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The video streaming market is so saturated, companies are doing all they can to make their devices stand out. For Amazon, they differentiated their line up Fire TV products with one very distinguishing feature—Alexa, the company’s own digital assistant. In fact, they don’t just *work with* Alexa, Alexa is built in!
The new-for-2019 4K Amazon Fire TV Cube is the evolution of the original Fire TV Cube which Amazon released last year. The 2019 4K Amazon Fire TV Cube combines an Amazon Echo and a Fire TV in one single device. You can use your voice to launch TV shows, play music, check on the weather or turn the TV on and off, control cable boxes, and even soundbars. You can even use the Alexa functions when the TV is off.
The new 4K Amazon Fire TV Cube keeps the same design as before. But this time the brains are more refined with the addition of Dolby Vision (Dolby Vision is the brand name for a high dynamic range (HDR) 4K video format developed and promoted by the folks that brought us Dolby Surround a) , faster response times thanks to a more powerful and upgraded processor, and support for HDR too.
What’s in the Box?
There’s plenty to unpack in this television kit. Inside the box you’ll get the grapefruit sized, but cube-shaped Fire TV Cube. There’s a power cord, an optional infrared extender cable, and optional Ethernet adapter, and a small electric remote. Oh yeah, and the batteries are also included!
Set up was simple. Once you get everything plugged everything in and powered up, Fire TV Cube will start searching for the included remote right away. Once it finds it, you’ll touch the home button on the remotr to connect. Then press the play pause button to begin the rest of the set up process. You’ll choose your country, then connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network.
Your device will likely try to do a firmware update, and you may have to reset the power to force this to happen.
You’ll sign up for an account or sign into your existing Amazon account, you can then add parental controls, and choose available streaming services.
Canadian channels return
It’s actually very pleasing to see several Canadian channel options on this device. One of my favourite streaming devices to this point has been a Roku, but Roku’s Canadian content is quite limited. Here on the Fire TV Cube, there’s Crave, Bell fibe TV, Global, CTV, and CBC Gem. you can also add sports channels, and music streaming apps too. The device will add all of your chosen channels or apps to your home screen. You can also at this point enable Alexa voice control. While I read that Fire TV Cube is supposed to have Apple TV on it, I wasn’t able to find the app, so maybe it’s not enabled in Canada yet? I did however get access to my Audible library which was a great surprise and a nice added feature.
Controlling the TV
Using Alexa to control the TV is so easy. Just say things like, Play Forensic Files, pause, or ‘Search for CSI Miami’. The screen will show you what’s available. You can say ‘Show more” to scroll through.
Alexa for other home commands
You can use Alexa for other info too, and you’ll get matching visuals on screen. Ask for the weather forecast, conversions, for information or searches about people places or things. It’s very handy!
Amazon Fire TV Cube: Design
Design-wise, the new Fire TV Cube looks literally like a cube similar to its predecessor. The cube is 3-inches on all sides with glossy black plastic on four sides and matte black plastic top. There is a LED translucent strip on the front edge of the cube to denote the front. The top panel houses Alexa, and there are volume up/down buttons, microphone mute buttons, and eight pinholes indicating the microphone.
Amazon Fire TV Cube: Hands-Free Alexa
The Fire TV Cube’s main notable feature is the hands-free use of Alexa. As you may know by now, to ask a question or give a command, you say her name, then give the command. The Fire TV Cube will promptly respond with its built-in speaker and will display relevant information if the TV is on. Alexa can take control of your home theater devices with its IR emitters. You can also communicate and control your smart home appliances via Wi-Fi if they support Alexa.