It's starting to get difficult to keep track of Amazon's Alexa devices.

Another challenge has now been added with the Fire TV Cube.

Amazon has merged its film and series platform Fire TV with the digital voice assistant Alexa in this device.

The idea is good.

The range of series and films on various streaming platforms is now so large that it is best to ask Alexa to search for them across platforms.

That often works, but very often it doesn't.

The design of the Fire TV Cube is simple: black and cube.

On the back there are connections for power, HDMI, micro-USB and an infrared transmitter.

The delivery includes the power cable, the IR transmitter and an adapter to which an Ethernet cable can be plugged in for internet access to the router.


The Cube also has built-in WiFi, but if you don't trust the wireless transmission of high-resolution 4K films, you better take the cable.

The Cube has a little more memory and a more powerful processor than, for example, the Fire TV Stick.

On the other hand, the Cube costs twice as much as the 4K stick at 120 euros.

You won't find instructions for use in the packaging, only a small flyer with the quick setup is included.

But if the cube is connected to electricity, internet and television, the screen guides you through the setup.

Users have to log in with their Amazon account and set up device control.


Fire TV Cube

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Alexa is not very flexible

Basically, the cube first asks whether you are using a soundbar or AV receiver.

If the user has provided this information, the cube searches for these devices.

In our case, the 4K Samsung TV and Sonos soundbar were recognized correctly.

We later had to add the Sky cable receiver manually in the settings.


Once everything is set up, you can start using the voice commands.

The cube has an echo loudspeaker and far-field microphones built in, so that voice commands are still possible from several meters away.

If Alexa is active, the LEDs in the front edge of the cube light up blue.

For example, if you ask about the weather forecast, you get the answer from a small loudspeaker that is built into the cube.

You can understand the answers, but they don't sound nice.

The sound quality is even worse than with the small Echo Dots.

That is probably the reason why the Cube never plays music through its built-in loudspeaker.

To do this, he either chooses the television or the connected soundbar.

That sounds completely different again, of course.

On the top of the cube there are four buttons with which the volume can be set, the microphone can be muted and Alexa can be woken up with the touch of a finger.

In the test, Alexa was not very flexible when it came to voice commands.

Users should always place the cube at least 30 centimeters away from a speaker.

Commands such as “switch on the TV” or “start ZDF” worked well in the test.

“Show movies with Alain Delon” also produced a number of results, which are displayed in tiles on the screen.

Good solution for speech enthusiasts


Each tile has a number.

But a command like "Start 3" leads to a new results page, which lists films that have the number 3 in their name.

So the correct command would be “Select 3”.

Alexa could be a little more lenient here.

Searching by voice is unfortunately not implemented equally well in every application.

This works well with the in-house Prime Video offer.

You can also search in detail on Netflix and YouTube by voice.

But with many other apps this doesn't work or doesn't work as well.

Amazon has promised to step up here.

For example, voice control is to be integrated more deeply this year into applications from ARD, ZDF, ProSieben, Waipu.tv and Zattoo.

Once a film is running in the stream, it can pause on demand or fast forward or rewind a few minutes or seconds.

It's very convenient.

As far as sound and image output are concerned, the Cube is on the technical level of the 4K Fire TV Stick, so it can handle HDR 10+, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Conclusion: Anyone who wants to control their television by voice is well served with the Fire TV Cube.

The combination device consisting of video streaming and echo loudspeakers can also control networked technology such as lamps when they are connected to Alexa.

But the Cube is not an all-rounder.

The Cube cannot yet intervene deeply in many apps.

The correct voice commands have to be learned first.

The device does not always understand natural commands straight away.

But when the user is fed up, he can still use the remote control - fortunately Amazon still supplies it.

This article was first published in December 2019.