Amazon’s new Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro has arrived and it’s packed with features that Fire TV owners have been wanting for years. Here is an overview of how everything works and if it holds up to being called the best Fire TV remote available.
The build quality of the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro is on par with most standard Fire TV remotes before it. It uses the same hard matte black plastic and black rubber buttons that you’re used to if you’ve ever used a Fire TV remote. The color-on-black app shortcut buttons make the remote seem a bit less cluttered than the color-on-color app shortcut buttons of other Fire TV remotes, but it’s, otherwise, business as usual as far as fit and finish are concerned.
The length of the Pro remote falls in between the other two remotes in Amazon’s current lineup. It’s slightly longer than the standard Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote that comes with most Fire TV models and it’s slightly shorter than the Fire TV Smart TV Alexa Voice Remote that comes with all Fire TV Smart TVs and the 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube. The Pro remote is technically a little thicker than the other two remotes because it is more rounded on top, but you can barely tell, even with both remotes side-by-side. What’s more noticeable is the flatter sides of the Pro remote compared to the sharper edge that standard Fire TV remotes have. This gives your fingers a nicer place to rest and makes the remote feel more substantial in the hand, even though it’s not really much larger.
The Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro is the first Fire TV remote with backlit buttons and it’s implemented very well with no perceivable light bleeding out of the button edges. All labeled buttons light up, including the app shortcut buttons, leaving only the circular D-pad and select buttons without any lights. The buttons light up automatically when the remote is moved, so it’s lit up and ready to use in a dark room before you even press a button. Once the remote isn’t moved or used for about 7 seconds, the backlight turns off on its own. A light sensor in the remote prevents the buttons from lighting up in bright rooms to preserve the battery life of the included pair of non-rechargeable AAA batteries.
Another first for a Fire TV remote is the remote finder capabilities of the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro. At the bottom edge of the remote are three circular openings for the internal speaker that can be triggered to beep. This is done by either asking an Alexa device to “Find my remote” or by pressing a button in the Fire TV mobile app. Once triggered, the remote will beep for up to 5 minutes and stop when any button is pressed.
The beeping is nice and loud so it’s easy to hear even with the remote stuffed between couch cushions. The Fire TV that the remote is paired to must be powered on for the remote finder to work. The remote also has to be within Bluetooth range of the Fire TV, which is about 30 ft, so if you have a big house and the remote found its way to the other side, it may not be close enough to beep.
Just above the four app shortcut buttons on the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro are a pair of customizable buttons, labeled 1 and 2, that you won’t find on any other Fire TV Remote. These buttons can be assigned to open a specific app, execute a specific voice command, or load one of several areas of the Fire TV interface.
Pressing one of the customizable buttons for the first time will bring up the above screen to guide you through configuring the button. Once the button is configured to perform your desired action, you can press and hold the button down for about 5 seconds to change what it does. You can also change the action of either button in the Fire TV settings menu under Controllers > Amazon Fire TV Remotes > Alexa Voice Remote PRO.
While configuring a custom button, options for the button appear on the right side of the screen. The app you opened most recently can be selected from the top of the list of options, or you can select the “Apps” option near the bottom to see a list of all of your apps to pick from, with one major caveat. Custom buttons cannot be assigned to open sideloaded apps. All sideloaded apps are missing from the list of apps you can pick from and if the most recent app you opened happens to be a sideloaded app, it will not be presented as the recent app in the initial list of options. Not being able to open a sideloaded app with the custom buttons is a very disappointing omission by Amazon. One workaround could be to assign the custom button to open my “Apps” shortcut which will open your list of apps and include all your sideloaded apps.
Instead of assigning the custom button to open an app, you can assign it to execute any Alexa command. Below the first option to assign the button to your most recent app is a list of your last three voice commands. The possibilities for using the buttons to execute voice commands are endless since anything Alexa can do can be mapped to a custom button. You can bring up security cameras, execute entire Alexa Routines, display the weather, and much more, all with a single button press. Just speak the command once into the remote microphone and then select it from the custom button options.
