A huge focus of the newly announced Amazon Fire TV Cube has been on its hands-free capabilities. It’s undesrtandable since it’s a key feature that differentiates it from all other streaming media players. While controlling your home theater without touching anything seems like very a handy feature for most people, it’s understandable that some people aren’t interested in it or it just won’t work well for their home theater setup. The good news is that you can never use the hands-free features of the Fire TV Cube and/or even tuck it away out of sight in a cabinet but still take advantage of its universal remote capabilities.
If you’re someone who never wants to use the Fire TV Cube’s hands-free feature, whether it be because you don’t like the idea of an always-listening device in your home or you think it’ll have trouble understand you or some other reason, you can still use it to simplify your life. That’s because all of the universal remote features can be used through the voice remote. If you leave the Fire TV Cube’s microphones muted indefinitely, you can still pick up the voice remote and ask to turn on/off your TV, switch inputs, change channels, or any other universal remote request by pressing the mic button on the remote and speaking into it like you’re already probably used to doing with existing Fire TVs.
With all of your equipment off, you can pick up the remote, press the mic button, say “turn on the TV,” and your home theater will come to life without ever needing to use the hands-free aspect of the Fire TV Cube. At any point while watching TV you can press the mic button and ask to change the volume, jump to a channel on your cable box, or switch everything off, all while the microphones on the Fire TV Cube remain muted.
This flexibility is nice for those of you who would rather just tuck the Fire TV Cube out of sight in a cabinet, instead of placing it out in the open, like is recommended. Thanks to the included IR extender, you can still use the Fire TV Cube to control your other home theater equipment. With the Fire TV Cube out of sight and muted, you can place the IR Extender somewhere that it will be seen by your home theater equipment and just use the voice remote to control everything as needed.
Amazon says the Fire TV Cube is even compatible with third-party IR extender cables. This is because they’ve, thankfully, used a standard IR interface and port, instead of building a proprietary system. So if you have equipment that you want to control behind cabinet doors or placed all around on different shelves where the included IR extender can’t reach, you can use something like a quad-head IR extender. Just plug it into the IR port on the back of the Fire TV Cube and position each tiny emitter in front of the equipment you want to control.