It has been a long wait, but Amazon has finally announced the all-new Amazon Fire TV Cube. This is the new flagship Fire TV that I leaked late last year and that Amazon teased a few weeks ago. The Fire TV Cube is a 4K streaming media player with HDR support that includes true hands-free control for your entire home theater setup via Alexa. Eight microphones and a built-in speaker allow you to talk to Alexa to make requests and navigate the UI without needing to use the remote for many tasks. Through a combination of HDMI-CEC to control newer equipment and a built-in IR blaster to control older equipment, the Fire TV Cube can also control your TV, A/V receiver, audio equipment, and cable box by voice.
The Fire TV Cube is available to pre-order today for $119.99 with an included IR Extender and Ethernet adapter. Prime members can pre-order the Fire TV Cube at a special introductory price of $89.99 during the next two days, June 7th & 8th, and save $30 off the regular price.
The Fire TV Cube is essentially a combination of the Fire TV 3, an Echo Dot, and a universal remote in one concise package. At its core, it’s a streaming media player capable of playing 4K UHD video at 60fps with support for HDR10 High Dynamic Range video. While it doesn’t support Dolby Vision, it does support Dolby Atmos surround sound, as well as the expected Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, and audio passthrough support.
Amazon has finally doubled the internal storage to 16GB for the Fire TV Cube, compared to the 8GB found on every Fire TV and Fire TV Stick model that came before it. That internal storage can be expanded by connecting a USB drive to the Fire TV Cube’s micro USB port using an OTG adapter. That micro USB port is not used to power the device, since there is a dedicated power connector. The Fire TV Cube also includes 2GB of RAM.
Connectivity comes in the form of 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi with 2×2 MIMO. While an integrated Ethernet port would have been preferred, Amazon has thankfully included an Ethernet adapter in the box for those who prefer the reliability of a wired connection. This is the same 10/100 Ethernet adapter that is used for the Fire TV 3 and Fire TV Stick 2. The Fire TV Cube also supports Bluetooth 4.2 for connecting game controllers, mice, keyboards, and Bluetooth headphones for private listening. It’s also how the included Alexa voice remote connects to the device, which is the same recently updated remote that comes with the Fire TV 3.
As many have suspected would be the case, the Fire TV Cube is powered by the same Amlogic S905Z quad-core 1.5GHz CPU and Mali-450 MP3 GPU as is found in the Fire TV 3. While this hardware is not as powerful as the Fire TV 2 from a gaming perspective, the Fire TV Cube surpasses the Fire TV 2 as far as video playback capabilities are concerned, thanks to its support for HDR video and 4K @ 60fps, compared to the Fire TV 2’s more limited 4K @ 30fps support. Long gone are the days of a separate Fire TV Gaming Edition, since the streaming device market as a whole has been shifting towards lowering device prices while focusing on video playback capabilities.
Those are the core specs of the Fire TV Cube, but the new flagship Fire TV goes far beyond simple specs thanks to its other new features. On top of the device are eight microphones with the same advanced beamforming technology found in Echo devices. Those mics are used for fully hands-free control of the Fire TV Cube, as well as other home theater devices. For those of you worried about placing what is essentially an Echo Dot near your TV speakers, Amazon says that the Fire TV Cube is able to suppress noise, including content that is currently playing on your TV, so that it can hear your requests from across the room, even while sitting next to your TV. In addition to the microphones, you’ll also find volume up/down buttons, a microphone mute button, and an Alexa action button on top, just like you’ll find on an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot.
The volume buttons control the volume of the internal speaker in the Fire TV Cube, which can, of course, also be adjusted by voice. This allows Alexa to respond to you even when your TV is off, without needing to turn on the TV every time. If you make an Alexa request to the Fire TV Cube while the TV is off, such as asking for the weather or controlling smart home devices, Alexa will respond through only the internal speaker, as if the Fire TV Cube were an Echo or Echo Dot. If the TV is on, which the Fire TV Cube can detect, you’ll hear Alexa responses only through the TV/home theater, accompanied by newly updated full-screen Alexa cards and visuals.
