10 things the Amazon Fire TV Cube Can’t Do

There are many things that the new Amazon Fire TV Cube that was just announced today can do that no Fire TV before it could do, but there are also things you might think it can do that it can’t. Here’s a list of 10 things that the Fire TV Cube cannot do.

1. Does not work with HDMI hubs/switches

Amazon says that “HDMI switches/hubs are not compatible with Fire TV Cube at this time.” This is likely because the Fire TV Cube needs to be able to detect if the TV is on or not to determine if Alexa responses should come out of the internal speaker or your home theater system. It likely does this by detecting the state of your TV or A/V gear over the HDMI connection. If an HDMI hub or switch is connected between the Fire TV Cube and the rest of your equipment, the Fire TV Cube likely can’t determine if your gear is on or not.

2. Can control the volume of either a soundbar or A/V receiver, but not both

The Fire TV Cube cannot control the volume of both a soundbar and an A/V receiver, if you have both connected. During the equipment setup process, you’ll need to select which device’s volume will be modified when you issue volume change requests to Alexa.

3. Does not support Alexa Bluetooth Syncing

You cannot sync your phone or other audio players to the Fire TV Cube via Bluetooth, like you can with Echo devices. This means you cannot play music through the Fire TV Cube’s internal speaker or the home theater equipment it is connected to, from an external source, like a phone. However, the Fire TV Cube does support the same Bluetooth capabilities as other Fire TV models, so you can connect BT headphones for private listening, or BT peripherals, like gamepads, keyboards, and mice, to use to control the Fire TV Cube.

4. Does not support Alexa Calling & Messaging

This one will probably come as no surprise if you’re familiar with Alexa’s feature, but the Fire TV Cube does not support placing calls or sending messages with Alexa. That very likely means it also does not support Alexa Drop-In or Alexa announcements, although I haven’t found confirmation of that. Calling and messaging seem to be the Alexa features that will remain limited to only Echo devices for the foreseeable future.

5. Does not support Alexa Multi-Room Audio

One of the great features of the Echo line of devices is that you can set them up in a group to all play the same music simultaneously. This feature is called multi-room audio and allows you to fill your entire house with synchronized music across multiple Echo devices. Unfortunately, the Fire TV Cube cannot be added to such a group, so it can only play music on its own.

6. Cannot be controlled through an external Echo device

A great recently added feature of all Fire TVs and Fire TV Sticks is that they can be controlled through an external Echo device. Since the Fire TV Cube has built-in microphones, an external Echo device is not necessary to control it hands-free with your voice, but even if you wanted to use an Echo to control the Fire TV, you cannot.

7. Not compatible with Projectors

Amazon says the Fire TV Cube is not compatible with projectors. While you likely can connect the Fire TV Cube to a projector via HDMI, and use it as a simple streaming device, the incompatibility likely has to do with the Fire TV Cube’s ability to act as a universal remote. There’s also the issue of where you place the Fire TV Cube if used with a projector. The Fire TV Cube works best if it is placed in front of you, with the front of the device pointed in your direction, so that the microphones can pick up your requests. Since projectors are usually placed behind you, along with the devices they’re connected to, that may be the source of enough issues that Amazon doesn’t want to risk upsetting customers with projectors.

8. Not compatible with Universal Remotes

This is a bit of an odd one, but Amazon says the Fire TV Cube is not compatible with universal remotes, like the Logitech Harmony remotes, which are very popular with Fire TV owners. I suspect Harmony remotes will eventually work, but may cause confusion if both the Harmony hub and the Fire TV Cube are simultaneously trying to control your home theater gear. So, you may be able to use a universal remote if you’re okay with not using the Fire TV Cube’s universal remote capabilities, but we’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case when the Fire TV Cube arrives later this month.

