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Amazon’s latest Fire TV Cube device is officially shipping out to customers starting today, June 21.
If you haven’t pre-ordered the device, should you buy one? Well, reviews for the Cube are in — and for the most part, they’re glowing.
Here are the key takeaways and conclusions for Amazon’s latest Alexa-equipped smart home device, based on a handful of reviews.
The Fire TV Cube is, essentially, a small black box that combines several devices into one. It’s a Fire TV and an Amazon Echo, but it’s also a universal remote. That means you can control your TV and its peripherals — including cable boxes and Blu-ray players— by voice command.
In other words, it’s a set-top box with Alexa. But it’s one that can control your wider TV entertainment system.
? Fire TV Cube Pros
By far, most reviewers agree that using Alexa voice commands on the television is like living in the future. Rather than fumbling with multiple remotes or power buttons, you can just say “Alexa, turn on the TV” and then search for a particular program or streaming service by voice.
This really cuts down the time it takes to carry out multiple processes. If you say “Alexa, tune to CNN,” for example, the Fire TV Cube will do a couple things automatically. It’ll switch the TV input to your cable box, and then change the channel to CNN.
Of course, the Fire TV Cube can perform other routine Echo-like functions, too. You can check the news, weather, or purchase products via voice command.
Image via Wired
With its eight far-field microphone array, the Fire TV Cube is really good at picking out voice commands, too. It’s accurate up to 20 feet away — and can understand command even if TV audio or music is playing.
And while the Cube’s speakers aren’t the best, it will “forward” any music streaming requests to your TV or sound system.
If there’s anything that isn’t voice-supported with the Cube, you can use the device’s Fire TV remote for standard controls. Similarly, the included IR extender can help boost the range of the Cube’s infrared blasters.
? Fire TV Cube Cons
As far as the potential downsides to the Fire TV Cube, there aren’t many and they aren’t especially severe. But they are worth mentioning.
Most reviewers agree that Alexa on the Fire TV Cube feels a bit more “sluggish” when responding to voice commands than it does on other Echo devices. (Though Amazon says it will issue an update that could help the latency.)
It’s also not technically a full-fledged Echo device. It can’t make calls or send messages, but it still manages to pack most Alexa capabilities into its feature set. Again, its capabilities could be added-to in future software updates.
To be especially nitpicky, some reviews criticize Amazon’s decision to not include an HDMI cable in the box.
Image via Wired
Not all apps will support Alexa voice commands at launch. We assume that support will be added in the future though. There’s still no YouTube app for the Fire TV, either.
IR blasters are arguably an outdated and flawed technology. So you may run into similar issues with the Cube’s IR blasters that you would with a TV remote.
All in all, baking Alexa into a Fire TV was the next logical step for Amazon. And for the price point, the Fire TV Cube packs a whole lot of punch.
If you have a particularly complex entertainment setup, then the Cube can help simplify it for you. And, of course, there’s just something incredibly futuristic and convenient about watching TV without ever having to touch a remote.