Amazon has introduced another Alexa-powered device the Fire TV Cube, which aims to simplify multi-controller related hassles in the home entertainment system.
The Fire TV Cube looks like a set-top box for televisions and an Alexa-powered device that tells weather information and controls smart home devices. What makes it stand out from other Alexa-series devices is that it features IR blasters on all four sides. As such, the Fire TV Cube can take over and control all TV setup devices, from cable boxes to soundbars and A/V receivers.
The Fire TV Cube can also control the television when connected via the HDMI-CEC port. Once connected, when users ask “Alexa, play Black Mirror,” for example, the TV will turn on, call up Netflix and play the show. Users can also ask the voice assistant to switch the channel to ESPN or Fox News if they want.
The Cube still comes with a slim remote supporting voice commands, and users will still need to keep their cable remote to access DVR and channel guide. Nonetheless, the Fire TV Cube represents the first step of Amazon’s ambition to take on home entertainment and voice control.
Amazon said the Cube will become more powerful over time in its ability to voice-control other appliances such as game consoles and Blu-ray players via software updates.
Aside from the IR power, the Fire TV Cube works like a Echo Dot and Fire TV combined. It offers full Alexa capabilities and video streaming services.
Because a TV usually stands by the wall, Amazon has positioned all eight far-field microphones as well as the blue light indicating Alexa functions at the front of the Fire TV Cube.
Furthermore, the Fire TV Cube supports an Echo Show or an Echo Spot interface. Users can see lyrics on the TV screen when they ask Alexa to play a song. They can also call up Ring camera’s real-time footage using Alexa.
The company explained that the decision to adopt the Echo Show interface is to make the device voice-centric, since voice interaction is still different from TV remote interaction.
The Fire TV Cube will be available on June 21 for US$120 in the U.S.