Amazon's Fire TV Cube brings voice control to your whole entertainment setup
Most remote controls are loaded with buttons that you probably never use, and sometimes hide the few you do. Now Amazon has announced the latest in its line of Alexa-enabled streaming devices, the Fire TV Cube, which lets you bark voice commands at the TV and other devices from across the room, and access other Alexa mainstays like weather and sports updates.
Like the Fire TV, the Cube can follow voice commands to play content through streaming apps like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, ESPN, Fox Now, Showtime, Starz, CBS All Access, NBC and PlayStation Vue. To find or browse content, you can say phrases like "Find sci-fi movies," "Launch Netflix" or "Play Arrested Development," and it supports 4K and HDR-10 visuals, as well as Dolby Atmos sound.
The difference is that it can be used completely hands-free. The other devices are only voice-controlled through the Alexa Voice Remote, which involves holding down the microphone button while speaking. The Fire TV Cube has eight microphones built in, and uses far-field voice recognition to pick out the commands from across the room, even cutting through the noise of whatever's already playing on the TV.
But the Fire TV Cube is more of a general purpose assistant, like an entertainment-focused Echo. It can be connected to and control other devices on the local Wi-Fi network, like TVs, sound systems, and cable boxes. That opens up a much wider range of devices that may not normally be voice-activated, and allows for simpler commands. For example, with the TV off, just saying "Alexa, play Orange is the New Black" will tell the Fire TV Cube to turn the TV on, boot up Netflix and start playing the show from where you left off.
For times when shouting at the TV probably isn't a good idea, the Cube also comes with a standard Alexa Voice Remote too, as well as an IR extender cable. The Fire TV Cube can also connect to other Internet of Things devices around the home, bringing up security camera feeds, weather forecasts or sports scores on the TV, or dimming the lights. Coming with 16 GB of inbuilt storage, the Fire TV Cube measures 3.4 x 3.4 x 3 in (86.1 x 86.1 x 76.9 mm) and weighs 16.4 oz (465 g).
Amazon's Fire TV Cube will be available June 21 for US$119.99 and is available for preorder now.