Despite only gaining a few more buttons, compared to the previous remote, the new Alexa Voice Remote for Fire TV devices has quite a bit going on under the hood. I’ve started doing a bit of unconventional experimenting with the new remote and one of the things that I’ve learned is that the power and volume commands for the new buttons are stored internally on the remote, while other universal remote capabilities are transmitted through the Fire TV device.
As you’re probably well aware, the new Alexa Voice Remote has power, volume, and mute buttons so that it can directly control your home theater equipment. These buttons are programmed using the exact same “Equipment Control” options that were initially introduced with the Amazon Fire TV Cube. For modern TVs, the Fire TV or Fire TV Stick will automatically detect and configure the buttons with nothing more than a quick verification from yourself that they’re set up correctly.
If you don’t use a soundbar or AV receiver, all of the new buttons will control your TV. If you do have a soundbar or AV receiver, then you’ll be able to select whether you want the volume and mute buttons to control your TV speakers or your external speakers. Additionally, by default, with external speakers configured, pressing the power button on the new remote will turn on or turn off both your TV and external speakers simultaneously. If you prefer, you can set it so that pressing the power button only controls your TV’s power. Regardless of how you have it set, you can always say “Alexa, turn on/off the receiver/soundbar” to control the external audio device separately.
It’s worth noting that the remote’s power, volume, and mute button functionality is stored on the remote itself. This means that, once these buttons are configured, they will work independently from the Fire TV device that the remote controls. The Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, or Fire TV Cube can be completely unpowered/unplugged and the remote will still be able to control the power and volume of your TV and/or external audio equipment.
This is an important capability to have for people who like to keep their Fire TV Stick powered off, such as those who are powering the device through a USB port on their TV that is only powered if the TV is on. With the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K connected to such a USB port, you’ll have no problems using the Alexa Voice Remote to power on the TV while the Fire TV Stick is unpowered.
The new Alexa Voice Remote has several universal remote capabilities beyond just power and volume control. It can perform all the same tasks as the Fire TV Cube, which includes switching TV inputs and tuning directly to channels, by name or number, on a cable or satellite set-top box. These additional universal remote capabilities rely on using your voice and speaking to Alexa, so, unlike the power and volume controls, they do require that the Fire TV device be powered on.