Amazon Fire TV Cube with Alexa is a Media Streaming Hub for the Home
Amazon today announced a new multi-media streaming solution, the Fire TV Cube. The new product acts as a hands-free voice remote, courtesy of Alexa, and the device’s eight far-field microphones can hear your requests from across the room. You can ask it to turn on the TV and pull up a show, and subsequently control content playback with your voice. Beyond the TV, it can control your cable or satellite box, receiver, sound bar, and anything else you can ask Alexa to control in the house.
Not A Full-Fledged Echo
While the Fire TV Cube doesn’t allow for typical messaging and calling capabilities, Alexa can still answer your questions and access most skills. It works along the lines of an Echo Dot if the TV display is off. Connected to the TV, though, the Fire TV Cube can act as an Echo Show and display relevant information on the screen.
The Fire TV Cube supports 4K Ultra HD streaming and HDR for viewing. It is worth noting that Amazon assumes that you will have a separate audio system. Since Fire TV Cube speakers are similar to those of an Echo Dot, they would not be ideal for home entertainment-system audio alone.
An Alexa voice remote, power adapter, ethernet adapter, and IR extender cable (to reach in-cabinet devices for hands-free control, if the Fire TV Cube’s infrared blasters don’t) all ship alongside the Fire TV Cube. It doesn’t come with an HDMI cable, but there is an HDMI port on the back of the Cube. One reviewer complained HDMI-CEC capabilities could be improved upon, since not all TVs support it, and not all as well as they should. The built-in IR blasters and IR extender cable aim to help mediate those potential issues.
Pre-Order for a 20% Discount
This bridge between Fire TV and Amazon Echo is available for preorder starting today, June 7th. Prime members can order it for $90 on June 7th and 8th. Afterwards, the Fire TV Cube rises to a list price of $120. This pricing is up from the $40 Fire TV Stick and $70 Fire TV. But, it’s built in speaker, far-field voice control for TV and other devices, and Alexa integration have raised the bar. Amazon’s push for hands-free voice control of media has taken another step forward.
If you’re trying to decide whether to buy one today, don’t bother asking Alexa. I asked her what she thought of the Fire TV Cube, since she’s shipping on board. She seems noncommittal about her new home, because she responded: “I don’t have an opinion on that.”