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Amazon Fire TV Cube Review 2020



Specs:

  • #1 perk: Alexa voice command
  • Price: $119.99
  • 4K, HDR video resolution
  • Smart home control

Bottom line: Amazon Fire TV Cube is a serious streamer

Fire TV Cube is the upgrade to Amazon’s original Fire TV streaming device (R.I.P.), and the bigger/squarer brother to the Fire TV Stick. It’s also one of the most futuristic and feature-rich streamers we’ve reviewed, and the first to challenge our love for Roku (that’s a big deal around here).

It’s more expensive than most other streaming devices—except for Apple TV 4K, because Apple—but Amazon Fire TV Cube could be worth it, especially if you’re into all things hands-free. The Cube’s Alexa voice command extends beyond just picking a show or turning up the volume: set up correctly, it can control your entire entertainment system.

Pros

  • Alexa voice command
  • 4K, HDR resolution
  • Smart home control

Cons

  • Limited manual remote
  • Expensive price tag
  • Larger than most devices

Amazon Fire TV Cube promotions and deals

Maybe when Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, or Cyber Monday roll around, we’ll see some price breaks on the Fire TV Cube. Until then, we’ll be on the lookout for sweet deals.

What is Amazon Fire TV Cube?

Amazon Fire TV Cube is a sleek black box with a blue “on” indicator strip across the top and minimal buttons and inputs (four apiece). Unlike the Fire TV Stick, the Cube is designed to be noticed, striking a more imposing presence than Roku’s flat Ultra box.

But, like Roku, Fire TV Cube is a killer streaming device that delivers fantastic video, audio, and a full selection of popular apps—and it’s not overly skewed toward Amazon’s Prime Video. The Cube is more brand-neutral in its searches and recommendations than the Stick, which tends to be an “All Amazon! All the time!” promo machine. The Cube knows how to chill.

Amazon Fire TV Cube specs

The Cube may seem like a mashup of Amazon’s now-defunct Fire TV streaming device and an Echo, but there’s more going on here.

The Fire TV Cube can control your TV, cable box, A/V receiver, and soundbar all through Alexa voice command. Even more impressive—or scary, depending on your sentient AI beliefs—Alexa and the Cube can run your entire smart home.

  • Price: $119.99
  • Size: 3.4” x 3.4” x 3.0”
  • Video: 1080p, 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR 10
  • Audio: Dolby Atmos, 7.1 + 5.1 surround sound; standard 2.0 stereo
  • Storage: 16 GB (internal)
  • Wi-Fi: Dual-band/dual-antenna 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
  • Remote: Alexa Voice Remote (included) or Fire TV app (download)

Amazon Fire TV Cube vs. the competition

Swipe Left to See All →
ProductPriceResolutionRemote
Amazon Fire TV Cube$1191080p, 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR 10Included
Roku Ultra$991080p, 4K Ultra HD, HDRIncluded
Apple TV 4K$1991080p, 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, HDR 10Included
NVIDIA Shield$1991080p, 4K Ultra HD, HDRIncluded
Google Chromecast Ultra$691080p, 4K Ultra HD, HDRNone

Data effective as of 11/08/2019. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

For proper comparison, the models above all feature 4K and HDR resolution. The Fire Cube is pricier than the Roku Ultra and Google Chromecast Ultra, but it also does a lot more that we’ll get to in a moment. Spoiler: it’s all about Alexa.

Amazon Fire TV Cube setup

Connecting a Fire TV Cube directly to a TV is easy and almost entirely automatic—especially if it’s a newer TV. Older models may require a few extra minutes and steps for system recognition. If you ordered the Cube from Amazon, it’ll even already be signed into your Prime account (again, convenient or scary—you decide).

From there, the Fire TV Cube’s setup wizard (What did we do before setup wizards? Read manuals? The horror. . .) will walk you through the processes for syncing up other components. One important step it leaves out, though, is a reminder to turn on the other devices’ HDMI CEC (consumer electronics control). Many newer devices come CEC-ready, but be sure to check first.

As with any device, we recommend using the included AC adaptor rather than running from your TV’s USB power, which turns on and off with the TV. Also, we prefer the direct internet connection of an Ethernet cable to Wi-Fi, but we get the aversion to cluttering your entertainment-center wires. You do you.

Included equipment

  • Fire TV Cube
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Alexa Voice Remote
  • USB power cable
  • AC power adaptor
  • IR extender cable
  • Ethernet adaptor
  • 2 AAA batteries

Equipment you’ll need

  • TV with HDMI port
  • Wi-Fi network or Ethernet internet port

Amazon Fire TV Cube apps

Livestreaming and on-demand TV channels and services

With some exceptions, the Fire TV Cube offers almost every TV app that the other most-popular streaming devices do—including classic YouTube and livestreaming YouTube TV. Of course, Prime Video is promoted, but less aggressively than with the Fire TV Stick.

