Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Review: As Middling As It Gets
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Our verdict of the Amazon Fire TV Edition Element 4K LED TV :
The Fire TV integration is solid, but the quality of the display is just okay at best. The Fire TV part makes this TV woefully overpriced and not worth buying.
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When a new TV hits the market, the first thing everyone talks about is how mind-blowing the picture is. When the first OLED screens 10 Reasons You Shouldn't Buy a Samsung Galaxy Book or OLED Display 10 Reasons You Shouldn't Buy a Samsung Galaxy Book or OLED Display The Samsung Galaxy Book looks amazing -- on paper, at least. But it hides a secret that no-one talks about: Its Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) display suffers from serious problems. Read More started releasing, every raved about the color depth, clear 4K, and HDR.

The TV we’re going to look at today is a bit less interested in that. Instead, Amazon Fire TV Edition Element 4K LED TV is all about the interface. Let’s be honest here: Element is not a brand anyone associated with high-end flat panel displays, but rather, it’s a company known for offering reasonably priced TVs, especially around Black Friday season. But Fire TV — that’s a brand that’s all about delivering your media with a solid, clean interface. It trades off high-end picture quality for a really solid user experience (it’s more or less identical to a Fire TV Amazon Fire TV And Fire TV Game Controller Review & Giveaway Amazon Fire TV And Fire TV Game Controller Review & Giveaway Amazon launched the Fire TV, a media center device not unlike the Apple TV, but with gaming as perk. Read More or Fire Stick).

Obviously, it’d be impossible to list off every single entry-level TV out there, but the closest competitor is the TCL 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV or the almost identical Insignia model from Best Buy. We reviewed a 43-inch Fire TV Edition, and it sells for $449.99. The Roku-equipped TCL and Insignia sells for $349.99, which makes it a much better value. They’re all 4K, none have HDR Should You Buy an HDR 4K TV for Gaming? Should You Buy an HDR 4K TV for Gaming? With console compatibility with 4K & HDR becoming more common, should you buy an HDR 4K television for gaming yet? Here's an overview of how HDR 4K TVs currently work with gaming. Read More , and they’re all just decent in terms of overall picture quality.

So does Amazon Fire TV Edition Element LED TV make up for the higher price tag with a better OS? Does it stand ahead of the other TVs in the picture quality department? Let’s find out – and at the end of this review, we’re giving ours away to one lucky reader.

Element Fire TV Edition Features and Specifications

Let’s get the boring stuff out of the way first — the numbers.

Element 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV - Fire TV Edition Element 43-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV - Fire TV Edition Fire TV Edition is a smart TV experience that seamlessly integrates your favorite streaming and live over-the-air content on a unified home screen (HD antenna required). Buy Now At Amazon

Let’s take a look at display specs:

  • 4 HDMI ports (1 with ARC support), SD card slot, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, component port, optical audio, RF antenna, and an Ethernet port
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 4K resolution
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • Available in 43, 50, 55, and 65-inch models
  • Dimensions with stand: 38” x 24” x 10.1”

Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Review: As Middling As It Gets elementFireTV6 670x447

Now, let’s run down the numbers on the Fire TV portion:

  • 1.1 GHz quad-core CPU
  • 3GB RAM
  • 16GB internal memory (supports up to 128GB SD card)
  • Fire TV OS installed out of the box
  • Ability to sideload apps

Do I still have your attention, or did the number talk put you to sleep? Don’t worry, we’ve reached the end of this part and it’s time to really dig in and look at the good stuff.

Element 4K LED TV Picture Quality

I’m going to make it simple: the picture quality is underwhelming at best. For some perspective, I used the TV in my bedroom and I put aside my 46-inch Samsung 6 Series from 2009, and I immediately felt like I was downgrading. Yeah, my eight-year-old 1080p Samsung LCD looks better.

The best way for me to describe the picture quality is to say that looks like there’s a film over the screen blocking the colors from coming through. They’re just a little flat, and regardless of the adjustments I made, I just couldn’t get the vibrancy I’d like from a TV in 2017.

Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Review: As Middling As It Gets elementFireTV5 670x447

That being said, none of this is surprising. Element makes cheap TVs, and there’s nothing wrong with putting out a device at a budget price point. Not everyone needs an expensive TV. A lot of users won’t even notice whether the picture quality of this particular screen is subpar.

In the grand scheme of budget TVs, this one is about average in terms of picture. When you spend a couple hundred dollars on a TV, you should go in with a certain expectation. The problem is that this TV doesn’t cost a couple of hundred dollars. The 43-inch model sells for $450. We’re going to dig into the value proposition soon, but this TV is about $200 overpriced from a pure image quality perspective.

Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Review: As Middling As It Gets elementFireTV8 670x380

Does the Fire TV integration Amazon Announces And Starts Selling Fire TV Set Top Box Amazon Announces And Starts Selling Fire TV Set Top Box Amazon have just released the Fire TV. Of course, while the fact it was coming was a surprise to no one, Amazon did have some tricks up its sleeve for its big reveal. Read More make up for it? Spoiler alert: a Fire Stick retails for $40 and a full Fire TV sells for $90…

Fire TV Interface

The standout feature from this TV is the Fire integration. In fact, you could argue that it’s the only reason to buy it at all. Smart TVs Is a Smart TV Worth It in 2017? 6 Things to Check Before You Buy Is a Smart TV Worth It in 2017? 6 Things to Check Before You Buy These days, almost every TV is "smart" in some capacity, but there are several important features to look out for! Here's why 2017 is the best year yet for purchasing a smart TV. Read More are notorious for terrible operating systems. They’re slow, hard to find what you need, and clearly made as an afterthought by the TV companies.

