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The New Fire TV Cube Lets You Control Your TV & Sky box with Alexa

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Fire Tv Cube
Image: engadget

The second-generation of the Fire TV Cube is here.  Essentially, it’s a Fire TV device that gives you access to Amazon content, plus lots of other streaming services such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and (finally) YouTube. But it also has a trick up its sleeve – Alexa voice control for your TV and associated devices.

Indeed, Fire TV Cube brings total hands-free control to your TV – you can use Alexa to perform basic functions with your TV and soundbar for which you would otherwise have to use the remote.

Features and specs.

  • 6-core processor, ARM Mali graphics, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • 4K Ultra HD with HDR, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG and Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Atmos support

The Fire TV Cube is touted as the “most powerful Fire TV ever” and has been upgraded from the older US-only version, now featuring a six-core processor on board, which helps it zip along, in addition to 16GB of storage. There’s no lag with menu options or any other delays. There’s full support for Dolby Vision as well as HDR and HDR10+ for all the high dynamic range goodness. It will also work with Dolby Atmos.

The Cube is a very plain device in design terms. It’s a cube – no hard guesses there, with glossy sides and an imprinted  Amazon logo on the front. Those glossy sides mean it will attract dust constantly in a country like Nigeria as well as fingerprints when you touch it. On top are the standard four Echo buttons: volume up/down, mic mute and an action button. On the rear there’s a Micro-USB port, HDMI, infrared blaster, and power.

The main benefit of this box over other Amazon streaming devices is that it enables you to ask Alexa to change the volume of your TV, change channels or switch your TV off. You can also start from cold so, for example, if you say “Play The Crown on Netflix” Alexa will switch on your TV and start the show.

You can also switch inputs using voice (you can set up custom names if you wish) as well as pause, skip a set amount of time, go to the next episode, search for something on YouTube, find movies by a certain director or other searches. Obviously awesome as it renders the TV remote completely useless.

Naturally, you can also get to all the standard Alexa tasks, so you can see your calendar, play music from Spotify, check the weather or view your Ring doorbell. And, of course, you can also integrate with other Alexa tasks you’ve already got set up – so you can command routines, such as dimming your lights when you’re ready to watch TV. Once voice control is set up, you can perform all of these with the help of Alexa.

Setup

The device has profiles on-board for thousands of TVs, soundbars and receivers, Sky boxes in the UK, cable boxes in US. It also comes with IR blaster and Ethernet leads in the box. No HDMI lead are included.

Because of the potential for Alexa to not hear your voice command when your TV or soundbar is emitting loud sound, Amazon suggests having your Fire TV Cube at least 30cm from your speakers.

The device will also ask you what apps you want to download from a hand-picked list, which is a nice touch. However, not all of the apps are integrated with Alexa, so you can’t use your voice for everything.

The next step is for the device to set up your TV, just tell it the brand and it’ll try switching the TV on and off to ensure that it’s able to control the device. So far, so easy. Once your devices are set up – like your TV or Sky box – you’ll see that they’re added to your ecosystem of Alexa-enabled devices in your Alexa app. And the fun can begin; uninterrupted.

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