The Amazon Fire TV Cube has a lot of great features, but there is one awesome capability that hardly anyone uses because it is turned off by default. By flipping this one slightly buried setting, Fire TV Cube owners will have a much better experience because it means they’ll never need to point their remote at their TV again to turn it on/off or change the volume.
Nearly all TVs use infrared (IR) remotes that need to “see” the TV to work. That’s why we’re all used to pointing our remotes at the object we want to control. However, even if your TV uses an IR remote, there’s a setting available only on the Fire TV Cube that allows you to control the power of your TV and/or the volume without ever needing to point your remote at the TV.
All current Fire TV models, including the Fire TV Sticks, come with the latest Alexa Voice Remote which includes power and volume controls. While the remote does not need to be pointed at the Fire TV to control it, it does need to be pointed at your TV/Soundbar/AVR to control the power and volume of those devices. That’s because the remote uses Bluetooth (BT) to communicate with the Fire TV, but it still relies on IR to communicate power and volume controls to your home theater equipment. BT sends radio waves out in all directions, similar to WiFi, but IR requires line-of-sight to the object being controlled.
When you set up a Fire TV Cube to control your home theater equipment, like all other Fire TV models that come with the newest Alexa Voice Remote, it configures itself to use the IR blasters in the remote to control the power and volume of your TV, Soundbar, and/or AVR. This means that the remote is communicating directly with your home theater equipment via IR, so you need to point your remote at the equipment. However, buried in the advanced Equipment Control settings of the Fire TV Cube is an option to switch from using the remote’s IR capabilities for power and volume control, to using the IR blasters built into the Fire TV Cube itself.
When you switch the “Volume & Power Buttons” setting of the Fire TV Cube from “Fire TV Remote” to “Fire TV Cube,” it causes the Fire TV Cube to act as a middle-man for power and volume controls between your remote and your TV/Sounbar/AVR. With the setting switched to “Fire TV Cube,” pressing either the power or volume buttons on your remote will communicate the instruction to your Fire TV Cube via BT and then the Fire TV Cube will send the command to your equipment via IR. This makes it so that you never have to point the Fire TV remote for volume and power commands to work. You could be in an adjacent room and the power and volume buttons will still work, as long as the remote is within BT range (about 30 feet) of the Fire TV Cube.
You can find this option under Settings > Equipment Control > Manage Equipment > Advanced Settings > Volume & Power Buttons. Just switch it from the default configuration of “Fire TV Remote” to “Fire TV Cube.” This works for either the 1st-generation or 2nd-generation Fire TV Cube, as long as you have the newest Alexa Voice Remote with power and volume buttons.
You may be wondering why this option isn’t enabled by default if it’s so great. The reason is likely to avoid user error and confusion. If the power and volume buttons on the remote aren’t working, most of the time it’s because the IR signal isn’t reaching the TV/Soundbar/AVR. The average person will instinctively reposition their remote to better point at the TV when this happens, so the default configuration, where the remote is sending the IR signal to the TV, will result in most people solving their problem without needing to know anything about how the Fire TV Cube or remote work. On the other hand, if the IR signal was configured to come out of the Fire TV Cube by default, as I suggest is the better experience, the user would need to know to reposition their Fire TV Cube or the included IR Extender to solve their problem, which is unlikely.
So, if you have a Fire TV Cube and it or the included IR Extender are positioned correctly to have line-of-sight to your TV/Soundbar/AVR, then I suggest that you change the default setting to use the Fire TV Cube for power and volume control, instead of the remote. This will allow you to turn your TV on or off and change the volume the same way that you control your Fire TV itself, that is, without needing to ever point the remote.