The Fire TV Cube’s hands-free capabilities go beyond what is currently available through pairing a Fire TV with an external Echo device, thanks to its universal remote capabilities. Using HDMI-CEC capabilities, if your equipment supports it, and a built-in IR blaster for all other equipment that doesn’t support HDMI-CEC, the Fire TV Cube can turn on/off your TV, change the volume, switch inputs, and change channels, all with just your voice. This is also true for A/V receivers and cable boxes.
While everything is turned off, you can say “Alexa, tune to NBC,” for example, and the Fire TV Cube will turn the TV on, turn your A/V receiver and/or cable box on (if necessary), switch to the correct input, and switch to the requested channel without ever having to touch a remote. If you just want to use an app or stream content on the Fire TV Cube, you can say “Alexa, launch Netflix” or “Alexa, watch Billions on SHOWTIME” and the TV will turn on, switch to the Fire TV Cube input if necessary, and load the app or start the requested show. You can then control playback, such as skipping episodes, pausing, fast-forwarding/rewinding, adjust the volume, or change apps/content, all by voice.
Thanks to the IR blaster, your TV or home theater equipment does not need to be “smart” for this to work. The Fire TV Cube itself emits standard IR signals to replicate the necessary remote control functionality. If your equipment isn’t near where you want to place the Fire TV Cube or if you want to place the Fire TV Cube in a shelf/cabinet, Amazon includes an optional external IR extender that plugs into the back of the Fire TV Cube. It’s a small box, that is about 1-inch on all sides, with an 8-foot cord attached that you can place in an optimal position if your home theater equipment isn’t able to receive the IR signals coming from the Fire TV Cube itself.
A “simple guided setup” process is used to configure the Fire TV Cube to control your TV and other A/V equipment. If you subscribe to traditional cable, Amazon says that the Fire TV Cube “is compatible with set-top boxes from top providers such as Comcast, DISH, and DIRECTV, covering more than 90 percent of households with a cable or satellite subscription.” Cable box compatibility affects your ability to change channels by voice, but you’ll still be able to change inputs, volume, and power state regardless, since those controls depend on your TVs compatibility.
Most Fire TV apps can already be launched by voice and allow for basic media control. Many have already implemented deeper Alexa control that allows for navigation within the app by voice once the app is open. Now that Alexa voice control is a bigger part of the Fire TV experience than ever, even more apps will probably add deeper Alexa control.
As already mentioned, the Fire TV Cube is available for pre-order for $119.99 starting today and will be released on June 21st. For the first time since the original Fire TV Stick debuted in 2014, Amazon is once again offering an exclusive introductory discount to Prime members. If Prime members pre-order by June 8th (tomorrow), they’ll get $30 off, bringing the price down to just $89.99. That is a significant discount and likely a price that won’t be beaten for a long time, if ever, so don’t miss it if you’re interested.
If you’re not a Prime member, you can sign-up for a free 30-day trial to be immediately eligible for the $30 discount. You can decide later if you want to keep Prime or cancel within the 30-day trial to not pay anything extra. Amazon is also offering a bundle that includes the Fire TV Cube and Amazon Cloud Cam together for $199.98, which saves you an extra $40 over buying them separately. Prime members still get the extra $30 off at checkout, making the bundle only $169.98. If you do pre-order the Fire TV Cube, be sure to register it by July 1st to receive a free $10 credit via email to spend on Amazon Video rentals or purchases.
Awesome! Question, will this cube conflict with my Echo dot in the same room???
Why would you want an additional Dot in the same room? I’d think you’d run into the same issues you’d expect if you had two Echos or two Dots in one room, like not being able to fully control which device would respond.
But what if you have an Echo or Echo Plus already in the same room… those play music much better…
I do have an Echo in my living room with the primary TV setup. In that case I would move the Echo to another room and pair the Cube with my surround sound system to play music.
Dots sound so bad for music that I always use external speakers with them for that. But the surround sound is also better than the Echo sound, and you have a lot more control over it than an Echo which is really bass-heavy.
You can change the wake word of each device if it matters which one hears you.
I’ve answered this question in a dedicated post here:
Great post! Did they provide the dimensions of the cube?
They’re in the listing on amazon.com that he linked in the piece. 3.4” x 3.4” x 3.0” (86.1 mm x 86.1 mm x 76.9 mm)
Then it’s not a cube – it’s a rectangular solid. Math pedantry FTW!