9. Can’t change OTA antenna channels

The Fire TV Cube has a lot of universal remote capabilities that allow you to control your home theater with your voice, but one thing it cannot do is change the channel on your TV if you are using an HD antenna to watch over-the-air programming. While the Fire TV Cube is able to change inputs to bring up your antenna feed, it cannot change the channel. At launch, the only channels the Fire TV Cube can change are channels coming through a cable or satellite set-top box or channels in streaming apps, like PlayStation Vue or Hulu.

10. Does not support Sleep Timers

The Fire TV Cube does not support sleep timers, which is a feature of Echo devices. If you were hoping to use it to turn off all of your home theater equipment simultaneously after you pass out, that’s not going to be possible when it launches later this month. The good news is that Amazon says that sleep timer functionality will be added later this year, so, presumably, you’ll be able to say “Alexa, go to sleep in [#] minutes” and all of your gear will shut down when the request time is reached.

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56 comments
  1. Stank says:

    My biggest question is will it have voice support for DTVNow or other stream services (like “open weather channel” or “record this show.”) Time will tell.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Hulu with Live TV and PlayStation Vue will support this feature at launch. So you’ll be able to say “Alexa, tune to [channel name]” and the service that you’re subscribed to’s app will launch and jump right to the live channel you asked for. And, of course, the TV will turn on and change inputs and all that good stuff.

      DirecTV Now and Sling have not announced support for it yet, but I suspect they’ll be adding it soon now that it’s such a key component of the Fire TV Cube.

  2. tech3475 says:

    I’m especially, glad I didn’t hold out for one then.

    I have to use a HDMI Switch on my setup since only 1 port can handle HDR.

    To me the main benefits of an integrated Echo should be that it could do everything the Echo can but requires fewer cables/space (which does bother someone I know).

    • James Cooke says:

      FYI, if you were to buy an hdr capable receiver, e.g. a recent Yamaha or Denon etc, you wouldn’t have to use a switch, as that is what receivers do, switching between several input devices, with usually one output to a display, meaning if your display only has one hdr input, this would be a better -albeit more expensive – solution.

      • Tony Ramirez says:

        Except for me I don’t have the room for a surround sound system and very few sound bars have HDMI ports.

        • James Cooke says:

          In many normal, untreated rooms, 2 speakers can be better than surround anyway, as there are fewer speakers causing reflections etc to muddy the sound. You can still buy a 5.1/7.1 receiver and connect just two speakers to front left and right.

          Receivers usually only have enough watts to power two speakers anyway on their own, at least at very loud, dynamic volumes. That is why the better models come with pre-outs so you can add amplifiers e.g. to power your main left and right, which need the most power to sound good as they usually get most of the loud music in movie soundtracks.

          They almost all come with a microphone to adjust the frequency output to your room, as well as a subwoofer out/crossover to make the speakers you have sound better (less strain as not having to play low frequencies), and you get loads of other options besides such as network control, and obviously they get to use the latest, lossless sound formats, which still sound fine in two channel stereo as most of the volume comes from the front speakers anyway. You also get to keep/upgrade your speakers more easily, and larger speakers often sound much better than soundbars with their small enclosures and drivers.

          More people should use a receiver and a pair of stereo speakers imo…for what it’s worth my own experience is that surround sound is often best left to dedicated rooms, but that av surround receivers with stereo speakers generally are an excellent option for main television rooms etc.

  3. James says:

    ‘Not compatible with projectors.’

    My projector is behind me, and the fire tv cube would be at the front of the room, connected to the av receiver, which in turn is connected via hdmi to the projector behind me.

    I would love to say, “Alexa, turn on the projector” and have it turn on. It would seem the hardware could do this, so long as Amazon don’t purposely block projector signals/ custom infrared commands.

    Has Amazon stated this is the case, or are projectors merely not guaranteed to work due to possible placement/hdmi issues?

    Or does the Cube not care about projectors so long as it is connected firstly to an av receiver with speakers?

    • AFTVnews says:

      I wish I had answers for you, but all they’ve said is that it’s not compatible with projectors. It could be any number of limitations. They may have simply not had time to test them with projectors, they might not have a database of projector IR codes loaded, it may just be about the placement issue, or it may be a more complex technical issue that makes them completely unusable. We just don’t know.

