Amazon Fire TV Cube Review: Alexa can potentially change the way you watch TV

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Amazon Fire TV Cube review summary:

Expert rating: 4/5

Design & build

Hardware & software

Performance and content

Remote and Alexa

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Pros

  • Smooth performance
  • 4K HDR 10+ & Dolby Vision playback
  • Support for Dolby Atmos 
  • CEC support for equipment
  • Excellent app library

Cons

  • Pricey
  • No HDMI 2.1 cable in the box

Gone are the days when TVs were idiot boxes and cable tv was their oxygen. With the internet becoming affordable, the arrival of smart TVs and media streaming devices, the home entertainment landscape has changed and changed for good. Likes of Amazon Fire TV Stick and Android-based media streaming devices have further democratized the smart viewing experience by taking smart features such as Apps support, screen mirroring, cast to tv, etc. to countless televisions globally. [हिंदी में रिव्यु पढ़ें]

Today, we will be reviewing one such media streaming device  – the Amazon Fire TV Cube. but before we get to the details, let’s me address one query that must be troubling potential buyers:

Q. How Amazon Fire TV Cube is different from FireTV 4K stick?

A: The Fire TV Cube is a more premium streaming device offering from Amazon with Alexa integration. Unlike, the FireTV 4K stick, the Fire TV Cube has a built-in speaker and mic so it can listen to your queries and answer back. Basically, the FireTV Cube can do everything that Fire TV 4K stick does by taking your voice commands. 

In a nutshell, the Fire TV Cube has a built-in speaker and microphone for Alexa, better connectivity features, and more processing power than the FireTV 4K stick.

Navigation this review:

Amazon Fire TV Cube Unboxing: What’s in the box

Amazon has packed the Fire TV Cube in a neat rectangular box. Inside the box, you will find the Fire TV Cube along with Alexa Voice Remote (3rd Gen), IR cable, ethernet adapter, and power cable. Amazon chooses not to bundle an HDMI cable with the Fire TV Cube. In case you are buying an HDMI cable, we would recommend buying a certified HDMI cable that supports full HDMI 2.1 bandwidth to ensure a better audio-visual experience.


Fire TV Cube price in India and specs

Price: Rs 12,999
Size: 86.1 mm x 86.1 mm x 76.9 mm
Weight: 465 g
Processor: Hexa-core (Quad-core at up to 2.2GHz + Dual-core at up to 1.9GHz)
GPU: ARM Mali G52-MP2 (3EE), 800MHz
Storage: 16 GB internal
Memory: 2 GB
Wifi: Dual-band, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 5.0 + LE
Ports: HDMI, power, micro-USB, wired infrared support
Output: 2160p, 1080p and 720p up to 60 fps
Audio: Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass-through up to 5.1.


 Amazon Fire TV Cube review: Design and Build

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Amazon has justified the name of its new streaming device from every nook. It literally looks like a cube-shaped box that is lightweight and can be easily carried around. The Cube comes with a glossy finish on four side surfaces and a matte finish at the top and bottom. 

All the control buttons are placed at the top. There’s volume control, a button to mute microphones, and a button to trigger Alexa or to enter setup mode (more on that later). Up top, you will also spot eight microphones that are always eager to catch the magic word “Alexa”. There is a LED strip along the edges that lights up in different colors in response to the action being performed. It glows in Cyan color when you call Alexa. Similarly, it lights up in white while adjusting volume, orange in setup mode, and pulsates green during calls. If it’s flashing yellow that means you have a notification and if it glows solid red that means your microphone is off. 

Amazon has stacked all the ports at the back. It has a micro-USB port, IR port, HDMI port, and power cord port. Build quality-wise, I find it reasonable and strong enough to withstand any accidental drops. My only issue with the Fre TV Cube design is that it attracts smudges – which isn’t all that bad since you won’t be touching it very often.

Fire TV Cube review: Hardware and software

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Amazon has packed enough firepower under the hood. The second-generation Cube is driven by an Amlogic Hexa-core processor where four performance cores can clock up to 2.2GHz while two efficiency cores can tick up to 1.9GHz. The processor is aided by 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. 

Clearly, in comparison to Fire TV Sick 4K, the Fire TV Cube is better equipped. The cube supports HDMI CEC, which enables you to control the TV via Cube’s remote or Alexa voice command. It supports both Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band Wi-Fi for connectivity.

Software-wise, the Fire TV Cube comes with a built-in Fire TV OS. Amazon overhauled its OS UI at the fag end of last year to offer a “new Fire TV experience”. The new UI on Cube lets you create multiuser profiles for more personalized viewing. There’s a carousel up top displaying a few posters followed by a strip displaying Home, Find, and Live tabs along with popular apps. 