Your math is very sexy.
How will tell my voice over the tv voices?
The mics are not 360-degree mics like with an Echo. They’re all pointed forward toward the user. Plus it has some unique ESP stuff to tell when people are facing it. More info here.
Any idea of Uk release date?
I find this device to be disappointing. I was hoping for more powerful hardware. It seems the industry is stuck on these 2yo s905 SOCs. I was very close to using the 20% ebay coupon yesterday to buy another Shield, but passed on it thinking this would be my next device purchase. Now I regret it.
yeah, if I could get another Shield TV for $90, I’d do that instead of buying this thing.
Ebay had new Shield with both remote and controller for $200 – 20% – 8% deal site. Then I could have sold the controller for about $40. I could have had it for close to $110 or so. I probably should have jumped on it.
Hmmm…. One question right off the bat:
So I have an Echo in the family room, I like that because it sounds good to play music.. How does this new cube compare in sound?
I would think many people are going to ask the same question and/or how does this compete with an Echo already in the same room?
Just looking at it I would not think it would be much better than the Dot. I would expect that they assume that it would in most cases be hooked up to a surround sound system via the TV. The built in speaker is just to handle basic tasks for when the TV is not already on.
play through my AVR, like most home theatre setups. So I assume the box would would play through my AVR when that was on. But If I used the box to replace the echo, I’d be I introducing the potential for inferior sound when my AVR was off. Should I consider never turning my AVR off? I bet it’d get hot and use a lot of power. Hmmm.
I assume the internal speaker will be about as good as the Echo Dot, based on the size of the device. The Verge’s hands-on says that when you ask to play music, it always plays through the TV/sound system. So if the TV is off and you ask for music, it will always turn on the TV. Seems like that’s the only command that forces the TV on. Well, that and asking to play video.
I guess the Music only makes sense to for the tv/sound system to turn On. But there used to be a technology that was like HDMI through HDMI that would overlay graphics on the existing TV input. It seems that would be ideal for the cube, then it could always force my TV/sound system on AND would let me ask for, say the weather, while I was watching my satellite or cable TV. Like I can do now with my echo in the TV room.
I am by no means a streaming expert, but why doesn’t the box do Dolby Vision? I know the Plex people can take advantage of that, but is it because there are no streaming services with Dolby Vision?
Netflix has a lot of Dolby Vision content.
I‘m also disappointed that again mi Solby Vision support.
So still no way arround an Apple TV 4k
It comes down to cost. Dolby Vision would have likely required a different (i.e., more expensive) CPU and Dolby requires a per-device licensing fee for Dolby Vision support. Both of those would have pushed the cost of the device up so Amazon probably didn’t think it was worth it since there’s hardly any HDR content, yet alone Dolby Vision specific content.
I think Dolby Vision content is increasing rather swiftly. I counted at least 285 Dolby Vision movies available now on iTunes. Netflix has both original series and movies available in the format. VUDU also streams Dolby Vision titles, although I don’t know how many. And, of course, Amazon offers Dolby Vision streaming to certain TVs.
I pre-ordered, but not entirely sure I’m all that excited about it. I took the Prime member discount and had a 5.00 credit, so I got it ordered for 90.00. Ordering was total impulse and I might decide to cancel the order.
Who am I kidding? I just cancelled it. It just doesn’t seem like much of upgrade to the FTV2, except for all the Echo stuff and I recently sold my Echo’s.
I think you made the right call. Now, if you were in the market for another streamer, than I’d definitely consider this at $90 but i don’t see it as much of an upgrade to the FTV2
The main upgrade is you can control all of the devices. If you use a home theater system with different inputs for each function, like tv, dvr, game console, etc this device will let you just say which one you want and set the home theater and tv to the correct inputs, in addition to starting your apps. So when you say “Alexa Start Netflix” it will turn on and configure the tv, home theater, as well as start up Netflix.
Should I just pre-order this and sell it when the price goes up to 120.00?
Too much hassle to make $20-$30
The upgrade over FTV2 is 4K @ 60fps and HDR…..assuming you have a 4K HDR TV. The FTV2 doesn’t do HDR and only does 4k @ 30 fps.
Same here just cancelled my order.
