Amazon’s Fire TV box and Fire TV Stick are relatively inexpensive gadgets that you can plug into a TV to stream video and music from Amazon, Netflix, Vudu, and many other sources. But soon you might not need to buy a gadget to use the Fire TV software.
That’s because Amazon has partnered with a set of TV makers to launch televisions that have Amazon Fire TV functionality built in. They should be available “later this year” from Amazon and other retailers.
When I say a set of TV makers, I actually mean a set of brands that all have the same owner: Chinese electronics company Tongfang.
But you’ll start to see 4K TVs from the company’s Seiki, Westinghouse, and Element Electronics brands that all feature Fire TV features, including voice remote controls with support for Amazon Alexa.
The TVs will come in 43 inch, 50 inch, 55 inch, and 65 inch sizes, and each will have 3GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, WiFi, Bluetooth, and Ethernet.
Amazon isn’t the first smart TV box maker to partner with television makers to eliminate the external box. You can also buy smart TVs with Roku features baked in, or televisions that use Google’s Android TV software.
Overall, this may be more convenient than running wires from a box to a TV. But the lifespan of a typical TV is a lot longer than that of most TV boxes… so even if you do buy a new device with Fire TV features today, you may still feel the need to buy a standalone box in a few years if/when Amazon (or Google, or Roku) stops supporting the aging hardware in your TV set.