As you scroll down, there are horizontal carousels listing down recently viewed or content recommendations from various apps but clearly Prime Video content gets higher priority. The Live tab lists all live channels according to your subscriptions. For us, it was able to list out live channels from Zee 5 and Sony Liv, however, it can’t list Disney+ Hotstar live channels. All in all, we are quite content with the new user experience on the FireTV Cube.

FireTV Cube Review: Performance and Content

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With such aforementioned internals, the Cube feels much more agile than Fire TV Stick. We were able to switch between apps without pop-in issues which is something we encounter in most android streaming boxes (except Nvidia Sheild) and sticks. We were able to open Netflix then go to the home and then open Prime Videos in a few seconds. Thanks to the upgraded specs, the Cube can deliver 4K Ultra HD content with Dolby Vision or HDR 10+ at up to 60 fps.

The Fire TV Cube manages to deliver stunning 4K visuals when contented to a stable network with speeds of more than 15mbps. We streamed several shows and movies on Fire TV Cube including in Dolby Vision and HDR 10+ and each time the result was nothing short of a visual treat. We revisited Stranger Things, Our Planet on Netflix and Grand Tour, and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan on Prime Videos to check out FireTV Cube performance.

During our review, we also tested HD and SDR content on the Fire TV Cube. The results were once again promising. It manages to upscale HD content for a 4K screen with a good amount of details and colors. Of course, the upscaling can’t match the crispness or vibrance of a native 4K feed. 

The only caveat I have with Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s decision to set it HDR mode ‘always on’ by default, even while consuming SDR content or navigating system UI. By default, it should have been set to ‘Adaptive’ instead. 

So how to adjust dynamic range settings on Fire TV Cube?

Well, you news to open settings, then tap on display and audio section, followed by display tab. Now, you will find the Dynamic rage setting where you will have to choose Always HDR to Adaptive

Barring this small blip, the FireTV Cube manages to deliver some excellent streaming and viewing experience. In fact, we compared the playback with native apps on our 65-inch TCL P725 pre-installed apps. Differences in visuals were quite noticeable to everyone in the room.

Amazon FireTV Cube Review: Remote and Alexa

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Let’s now talk about remote and Alexa, points on which we earlier touched in this review. Amazon has bundled a remote with the Cube which looks similar to what you’d get with Amazon’s other streaming devices. It’s a compact and handy remote with dedicated buttons for Prime Video, Netflix, Amazon Music, and for app library. It also has a dedicated button for Alexa just below the power button. With the FireTV Cube remote, we were able to control our TCL P725 TV and connected Tata Sky set-top box.  

Coming to Alexa, it is the main attraction of Fire TV Cube. With Alexa smart assistant on board, you can simply ask Alexa to jump between apps, control your other compatible connected devices such as smart lights, and smart home appliances. 

I was able to ask Alexa to play specific content and it worked flawlessly most of the time. For instance, I asked Alexa to play ‘Ozark Season 2 episode 3’ and it was able to fire up Netflix and play it instantaneously. Similarly, when I asked Alexa to play Scam 1992, it managed to play it on Sony Liv. We could also successfully command it to play Mandalorian on Disney+ Hotstar in a single command. 

Review Verdict: Should you buy the Amazon Fire TV Cube?

Editor’s rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.

We have no doubt in recommending Amazon Fire TV Cube as a capable streaming device. The only question here is whether it justifies its cost. Well, that’s a tough question to answer for everybody. Most will argue that it’s better to buy a Fire TV Stick 4K with an Echo Dot speaker on the side. Well, they have a compelling case too but if you are not particularly chasing value and you are looking for an amazing streaming experience, the Fire TV Cube is what should serve you better. With Fire TV Cube I can control almost the entire home entertainment setup that includes a set-top box, soundbar, and smart TV with just my voice. In fact, it lets me control a lot more smart devices other than those in the entertainment setup. All said and done, the Fire TV Cube is definitely worth recommending. 

Reasons to buy:

  • Smooth performance
  • 4K HDR 10+ & Dolby Vision playback
  • Support for Dolby Atmos 
  • CEC support for equipment
  • Excellent app library

Reasons to not buy:

  • Pricey
  • No HDMI 2.1 cable in the box
Deepak RajawatDeepak Rajawat
Experienced technology journalist with over 7-years of experience. Before embracing online journalism, he has worked with several legacy publications including print editions at Hindustan Times and The Statesman. He also has a keen interest in Sports, which he used to cover with equal enthusiasm in his early career.

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