This undated image provided by the Amazon.com, Inc. let a Amazon Fire TV Cube. Amazon revealed a new voice-controlled Fire TV device, which allows users to shout out when they want to turn on the TV, flip channels or search for sitcoms, without pressing a button. The Fire TV Cube is not completely hands-free yet, however. Some of the apps or streaming services may require viewers to pick up the included remote control to rewind or pause a show. (Amazon.com, Inc. via AP)
- Amazon’s new Fire TV-Cube is a set-top box that allows Alexa to be front and center with eight far-field microphones.
- You can use your voice to not only the content but change the channel on the cable box, thanks to the IR blaster.
- New “content-forward interface makes it easier to find things to watch.
- The Fire TV Cube is available for pre-order and costs $120. It is about $90 for the Prime members (to 9 June).
Alexa has a new home in the living room: the Amazon Fire TV Cube.
Available for pre-order now for $120 and shipping, June 21, this set-top-box packaging Amazon sophisticated Fire TV experience and places Alexa in the center of your home entertainment world, allowing the assistant to control your cable box and other equipment. The Fire TV Cube supports 4K Ultra HD content at up to 60 fps, as well as HDR content in the HDR-10 spec.
I saw the Fire TV Cube in action at a private briefing with Amazon, which began with Sandeep Gupta, vice president, product development at Amazon’s Smart TV and Home Products division, simply say “Alexa, I’m at home.”
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Not only the blue bar at the top of the Fire TV Clube light with his signature pulsating glow, but the TV that is connected to the device, and the standing lights to the left and right side of the TV also is turned on. The Fire TV Cube is equipped with eight microphones for far-field speech recognition, so that it can be heard from the other side of the room. We look forward to testing this, as our demo took place in a small room.
These microphones, you will hear good, as the Fire TV Cube sitting next to the TV picked up on Sandeep say “Alexa” while the volume for the Solo: A Star Wars-Story trailer was boomingly high. And he was not screaming or straining his voice to the fight against the sound. When you’re looking for silence, with the question: “Alexa, the sound of the TV,” the silence of the screen.
This was how I got my first taste of the new “content-forward user interface, that presented rows of streaming media apps, shows to watch recommended content of related services and suggestions of what it is today. When Sandeep said, “Alexa, to see more,” the big splash-screen advertising, the History channel’s “SIX” show gone, to more rows of the content.
Each row of the content had a number on the front, such as “6. Netflix Recommends,” “7. On Now ‘and the’ 8. Your Channels.” Sandeep shown that these figures can be used to say, “Alexa, select 9,” which is easier and more natural than to say, “Alexa, select PS Vue Recommends.” This interface will look familiar to owners of Amazon’s Echo Show . You can ask for services by name, if you prefer.
Amazon’s Channels , the ala carte live TELEVISION offering, is supported, together with Hulu, and other services.
But since Amazon knows that not everyone has cut the cord, the Fire TV Cube works with cable boxes also. So, saying, “Alexa, tune in to CNN on the cable” is made from the box are connected IR blaster to switch the channel on the cable box, and turn on the TV (connected via HDMI on the Fire TV Cube)’s input to the cable box.
That last part, that he can jump between inputs, was my favorite part of the Fire TV-Cube, which was only hard-connected to the TV. The Fire TV Cube is compatible with set-top boxes of the big providers, including Comcast, DirecTV and Dish, and Amazon says that the total number of the providers is “more than 90 percent of the households with a cable or satellite subscription.”
Of course, since this is a Alexa-device, you can use all of the same smart home commands that you’re used to, and it makes use of your TV to show the weather forecasts and all other tricks done on the Echo Show. That means that you can ask Alexa to “start the party”, so it can be a fun playlist from Amazon Music , and then ask this song lyrics to show. The Fire TV Cube also comes with Flash-Briefings, which are short, bite-sized reels of news footage to catch you on the day itself.
The Fire TV Cube may also be connected to Amazon’s Cloud-Cam , which shows live images from a fixed position. We found the Cloud Cam for the cheap price, but were annoyed that the $119 camera requires a monthly subscription to unlock all features. Amazon will provide a limited time to purchase packaging, a Cloud Cam, and a Fire TV Cube together for $200, for a savings of $40. If you buy and register Fire TV Cube before 1 July, you will get a $10 credit for Amazon Prime Video .
We look forward to testing out the Fire TV Cube to hear, and streaming capabilities for us in the near future.