Look out Roku, Amazon's Fire TV streaming system is coming to more products than ever. The retail giant just dropped 15 new Fire TV-equipped gadgets on attendees at the IFA show in Berlin. Most of them are televisions destined for Europe and the UK -- including the first OLED TV with Fire TV, which will only be available in Germany -- but Fire TV fans stateside get their share of love too, with a Fire TV sound bar by Anker, a faster Fire TV Cube and a 65-inch Toshiba TV.
Read: Best sound bars with Amazon Alexa
Fire TV is a streaming TV system that competes against Roku, Apple TV and Google's Android TV. It has thousands of apps including Netflix, Hulu, Spotify and now YouTube. Fire TV is available in smart TVs by Toshiba and others as well as media streamers like the $40 Fire TV Stick. In CNET's reviews of those devices we usually prefer Roku, in part because of Amazon's relentless push toward its own content, but Fire TV has its advantages, including Alexa available via its included voice remote.
Here's a quick overview of the new Fire TV gear Amazon announced today, broken down by geographical availability.
Available in the US
Anker Nebula Fire TV Edition sound bar (preorder today for $230, ships Nov. 21): This will be the first sound bar with built-in Fire TV. Connect it to a TV and you can stream any Fire TV apps, no separate media streamer required. It has Alexa, but voice commands are only available by speaking into the included voice remote (which also handles TV volume and power) -- there's no hands-free, far-field-just-say-"Alexa" capability like you'll find on the Polk Command Bar or Sonos Beam. To get that you'll need to pair it with your own Echo speaker.
The price is $50 higher than the brand-new Roku smart sound bar ($180), but don't be surprised if it gets a big Black Friday discount. On the plus side, it works with Amazon's multiroom system and handles Dolby Vision HDR, unlike the Roku bar.
Next-generation Fire TV Cube (preorder today for $120, ships Oct. 10): This update to the original Fire TV Cube -- a mash-up of an Amazon Echo Dot, a Fire TV Stick 4K and a universal remote -- is mostly minor. The processing is more than twice as powerful, according to Amazon, leading to quicker execution of navigation commands like "Alexa, scroll right" and "Alexa, go home."
In Berlin we asked Sandeep Gupta, VP of Fire TV devices and experiences, about using voice for navigation as opposed to the actual remote. "The idea here is that you want a continuous experience," he said. "You want the option to use voice the whole time without breaking the experience by picking up the remote."
The new Cube also adds Dolby Vision and HDR10+ compatibility. Otherwise it seems identical to the original, which I really liked and, since my review, has added capabilities like drop-in, voice calling and multiroom music. Amazon is bundling the new Cube with a Ring 2 video Doorbell for $250 (a $70 savings) for customers who preorder. New Cube preorders also get an extended 90-day free trial of Amazon Music Unlimited.
Toshiba 65-inch Fire TV Edition television ($600, available at Best Buy starting in October): This is basically a bigger version of Toshiba's Dolby Vision HDR-capable Fire TVs that are already available in 55-inch, 50-inch and 43-inch sizes at Best Buy and Amazon. They compete directly against Roku TVs like the new TCLs, but at this extremely low price I'd expect them to deliver "just OK" picture quality. The smaller Toshibas lack the crucial full-array local dimming that sets TVs like the TCL 6 series apart.
Available outside the US
The IFA show is focussed on Europe, so the rest of the Fire TV gear Amazon announced is for markets outside the US, including Canada. Alexa is available in native languages there and specific in-country apps (Fire TV gets the BBC iPlayer in the UK, for example) are also on board. Here's the full skinny.
Grundig OLED TV with Fire TV Edition: Available only in Germany starting at 1,300 euros for the 55-inch size and shipping in October, this is the first Fire TV that uses OLED display technology. OLED TVs cost a mint and delivers the best picture quality on the market. This will also be the first Fire TV Edition TV with far-field voice control -- allowing users to issue "Alexa" commands (or whatever the German translation is) into thin air and have stuff happen, no remote required -- thanks to eight built-in mics. Grundig will also sell a version of the OLED Fire TV without far-field mics, presumably to address privacy concerns, and is also marketing a full lineup of non-OLED Fire TVs.
Anker Nebula Fire TV Edition sound bar: Identical to the US version aside from which apps it can access, it will also ship Nov. 21 and costs £180 in the UK and 210 euros in Germany. It's also coming to Canada for C$270.
Next-generation Fire TV Cube: Again, the same as the US version above aside from app access, it will also ship Oct. 10 and costs £110 in the UK, 120 euros in Germany and C$150 in Canada. It's also coming to Japan on November 5 for 14,980 yen.
Other Fire TV Edition televisions: Brands including JVC in the UK and others in Germany and Austria will also be selling Fire TV Edition sets.