Photo by Chris Welch / The Verge
Amazon launched its own branded Fire TV television sets last month with attractively low price tags for a large, if underwhelming, 4K screen — and today, they’re getting the promised Zoom video calling app so you can chat with family and friends this holiday season (and beyond). While we noted that Zoom was missing at launch and merely “coming soon” as of December 7th, Amazon has managed to roll it out in time for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
There’s no camera built into these TVs, of course. As Amazon explains in its official blog post, you’ll need a compatible USB webcam to make it work, one with 720p or 1080p resolution, and the company only specifically lists the Logitech C920, C922x, and C310 as examples. And even if you have a good microphone on that webcam or a set of excellent speakers, you won’t be able to use them: Amazon notes that the Zoom app will use your TV microphone and TV speakers for now.
That said, it sounds like an easy way to put your family celebration up on the big screen, compared to the mess of laptop, webcam and cable, HDMI cable, and laptop power cable that I’ve found myself using to do the same thing. The video shows you won’t even need to dig through Amazon’s app store to find the Zoom app; “Alexa, find Zoom” will get you there.
Amazon also brought Zoom to its second-gen Fire TV Cube this July, though not the first-gen Cube. Its Fire TV Sticks don’t have a USB port to plug in a webcam, anyhow.
If picture quality isn’t important to you, the sets are on sale now. The two most popular sizes are currently $410 for the 55-inch model or $660 for the 65-inch one. For budget buyers, we’d probably recommend TCL’s 6-Series Roku TVs instead, but Zoom isn’t currently available on Roku, and you’d pay about $100 more for the set.