      Amazon’s return policy is pretty good, so if I were you I’d buy one and try it. I’m sure they’d give you a full refund if you just said it was incompatible with your equipment, which is probably going to happen for some people since there are so many different TVs and receivers out there.

      If you do try it, I’d love to hear how it goes. Contact link is in the footer.

      • James says:

        Thanks, I’ll let you know if I pick one up. What I am most interested in though is why Amazon have yet to sell or rent 4k hdr movies. Do you have any info on this please?

        I just don’t understand their position so far. They were one of the first with 4k, but I can’t imagine they have sold 4k very well, as who in their right mind would pay a premium for 4k without the expanded color gamut and hdr? I can’t tell the difference even on a 100″ screen, yet the expanded color gamut and hdr can make a big difference.

        Is it possible Apple have forced exclusive rights to sell / rent 4k hdr latest movies?

        Will Amazon promise to update 4k purchases to 4k hdr as Apple have done with standard HD to keep people buying? If not, I won’t be buying any AV devices/content from Amazon until they transition properly to 4k hdr/bt2020…

        • Dusten Vermeire says:

          I have my shield hooked up to my projector and can not have cec on because when I shut my shield off it immediately shuts off my projector, no cool down and would damage the bulb. I would assume this is the main reason it’s not compatible. I would use it for every except powering off, however once it goes to sleep it might instantly power off your projector.

          • ruben says:

            it might not power off projector, I have hdmi cec set on my firetv and when it goes to sleep my tv still stays on, oddly I would prefer it turn off tv as well.

  4. Jeff Reed says:

    Does this allow sideloading of apps?

  5. beq says:

    Great list, though I hope that some of these limitations can be added in a future software update.

    “This one will probably come as no surprise if you’re familiar with Alexa’s feature, but the Fire TV Cube does not support placing calls or sending messages with Alexa.”

    Just curious, but why isn’t it surprising that the Cube can’t do Alexa calling/messaging?

    • AFTVnews says:

      Of all the capabilities that Alexa has, calling and messaging is the one that is available on the least number of devices. Much of Amazon’s own Alexa hardware can’t send/receive Alexa calls/messages.

  6. C says:

    Wake me up once they add coaxal for locals, vol +/- and mute to the crappy remote

  7. Robert Theed says:

    Also, can’t attach to the back of your TV because it’s a bulky cube. That’s a big minus for those of us that wall mount their TVs.

  8. Boudyka says:

    No.8 Universal Remotes. Its not the first time a vendor has tried to ‘lock in’ their device as the centre of the home. Google has recently been blocked the ability to control local devices in home without an internet “Cloud” registered account using an oauth token. Ironically Smarthings is similar but there are technical workarounds especially if your planning to use Alexa/Ok Google to control it, you still need the internet anyway….The Echo Plus can control local zigbee devices without the need for hub, as I don’t have one, I wonder if you can still can control those devices with an hub aswell as the echo without Alexa…

    The point is, Amazon / Google hell any of the IOT and Universal Remote vendors want to be at the centre of the known universe, but that just makes them a wall garden ‘silo’ and IOT and home automation is the complete opposite of that.

    As for Universal Remotes, there is very little I can see that can possibly replace the Logitech remotes as being the best in class at this. Having an non-agnostic Fire TV centred around itself and my home entertainment system, probably isn’t the wisest choice, but if The this new Fire TV Universal Remote API is made available and is locally based, i.e doesn’t need the internet (Logitech’s Harmony’s already doesn’t to operate) then Amazon may have a Uni Remote winner. That said….I expect it not to be and cloud based and locked in…. Sad Sad.

    • HeffeD says:

      Yeah, the universal remotes issue is a bit of an odd one. I was hoping to replace my first generation Fire TV’s with the Cube and was going to pre-order a couple until I found out about this.

