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Most TV sets you can get today are considered “smart,” which is shorthand for having preloaded apps for popular services like Netflix and Hulu. Using those apps is convenient, but its up to those TV makers to update them, and write new ones when streaming platforms become available. Ultimately, the smart part of Smart TVs should be seen as a bonus, which is why many people plug in dedicated media streaming hardware, which have a bigger app selection that’s updated frequently, and an easier to use interface.
One of the most popular media streamers is Amazon’s Fire TV, and the e-commerce giant has teamed up with certain television makers to build that technology directly into some TV sets. Fire TV sets have the same set of features you’d get by plugging a Fire TV Stick into any television, including support for Alexa, Amazon’s smart assistant.
If you get a Fire TV set now, you won’t have to worry about plugging in a dedicated media streamer, or wonder whether you’ll be able to access your preferred streaming service in a couple of years. Fire TV sets are a great choice if you’re looking for a set it and forget it TV that’s smarter than most, and can do more than allow you to stream videos on Netflix.
What Are the Best Fire TV Sets?
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best Fire TV set for you; below are the most important ones, which we considered while we were researching this list.
Size: Fire TV sets are available in a wide range of sizes, and our guide features sets between 39 and 50 inches, which are bet suited for small to mid sized living rooms, and home theaters. The Fire TV sets we recommend are also available in smaller sizes better suited for dorms or small bedrooms.
Resolution: The Fire TV sets in our guide have a resolution of either 720P (HD) or 4K (Ultra HD). Both can display a crisp, accurate picture, but videos available in 4K will look better on a higher resolution set. Our 4K Fire TV recommendation also supports HDR (high dynamic range), a video technology that makes colors look more accurate.
Inputs: A TV’s inputs (commonly called ports), are used to connect gadgets like game consoles to your set. All of the Fire TV sets in our guide have at least three HDMI ports, which is the most commonly used input available right now.
Smart Features: The biggest reason to choose a Fire TV set over a normal one is its smart features. Amazon says you can stream over 500,000 movies and TV shows via the various apps in its app store (be mindful that many of these services require a paid subscription). Amazon’s Alexa, which is built into every Fire TV set, allows you to use the TV to control smart-home accessories like light bulbs, and stream live video from certain security cameras.
You can also ask Alexa for answers to questions like “What’s the population of New York?” or “What’s the weather going to be like this week?” The answers will displayed on your large TV, where they’ll be easy to see. A Fire TV set can be the smart-home hub for whichever room it’s in, so you can make your home more high tech without having to get a dedicated smart speaker.
1. Insignia NS-39DF310NA21 Fire TV Edition
Insignia’s NS-39DF310NA21 Fire TV set is available in 24-inch and 39-inch sizes, and both options share most of the same features. We’re recommending the 39-inch model because it’s a better fit as the main TV in an apartment or large bedroom.
This Fire TV set has a resolution of 720P, which is lower than 4K, but still HD, You’re far less likely to notice the image quality difference on a TV this size. It has three HDMI ports, one USB port, an optical out port, a headphone jack, one set of RCA (red, yellow, red) inputs, a coaxial (cable) input, and an Ethernet jack. It also has built-in WiFi, so you don’t have to connect this Fire TV set to your router to stream videos.
This generous amount of ports allows you to hook up a game console, computer, and sound bar without any adapters or switches. Its lack of HDR support and slightly lower resolution make this a Fire TV set for casual viewers, not home theater enthusiasts, which is fine if you know that going in. Insignia’s NS-39DF310NA21 Fire TV set is a fine choice for anyone who needs a solid , smart TV for everyday viewing.
2. Toshiba 50LF621U21 Fire TV Edition
If you’d like a Fire TV set to use as the centerpiece of your home theater system, Toshiba’s 50LF621U21 is the right choice. It’s available in 43-inch and 50-inch sizes, but we’re recommending the larger one here because it’s better for more critical viewing.
This TV has a resolution of 4K, and supports Dolby Vision, the most sophisticated version of HDR (high dynamic range). Not all TV shows and movies are shot using cameras that can capture HDR video, but those that do look a lot more realistic. Shadows appear darker, which make scenes shot at night look better, and colors pop (without being over-saturated) in a way that looks a lot more accurate.
More and more videos are beginning to support HDR, including those available on streaming services. Because of this, Toshiba’s Fire TV set is an investment that will continue to pay off in the future.
Like Inisgnia’s TV, this set has three HDMI ports, one USB port, an optical audio out, a headphone jack, one set of RCA (red, yellow, white) inputs, and an Ethernet jack. It also has WiFi built in, so you can stream videos without having to plug it into your cable modem or WiFi router. Because of its appeal as a home theater TV, you may want to pair Toshiba’s Fire TV set with a higher-end audio surround sound audio system like Enclave Audio’s CineHome II Wireless Surround Sound Bundle.
If you’re serious about having the best possible experience when watching TV shows or movies, and want a Fire TV set because of its abundance of smart features, Toshiba’s 50LF621U21 is the right choice.