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Amazon unveils Fire TV Cube with 4K, Alexa, Atmos & IR blasters

08 Jun 2018 | Rasmus Larsen |

Amazon’s Fire TV Cube is a streaming media player with built-in microphones for Alexa voice capabilities. It also has IR blasters on each side that allows it to control legacy devices.

A Fire TV in a cube

The Fire TV Cube is Amazon’s new high-end streaming device. There is still no support for Dolby Vision but it will support 4K resolution, HDR10, and Dolby Atmos audio.

What makes Fire TV Cube unique is that it doubles as a universal remote hub – or at least that is what Amazon is trying to achieve. It has eight built-in microphones for “far-field voice recognition” that allows you to speak commands to Alexa. It can control other modern devices through Alexa integration. On top of that Amazon has equipped it with IR blasters on each side that will control legacy devices.

- “We believe voice makes it easier for customers to control their entertainment systems and watch the TV and movies they care about,” said Marc Whitten, Vice President of Fire TV. “And, it’s just the beginning. Amazon Fire TV Cube will only get better over time with the Alexa service always getting smarter.”

Of course, Fire TV Cube offers access to a wide array of streaming services including Amazon Prime Video, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, and more. The company says that users will have access to over “500,000 movies and TV episodes, including thousands of 4K Ultra HD and HDR titles”.

Fire TV Cube

Will IR blasters work this time?

Putting IR blasters in a streaming device sounds a little odd in 2018. To date, no one has had luck make an IR-based universal remote system work seamlessly – and every time. That is because IR is one-way communication so it is very hard to confirm if the other devices have reacted to the command.

Amazon explains that the Fire TV Cube will rely mostly on Alexa and HDMI CEC but the IR blasters are there to ensure better compatibility. There is also an IR extender cable in the box.

The company’s Alexa voice assistant has strong momentum and has encouraged many partners to include Alexa integration – most recently LG in its 2018 TVs.

Fire TV Cube

The Fire TV Cube is meant to compete head-to-head with the likes of Apple TV 4K, Roku’s higher-end players, and Nvidia Shield. Most recently, Apple announced that Dolby Atmos is coming to Apple TV 4K. Amazon’s devices have supported Atmos for some time now but lack support for Dolby’s HDR video format, despite Amazon offering content in Dolby Vision.

The company did not emphasize the gaming angle this time around and it appears that Fire TV Cube is based on more or less the same SoC as the cheaper Fire TV dongle. It has a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor and 16GB of built-in storage. It is not a powerhouse that delivers graphics-rich games but should be enough to accommodate your streaming needs.

Amazon Fire TV Cube is available for pre-order for $90 on June 7 and 8. From June 9 and onwards it will cost $120. It will start shipping on June 21.

Amazon Fire TV Cube - specifications

Size: 3.4” x 3.4” x 3.0” (86.1 mm x 86.1 mm x 76.9 mm)
Weight: 16.4 oz (465 g)
Processor: Quad-core up to 1.5 GHz - ARM 4xCA53
GPU: Mali450 MP3
Storage: 16 GB internal
Memory: 2 GB
Wi-Fi connectivity: Dual-band, dual-antenna Wi-Fi (MIMO) for faster streaming and fewer dropped connections than standard Wi-Fi. Supports 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi networks.
Bluetooth: Yes, with Alexa Voice Remote (included) or free Fire TV Remote App (available for download on Fire, Android, and iOS)
Voice support: Far-field and near-field voice support
Voice control compatibility: Fire TV Cube can control a wide range of IR-enabled devices, including TVs, sound bars, cable and satellite boxes, and A/V receivers. Learn more about supported devices.

Cloud storage: Free cloud storage for digital content purchased from Amazon
Ports: HDMI 2.0a, Power, Micro USB, Wired Infrared support
Included audio: Built-in speaker for voice feedback—even when the TV is off
Audio support: Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound, 2ch stereo, and HDMI audio pass through up to 5.1
Content formats supported: Video: HDR-10. H.265, H.264, Audio: AAC-LC, AC3, eAC3 (Dolby Digital Plus), FLAC, MP3, PCM/Wave, Vorbis, Dolby Atmos (EC3_JOC), Photo: JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP
Output resolution supported: 2160p, 1080p, and 720p up to 60 fps
System requirements: High-definition television with available high speed HDMI input, high speed internet connection via Wi-Fi or inbox Ethernet accessory, power outlet, (compatible TV/sound/cable equipment for control by infrared or voice). High Speed HDMI cable and 4K TV with high speed HDMI connector required for 4K viewing and more reliable device control.
TV compatibility: TV must support minimum HDCP requirements for protected content playback. Learn more. Able to control (1) 4K ultra high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 2160p at 24/25/30/50/60 Hz and HDCP 2.2, including popular models from LG, Samsung, Sony, Sharp, Toshiba, Vizio, and others or (2) high-definition TVs with HDMI capable of 1080p or 720p at 50/60 Hz, including popular HDCP-compatible models from Hitachi, JVC, LG, Mitsubishi, NEC, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Vizio, Westinghouse, and others. (For device control, certain functions may not be available on some devices).
Warranty and service: 1-Year Limited Warranty and service included. Optional 2-Year and 3-Year Extended Warranty available for U.S. customers sold separately. Use of Fire TV is subject to the terms found here.

Regional support: Certain services may not be available outside the U.S.
Accessibility features: VoiceView screen reader enables access to the vast majority of Fire TV features for users who are blind or visually impaired. Watch videos and TV shows with closed captioning displayed. Captions are not available for all content. Learn more.

Included in the box: Fire TV Cube, Alexa Voice Remote, power adapter, quick start guide, marketing guide, 2 AAA batteries, infrared (IR) extender cable, Amazon Ethernet Adapter (10/100)

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