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Amazon is working with affordable TV brands to bring its smart TV experience as well as its Alexa digital assistant to more people's living rooms. Originally announced in January, the company has kicked off pre orders on four smart TVs by Chinese manufacturer Element Electronics, including a 43-inch model for $449, a 50-inch model for $549, a 55-inch model for $649, and a 65-inch model for $899.
All four share more or less the same features: Each model comes with a quad-core chipset, 3 GB of RAM, a Mali GPU, 802.11ac Wi-Fi (i.e., the fastest), and 16 GB of expandable storage. Amazon says this should make them a bit faster than its top-end Fire TV box.
There's no support Dolby Vision or HDR but they all support 4K video resolution. In terms of ports and connectivity you get four HDMI 2.0 ports, one Component/Composite, one RCA input, an Ethernet jack, an optical out port, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi. There isn't a headphone jack built into the remote, but you can hook up Bluetooth headphones for private listening.
As you'd expect you can access the full suite of Fire TV apps such as Netflix, Amazon Video, HBO Now, Showtime, Hulu, Sling TV and others. If you plug in an antenna, the TVs will automatically download local listings with Gracenote and display them within the Fire TV interface. Since the TV comes with 16GB of internal storage, you can also pause and rewind live TV from your antenna.
You'll have to press a button on the Fire TV remote to talk to Alexa and you can have the assistant tell you the weather, control your compatible smart home appliances, play music on Spotify or do anything else you'd do with an Echo speaker. More importantly it can also do a few TV-specific things, like switching inputs, jumping to a specific channel, skipping episodes, and looking up when or where a specific show is playing --- if you search for "Gotham", for example, it'll look for it on streaming services you have access to and it can also tell you when the show is playing for free on broadcast TV.
Element's Amazon Fire TV Edition TVs are available for preorder today at Amazon, and early birds can get a $15 AmazonBasics indoor HD TV antenna. Target and Meijer stores will follow in June.