The Big Boys of Streaming-Part 1-Amazon Fire TV Cube

Hey guys…. Time for a little more Tech Talk w/TK!!!

Alright, in my last couple of posts, I’ve talked about the streaming devices and platforms that I like from Roku & Google.  Now let’s chat about the one that is not my favorite, Amazon Fire TV.  As a heavy Amazon Alexa and Echo device user, I had very high hopes for Amazon’s Fire TV lineup, and I tried a bunch.  In this post, I am going to focus on my experience with the Fire TV Cube.

So, as a whole, the Fire TV Cube idea sounded great to me.  It offered a streaming and Amazon Alexa device in one compact unit.  These were all good things for me, and perhaps could be for you.  Unfortunately, after testing it out with daily use for about a year, I didn’t find the device all that helpful in practical use.

The Good:

  •  Two devices in one package. The Fire TV Cube lets you streamline your streaming and voice assistant set up by combining the Amazon Echo Voice Assistant with a Fire TV Stick.  In one device you get both items.
  • Voice control.  Using the device or your remote, you can control your TV, soundbar, and other Amazon Alexa-enabled devices with your voice.
  • Enables your TV as an Alexa display.  As an Amazon Alexa compatible device, the Fire TV Cube allows your TV to be used as a display for Alexa enable services like smart home cameras.  Pretty cool for a smart home geek like me.
  • Straightforward installation.  The Fire TV Cube has a relatively compact footprint, enabling you to place it on a TV stand near your TV.  Connect it to your TV via an HDMI Cable (not included) and plug it into power with the included adapter, and your good to go.
  • Good picture quality.  With 4K resolution plus Dolby Vision, HDR & HDR10+ support, you get a quality picture.
  • Simple remote design.  With 11 buttons and a D-pad on the front, the simplicity of the remote is good.  Something most people quickly get the hang of.
  • Universal remote capability.  The Fire TV cube can be used as a universal remote to control your TV soundbar and more.  Allowing you to add basic voice control commands for your non-Alexa enable devices. 
  • Consolidated interface with recommendations of Amazon Prime programming.  Provides a solid user interface with recommendations for shows available for you to watch on Amazon Prime Video.  It also supports additional services like Hulu, Netflix & Disney+ to allow you to bring your streaming services together.  But of course, as an Amazon device, it will default to Prime Video first.

The Not So Good:

  • The Fire TV interface is a bit laggy.  Unlike others I have tested, I have found the Amazon Fire TV interface feels a bit slower than others.  Perhaps this is just my inpatients or the fact that they are combining 2 devices, but it is just a feeling I get when using it.
  • Universal remote-control functionality a bit hit or miss.  In fairness, this may have been addressed by recent changes made by Amazon, but from my experience, using the Amazon Fire TV Cube as a universal remote for my Samsung TV and Yamaha Soundbar yielded inconsistent results.  I tried several adjustments to the placement of the device to allow for a better IR signal, but did not feel it performed consistently enough to ditch my remote.  Amazon may have addressed this by adding an IR extender to the standard package, as this was not included with my device when it first came out (as far as I remember).
  • A bit bulky as a streaming device.  As it is the combo of the Amazon Echo and Fire TV devices, the Fire TV Cube is a bit bulkier than some other streaming device options.  This is because unlike others, this device has a speaker built in to enable feedback from Amazon Alexa
  • Alexa functionality seemed limited at times.  While I am not sure why, certain skills enabled on my Amazon Alexa account would not work well with the Fire TV Cube.  An example of this was the My GMC (Onstar) skill.  While it would work fine on other Alexa devices, it had issues on the Fire TV Cube.
  • Fire TV remote battery compartment is harder to open.  I don’t know why, but I always have a decent amount of trouble when trying to open the battery compartment on the Amazon Fire TV remote.  While this may be good for some, as the batteries won’t fall out easy, it definitely bugged me.

Want to see some pics of the device?  Check out the slideshow below:

Interested in checking it out for yourself? Included below are a couple of quick links.

Published by Trevor Kassner

Marketing technologist with a love of all things tech. Early adopter & family man looking to share his thoughts.

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