

57.1 x 33.4 x 3.2 inches

57.0 × 33.1 × 3.5 inches

Weight (for 65″ model)

45.4 lbs

43 lbs

panel type

QLED LCD Display

Large LCD display


4 HDMI (one HDMI 2.1 with eARC), 1 USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, coaxial antenna

4 HDMI (2 up to 4K @ 120Hz, 2 up to 4K @ 60Hz), 2 USB, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Coaxial Antenna


Optical Digital Audio, 3.5mm Aux, Bluetooth

Optical Digital Audio, 3.5mm Aux, Bluetooth


Dolby Vision IQ, HDR10+ Adaptive, HDR10, HLG

Dolby Vision HDR, HDR10+ Adaptive, HDR10, HLG


2.0 channel

2.0 channel




By producing its own Fire TV line, Amazon has the ability to innovate thanks to its deep integration with Alexa. Fire TV Omni QLED shows how a TV can be more than just a display – voice control is easy and fast, and can change the way you interact with your TV. Ambient experiences may also fill your life with more images and information – or you may decide to turn it off.

In terms of picture quality, despite having comparable technology, the Omni QLED can’t compete with other TVs in its price range, such as the Hisense U7H. But if you’re looking for a TV that’s more than just a TV, the Omni QLED promises to put the largest screen in your home at the center of your smart life.

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