Amazon Fire TV Cube TV and video apps (partial list):

  • Prime Video
  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • HBO NOW
  • Showtime Anytime
  • NBC Sports
  • FOX Sports
  • CBS Sports
  • ESPN

Other streaming apps

Besides TV, Amazon Fire TV Cube also supports several entertainment, music, and gaming apps. For gaming, we’d advise getting a separate gaming controller; the included TV remote control doesn’t quite cut it.

Amazon Fire TV Cube entertainment apps (partial list):

  • Crossy Road
  • Minecraft
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • Crazy Taxi
  • Lego DC Mighty Micros
  • PBA Bowling Challenge
  • Castle of Illusion
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas

Apps and channel guide

Ask Alexa to find Netflix’s aliens-vs.-earth thriller Another Life, and it’ll take you directly to Netflix. That simple process wouldn’t normally be a big deal, unless you’ve used previous versions of Fire TV, like the Stick, which would instead serve up Prime Video sci-fi while actively avoiding Netflix.

Amazon has curbed its self-promotional urges with the Cube, allowing the competition equal time—smart move. The home screen will even display recommendations from non-Prime Video apps based on your viewing history. As much as we love Roku, the Ultra doesn’t even do that . . . we may have a crush on the Cube.

Also, while we appreciate the simple navigation of Roku, Fire TV Cube’s interface is more visually appealing and active. Add the Echo-in-widescreen capabilities of Alexa, wherein you can call up weather reports, traffic conditions, news headlines, security cams, and music on a whim, and we’re falling even harder for the Fire TV Cube.

Amazon Fire TV Cube remote

Yes, Alexa is great, but the Fire TV Cube still comes with a good ole button remote—not that it’s loaded with mind-blowing features. Amazon went big with the Cube but kept the clicker simple.

Remote control

Starting at the top with a power button and an Alexa mic button, there’s also a navigation wheel (with Select command inside). Then Back, Home, Menu, Fast-Forward, Play/Pause, Rewind, and Mute, followed by a volume up/down rocker. That’s it.

Those who prefer not to talk to their electronics might prefer a beefier remote, but this navigates the Cube nicely. If you want a more feature-rich remote in your hands, there’s also the Fire TV app for Android and iOS, but its performance isn’t quite on-par with Fire TV Cube’s system.

Amazon Fire TV Cube models

There’s just one Amazon Fire TV Cube model at the moment, and it’s hard to imagine a more advanced version being introduced—but, as always, TV device upgrades happen. If they didn’t, we’d just be reviewing doggo FitBits and Bluetooth-enabled waffle irons around here.

Swipe Left to See All →
ModelPriceResolutionWi-Fi
Fire TV Cube$119.99 1080p, 4K Ultra HD, HDR, HDR 10802.11ac dual-band MIMO Wi-Fi

For an extra $130, you can order a Fire TV Cube package that throws in a Ring Video Doorbell 2. If you want to watch your porch in 1080p detail on your TV and receive motion-detection mobile alerts, that combo package will save you about $30 off buying the Ring Video Doorbell 2 alone.

Compatible devices with Amazon Fire TV Cube

Any TV with an HDMI port will work with the Fire TV Cube, as will most cable/satellite boxes, A/V receivers, and soundbars. It can also control compatible smart home functions like locks, lights, thermostats, and more via Alexa.

Fire TV Cube won’t, however, work with Blu-ray/DVD players, projectors, or universal remotes. Alexa hasn’t made your fingers completely obsolete . . . yet.

Our final take: Fire TV Cube + Alexa = streaming bliss

If you want to control not only your TV and entertainment center, but also your entire household through your voice alone, Amazon Fire TV Cube is a magical tool. But it’s also just an excellent straight-up TV streamer.

It’s on the pricier end of the streaming device spectrum, but we don’t see the Fire TV Cube becoming outdated anytime soon—you’ll get your money’s worth, in both performance and longevity. If you’re already in a committed relationship with Alexa, it’s even better.

Our one knock against the Fire TV Cube: Alexa’s voice recognition capabilities, while good, are still no match for Google’s. This is just a minor issue, as we expect both will eventually surpass humans (cue Terminator theme).

Roku pioneered the streaming device; Amazon has upped the game dramatically with the Cube. Coming from a reviews team that bleeds Roku purple, that’s high praise. We suggest taking it for a spin yourself.

About the Author

Bill Frost has been a journalist and TV reviewer since the 4:3-aspect-ratio ’90s. His pulse-pounding prose has been featured in The Salt Lake Tribune, Pacific Northwest Inlander, Las Vegas Weekly, and many other dead-tree publications. In addition to his CableTV.com work, Bill is currently a senior writer and streaming TV columnist at SLUGMag.com. By night, Bill cranks a Flying V with his band at the bar.

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