      Although the combination Alexa/streaming box appeals to me, (I already have Echoes near my TV’s, I could just relocate those…) there’s no way I’d replace my extremely useful Harmony hubs with a ‘universal remote’ that won’t even control all of my gear. So this ‘feature’ is a deal breaker for me… I’d be perfectly happy to buy a couple if you could disable the IR and HDMI-CEC functionality of the Cube.

      Oh well, it’s Amazon’s loss for releasing a product with such an odd design choice.

      • BobR says:

        Agree it’s odd and I hope it’s not entirely true. It won’t control Blu Ray players or Game consoles yet so you will need another remote anyway. I really only need an updated Fire TV box (or Roku Ultra) and view the echo part as a bonus. I hope to use Alexa for simple things like changing channels and apps or maybe displaying an Amazon camera image and still have my universal remote as backup when needed. Like any universal remote, I’m sure the Cube will have its issues.
        I have an old plasma TV with 2 HDMI inputs so not supporting a switch leaves me with only 1 HDMI port for all other devices, and I use my universal remote to control the HDMI switch. I still have time to cancel my order, but I would like to give it a try first.

        • HeffeD says:

          That’s really all I need as well. The combo with Alexa would free up an Echo, so that would be nice. Although if there’s no way to disable the IR blasters or HDMI-CEC, it would be completely unusable to me, so I don’t want to pre-order.

          I was initally thinking that I could buy just one to take advantage of the deal, and if you can’t disable the IR blasters and HDMI-CEC, I could just use it on my upstairs TV that only has a TV, Blu-Ray Player, and a Fire TV and retire that Harmony. But even with such a simple setup, I’d need to juggle two remotes to replace my Harmony, (and that’s only if I only ever plan on talking to Alexa to control streaming, which I don’t see anyone actually doing…) so the Cube actually complicates even this simple setup!

          I’m hoping that what they mean by incompatible with universal remotes like the Harmony just means that you can’t use the cube to control your Harmony, (which I don’t care about…) not that these new features can’t be turned off. A simple streaming box combined with Alexa seems perfect for what I need, but the attempt to turn it into a universal remote completely negates any convenience that combining the two products should give.

          • BobR says:

            I’m assuming I can use this just like my current 1st gen Fire TV / stick and universal remote set ups. For $90, I’m happy to upgrade my 1st gen stick to have a better processor, Ethernet and a voice remote (even though Ethernet isn’t built-in, I’m hiding it in a cabinet). I’m not upgrading my 1st gen Fire TV for this as I don’t need 4k yet. I hope voice control will make some things easier, but I doubt these newer features will work well at first anyway. If you don’t plug in the IR emitter, it must still be able to stream, otherwise many people will be sending it back.

    • Bookworm says:

      Of course a universal remote can work. The Fire Cube comes with a standard FireTV remote. Just tell your Harmony setup that it’s a FireTV and no one will be the wiser.

      Can’t believe that A$ changed the IR codes and if they did, it will take about 1 week for Logitech to decode them and add them.

  9. pmcd says:

    This is a very disappointing “upgrade” for media player enthusiasts. Perhaps it makes sense for someone just getting into this area? It doesn’t seem attractive enough compared to either a Shield TV or an Apple TV 4K. Must be missing something here as I really can’t see the point.

    • mrvco says:

      Since it includes an IR blaster, it seems the cube is meant to appeal more to current cable / DTH STB users.

  10. Jp says:

    It doesn’t do much that my echo dot lg tv combination with anymore can’t do already and no support for Atmos?

  11. Bob says:

    > At launch, the only channels the Fire TV Cube can change are channels coming through a cable or satellite set-top box or channels in streaming apps, like PlayStation Vue or Hulu.

    My PC running Windows Media Center is my cable set-top box.
    Will it be able to change the channels on my PC running WMC?

  12. Bikerbob says:

    Can it control an echo connect?

