Amazon isn’t afraid to make a splash with new gadgets. Sometimes they don’t work out. (We’re looking at you, Amazon Fire Phone.) But sometimes they turn into certified big deals, like with the Echo line of Alexa-enabled products. Amazon hopes the next star in its Alexa lineup is the newly announced Fire TV Cube.
The Fire TV Cube mixes two of Amazon’s most popular creations, Fire TV and Alexa, into a black cube with a glowing strip of light. It’s a smaller, squared-away version of the classic Echo look that should blend in well with most home entertainment setups.
The Fire TV Cube crams many abilities into a small space. Amazon needs to offer a lot to tempt people to add yet another Alexa device to their homes, so let’s take stock of its five most intriguing features.
1. Hands-free operation
As we already know, the Alexa system is all about the futuristic fun of using your voice to control everything from your music to your light bulbs and your thermostat. The Fire TV Cube brings that power to your television with the hands-free ability to turn on your TV, dim lights, and choose what you want to watch. You can also use your voice to search, play, pause, fast-forward and handle all the things you would normally do with a remote. This sounds way better than hunting down and shuffling remote controls.
2. 4K video support
More and more media are starting to become available in 4K. To get the most out of those movies and television shows, many people are investing in 4K television sets. The Fire TV Cube also supports 4K Ultra HD and will pair up nicely with those TVs.
3. It’s a universal remote
The Fire TV Cube wants to take control of all your entertainment devices, including cable boxes, sound bars, and receivers. To that end, it operates as a universal remote, which is how it lets you use voice commands for compatible devices. You can look forward to saying things like “Alexa, tune to ESPN,” “Alexa, turn down the volume,” or “Alexa, mute.”
4. It’s also an Echo
Many of the features you get with a regular Echo are included with the Fire TV Cube. You can use all your normal smart-home commands, so you can dim the lights, turn up the heat, or lock your door. There are a few missing features, though. While it will support sleep timers later this year, it doesn’t currently work with Alexa Calling & Messaging, multi-room music, or Bluetooth connections to mobile phones.
5. It can behave like a big Echo Show
The Fire TV Cube hooks up to your television via an HDMI port and can use your big screen much like the all-in-one Echo Show that comes with a built-in display. It can show you the weather forecast, display lyrics to go along with songs from Amazon Music, and work with compatible smart-home security devices to give you a live camera feed.
The Fire TV Cube is priced at $119.99. It comes out on June 21 and joins an extensive lineup of Alexa products covering everything from the classic Echo to the newer Echo Spot with its small visual display.
The Fire TV Cube will likely catch the attention of Prime subscribers who don’t yet have a universal remote or who are looking to upgrade an old Fire TV Stick to the latest Amazon tech.