Fire TV Cube, hands-free with Alexa and 4K Ultra HD
(includes all-new Alexa Voice Remote), streaming media player
Here’s what’s different
There are two main aspects of the Fire TV Cube that set it apart from anything else Amazon has released.
The first is hardware compatibility. Not only does the Fire TV Cube run Amazon’s Fire OS for streaming shows and movies from the likes of Sling TV or Netflix (among many more), but it also works with most cable or satellite set top boxes. Furthermore, it also works with sound bars and A/V receivers.
So, instead of having to switch between inputs or use different remotes to watch something on cable and go back to the Fire TV Cube to stream a show on Hulu, this one box controls everything.
Amazon uses a combination of cloud integration, an IR transmitter, and HDMI-CEC to control various devices. For example, if you ask Alexa to turn up the volume, Fire TV Cube will issue the command via IR to your sound bar to increase the volume.
ecause the Fire TV Cube is designed to be in close proximity of your TV or sound bar, Amazon suggests placing it at least 12 inches away from the nearest speaker. This helps the microphones discern what’s coming from the TV, and any commands coming from someone sitting in the room.
Included in the box is a small IR extender, which is plugged into the back of the Cube and routed to the front of devices that the Cube can interact with, but its IR signal doesn’t reach.
According to Amazon, most consumers have a set top box or a sound bar. Unfortunately, I have neither, so all of my testing was done using the Fire TV Cube as a streaming device only.
The second aspect that makes the Fire TV Cube different from previous Amazon products is software.
Beyond the ability to control your cable box, switch between inputs, or adjust your TV’s volume, the Fire TV Cube takes advantage of the large display it’s attached to: Your TV. For example, asking Alexa on the Fire TV Cube about the weather will display the forecast on the TV screen as Alexa walks you through the highs and lows. Playing the daily Jeopardy challenge puts the giant blue boxes with white text on your TV. And, of course, asking Alexa to show you a video feed from one of its supported cameras works without a hitch.