  13. Dan Dutra says:

    The more I read about this, the more I wish they’d just release the original set top form factor with HDR.

  14. david moxon says:

    I’m in the same boat. From what I read, albeit between the lines, is that the cube will have very limited ir support, compared to an aftermarket remote like harmony. They took the trouble to name the brands they support, their must be a reason for that. If it had an ir learn function, now that would make too much sense. I’m holding off, for now. I have every firetv ever made already.

  15. Easathor says:

    So can the Cube connect to a bluetooth speaker for music playback if the TV is off?

  16. Nehemoth says:

    No Gigabit NIC.
    No Dolby Vision
    YouTube HDR?
    No AV1 CODEC’S

  17. Peter says:

    dead in the water… cancelled my order. The 10/100 network cable broke the back…

    • Tony Ramirez says:

      Same here as I upgraded my internet speeds from 70 down to 230 down. Fast internet tech came out and was new when I graduated High School back in 1995. What is a few cents more for Gigabit Ethernet.

      Also the same old processor in the cube that the POS dongle has. Really the only difference is the useless voice commands I never use. I find typing faster then understanding my bad voice.

      • tech3475 says:

        Im guessing they’re trying to keep the cost down.

        They’re likely re-using the same adapter they sell for the other FTVs and the use of USB 2.0 means that the speed is limited anyway.

        That said, I do wonder how much extra it would have cost to make this a more ‘premium’ device since it feels half baked and at regular price I’d be considering alternatives such as a Shield or a games console.

    • BobD says:

      Do you really think your home LAN is pushing more than 100?

      Who watches YouTube for HDR content?

      • Tony Ramirez says:

        And 720p looks just as good as 1080p really there is a big difference between so called “Fast Ethernet” and Gigabit. I bet you the next FTV will remove 5ghz wifi to save a few more cents but the price will be higher.

        • BobD says:

          You don’t even make sense. You want 1GB just to say you have it. 4K / HDR only at the fastest pushes 108. That’s at the fastest in your LAN between 2 SSD’s.

          • pmcd says:

            Except that the 100 limit really means a far less real speed. While I agree that 10/100 Ethernet should be finefor most streaming I find my Apple TV 4K and Shield TV to be very responsive. Apart from streaming from remote sites there is the issue of local tasks. It may not be a deal breaker but having an adapter through micro usb is already a patch. Then you have the power brick, no volume control on the remote, etc… Perhaps if you had Skype or whatever to video chat all the voice stuff would be more appealing. The Cube is a lower powered, but more than adequate, streamer aimed at people with traditional tv ( cable, etc…) and a fairly straightforward setup. Traditional tv is dying. It just seems to me to be an underwhelming product. Not bad but I think they are overstating the appeal of Alexa in this context.

  18. Kevin M. Saucier says:

    Glad I read this post. I jumped the gun yesterday and preordered to save the $30, even though I don’t really need this thing. Looking at the limitations, even though I don’t use them all that much, there’s no big thrill in getting this. Gonna cancel the preorder.

    Honestly, I prefer using my Xbox as my primary media player. I can easily jump back and forth between games and media and sideloading is not all that important to me. I only really use the mainstream streaming services and, on the rare times that I rent/purchase from Amazon and want the 4k content, I switch back to my FireTV. My Logitech Harmony already takes care of the power on/off sync and it’s tied to my existing 1st Gen Echo so I’ve got voice control too. The Logitech programmable remote is far superior to the Alexa remote with the minor exception of not having the voice search, which is convenient but not used all that often.

    All told, this unit is kind of looking like the Tap. A cool device that is purpose built but not properly supported by the Alexa devs.

  19. Dave says:

    It sounds like there are more things that the cube cannot do, than things that the cube can do.

  20. Steve says:

    Yep, cancelled my order. I, like others, was hoping for a real upgrade in every way. However, since I mainly needed an upgrade for an original 1st Gen FTV I decided to do the preorder. But the more I look into this the more wary I am that this will be a rock solid upgrade. Instead I’m going to go the ebay route and just get a used 2nd Gen. I already have two other 2nd’s in the house and find these to be ideal for what we need (Hulu, Netflix and Kodi using an Emby server for local content).

