CNET First Look
Amazon's Fire TV Cube gives you and Alexa hands-free TV controlAlexa, turn on the TV" works better than ever.
Alexa turn on the T.V. Ok. I'm David Katz and I are here at scene it's T.V. test lab and what you're about to see is worth the wait a little box here that's going to turn on the T.V. and A.V. receiver and get ready to pretty much accept my other voice command. And it's completely hands free. This is the Amazon Fire TV Cube. The first deluxe device designed specifically for the livingroom. It plugs into your TV to stream TV shows and movies from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and the rest. And includes the same voice remote as other Fire TV gear. But it also controls your gear hands free. Here's a rack full of AV equipment I set up to demonstrate, including a big Visio TV and a Marantz AV receiver. Check it out. Alexa, switch to Apple TV. Okay. I'll still need to use the original device remote to actually control it, but the Fire TV Cube handles the switching itself. The little box has built-in infrared meters, as well as an included IR blaster. Once you tell it what gear you own during the set up process, it shoots out signals to reach your gear. In this case, switching inputs on the AV receiver. If you don't use a receiver, the Cube can switch inputs on you TV and it can also control a sound bar. In my test setup, volume is controlled by the receiver. Although the cube has its own built in speaker, most of the sound including Alexis voice, music and audio from your TV shows and movies comes through the system speakers. I found the cube very responsive to the Alexis awake word, even when music was blasting. Once it hears the word it mutes automatically to listen for the rest of your command. Alexa volume up. The system can also control cable and satellite boxes. You don't get DVR controls but you can change channels by naming them. Tune to PBS. [MUSIC] Tuning to PBS on cable. [BLANK_AUDIO] As a Fire TV streamer, the little box also allows voice control of sources like Netflix and YouTube. Watch Netflix. Here's Netflix. [BLANK_AUDIO] [MUSIC] Alexa, show me World Cup videos on YouTube. [MUSIC] Here's what I found. [MUSIC] Amazon has also refreshed the Fire TV menu system to make it more streamlined for voice. For example, by adding numbers next to selections. Although Fire TV cube work well most of the time in my testing, it failed to recognize some commands. Some devices work better than others. And many apps lack voice support for search and other functions. The biggest issue, however, is that you need to keep your regular remotes around if you wanna perform more than just the basic functions. The included click or canyon control volume or mute, Owners of Harmony and other universal remotes, don't throw those clickers away yet. Even with those issues, the Fire TV cube takes living room voice control further than any other device I've seen. And that's Amazon's Fire TV Cube. I'm David Casmire for CNET. Alexa, turn off the TV. Okay.