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.