Amazon Fire TV Cube Review

Posted on Posted in Geek Stuff, ThinkTech

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is the first integrated hands-free streaming media device on the market, giving you the ability to use Alexa voice commands to control your entertainment center.

It’s essentially a Fire TV streaming device with a built-in Echo. However, at launch, its Echo functionalities are limited as Alexa Calling & Messaging, multi-room music, and Bluetooth connections to mobile phones are not currently supported. We hope these functionalities are added in the future as Amazon is pretty good about adding additional support for their devices via firmware updates.

So why do you need the Fire TV Cube if you already have an Echo and Fire TV? The Fire TV Cube also included an IR blaster, which means you can control your older AV devices, TVs and DVD players, basically any major brand electronics that utilizes IR remotes. It makes your home theater setup smart without investing in newer connected entertainment center electronics! While you may miss the latest technology on a network capable receiver or smart TVs, you won’t miss upgrading to the latest entertainment setup, yet. The Fire TV Cube is an excellent alternative to make your home theater setup connected.

How to setup
Amazon YouTube video
Set up your Fire TV Cube wifi connection

Voice compatibility
Amazon has a guide to thousands of devices that the cube is voice compatible with. Learn more about entertainment devices that support Alexa voice commands.

Real world testing
The concept of Fire TV plus Echo in one device with an IR blaster is amazing. In our testing, it does most of the advertised functionalities. However, there are plenty of bugs to be worked out. We’re hoping future firmware updates can make it a more capable voice command streamer. Some of the issues we’ve encountered include no voice support for Sling TV other than launching the app, not able to turn LG Smart TV on every time, it will always turn on the receiver when you go home on Fire TV even though we set the control to manual instead of automatic, it can only change the volume of TV or receiver/soundbar but not both depending on your setting, and the biggest complaint is that the video freezes while waiting for Alexa command.

Even with these misses, the Fire TV Cube is extremely responsive and useful. It’s a luxury to be able to turn an older receiver on and off and change the volume by using Alexa. Netflix and Amazon Video integration is fantastic. You’re able to launch specific shows or movies by voice easily.

From time to time, the Cube will say it can’t find a device named TV when you’re using voice commands. Multiple people have reported that it works sometimes and all of sudden it’ll stop working, only to work again few days later. The work-around is to set routines in the Alexa app where you can say TV off to turn off your TV. Again, we hope Amazon works out these kind of annoying bugs that makes the Cube voice command experience usable but frustrating.

Connection issues
As with any network device, you may encounter wifi and connection issues regardless of your internet speed. Any connected device needs an IP address that does not conflict with another device’s IP on the same network. The best way to make sure your Fire TV device has its own dedicated address is to manually set it. Go to Settings -> Network and select the manual setup option. Enter an internal IP address that does not conflict with your other devices. Find out what your gateway address is and enter it into the configuration. Lastly, you need to enter in DNS server information by using Quad9’s free DNS service.
Primary IP address: 9.9.9.9
Secondary IP address: 149.112.112.112

Specs

Size: 3.4” x 3.4” x 3.0” (86.1 mm x 86.1 mm x 76.9 mm)
Weight: 16.4 oz (465 g)
Processor: Quad-core up to 1.5 GHz | ARM 4xCA53
GPU: Mali450 MP3
Storage: 16 GB internal
Memory: 2 GB
Wi-Fi connectivity: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks.
Bluetooth: Yes, with Alexa Voice Remote (included) or free Fire TV Remote App (available for download on Fire, Android, and iOS)
Ports: HDMI, Power, Micro USB, Wired Infrared support

Voice support: Far-field and near-field voice support
Voice control compatibility: Fire TV Cube can control a wide range of IR-enabled devices, including TVs, sound bars, cable and satellite boxes, and A/V receivers. Learn more about supported devices.
Included audio: Built-in 1.6” (40 mm) speaker to interact with Alexa–even when the TV is off. Fire TV Cube uses your entertainment system speakers for entertainment experiences and will turn on your TV, sound bar, or A/V receiver to play these.

Audio support: Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1
Video support: HDR-10. H.265, H.264, Audio: AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, Dolby Atmos (EC3_JOC), Photo: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
Output resolution supported: 2160p, 1080p, and 720p up to 60 fps

Included in the box: Fire TV Cube, Alexa Voice Remote, power adapter, quick start guide, marketing guide, 2 AAA batteries, infrared (IR) extender cable, Amazon Ethernet Adapter (10/100)
Warranty and service: 1-Year Limited Warranty and service included. Optional 2-Year and 3-Year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Fire TV is subject to the terms found here.

System requirements: High-definition television with available high speed HDMI input, high speed internet connection via Wi-Fi or inbox Ethernet accessory, power outlet, (compatible TV/sound/cable equipment for control by infrared or voice). High Speed HDMI cable and 4K TV with high speed HDMI connector required for 4K viewing and more reliable device control.
TV compatibility: TV must support minimum HDCP requirements for protected content playback. Learn more. Able to control (1) 4K ultra high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 2160p at 24/25/30/50/60 Hz and HDCP 2.2, including popular models from LG, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, and others or (2) high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 50/60 Hz, including popular HDCP-compatible models from Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse, and others. (For device control, certain functions may not be available on some devices).

YouTube review by Digital Trends