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.

Comments closed
    • VincentHanna
    • 1 year ago

    I have an echo spot in the living room. It’s “connected” to the fire TV 4k via software (not to mention we have the voice remote aswell)

    But the two devices combined still can’t do simple things like:
    Change the channel.
    Search/access my plex server via the plex app.
    Play Youtube videos (functionality removed)
    Stream content directly from my phone (there’s a work around, but it’s slow and annoying).
    Change the volume
    Change the input on the TV.

    So I ask you, why the hell would I buy a FireTV + Dot Combo device that ISN’T EVEN AS GOOD as the spot+FTV 4k that I have now? (and yes, I do use “drop in” to intercom with the livingroom sometimes, so no calling is a big deal.)

    Also, when you say no “Bluetooth phone syncing” do you really mean no Bluetooth? As in no sound bar sync either?

    This just sounds so bad!

    • Vigil80
    • 1 year ago

    Seems like a bummer and a missed opportunity if this doesn’t just turn a TV into a giant Echo Show.

    • Anovoca
    • 1 year ago

    Great, now I have [url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-jFgNreZPf0<]Asking Alexandria - [i<] into the fire[/i<][/url<] in my head.

    • hungarianhc
    • 1 year ago

    I’ll be curious to hear reviews of this thing, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be a very high quality speaker so it will probably just be good for answering alexa questions / taking commands. In terms of the Fire TV UI, I think it needs a lot of improvement, and this cube doesn’t seem to offer much better specs…

      • UberGerbil
      • 1 year ago

      Yeah, it really would make sense if this thing was just a drop-in replacement for your center channel speaker in a multi-speaker setup, but that form factor and (probably) the speaker specs make that impractical.

    • LostCat
    • 1 year ago

    This sounds far more useful than the last Fire TV box I had. I’d dig it. But I’ve probably got about 5x more kit than I actually need.

    • Chrispy_
    • 1 year ago

    Why did you have to ruin the title by adding “TV Cube” to it? 🙁

    • BobbinThreadbare
    • 1 year ago

    I keep waiting for them to just make a Fire TV 3 with better specs than the 2 and they keep doing other things I don’t want.

      • curtisb
      • 1 year ago

      They’ve already released a Fire TV 3. It’s much smaller than the Gen 1 and Gen 2 boxes. They did remove every port though save power, though…no microSD card slot and if you want an RJ45 port you have to get a dongle (it goes between the power and the Fire TV). That’s really not that bad though since the 3rd gen + the dongle is still cheaper than the first two boxes when they were released. I have two Gen 1, two Gen 2, and one Gen 3 in my home. They’re all used for varying things, but the Gen 3 has been quite solid.

      [url<]https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N32NCPM/[/url<]

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 1 year ago

        It also has a slower CPU than the Fire TV 2 (albeit with a more capable video decode).

          • curtisb
          • 1 year ago

          For what they’re aimed at, the more capable video decode is more important. The Fire TV 3 is also a true quad core where the Fire TV 2 is big.LITTLE with two dual cores. I don’t know if an argument could be made for which has the better performance, but between the two devices it’s not anything you’ll really notice in practical use of the devices.

            • BobbinThreadbare
            • 1 year ago

            It actually does have a practical difference I run emulators on mine.

    • Acidicheartburn
    • 1 year ago

    I first read “Amazon tosses Alexa into the fire” and quickly wondered what was causing Amazon to give up on Alexa.

      • Redocbew
      • 1 year ago

      [quote<]Amazon tosses Alexa into the Fire[/quote<] See? First Bezos saves The Expanse, and now he does this! My amazon addiction is validated! [quote<]... TV Cube[/quote<] Oh, well I guess if you're into these things, then that's good also.

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