    Ironically I had intended to use this with an HDMI splitter going to both a TV and a projector, since that would fail under both, after reading this, I quickly just cancelled.

  21. Tampa8 says:

    To be fair since this is only a list of things the Cube can’t do it’s going to seem like alot of things. Will look better when contrasted to what it can do. That said even with the $30 off it just isn’t a device I need over the Fire Stick I have for a fraction of the cost. All the programming that is in 4K that I get can be watched directly in 4K from my Samsung TV apps. (Amazon, Netflix etc)

    And I’m not sold on it being literally a cube. It needs to either be small and sit behind a wall mounted TV or go back to the original size of the Fire TV and some of the features that has over the Cube.

  22. Ray says:

    #1 (does not work with HDMI hubs/switches) was the dealbreaker for me. Who here has a television with enough HDMI inputs to handle all their devices? Definitely not me.

    I remember feeling the same sense of disappointment when the last Fire TV dongle was released. I was more than willing to plunk down my dough for a new Amazon gizmo, but it just felt like they missed the mark. Unfortunately, the Fire TV Cube is a case of Deja Vu for me. :/

  23. 93036 says:

    I just set up a search agent for refurbisded FTV 2’s…

  24. 93036 says:

    I just set up a search agent for refurbished FTV 2’s…

  25. Budley007 says:

    I immediately clicked the preorder as soon as I saw the Cube advertised.

    After reading more about it, I realized I already had these capabilities with my existing home theater, (Echo Dot, Harmony remote, and FTV2). I’m also scratching my head over the whole ethernet dongle setup. Does excluding an ethernet jack really save that much money?

    Apparently I’m not the consumer that this device was designed for so I decided to cancel my Cube order. I’ve been wanting an Nvidia Shield for awhile now, but was waiting on the Cube. I guess I’m going that route after all.

  26. binger says:

    Went to preorder the cube for $30 off. Since Amazon is on the west coast like me, I figured it was midnight Pacific Standard Time. Should have read the small print. Offer is until midnight Eastern Standard Time.

    Bad move, Amazon. Oh well I have a 2nd Gen box and Alexa is hard to deal with at times on my Echo Dot. Why can’t she understand “Play Arrested Development Season 5 Episode 1”? Defaults to S01E01. I’ve watched S01-S04, just not on current Netflix account. Is there a way to mark seasons watched on Netflix so the Fire TV doesnt go back to the beginning using voice commands?

  27. TechyChris says:

    A lot of great info,
    (though I doubt Amazon will be using it in their ad campaign!)

    Just curious… how many of the items on this list can be fixed via software upgrades VERSUS how many can never be fixed due to hardware limitations?

  28. Bookworm says:

    Of course a universal remote can work. The Fire Cube comes with a standard FireTV remote. Just tell your Harmony setup that it’s a FireTV and no one will be the wiser.

  29. Has any one got the Cube to work with the higher end Samsung tv’s with the “One Connect hub”, the OC hub is a little different than a regular HDMI hub I hope

  30. Rikostan says:

    So I’m diggin’ it so far. Love being able to control the TV with just voice and not having to have the remote in hand. The Ethernet being only 10/100 doesn’t seem to affect me at all.
    We don’t have cable TV or satellite, cut out cable a few years ago, so it’s all streaming and so far it has served it’s purpose well. We had the second gen fire TV, I’m not seeing a lot of difference in speed of menus or anything like that. It works about the same, but just has the Alexa stuff more in the forefront.

    The one issue that bugs me, is the lack of multi-room audio. I work out of my house and love playing music on the group. I love being able to listen to music in the den, then walk out to the kitchen or living-room and hear the same song playing as I go. This seems like something that should be doable though, not sure what’s stopping it from happening.

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