This is a device I would buy if they would just settle the YouTube and YouTube TV issue. I would like to see power and volume buttons on the remote like the new Rokus but the IR blaster should be able to do it by voice but with extra steps.
I am looking forward to see how the Dot will work with my X1 once that voice control is working. I have been using the Kinect for voice control for years but you can no longer get them. My new X1X does not even support the Kinect.
What YouTube issue? Use Silk. Use Firefox. Sideload SmartTube. None of these solutions are particularly difficult.
But none of those options work for YouTube TV, only for the regular YouTube app.
Ah my bad. Thanks for the clarification. Sorry Stephen, I misunderstood.
Will this have the same OS as the fire tv dongle and can you run apps entirely from the micro sd card?
Yes, it will run Fire OS 6, which is based on Android 7.1. It does not have a micro SD card slot. You’ll need to put the micro SD card into an OTG reader, like this one that I have, to use it with the Fire TV Cube. Or you can use a standard USB card reader with an OTG adapter. Either solution will let you run apps off of a micro SD card.
If the FTV2 and the Cube were otherwise equal (are not) is the upgrade to 7.1 Android fork enough to want to upgrade my FTV2 to the Cube?
Absolutely not. There is zero advantage to Fire OS 6 over Fire OS 5 at this point. Amazon seems to have gone out of their way to make both function identically and is still updating both versions with the same features.
At some point, it’s inevitable thatAmazon will stop updating older models and then apps will stop supporting those older OS versions. That hasn’t happened yet, apart from DirecTV Now being the dumb one out to stop supporting 1st-gen devices. By the time it becomes an issue for older devices, I suspect we’ll be on the Cube 2 or beyond.
I would have liked to see dolby vision but having hdr is good enough. The only negative I see here is the remote should have been more like the firetv editions where it has the volume rocker on the actual remote since you can control volume.
Yeah, I fully agree. I suspect designing and making an all-new remote would have driven the price up a bit, so they probably didn’t want to do that just for volume buttons. You can whisper into the Alexa remote to change the volume semi-silently through the IR blaster. I’m hoping the UI provides some way to issue IR commands. Something like on-screen buttons in the shortcut menu (which pops up when you hold the home button) would be nice for silent universal remote functionality.
I wonder then if Amazon might bundle a new remote with volume/power/input buttons, in a future batch of the Cube?
Like you had noted how they’d slipped in BT vs Wi-Fi remote in the same FTV SKU before.
Then again such a change would be functionally different…
I agree, if the cube came with an updated remote with volume buttons I would have ordered it. The FireTV Edition remote would have been perfect.
Is usb port 2.0 or 3.0?
I was excited about this when the rumours hit last year. Not so much now (lack of Ethernet vexes me), although I really like the infrared control and extender/adapter…
I would be more excited if Amazon announced it will start selling/renting 4k hdr movies. I am not going to spend on 4k personally without the expanded color gamut and hdr. Most people agree the resolution upgrade isn’t a big deal from 1080p, it’s the color and hdr that makes the biggest difference.
I also just bought a Panasonic ub420 uhd player which has great hdr controls for projectors etc, but no streaming HDR rental/purchase option. I hope when Amazon does eventually -arguably belatedly- add hdr movie content, that it will be available on other devices such as my panasonic player via the Prime streaming app.
If they don’t start adding hdr content soon, I may grudgingly buy an apple tv instead.
The main reason to go with this cube device for me is the infrared control, and I can see myself recommending it and/or buying a couple when they add hdr content.
It comes with an ethernet adapter in the box.
what’s up with the “Note: This item is only available from third-party sellers (see all offers).
For whatever reason, it is now unavailable to order. Not sure if that’s a temporary glitch or they already oversold what they can ship immediately.
Seems to be available to pre-order again!
Sigh, alas it’s not available in Canada.
I know I’m tilting at windmills. If I wanted an echo I would have an echo. Hopefully, a method to disable that function will be available.
We are still saddled with DSL with no relief in sight. Every bit of bandwidth must be optimized meaning that fewer devices accessing the internet, the better. This also means an ethernet connection is the only way to stream content and spending a little more money for an adapter. HDR content availability for us and I’m sure many others is a very, very far off prospect.
