There’s no shortage of streaming devices. Whether it’s Amazon, Apple, Google, or Roku, there’s a streaming device for you. The Amazon Fire TV Cube is the company’s most robust offering and it competes directly with the Apple TV. It features top-of-the-line hardware, Amazon Alexa, and of course nearly all the content you could desire. While it may be the best of the best from Amazon, it still faces shortcomings that are worth pointing out. Find out what they are in the Android Authority Amazon Fire TV Cube review.
Amazon Fire TV Cube review: What is it?
The Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s answer and foil to the Apple TV. It’s a streaming box that goes beyond merely offering access to your favorite content by including the hardware needed to jump to the next level of audio and video performance.
This cube-shaped streaming device supports all the movies and shows you want to watch with the added bonus of a fully functional Amazon Alexa. That means you can talk to it, ask it questions, and query about the hottest TV trends — all without the remote. It replaces the original Cube with some upgraded hardware, chiefly a faster hexacore processor and support for 4K.
Set-up takes but a few moments. Plug it into the wall and your TV, connect to Wi-Fi, sign into your Amazon account, and you’re good to go.
Solid performance. The processor and memory/storage configuration means the Amazon Fire TV Cube is fast and responsive. It perked right up at voice requests, and navigating the menu system felt snappy.
Speaking of the menu system, it’s simple and lively. I found the software easy to learn and interact with. Moreover, it’s privy to nearly all the streaming content that’s available online. Seriously, if you want to stream it, you can find it and watch it on the Fire TV Cube.
The video and audio quality is all there. It supports up to 4K picture quality. You’ve got essentials such as HDR, HDR 10, HDR 10+, and Dolby Vision. The picture looked great on my TV set. The audio includes Dolby Atmos, 7.1/5.1 surround sound, and stereo. When patched through my soundbar, movies sounded explosive and rich.
The Amazon Fire TV Cube is fast and responsive and can stream nearly all the content you could desire.
The Cube serves as a full Amazon Alexa device. The majority of Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks require the remote to interact with Alexa, but the Cube itself has far-field microphones, a built-in speaker, and everything else you need to talk to Alexa hands-free. I found the mics worked well, even with the TV volume set loud. Because it’s a full Alexa, it can answer questions about the weather, control smart home devices, and much more.
The ports are pretty good. You’ve got a full HDMI port on the rear for connecting to your TV, as well as a power port, IR port, and micro-USB port. The IR port works with an included extender which ensures the remote can interact with the Cube even if the box itself is hidden in your entertainment system. The micro-USB port allows you to connect the included ethernet adapter, which I highly recommend you use. While the Fire TV Cube works just fine on Wi-Fi, the stability of an ethernet connection is not to be discounted. It would be better if the ethernet port were built-in, as it is on the Apple TV, but at least it’s an option.
What’s not so good?
The speaker stinks. It sounds fine when interacting with Alexa, but a music/speaker replacement device this is not. It gets plenty loud, but there’s absolutely no bass response. You’re much better off using dedicated listening equipment.
Amazon’s software isn’t for everyone. Amazon prioritizes its own Prime Video aggressively, and there are ads that show up from time to time.
The speaker is fine for Alexa commands, but you're much better off using dedicated equipment for music.
There’s a remote learning curve. If you’re coming from one of Amazon’s Fire TV sticks, you’ll be used to speaking directly into the remote control for voice actions. That’s not the case with the Cube. You still need the remote to navigate the screen, but voice commands are handled by the Cube itself. This takes some getting used to.
Further, voice control isn’t perfect. I often found I couldn’t play Netflix content without encountering the profiles screen, which meant I couldn’t just say, “Alexa, play Stranger Things on Netflix.” Because I have multiple profiles on my account (including kid profiles), it got hung up.
The missing USB-A port is a real bummer. This means you can’t connect a thumb drive to the Fire TV Cube for your own content, such as home movies or photo albums. Also, there’s no HDMI cable in the box.
Amazon Fire TV Cube review: Should I buy it?
Whether or not you should buy the Amazon Fire TV Cube depends on your current situation. If you have no streaming devices at all, nor any smart speakers, then it is a no-brainer to go with the Cube — you get both in one device. If you’re an Amazon household and want to add functionality to a different room, then the Cube makes a lot of sense.
If you want streaming hardware and a smart speaker in one device then the Amazon Fire Cube is a no-brainer.
If you already have an Alexa speaker, I’d forget about the Cube and get a Fire TV Stick 4K instead. Your existing speaker probably sounds better. Conversely, if you have a Fire TV Stick already, the Cube doesn’t add that much functionality. You’d be better off getting a dedicated Alexa speaker. Likewise, if you’re an Apple or Google ecosystem user, you’re better off sticking with the product family you’ve already invested in.
Either way, at $120, the Amazon Fire TV Cube is a decent deal for this smart speaker/streaming device combo.
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