2nd-Gen Fire TV Edition televisions to feature new Alexa Remote with additional buttons

The first bit of information about the next generation of Fire TV Edition televisions was announced this morning. Not much about the “more than 10” new TVs has been revealed, other than being made by Toshiba and Insignia, and that they’ll come in 4K and 1080p variants. The one high-resolution image of the first TV made by Toshiba being released does include a view of the remote which shows new buttons not found on the current Fire TV Edition televisions or any other Fire TV device.

The Toshiba Fire TV Edition television remote looks a lot like the Fire TV remotes from Amazon. The usual assortment of Fire TV controls that you’d expect are present, including a microphone button, a directional circle, media controls, and back/home/menu navigation buttons. At the top is a power button for the TV and near the middle are volume buttons. While those controls are not available on Fire TV remotes from Amazon, they were included in the Fire TV Edition remotes that shipped with Element and Westinghouse Fire TV Edition televisions. Although, the volume buttons have been rearranged vertically, which matches the original prototype remote shown at CES.

At the very bottom of the Toshiba remote are dedicated buttons for various streaming services. The 1st-gen Fire TV Edition remote had similar buttons which allowed you to quickly access Prime Video, Netflix, and Amazon Music. The Toshiba remote has four dedicated service buttons, instead of three, and it appears as though Amazon Music has been dropped in favor of a new HBO button and a new PlayStation Vue button. Still included are Prime Video and Netflix buttons. If anything changes about this remote before it is released, it would probably be which services are available through the dedicated service buttons. I don’t see Prime Video or Netflix being changed, but there is a chance we’ll see HBO and/or PlayStation Vue swapped out before launch.

I’ve actually been surprised at how useful the service buttons on my 1st-gen Fire TV Edition television remote have been. One nice feature of the buttons is that, if the TV is off, pressing them turns the TV on. So instead of waiting for the TV to turn on and then navigating to the app, you can press a single button and immediately be in the app. I wish the buttons were customizable so that I could select which apps they launched, but, unfortunately, that is a feature that will likely never be made available because specific deals are made between device manufacturers and services to get those buttons on the remote in the first place. While I’m sure Amazon or Toshiba would love to give customers control of those buttons, it would surely upset the services selected by default.

In addition to the slightly changed service buttons and rearranged volume buttons, there are two new buttons on the remote that were not present on the 1st-gen Fire TV Edition remotes. The first, to the right of the volume buttons, appears to clearly be a volume mute button. On the 1st-gen Fire TV Edition Televisions, to mute you press any volume button and then press the menu button within a few seconds, before the on-screen volume indicator disappeared. This always seemed like a bit of an afterthought that was added after user testing revealed quick access to mute was important, so it’s nice to see a dedicated mute button on this generations new remote.

The second new button, to the left of the volume buttons, appears to have a TV icon depicted on the button. My best guess is it’s a button for quickly changing inputs. Let me know if you agree in the comments.

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5 comments
  1. HeyRadar says:

    My issue with the ‘service buttons’ is that they need to be reprogrammable. So if I don’t have HBO NOW, I can select Showtime instead.

    On Roku remotes, there has been times where the services has shutdown and the button no longer does anything.

    Also, having a switch TV inputs is a must.

    • AFTVnews says:

      Unfortunately, that will never happen. The buttons are usually there for one of two reasons. Either the service forced the manufacturer to include the button in order for the service to allow their app on the device, or the service paid the manufacturer for the button as a form of advertising. In both cases, the manufacturer can’t let the customer change which app the button launches.

  2. Jerf says:

    Do you know how these apps are mapped to the keypresses?

    Android doesn’t allow an app or activity to be mapped to a keypress via .kl file.

    Maybe the Amazon launcher has a key_menu listener added to its main activity, that listens for these keypresses. Maybe a script that listens for specific keypresses and that can launch an app’s activity from shell?

    Thoughts?

  3. c says:

    volume up/down AND a mute button? Hope the streaming dongles eventually get these quality of life improvements with future iterations :(

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