Amazon delivers a solid interface that’s easy to navigate. It’s simple to search, browse, and even play some basic games. It’s without question the best smart TV interface I’ve ever used.

That said, many reports indicate that TCL Roku models have a more pleasant interface, and while I haven’t used on myself, it does bring me to my major issue with this TV (and Fire devices in general): Amazon really wants you to listen to, read, play, and watch Amazon’s stuff. While there is a Netflix button on the remote are there are also two different Amazon services.

Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Review: As Middling As It Gets elementFireTV10 670x380

The home page looks great, but almost everything there is either a Prime video or something you can buy or rent from Amazon. The Roku How to Rearrange Your Roku Channels in 4 Easy Steps How to Rearrange Your Roku Channels in 4 Easy Steps If you have a lot of Roku channels, keeping them organized is made much easier when you know how to rearrange them to your liking. Read More is much more agnostic, and it’s not pushing anything on you (other than trying to get you to buy a Roku initially). If you’re into Amazon’s stuff, the interface is great and you’ll be able to get to a wide range of content quickly and easily.

The good looking OS isn’t without its quirks, though. In my testing, I ran into a few issues and annoyances. Once, I switched inputs and the prompt that told me I’d moved to HDMI 3 wouldn’t go away. I turned the TV off, switched to other inputs, and of course did the obligatory yell at it in frustration, and it persisted. Ultimately, I had to unplug the TV to get rid of it.

Another annoyance I have with the interface is that, by default, when you turn the TV off and then go back to watch later, it defaults to the Amazon Fire home screen. If you have a cable box hooked up and you want to go back to it, you’ll need to hold down Home and select the input each time. It sounds like a minor gripe, but considering the main reason you’re paying extra for this TV is the interface, it’s the kind of annoyance that shouldn’t be there.

Speaking of cable boxes, while the Fire TV adds nice support for over-the-air channels Plex Live TV: Everything You Need to Know Plex Live TV: Everything You Need to Know Plex has added live TV channels to its service, but what exactly is Plex Live TV? We have everything you need to know about this exciting new option for cord-cutters. Read More via an antenna (not included in the package), cable is separate, so you’ll need to use the aforementioned HDMI inputs. That means no voice control for your traditional TV and DVR.

Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Review: As Middling As It Gets elementFireTV12 670x380

The menu for tweaking settings is solid and works as expected. It feels like a blend of a standard TV menu and an Android device menu because that’s what it is. The included voice remote makes getting to settings easy, and finding them without voice is as easy as holding down the Home button. You can change the backlight, contrast, auto-motion, and everything, but as I mentioned before, changing all that doesn’t actually make the picture look good.

All in all, the Fire TV interface is good. If you’ve ever used another device from Amazon’s TV box line, then you know what you’re getting. But does a nice interface (with some kinks, as we’ve mentioned) make this worth getting in spite of the mediocre picture quality? That’s what we’re going to find out in the next section…

How’s The Value?

I have some pretty serious issues with this TV and the biggest of which is that buyers will see the Fire TV name and overpay. You can head to your local Target and get a 43-inch Element TV with 4K, the same 60Hz refresh rate, and three HDMI inputs (the Fire version has four), for around $200. From there, you can buy a Fire Stick for $40, and get everything you get with this TV, minus one HDMI port for $240. Compare that to the $450 this one sells for, and the value proposition is all out of whack.

Element Amazon Fire TV Edition Review: As Middling As It Gets elementFireTV4 670x447

But what if, for some reason, you just refuse to hook a device to the TV and you only want what’s built-in. Well, in that case, you can get a less restrictive TCL Roku TV for $349 — a full $100 cheaper.

No matter how you spin it, there are just far better ways to spend your money in the budget TV world, and one of them is even offered in the form of Amazon’s own cheap Fire Stick. From a money point of view, this just isn’t a good deal.

In a vacuum, this TV is pretty cool. It has a nice interface and a picture quality that’s on par with other budget TVs. But we don’t live in a vacuum and I just can’t recommend this TV to anyone know that you can get an almost identical 4K experience with the same interface for over $200 cheaper. Amazon and Element are charging a premium for the Fire TV OS, but their own devices separately are just better value.

Enter the Competition!

43" Element 4KTV Amazon Fire Edition Giveaway

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  1. matt
    December 2, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    Man that is a spot on review. Picture is NOT as good as my old LG but it’s fine. The default to amazon content VS HDMI is maybe a game stopper. I may exchange it just for this. As far as value I got a 50” for 299 at Target so that makes it a very good value. Oh. My HDMI 1 didn’t work. And HDMI port 4 is flacks in the handshake. I may need a new cable but never had prob before. So I’m a bit worried about quality.

    Anyway. Thank you for the outstanding review. Hard to come by and I will reference you as a trusted source on other purchases.

  2. jcastun
    July 25, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    I bought one of these on Prime Day. Received it on Thursday and shipped it back on Friday. I own several "cheap" TVs (Sanyo, JVC) so I didn't have the highest expectations. This TV somehow managed to still disappoint. Truly awful picture quality.