I’m on the fence. I’ve pre-ordered. I’m not sure how much of an improvement this unit would be. Our FTV1 is old and I suspect support for it will wane soon. I might need to assess other options.
The Ethernet adapter comes in the box.
FTV 3 pendant and adapter might be a better option for you…..
Good writeup. As to the device itself, call me kooky, but I actually do play games on my fire tv–casual, yes, but consistently and often with my kids who aren’t so gung-ho as to want an XBOX. Given how fast things move in the Android world, and that something like the Shield is already more powerful than a Playstation3, I assumed that Android gaming would become a big thing. It still might, though obviously not on Amazon devices. Bummer. A powerful gaming device can easily stream HQ video, it’s the reverse that’s not always true, as in this case.
Am I the only one that just wants a 2nd-gen Fire TV box that can do 4K 60fps and HDR? Just about everything else added in this cube (and the previous pendant for that matter) is just buzzers and bells that I never really asked for.
I’m with you. I wanted something that was more powerful than my ftv2 and had HDR(I skipped the 3rd gen dongle). I’m still preordering because I need another anyway. But I’m still disappointed.
You’re not alone
Interesting that even though I signed up with Amazon to get on their insider list to be the first to know when this cube comes out, I got three emails from AFTV News and one from Cord Cutters News BEFORE Amazon sent out the official email about it.
Would this new Fire TV Cube be a replacement for an existing Fire TV and a harmony remote? Will the Cube provide, via the IR capabilities, similar functionality as the harmony?
As I was reading through this I kept on thinking “but why don’t you put power and volume buttons on the remote?!?” I don’t want to always control my TV with my voice. Then I had the thought…but my kids will. With 4 young boys my remote is ALWAYS getting lost. Now they won’t even have to (or want to) touch the remote. I still wish it came it came with the remote offered with the firetv edition…but never losing the remote again will be a big help.
Well i replaced my AFTV with a Android TV box, my Dots with Google Home and i cancelled my Prime subscription….. this is not going to get me back in the Amazon ecosystem.
An Android box is the best option unless you only use Prime Video, in my opinion. They have more usb ports, ethernet, SD card expandability and twice as much ram for less than half the price. You also don’t have to work around Amazon’s launcher.
Android TV, which is what Wolfman mentioned, has Prime Video.
Very disappointed. Wanted something more powerful by all measures than Fire TV 2 with dedicated Ethernet and SD ports (at a minimum) not some crummy Ethernet to mini-USB adapter. Then the fact it’s an Echo when anyone who wants an Echo already has an Echo in their living rooms. And we already know when an Echo is playing music you already need to speak especially loud to get it to shut off or do something, I am pretty sure this won’t be any better. The Fire TV and the Echo are great apart but combining it hurts both. Guess I’m never upgrading from the Fire TV 2, going to stop purchasing movies from Amazon going forward since I can’t trust there will be usable hardware. Very sad, but tank god for Movies Anywhere app.
The actual list of compatible cable/satellite boxes is: DIRECTV, DISH, Comcast, Spectrum, Verizon, Cox, Altice, and Frontier according to https://www.amazon.com/b/ref=sk_dp_voicecom_pack?node=17284748011
No Bluetooth sync. Does this mean no connecting to external speaker when TV is off like a dot, for example, can?
No voice channel changing of antenna channels. Not even a generic “Watch Channel 8”. :-(
I assume similar to the pendant, that the apps2fire app will not work with this. It is by far the easiest way to side load apps to my FTV2 boxes.
Interesting as I need to replace my 1st gen Firestick which has gotten way too slow. I plan to replace it with a wired Ethernet connection but to use this Ethernet adapter adds a box, power cable and a cable to the cube. Surely it would have been cheaper to put a jack on the cube instead! The Prime price looks fine and is similar to my 1st gen FireTV which still works fine, but I’m not sure if there are better options.
Since I have my gear in a cabinet, I assume the echo part won’t work behind a cabinet. Can I talk into the voice remote instead? If so, I can use my existing IR blaster and learning remote, and use the Cube remote for voice control, right?