In addition to launching apps and executing Alexa commands, the other option for the Pro remote’s custom buttons is assigning them to load an action. These actions boil down to having the custom button load one of several Fire TV screens which include the channel guide, your watchlist, notifications, the “My Stuff” screen, the profile selection screen, the Amazon Music app, and the Amazon Photos app. Amazon told The Verge that it will be adding the Recents screen to this list in the future, but you can assign the button to open my Recents shortcut app right now if that’s what you want it to do. In fact, many of my 35 shortcut apps work quite well with the custom buttons.
In the upper right of the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro is a new headphone button. Pressing it opens an overlay on the right side of the screen to manage Bluetooth audio devices. If you don’t have any audio devices paired with your Fire TV, it will immediately begin searching for Bluetooth devices when the headphone button is pressed. Otherwise, a list of your Bluetooth audio devices will be listed.
I fully expected Amazon to take the easy route and just load the Fire TV’s default Bluetooth settings screen when the headphone button is pressed, but the custom implementation they’ve created is a much more elegant solution. By being able to pair, connect, and disconnect Bluetooth audio devices through this new overlay, it means you never need to leave the app you’re in just to switch between your TV speakers and private listening device. While including a headphone jack on the Pro remote, as you have on the Luna game controller, would have certainly been nice, this new headphone pairing interface makes wireless headphones even more convenient than physically plugging in headphones to a remote. It’s worth noting that only audio Bluetooth devices work through this new menu, so you won’t be able to quickly pair and unpair Bluetooth keyboards, mice, or game controllers with the headphone button on the Pro remote.
Other Buttons and Functions
All buttons and functions of all older Fire TV remotes are present on the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro with the exception of the Recent button, which is labeled with an icon of two interconnected squares on the long remote that comes with all Fire TV Smart TVs and the 3rd-gen Fire TV Cube. Given the 3 column layout of Fire TV remotes, Amazon would have had to add another row of buttons to keep the Recent button, so it’s understandable that one button was dropped instead. However, between the Recent button and the Settings button, I wish they dropped the Settings button instead since all it does is load the shortcut screen, which can already be displayed by holding the home button of any Fire TV remote.
As for all the other buttons, they behave as you’d expect. The guide button with a TV icon loads the channel guide, and the power, volume, and mute buttons can be assigned to control TVs, soundbars, and AV receivers. For those curious, the app shortcut buttons on the Pro remote, with the exception of the Prime Video button, can still be configured to open any app using my Remapper utility, just as they can on any other Fire TV remote with app shortcut buttons.
The Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro is compatible with all Fire TV Cube models, the 1st and 2nd-gen Fire TV Stick, the Fire TV Stick Lite, the Fire TV Stick 4K and 4K Max, and the 3rd-gen Fire TV pendant. It’s also compatible with all Amazon-branded Fire TV Smart TVs including the new QLED Omni, regular Omni, and the 4-Series budget TVs. As for 3rd-party Fire TV Smart TVs, it’s compatible with those made by Insignia and Toshiba. To determine which Fire TV model you have, follow this guide.
The Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro is easily the best Fire TV remote that has ever existed, but you probably already knew that would be the case. What you may not have known is just how well everything about it has been pulled off. That is what has impressed me the most. The remote feels premium, the backlight is crisp and intelligent, the headphone button adds real convenience through a new custom Bluetooth interface, the customizable buttons have endless potential despite not supporting sideloaded apps, and you won’t know how you ever lived without the remote finder. For those with a premium device, like a Fire TV Cube or Fire TV Smart TV, adding the Pro remote is a no-brainer. For everyone else with a Fire TV Stick, which is the vast majority of Fire TV owners, the $34.99 cost is certainly a tough sell since the Pro remote likely costs more than you paid for your Fire TV Stick, to begin with. If you can justify the cost of the Fire TV Alexa Voice Remote Pro, you won’t be disappointed.