Amazon Fire TV Cube review: Clean hardware, but Alexa needs more tuning

New Look, new technology, the same specifications

Internally, the Fire TV Cube is similar to the Fire TV-pendant that Amazon launched last fall. It is powered by the same 1.5 GHz Quad-Core processor and 2GB of RAM but has a dual internal storage capacity of 16 GB. Both devices also support playback of HDR 4k video, Dolby Atmos Surround Sound, Bluetooth 4.2 (mainly for game controllers and headphones) and 802.11 Wi-Fi AC. It’s a bit disappointing that Amazon doesn’t use the Fire TV cube as an opportunity to deliver a faster, more complete streaming box for e.g. Apple TV 4k and NVIDIA Shield TV. Unlike the first Fire TV Cube does not support Dolby Vision HDR, which allows color and contrast per frame to be optimized for TVs that support the format. And unlike the latter, the cube does not have full-size USB ports for hard drives, TV tuners, and other accessories.

The Fire TV Cube has a micro-USB port for the supplied Ethernet adapter and Remote Storage, although for the latter it is likely to require a different adapter or cable than the adapter that comes with your hard drive. And like the Fire TV pendant, the cube in 2015 actually has less processing power than the second generation of Fire TV, so it doesn’t feel as sensitive when scrolling through menus or applications. The Fire TV Cube provides a micro-USB port for Remote Storage and the included Ethernet adapter, but there is no full-size port. On the other hand, it helps refrain from those bells and whistles Amazon to help undermine the Apple TV 4k and Shield TV while it focuses on handsfree speech control as a distinctive feature.

Fire TV Cube is essentially an echo-point speaker grafted into a streaming video box, with a distant field mic array and a built-in low-quality speaker that can respond to voice commands when the TV is turned off. Fire TV Cube versus Fire TV Plus-Echo If you already have a Fire TV device and an echo device, they support many of the same voice commands as the Fire TV cube, but all in one package has some advantages. On the one hand, the Fire TV Cube has a built-in infrared blaster, so you can use Alexa voice commands to control the volume of the TV, A/V receivers, Soundbar and other devices with infrared equipment as well. If you have a pay service from a large cable, satellite or Telco provider, Alexa can even switch to those configuration boxes and tune in to live TV channels. The TV cube with fire comes with a go extender cable, in case you keep these boxes in a hospitality center. The Fire TV Cube is also better optimized for Alexa than other Fire TV devices, so you can choose the search results with voice and show suggestions on the screen about what you can do with voice commands. And when the TV is turned on, it can act as a gigantic echo show, where the prognosis is displayed when the time is requested, the score of the box when sports results are requested and the album cover when the music is Listened. However, there is a major constraint on the musical front; The Fire TV cube cannot sync music playback with other audio echo devices in multiple rooms.

If you have a compatible security camera (that is, one for which the manufacturer has published an Alexa skill), you can ask Alexa to display the camera’s feed. And of course you can use your voice to search product listings on the Amazon website. The visual feedback of the cube makes the Alexa answers more useful. As a proud rope cutter I have not tried the fire television of integrating the cable box, but I am impressed with the speech recognition and TV integration of the Fire TV Cube. At 12 meters distance, the cube had no difficulty in taking the commands with my normal inner voice, even with the sound of the television above it. And while we have an eco show at a distance from the living room, he seldom picked the commands that were intended for television. (If having multiple Alexa devices is a problem, you can always use an alternative reactivation word, such as ‘ echo ‘ or ‘ Computer ‘, for one of them.) The Fire TV Cube also recognizes when you need to route audio through the TV or your own speakers. If the TV is off and you ask for some basic information, such as the weather or a sport score, the Fire TV Cube uses its own speakers. For music and video, the cube switches to the TV or sound system and tries to turn on the TV. From a technical standpoint, everything works pretty well, so Alexa feels like a disappointment. When Alexa understands and executes a voice command, it’s one of the most satisfying interactions you’ll have with your television. And Amazon’s assistant is at its best when you request specific shows and television channels. For example, ask Alexa to look at Westworld, and the Fire TV Cube will pick up from where you left it in the series.

Let Alexa tune into CNN on Xbox One and Fire TV will announce what’s going on, start the application and switch to the correct channel. Freshness aside, the use of voice commands in these scenarios is quicker and simpler than opening an application and searching menus. The playback controls can also be incoherent, which means you have to reconnect to the remote control. Some applications that Alexa does not specifically support are still allowing you to pause and play with your voice, but others do not. And even in applications that are enabled for Alexa, my playback commands have not worked repeatedly. The Fire TV Cube still has great banners-ads running through each of its menu pages. The worst thing about all is that Amazon doesn’t have any buttons for volume control on their TV Fire remotes.

Being able to adjust the volume using a voice, helps but interrupts video playback and works only in predefined steps, so adjusting the volume in a large number requires multiple voice commands. The TV’s remote controls are now table sticks in each smooth box and remain within the $50-up price range; It is not to be excused that Amazon has omitted checks on a new product of Fire TV in 2018. Like other Fire TV devices, the remote control of the cube does not have integrated volume controls. Amazon likes to say that their products improve over time, and notes that devices such as the Echo are now considerably smarter than in 2014. It seems inevitable that the TV skills of Alexa are improving, and even today. , the TV cube of fire is capable of occasional greatness. But for now, the TV cube of the fire still depends on a remote control-one that is marked worse in the price range than others-to navigate through a still-clogged interface. The Fire TV cube can be a groundbreaking streaming TV player, but has the opportunity to let go of being the best.

Amazon Fire TV Cube: The Fire TV Cube wants to replace its remote control with voice commands, but Alexa is not up to the challenge.

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