Amazon tosses Alexa into the Fire TV Cube

Folks that are really bought into Amazon's Prime ecosystem can potentially have a lot of devices plugged in around the house. Getting enough Echo or Echo Dot speakers to respond to commands in every room along with Fire TV devices for each television can add up to a lot of gear, particularly when the overlap between "room with a TV" and "room where an Echo might be handy" is so large.

Lucky for those Prime content addicts, the technology goliath with a rainforest name has released the Fire TV Cube, a shiny, slab-sided device that combines a Fire TV dongle-on-a-leash with an Echo Dot smart speaker, and adds in an infrared emitter as the cherry on top.

We care about bits, bytes, and MHz around here, so let's talk about that first. The Fire TV Cube skips right past the hardware inside the "Full HD"-only Fire TV Stick and instead mimics the 60 Hz 4K capabilities of the Fire TV. The heart of Amazon's Cube is an unnamed four-chambered ARM Cortex-A53 SoC. An integrated Mali 450 GPU is on pixel-pushing duties. The device has 2 GB of memory and 16 GB of internal storage space. The machine has built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi plus Bluetooth for communication with the pack-in voice remote. 

The device has its own speaker so it can respond to user requests when the connected display is turned off. The Cube has an eight-microphone array, but it can't perform all of the Echo and Echo Dot's tricks; Alexa Calling and Messaging, Bluetooth phone syncing, and multi-room music aren't supported. The omission of multi-room music is a bummer, given the way the Cube can connect to a home audio setup through the TV. The Fire TV Cube does gain one parlor trick that the Echo siblings can't match—a built-in IR emitter can send appropriate signals to compatible TVs, cable boxes, sound bars, and A/V receivers to do things like power on and off, change channels, and adjust volume through voice commands. Amazon says the little box can also interact with connected A/V gear over the HDMI-CEC protocol.

The package includes a Bluetooth voice remote, power supply, Ethernet adapter, and secondary IR emitter

Amazon's hardware offerings usually don't come with much beyond the core unit, a remote, and a charger. However, the Fire TV Cube comes with a voice remote, an auxiliary IR emitter to supplement the one built into the Cube itself, and a wired Gigabit Ethernet adapter just in case the user's Wi-Fi can't handle the punishment of a 4K video stream.

Amazon says the Fire TV Cube's everyday price will ring in at $120, but the company is offering pre-orders for $90 right off the bat. Buyers can also get a $10 coupon good towards a Prime movie if they buy and activate the box before July 1. The tech giant expects deliveries will start on June 21. For comparison's sake, the Echo Dot has a regular price of $50 (currently $40) and the Fire TV costs $70, but neither can do the Cube's IR magic.

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