As an Amazon Echo and a Fire TV (dongle) owner, I love the fact that I can control my TV with my voice. I ask Alexa to turn my TV on and off, adjust the volume, or go to specific apps like Netflix or NBC Sports. I get Alexa to summon a live feed from my little Wyze security camera, too. It’s pretty great. Up to this point, however, I needed two Amazon smart devices working together to do this — an Echo ($100) and a Fire TV ($70) — but that’s changing today with Amazon’s newest smart device: the Fire TV Cube ($120).
To say that the Fire TV Cube is a hybrid device between an Echo speaker and a Fire TV dongle is both true and false. The small 4K Ultra HD streaming box is a smart speaker, like an Echo, that can play music and answer questions, and it can control your TV like like a Fire TV dongle. However, the Fire TV Cube doesn’t have all the smart capabilities as an Echo speaker, as it can’t call anybody and it can’t sync with other Bluetooth speakers. But it can actually do quite a bit more than a Fire TV dongle. Here’s how.
Since it hooks up to your TV over HDMI-CEC, the Fire TV Cube acts much more like a universal remote, allowing you to control many of your home sound system — sound bar, A/V receiver, and cable box — with your voice. With compatible A/V receivers, you’ll even be able to ask Alexa to switch your inputs and change the volume, which is pretty cool. The Fire TV Cube is able to communicate with all these devices — and control — because it has four IR blasters built into its four sides. For people who have stereo components inside a cabinet, the Fire TV Cube ships with a separate IR extender for just that purpose.
The Fire TV Cube is really optimized for the latest 4K TVs, but not all the latest 4K TVs. For high dynamic range technologies, it supports HDR10, but not Dolby Vision. It does support Dolby Atmos surround sound, however. If you’re looking for a streaming dongle that supports all the latest and greatest in vision and sound, the best will be Apple TV 4K when the new tvOS update rolls out this fall.
So, should you buy it? The Fire TV Cube is a nifty smart set-top box for anybody who wants to control their home theater system with Alexa. However, for the average person who doesn’t have a large sound system and already has an Amazon Echo and Fire TV, the Fire TV Cube probably won’t add too much value. Also, at $120, it’s not not expensive. But if you’re a Prime member and you order it today (6/07) or tomorrow (6/08), you can snag it for just $90. The product is expected to ship on June 21.
And just a reminder, if you’re thinking about buying the Fire TV Cube it’s worth double checking that with an Amazon professional that it’ll work with your current soundbar/speaker/receiver setup. Amazon says most should work, but checking with them couldn’t hurt.
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