Yes, you’ll be able to talk into the remote instead of using the hands-free capabilities. So if you tuck the Cube in a closed cabinet with the IR extender outside, you’ll still be able to use the universal remote functionality. Also, the Ethernet adapter does not need separate power when used with the Cube. That’s just for the Stick and Fire TV 3 so it can pass power to those devices through the Ethernet adapter.
Great, thanks! I will buy one then. It’s good to know that it won’t require an additional power outlet, and I can tuck the cube and adapter in the cabinet. I’m hoping the voice home theater controls will allow my little ones to watch their programs — once they get past saying “Alexa, fart”
As a Fire TV 2 owner, the only upgrades I’m interested in are HDR and 4K@60fps. But how much content available on the FTV can even utilize those features? I know Netflix has HDR content, but what else does? Vudu and YouTube are obviously out of the picture (I doubt YT HDR works in a web browser). Same thing with 4K@60 — I’m sure most 4K content is 24/30fps anyway. Sports are nice at 60fps but how many streaming TV providers offer 4K broadcasts? None I’m guessing.
Can the IR and HDMI-CEC features can be disabled?
I already own Logitech Harmony Hubs and wouldn’t want the Cube interfering with their operation.
Ah, nevermind… The FAQ page says if you use a universal remote, buy an Echo and a Fire TV…
Not a smart move, Amazon. Why wouldn’t you just allow these features to be disabled? To make them completely incompatible limits your user base.
“Place Fire TV cube at least 1-2 feet away from speakers”. This seems like it could be tricky for a lot of setups.
Can you connect the Fire TV Game Controller to this and how does it compare to the Fire TV 2? The hardware is underwhelming but 16 GB of internal storage is tempting.
Could this play Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath? Shovel Knight? Star Wars: KOTOR?
Yes, it works with the Fire TV Game Controller, but just not with the headphone jack. Shovel Knight and Star Wars: KOTOR are already listed as compatible with the Fire TV Cube, but Oddworld Stranger’s Wrath is not.
Ah well they’ve made the purchasing decision easy, won’t be getting one as I have an Echo Dot, and the rest of the specs are the same as the Fire TV 3.
So may as well buy that and save money.
Not the firetv 2 killer I was hoping for. Oh well.
I waited months for a box not as powerful as the 2nd Gen, that I can no longer get. This is a major wtf is Amazon thinking move! As others have said, those who wanted an Echo, more than likely have one already. I was really hoping for more powerful specs…
FTV2 is still my favorite, the day I get a true HDR TV set, I’ll probably go with Nvidia Shield.
In theory, this would control Netflix beyond simply opening the app, right? For example, I’d want to say “open Netflix and watch Moana”. Or whatever the Alexa-speak equivalent is. Any idea how deep the voice integration is with apps like ESPN and Netflix?
I’ve been eyeing a switch to the Nvidia shield because it has an internal plex server and based on Lon’s review’s it’s got much more powerful hardware, snappier interface, ethernet ports, and able to play high quality video better. Not to mention it has access to the youtube app.
Unfortunately this Fire tv device doesn’t seem to compete on those fronts for my needs.
So I have a similar issue to those with a Dot in the same room…. I have a Show in my living room, where my entertainment system also is. Right now I use my Xbox One to turn on the TV, cable box and receiver. I read that the Xbox will soon be Echo enabled, so that solves one problem. But what do I do about the show? They should also have put a camera in the Cube. How awesome would it be to have a picture-in-picture while on a phone call via the Cube!
Can this be used to view video calls from the Echo Show?
Anyone know if this has capability to be a multi-room audio source? Like if I want to watch a game on the TV setup with the fire tv cube, and pipe the audio to other echo devices around the house?
Will the music app be improved to handle the additional requests for people to play music through their home theater speaker system. Currently when you ask Alexa on a Fire tv to play music it opens a card on the screen and not the full app.
I received my FireTV Cube today, unboxed it … connected it … attempting to view one of my surveillance IP cameras and … Alexa says “Sorry cameras don’t work on this device”.
What’s up with that Amazon? The product page clearly says:
“Ask Alexa to play music and Fire TV Cube turns on your TV and starts playing with onscreen album art. Plus, view camera feeds and control lights, thermostats, and other smart home devices—just ask.”
Well, nevermind my previous rant … after several hours of being up — the IP cameras just started working.
Thank you Amazon!