Amazon’s latest Alexa-enabled device has arrived – and it might just be the most useful one yet.
The Amazon Fire TV Cube is essentially a Fire TV and an Amazon Echo rolled into one.
It can power your home entertainment system on and off, switch inputs on your TV, play or pause the show you’re watching, and, of course, handle basic Alexa questions like, “What’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?”
In fact, Amazon expects the Fire TV Cube to be so powerful and capable, you’ll rarely have to touch your TV remote.
The Fire TV Cube is priced at $US120 and is available for preorder starting Thursday.
Here’s everything it can do:
The Fire TV Cube is just that — a cube. It comes in a shiny black finish and has the same light-up strip along the outer edge as an Amazon Echo.
Amazon said it chose the cube shape because the device is intended to blend into the rest of your home entertainment system – most TVs have squared-off edges and a shiny black finish, so the Fire TV Cube does, too.
But the design has a practical purpose, too. The device doesn’t need to be round like other Amazon Echo devices because it’s unlikely to be in a 360-degree setting – most people have their TVs up against a wall.
In fact, the Fire TV Cube looks just like an Amazon Echo from the top.
The Fire TV Cube has multiple inputs in the back, including HDMI and USB.
And it comes with its own remote, although you’ll probably never need to use it.
The Fire TV Cube is equipped with the same far-field voice recognition as an Amazon Echo, which means there are eight microphones inside.
The device should be able to pick up your voice without you having to shout over your TV.
The Fire TV Cube works whether your TV is on or off. When your TV is off, the device will work just like a regular Amazon Echo.
But you can set it up so that the Fire TV Cube turns on your TV, and whatever else is included in your home entertainment set-up.
In the demo I got, the Fire TV Cube turned on the TV, a sound bar, PlayStation Vue, and the lights in the apartment all at once when it heard the phrase, “Alexa, I’m home.”
When your TV is on, Alexa’s voice will play through the speakers on your TV.
You can tell the Fire TV Cube to do things like, “Play an episode of ‘The Crown.'” It will start playing where you left off.
You can tell the device to play, pause, fast-forward, rewind, or adjust the volume.
Alexa can also scroll through the options on various streaming services, switch inputs between streaming and live TV, or tune to a specific channel.
The Fire TV Cube can also handle standard Amazon Echo tasks. You can ask Alexa to show you the upcoming weather forecast, and it will display on your TV screen …
… or you can watch a video flash briefing of the news.
Amazon already sells two Echo devices with screens: the Echo Show and the Echo Spot. Both of those devices can handle tasks like this too, but the experience isn’t great because the screens aren’t very big.
But the Fire TV Cube simply uses the screen you already have in your home for tasks like watching movie trailers, viewing your shopping list, checking out your home security camera feed, or playing a game.
The Fire TV Cube will cost $US120 and is available for preorder starting Thursday.
Amazon Prime members can get $US30 off the Fire TV Cube through June 8. The device will start shipping on June 21.
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